By Helen Kennedy and E. Taylor
In the Book of Amos, chapter two begins with the Lord declaring his anger against the people of Moab, Judea, and Israel. They have committed various wrongs against the Lord and the church, despite His efforts to guide them, and the chapter goes on to suggest that the Lord is losing faith in His people.
Verses 1-8 of this chapter describe the specific ways in which people can destroy or misuse the good and truth of the Word.
Verses 1-3 discuss the Moabites specifically. They represent people who corrupt the good and truth of the church, meaning they would twist what they learned from the Word to suit their own selfish purposes. Bones represent natural truths that we can use as a framework to support all higher knowledge that we learn, so the fact that people were ‘burning bones’ means they destroyed their own foundation to gain spiritual knowledge. In verse 3, the Lord says that he will cut off the judge and the prince, meaning that the Moabites’ failure to determine what is good (like the judge), and lead a life based in truth (like the prince) will not stand against the real spiritual principles of the Lord.
Verses 4-5 are about people who destroy celestial things from the Word, by turning their hearts away from the Lord. The people of Judea had believed they were the Lord’s chosen people for so many generations at this point that they grew complacent, and no longer felt they needed to obey the Lord’s commandments.
Verses 6-8 tell what can happen when people pervert spiritual truths from the church, and turn them into falsities. Swedenborg writes that most of the images from these verses - silver, shoes, dust, wine - can all represent either falsity, or only the most external type of truth. The Israelites were turning to these falsities and to their own greed, instead of using the Lord’s truths to help the poor and the meek.
In verses 9-11, the Lord reminds the children of Israel of everything he has done to prepare them for salvation. He fought for them and delivered them from Egypt, lifted up their leaders and prophets, and provided them with the truths they would need in order to be regenerated.
He also shows that He has the strength to punish them, because He’s already overcome the Amorites, who symbolize evil in general (Secrets of Heaven 6306).
Verses 12-16 describe how the Israelites perverted the knowledge the Lord tried to give them. Instead of trusting what the Lord had taught them, they turned to their own self-righteousness for guidance. Since they thought they had all the answers, they corrupted the Nazarites and silenced the prophets. Without a proper understanding of the Lord’s teachings, the people were no longer equipped to fight against evils or to grow spiritually.
At face value, this chapter depicts the Lord as an angry god who will punish those who disobey him. What seems to be anger is actually the Lord fiercely protecting us, and calling us to follow Him. This chapter reminds us to turn our hearts toward the Lord, and to live according to the truths of the Word.