Amos 3:1–8 (NKJV)
3:1 Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Stuart explains this short oracle against all of Israel here. “The oracle stresses not Israel’s covenantal accountability, but Yahweh’s. He must punish Israel for their sins. This was a concept which the average Israelite of Amos’ time apparently found hard to understand (cf. 5:18–20). A God should protect and benefit his nation at all times, should he not? Why would a God want to harm his own people who worshiped him regularly (5:21–23)? Much of Amos’ ministry was devoted to dispelling this folly. One emphasis of the preceding oracles (1:3–2:16) was on Yahweh’s direct involvement in the punishments for the nations. A central argument of the following oracle (3:3–8) is that Israel’s disasters are not some accident, but Yahweh’s doing. Amos had to preach an aspect of religion that people did not want to hear.”
Stuart, Douglas. Hosea–Jonah. Vol. 31. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.
3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
This somewhat poetic statement of cause and effect helps explain the fact that God has warned Israel about His covenantal responsibility to punish sin. Although merciful for years, the time for mercy has come to an end and the time for discipline has arrived. God, through His prophets, has sounded the alarm. The covenant spelled out the conditions, and Israel has chosen to ignore them. Therefore, God is bound by His side of the covenant to bring punishment upon His people in order to bring them back to their side of the covenant. God does not desire and end to the covenant, or an end to His people. He simply must be a God of His word and fulfill His essential role in the covenant. Covenant means that two entities enter into a mutually agreeable and beneficial relationship, in which a powerful God pledges to watch over, protect, and bless a weaker people, who in turn pledge to serve and obey that God. When those covenantal conditions are not met, the great God of all will do what He must to bring us back to the covenant. He will never let down on His end, and He will help us to live up to our end. Hear the lion’s roar! Be afraid of the trumpet! God is calling out for us to repent and be restored!