Next Amos comes around in his circle of shame to two new targets: Tyre and Edom. Since their crimes were similar, we’ll handle them both today.
Tyre was the most prominent merchant city of Phoenicia. It was most famous for its lumber: Ever hear of the “Cedars of Lebanon”? David had a great relationship with them, along with Solomon. King Hiram made a very profitable business deal with Solomon and thus provided the lumber for the temple. They considered each other closer than brothers, and they had an official peace treaty with each other.
Edom and Israel went back a long ways, all the way back to the patriarchal heads of both respective nations. If you’re familiar with Genesis, you probably know the story: Jacob and Esau were fraternal twins who struggled with each other in the womb, and that struggle continued throughout both their lives. They never really got along with each other in the best of times, and more than once Esau threatened his brother with fratricide. Both men originated a nation—Jacob became Israel, and Esau became Edom.
When Moses was leading the Hebrews up to the Promised Land, they went all the way around Edom's land in order not to provoke them. The Lord very expressly excluded the Edomites’ land from their inheritance in the Promised Land. He also forbade them from despising (or mistreating) an Edomite, specifically citing the fact that they were related.
So with Tyre they had a “treaty of brotherhood,” and with the Edomites they literally were “brothers” in that they were physically related to each other and had a common ancestor (Isaac).
That’s what made their behavior so egregious to the Lord. He expects people to take their agreements and word seriously, and he's especially angry when someone mistreats their brother. Tyre, business-minded as it was, raided towns and carried away entire populations into slavery. Edom, being more direct in its approach, brutally attacked their brothers and slaughtered their women. And the Lord would demonstrate his displeasure by destroying both nations like he would Damascus and Gaza. They placed their faith in their fortresses, thinking that no one would call them to account. They were wrong. There was One who saw, and at the right time he’d do something about it.
What was Israel’s likely reaction to this news? The same we’d feel if someone authoritatively predicted the destruction of our sworn enemies, someone who'd wronged us, someone who'd broken a treaty, especially a brother who mistreats us.
But before we react as they did, let’s focus on this for a moment. Again, the Lord is talking about sins on a “macro” scale, but that doesn’t mean he ignores sin on the “micro” scale. On the contrary, he who knows when a sparrow falls to the ground is the same one who “[searches] the heart and [examines] the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
The reason I’m saying this is that “macro” sins are “micro” sins writ large. The way that Tyre and Edom were behaving was rooted in the condition of people’s hearts. And the same sins of which they were guilty had its roots in the same attitudes which I display at times.
Do I take my word seriously? How do I treat my siblings in Christ? Do I see them as they really are, or as something to be ignored—or worse, exploited for my selfish gain?
Lord Jesus, only you really know what’s in the bottom of my heart. But I strongly suspect that what’s down there is something I need you to clean out. Please do so.
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