Look at Amos 9:7. He was saying this to a proud and arrogant group of people who felt like they had God in a box with reference to their own future. Amos warns them by saying, “‘Are you not like the Cushites to me, O people of Israel?’ declares the Lord.”
The Cushites were the inhabitants of the interior of Africa.[i] Down below the second cataract of the Nile where it makes its great “S” shape.[ii] To the Hebrew of Samaria, it would have been considered the most remote corner of the earth.[iii] God levels them by saying that they are on the same ground as the people who live way out in the middle of nowhere. God was explaining that there is not a uniqueness of Israel that would insulate them from judgment.
Here is the first time in all of the prophetic books a note of universalism hitherto unseen in all of the Old Testament. He was saying that He is the God of all people, even the most remote people you can imagine.
The Israelites talk back to their preacher and say, “Ah, but we’re the people of the exodus, Amos.” Well, God has a surprising word for them at just that point. He is the God who has led many an exodus. The end of verse 7 says, “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?”
That was the cruelest blow of all. The Philistines and the Aramians were ancient enemies of God’s people. Only King David had finally subjugated the Philistines. Now, Amos tells them that God is not only the author of the history of all of Israel, but He is also the author of the history of their bitterest enemies. He not only led an exodus for the Israelites out of Egypt, but He also led an exodus for the Philistines, and eventually led them to be destroyed by King David.
He led the Syrians out of the Arabic stepland, and He disposed of them under Jeroboam. God, who disposed of them, waits (if necessary) to dispose of you.
Oh, what a withering word it was to hear that the God whom they thought they had in a box was the God who was responsible for the authorship and the disposition of their natural enemies.
How does this word of Amos apply to us?
Church, in so many ways, it applies to us nationally. As I have stated many times in this message series, America is not the covenant people of God. Americans are not God’s covenant people.
This is also a word for each of us individually. Would there be a person here today, or listening via internet, who, with so much arrogance, hubris, and pride, that you feel the kingdom of God rests upon your shoulders? And to presume that you have such a prestigious place in His puzzle that, do what you may, He has got to have you?
The word of Amos is that the God of the history of all peoples is yours and mine. He can make Himself a new one any day He has to do so.
[i] James Luther Mays, Amos: A Commentary (London: SCM Canterbury Press, 1969), 157.
[ii] Christopher Ehret, The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2002), 121.
[iii] Mays, 157.