Amos’ prophetic message was not intended to be restricted to the historical situation in Israel
but to expand the scope of the message beyond Israel and Judah. In the Old Testament, Israel had a unique but not exclusive claim on God.
Read Amos 3:1-2. The Hebrew verb yada, “to know,” which is used in verse 2, bears a special sense of intimacy. In Jeremiah 1:5, for example, God says that He “knew” the prophet and set him apart even before his birth. Such was the case with Israel. They were not just another nation among nations. Rather, God set them apart for a sacred divine purpose. They stood in special relationship with Him.
God Himself had chosen Israel and brought it out of slavery to freedom. The exodus from Egypt was the single most important event in the beginning of Israel’s history as a nation. It set the stage for God’s acts of redemption and the conquest of the land of Canaan. But Israel’s strength and prosperity led to pride and complacency in regards to its privileged status as the Lord’s chosen people.
Read Christ’s statement from Luke 12:47-48. In what ways can we understand the principle He taught there: when great privileges in life are abused, they will be replaced by great penalties?
Under divine inspiration, the prophet warns that because the people of Israel are the Lord’s elect, they particularly will be held accountable for their actions. The Lord is saying that Israel’s unique relationship with God carries obligations, and punishment will result if those obligations are not fulfilled. In other words, Israel, as God’s chosen people, is all the more liable to His judgments, because the privilege entails responsibility. Israel’s election was not just to privileged status; they were called to be witnesses to the world about the Lord who had so blessed them.
“The professed churches of Christ in this generation are exalted to the highest privileges. The Lord has been revealed to us in ever-increasing light. Our privileges are far greater than were the privileges of God’s ancient people.”—Ellen G. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 317. Think about all that we have been given as Seventh-day Adventists. Why should the responsibilities that come with these privileges make us tremble? Do they, or have we simply gotten used to them? Have we even become complacent about all that we have been given? If so, how can we change?