Review: God’s judgment on the nations surrounding Israel. All except Judah were Gentile nations, and God called them to account on the basis of what they should have known about God. But Judah was judged according to God’s law.
As we read these verses, we must remember that it is God who is speaking. The covenant Lord is speaking against the covenant breaking of his people. Relationships bring with them responsibilities. Yet the nature of the human heart is to think only of the benefits that we get from a relationship with another, especially being related to God. In this context God is announcing judgment on his people (2:6), and as he does so, he calls them to account for their failures in this covenant relationship.
6 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Israel,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals—
7 those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
so that my holy name is profaned;
8 they lay themselves down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
the wine of those who have been fined.
9 “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them,
whose height was like the height of the cedars
and who was as strong as the oaks;
I destroyed his fruit above
and his roots beneath.
10 Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt
and led you forty years in the wilderness,
to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 And I raised up some of your sons for prophets,
and some of your young men for Nazirites.
Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel?”
declares the LORD.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
and commanded the prophets,
saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’
13 “Behold, I will press you down in your place,
as a cart full of sheaves presses down.
14 Flight shall perish from the swift,
and the strong shall not retain his strength,
nor shall the mighty save his life;
15 he who handles the bow shall not stand,
and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself,
nor shall he who rides the horse save his life;
16 and he who is stout of heart among the mighty
shall flee away naked in that day,”
declares the LORD.
I. Israel’s sin of breaking God’s law (2:6-8)
A. An examination of the general ways they sinned
1. They were guilty of greed and materialism (2:6). God would have us live contented with his gifts and to give thanks for them. Greed shows a basic discontent with God’s providence, which leads to a life of pursuing the things of this world.
2. They were guilty of sexual immorality (2:7b). God’s visible people ought to have been demonstrating a different way of life from the surrounding Gentile nations.
Comment: The tragedy of the contemporary church is how it grovels in the same cesspool of sexual immorality that the world is in.
3. They were guilty of oppression and the perversion of justice (2:7a, 8a). Servants of the righteous Lord ought to value justice highly, yet Israel had a different attitude.
4. They were guilty of religious corruption (2:8b). This sin is to be traced back to the sin of Jeroboam I.
Comment: They might have been religious, but it was a religion far from what God intended—showing love for God and love for one’s neighbors. Love is the greatest thing in religion; without it everything else is useless. 1 Cor 13:13
B. Israel is judged according to the standard of the law for these sins (cf. Rm 2:12).
1. Sell the righteous for silver, etc.; that is, they sold them into slavery (2:6; cf. Dt 16:18-19) –“Those who will wrong their consciences for anything will come at length to do it for next to nothing.” [Henry] Let us hear and remember!
2. Trample on the heads of the poor (2:7a); contrast Lev 25:35-43; Dt 15:7-11 – God’s standard is equal justice. It would have been just as wrong to pervert justice in favor of the poor. But as a general rule, the poor suffer more from injustice in court than the rich.
3. Father and son use the same girl (2:7b)
a. This probably refers to the sin of incest (Lev 18:6-17) rather than the sin of temple prostitution. God’s standard of permissible sexual relations narrowed from before the law to under the law, and now is even more restricted (ex: a believer may only marry a believer).
b. Involvement in this sin profaned God’s name.
4. Lie on garments taken in pledge (2:8) – Compare what God’s law required (Ex 22:26-27; Dt 24:10-13). To misuse these garments by sleeping on them by an altar to a false god (a supposed way to get a revelation from that false god) aggravated the crime.
5. Made the Nazirites drink wine (2:12) – Consider what God required of the Nazirite during the time of his vow (Num 6:1-14).
II. Israel’s sin of despising God’s grace (2:9-12)
A. Think of the grace that they looked down on
1. Protection (2:9) – The Amorite was one nation among many of the Canaanite peoples. Though they were skilled and strong warriors, the Lord easily defeated all of them for his people.
2. Provision (2:10; cf. Ps 78:9ff) – Many times God calls his people to remember what he did for them in their release from Egyptian bondage. In the same way the church is to recall and reflect on Christ’s greater Exodus.
Apply: “Lead me to the cross, where we first met; draw me to my knees so that we can talk.”
3. Prophecy (2:11-12) – Yet Israel did not want to hear these men whom God had sent to them.
Apply: The same thing happens today. People do not want to hear God’s word; most want it diluted to a formless, powerless slop of mushy words.
a. Faithful ministers are blessings from the Lord to his people. See Eph 4; 1 Cor 12
b. We should be praying that God would continue to call men to preach his word.
B. Some remarks about the terrible nature of the sin of despising God’s grace
1. When a person despises God and his grace—the God who alone can help him—his or her case is truly desperate.
2. People are in a dangerous condition when they reject, suppress, and even merely ignore God’s message to them. 2 Cor 5:20
3. We should be careful to remember the mercies that God has given to us.
a. Israel – Dt 8:2,18; 15:15; 24:18,22
b. The church – Lk 22:19
III. The consequences of Israel’s sins (2:13-16)
A. How awesome the judgment is! (2:13) God would crush them.
B. Human strength would completely fail as a means of escape. (2:14-16)
Apply: Praise the Lord! There is one who was crushed for us, in order that we might not be crushed. Is 53:5
Pastor Dave Frampton
When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church