on Amos 5 :27
Will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus - That is, into Assyria, the way to which, from Judea, was by Damascus.
But St. Stephen says, Acts 7:43, beyond Babylon; because the Holy Spirit that was in him chose to extend the meaning of the original text to that great and final captivity of the Jews in general, when Zedekiah, their last king, and the people of Judea, were carried into Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Media; see 2 Kings 17:7, 2 Kings 17:24. This captivity happened after the time of Amos.
on Amos 5 :27
Therefore - (And) this being so, such having been their way from the beginning until now, will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus Syria was the most powerful enemy by whom God had heretofore chastened them 2 Kings 13:7. From Syria He had recently, for the time, delivered them, and had given Damascus into their hands 2 Kings 14:25, 2 Kings 14:28. That day of grace had been wasted, and they were still rebellious. Now God would bring against them a mightier enemy. Damascus, the scene of their triumph, should be their pathway to captivity. God would "cause" them "to go into captivity," not to "Damascus," from where they might have easily returned, but "beyond" it, as He did, "into the cities of the Medes." But Israel had, up to the time of Amos and beyond it, no enemy, no war, "beyond Damascus." Jehu had probably paid tribute to Shalmanubar king of Assyria, to strengthen himself . The Assyrian monarch had warred against Israel's enemies, and seemingly received some check from them (see the note above at Amos 1:3).
Against Israel he had shown no hostility. But for the conspiracy of one yet to be born in private life, one of the captains of Israel who by murder, became its sovereign, it might have continued on in its own land. The Assyrian monarchs needed tribute, not slaves; nor did they employ Israel as slaves. Exile was but a wholesale imprisonment of the nation in a large but safe prison-house. Had they been still, they were more profitable to Assyria, as tributaries in their own land. There was no temptation to remove them, when Amos prophesied. The temptation came with political intrigues which had not then commenced. The then Assyrian monarch, Shamasiva, defeated their enemies the Syrians, united with and aiding the Babylonians ; "they" had then had no share in the opposition to Assyria, but lay safe in their mountain-fastness.
It has been said , "Although the kingdom of Israel had, through Jeroboam, recovercd its old borders, yet careless insolence, luxury, unrighteousness, "must" bring the destruction of the kingdom which the prophet foretells. The prophet does but dimly forebode the superior power of Assyria." Solomon had declared the truth, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" Proverbs 14:34. But there are many sorts of decay. Decay does not involve the transportation of a people. Nay, decay would not bring it, but the contrary. A mere luxurious people rots on its own soil, and would be left to rot there. It was the little remnant of energy, political cabaling, warlike spirit, in Israel, which brought its ruin from man. Idolatry, "insolence, luxury, unrighteousness," bring down the displeasure of God, not of man. Yet Amos foretold, that God would bring the destruction through man.
They were, too, no worse than their neighbors, nor so bad; not so bad as the Assyrians themselves, except that, God having revealed Himself to them, they had more light. The sin then, the punishment the mode of punishment, belong to the divine revelation. Such sins and worse have existed in Christian nations. They were in part sins directly against God. God reserves to Himself, how and when He will punish. He has annexed no such visible laws of punishment to a nation's sins that man could, of his own wisdom or observation of God's ways, foresee it. They through whom Itc willed to inflict it, and whom Amos pointed out, were not provoked by "those" sins. There was no connection between Israel's present sins, and Assyria's future vengeance. No Eastern despot cares for the oppressions of his subjects, so that his own tribute is collected. See the whole range of Muslim rule now. As far too as we know, neither Assyria nor any other power had hitherto punished rebellious nations by transporting them ; and certainly Israel had not yet rebelled, or meditated rebellion. He only who controls the rebellious wills of people, and through their self-will works out His own all-wise Will and man's punishment, could know the future of Israel and Assyria, and how through the pride of Assyria He would bring down the pride of Samaria.
It has been well said by a thoughtful observer of the world's history, "Whosoever attempts to prophesy, not being inspired, is a fool." We English know our own sins, many and grievous; we know of a vast reign of violence, murder, blasphemy, theft, uncleanness, covetousness, dishonest dealing, unrighteousness, and of the breach of every commandment of God: we know well now of an instrument in God's Hands, not far off; like the Assyrian, but within two hours of our coast; armaments have been collected; a harbor is being formed; our own coast openly examined; iron-sheeted vessels prepared; night-signals provided; some of our own alienated population organized; with a view to our invasion. We recognize the likelihood of the invasion, fortify our coast, arm, not as a profession, but for security. Our preparations testify, how widespread is our expectation. No one scarcely doubts that it will be.
Yet who dare predict the issue? Will God permit that scourge to come? Will he prevail? What would be the extent of our sufferings or loss? How would our commerce or our Empire be impaired? Would it be dismembered? Since no man can affirm anything as to this which is close at hand, since none of us would dare to affirm in God's Name, in regard to any one stage of all this future, that this or that would or would not happen, then let people have at least the modesty of the magicians of Egypt, and seeing in God's prophets those absolute predictions of a future, such as their own wisdom, under circumstances far more favorable, could not dare to make, own; "This is the finger of God" Exodus 8:19. Not we alone. We see all Europe shaken; we see powers of all sorts, heaving to and fro; we see the Turkish power ready to dissolve, stayed up, like a dead man, only by un-Christian jealousies of Christians. Some things we may partially guess at.
But with all our means of knowing what passes everywhere, with all our knowledge of the internal impulses of nations, hearing, as we do, almost every pulse which beats in the great European system, knowing the diseases which, here and there, threaten convulsion or dissolution, no one dare stake his human wisdom on any absolute prediction, like these of the shepherd of Tekoa as to Damascus (see the note above at Amos 1:5. pp. 160, 161) and Israel. To say the like in God's Name, unless inspired, we should know to be blasphemy. God Himself set the alternative before men. "Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled; who among them that can declare this, and show former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear, and say," It is "truth" Isaiah 43:9.
Stephen, in quoting this prophecy, substitutes, Babylon for Damascus, as indeed "the cities of the Medes" were further than Babylon. Perhaps he set the name, in order to remind them, that as God had brought Abraham "out of the land of the Chaldeans" Acts 7:4, leaving the idols which his "fathers" had "served" Joshua 24:14, to serve God only, so they, serving idols, were carried back, from where Abraham had come, forfeiting, with the faith of Abraham, the promises made to Abraham; aliens and outcasts.
Saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts - The Lord of the heavenly hosts for whose worship they forsook God; the Lord of the hosts on earth, whose ministry He employs to punish those who rebel against Him , "For He hath many hosts to execute His judgments, the hosts of the Assyrians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks and Romans." All creatures in heaven and in earth are, as He says of the holy Angels, "ministers of His, that do His pleasure" Psalm 103:21.
on Amos 5 :27
5:27 Therefore - For all your idolatry and other sins, in which you have obstinately continued.