Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them. Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there I will command the sword to slay them. “I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.” The Lord, the Lord Almighty— he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt; he builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth; he calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the Lord is his name. – Amos 9:2-6
Well this final water-related passage of the book of Amos is a tricky and confusing bit of water. The God being described here is different than the God who promised to meet us at the banks of the river that no one can cross. This is a God from which the people of the passage cannot hide, “I will hunt them down and seize them”. They cannot hide in the sky, mountains, or even in the depths of the sea.
Amos is describing the dire consequences for the people’s self-imposed separation from God. Even in exile they cannot escape God’s wrath. There is a bit of “funny water” and turbulence near the middle of the passage when it says “I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good”. The “I” is apparently referring to God. I confess I am confused by this. The God described up to this point has almost always been both lion and lamb. This God seems like all lion, at least at the moment.
I am reminded of a scene from Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis when Prince Caspian gets angry about having to return to Narnia rather than continue on to Aslan’s country with Lucy, Eustace, and Reepicheep. He retires to his cabin to sulk and Aslan appears to give him a “talking to” about his attitude. That is what I feel like God is trying to get across here, He is angry with the people and their poor choices and they are getting a stern talking-to through Amos.
God is clearly sovereign over all things here in the land of Oblivion, “He touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn”. The dramatic word picture comes to an interesting bit, God “builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth”. So God dwells in the heavens, but in some sense maintains a connection to earth, “the foundation”. Hmmmm. I am not sure what this means, but I wonder if it is a somewhat obscure reference to a future “cornerstone”, Jesus – a reflection of Him.
The passage ends with a water reference, God “calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land”. The language is interesting in that the concept of “pouring out” has been used in previous passages to refer to people crossing over from this life to the next, their souls pouring out to join some sort of spiritual ocean. If one thinks of it this way it sounds even more like a reflection of the coming Messiah who will pour himself out and cover “the whole land” with amazing Grace and forgiveness.
Prayer: God thank You for pouring out Your amazing Grace to cover the sins of the world.