AMOS 2:12


The Bible says in Amos 2:12, “But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.” In the few verses previous to this one God had mentioned some of the great things that He has done for the Israelites. Among those great things that God had done for them is that He had given them prophets and Nazarites. God is a Giver. He gives to the people of the earth made precious gifts. Of course, the greatest prophet God has now given to all of us: Jesus Christ the Righteous. As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It says in Ephesians 4:7-8, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.[8] Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Sometimes the gifts that God has given you are the other people that He has put into your life.


God gave prophets and Nazarites to the Israelites. But what did the Israelites do with these gifts? That is the question. God gives us gifts, but then the day will come when we will be held accountable for what we did with those gifts. First notice what the Nazarites did to the prophets. They said to the prophets, “Prophesy not.” In other words they opposed the prophets and even tried to keep them from giving out the Word of God. A preacher needs help in order for his ministry to become as effective as possible. Jesus gives the gift to preach and to teach to certain men, but then God also gives other kinds of gifts to other believers so that they will be useful in helping the preacher. There must be those who are willing to sit and listen with a teachable spirit. There must be those who invite others to hear the preacher. There must be those who give. There must be those who organize and advertise. There must be those who set up chairs, and greet at the door, and clean up afterwards. There must be those who pray. A preacher can do a few things with the gift that he has from Christ, but the preacher can do a lot more if there are other Christians who help. The children of Israel not only did not help the prophets, they told them not to speak. Why did they tell them not to speak? That answer is obvious: they did not want to hear the truth from God. That was their sin. Can you imagine: human beings who did not want to hear the truth. That alone sealed their fate.


Notice how the Israelites treated the Nazarites. They tried to corrupt them. One of the vows that the Nazarites took was that they would never drink wine. But it says in Amos 2:12 that the Israelite people “gave the Nazarites wine to drink.” Misery loves company. Hose who drink have always tried to get others to drink. It makes them feel comfortable with their own lack of control. It says in Habbakuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!” Many people would have never drunk alcohol if they had never been encouraged by others to do so. And many of those people would have never become alcoholics if they had never taken their first drink. 17 million Americans have alcohol related problems such as alcoholism and binge drinking. The toll in health problems, property damage, and lost productivity is staggering. It is no wonder that God wanted the Nazarites to live a holy life by not drinking. Too bad that the rest of the Israelites did not follow their example.


The Bible says in Amos 2:13-16, “Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.[14] Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:[15] Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.[16] And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.” If you had something that was bothering you or troubling you and would not go away, then you would come up with a plan of action to take care of it. That is exactly what God did with Israel. They became a burden to God, and so God decided what to do with that burden. The swift lost their speed, the strong lost their strength, and the warriors lost their effectiveness. A nation that turned its back on God became a weaker nation. It always happens. Individually and nationally we had better turn to the Lord Jesus, or we will become a weaker nation, and there will be trouble ahead.


The Bible says in Amos 3:1-3, “Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,[2] You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.[3] Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” First of all notice carefully the spiritual principle found in verse 2. Basically, it means this: “The measure of your opportunity is the measure of your responsibility.” Israel was the only nation that God had this close personal relationship with. That was a great opportunity for them, and it was also a great responsibility for them. God was not going to ignore the other nations, but God wanted to use Israel as the source of blessing for all the other nations too. That was a great opportunity and a great responsibility for them. The same thing happened when Jesus had His earthly ministry. Jesus walked into many towns in Galilee and preached to them wonderful words that had never before been heard by any human being, and Jesus performed amazing miracles in them too. That is well and good. But what would the result be if those fortunate people did not heed what Jesus said. We do not have to debate that. Jesus said in Matthew 11:20-25, “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:[21] Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.[22] But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.[23] And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.[24] But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.[25] At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” God is fair. He is going to do whatever is fair and just. Judgment will vary depending upon opportunity. One of the reasons that Israel has had such a terrible history since the time of the prophets, is because of how great their opportunity was. That truth should make us fear and tremble at what is in store for America. This country has also had a great spiritual opportunity, but what was done with that opportunity?


In Amos 3:3 God said to the Israelite people, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Of course, the meaning of this verse is very clear. God was telling the Israelites that He could not walk with them because of their sins. There was always a solution to that problem: the Israelites only needed to repent of their sins and turn to the Lord. The issue of how to continue to walk in fellowship with the Lord is an important issue even in our age, and the principle is the same. Sin separates us from the Savior. Forgiveness of sin reunites us with Him as far as our daily walk with Jesus is concerned. It says in First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness


Amos 3:3 is a good example of how a Bible verse can be misused and misinterpreted. It says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” I can speak with some first-hand knowledge on how this Bible verse was used in a horrible fashion for at least two hundred years in America. When I was first saved in 1968, I went to a small church in California for six months. The pastor of that church was originally from Texas, and had some very definite influences from the deep south. This pastor was very much in favor of the racial segregation policies of the Southern portion of the United States. He practiced racial segregation as best he could there in the San Francisco Bay area. For example, he told me that he would never allow any black person to join his church because he was certain that God wanted the races to be separated, and if any black person ever wanted to join his church it would only be because that person was a trouble maker and wanted to make trouble in the church. But to counter such talk, I was very fortunate in that I was raised in a liberal home and had a liberal education in the public schools in California. And Willie Mays was my childhood hero. Also, I had a life-forming experience when I was a child that forever molded my own real thoughts about racial issues even before I became a Christian. I had an uncle (my mother’s brother) who would make outlandish racial slurs against black people. I remember my mother rebuking him one day and telling him how wrong he was. I thought about the difference between those two people and realized that my mother was right and my uncle was wrong and that I would never be like him. Down into my soul forever placed was an understanding that all humans beings would be viewed as equals, and I would never think, speak, or treat any human being differently or negatively based upon race. What I have seen in my own life as I grew and became an adult is that if you really believe in equality, it will be reflected in what you say and do without even thinking about it.


There were two Bible passages that the pastor showed me to “prove” that he was right about his segregationist ideas. By the way, these Bible passages were used for two hundred years in America to justify slavery and then to justify segregation. The KKK also used these verses. It shows the danger of not knowing the Bible well, but wishing that you did. When someone opens the  Bible, and takes a verse or a passage from it, and tells you what they think it means, watch out. They might be wrong. And then if you believe what they say, you are also wrong.  


I did not have to think about what this pastor was trying to tell me. I knew he was wrong, and told him so even though I could not give my ideas from the standpoint of Biblical references because I did not know the Bible well enough at that time. I attended that church for six months, then joined the Navy and never moved back to California. I did visit that church about thirty years later and there were some black people in the church by that time, and they were very dear people too, as you would expect. On that visit the pastor remembered what he told me so long ago. He came up to me and said that he did not believe the way he used to. 


I did not compromise my gut feelings with that pastor back when I was a very young man and he tried to indoctrinate me with segregationist ideas. I let him know very clearly how opposed I was to what he was saying. Now I have a much better understanding of the Bible, and I am able to easily show that the Bible is totally against everything he was saying. This pastor loved Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The pastor said that this verse means that the two races cannot be united and must stay separate from one another. Of course, we have already seen that in the context, this verse has nothing to do with race and is clearly about the fact that a human being cannot walk with God unless that person agrees with the Lord about that person’s sin problem and gets right with God, in other words comes into agreement with God about the sin problem that person has.


Why did so many people in the Southern United States accept these false teachings? They probably did so for many reasons. It was easier to go along with what was popular than to fight against such ideas that had become imbedded within the culture. By using the Bible to try and justify segregation, it gave Christians an excuse to overlook their conscience. One more passage of scripture that was used by this pastor to try and explain his views on segregation had to do with a situation in the book of Genesis right after the flood during the time of Noah. It says in Genesis 9:24-27, “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.[25] And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.[26] And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.[27] God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” The racists explain this verse by saying such things as: “Look here at this curse and you see that the people who descended from Canaan were destined to become servants of the other peoples of the earth. That means segregation is God’s will. They are servants because they are not as capable as others. They are lacking intellectually and other ways and can only be servants. By the way, the black people of Africa are the ones being written about in these verses.” That is what that pastor told me. Once again this passage was used wrongly to support segregation and to support a negative view of anyone with an ancestry from Africa. It seems unbelievable, but that is exactly what the segregationists tried to do and exactly how they tried to twist the Bible.


It is easy to demonstrate, of course, that the racists were wrong on the meaning of the passage in Genesis chapter nine. When we read through Genesis chapter ten we see that the people of Africa did not come through Canaan’s lineage, but through the other sons of Ham. It says in Genesis 10:6, “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” The curse was only on Canaan and not on the other sons of Ham. And then if you read further in Genesis 10, you see that all of the people that descended from Canaan lived in ancient Canaan, which is modern-day Palestine. This is seen very clearly in Genesis 10:15-19. This whole passage about Canaan in the Bible is God telling very clearly that He will take the land of Canaan away from the Canaanites and give it to others. God gave that land to the descendents of Abraham. The passage in Genesis 9:24-27 was a prophecy of what was going to happen to the land of Canaan. The prophecy was fulfilled when the Israelites were delivered from Egypt and entered into the land of Canaan. It has absolutely nothing to do with black people in Africa or anywhere else. Notice what was said regarding Abraham and the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:1-7, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:[2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:[3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.[4] So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.[5] And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.[6] And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.[7] And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” And so if you look at the whole context about what happened to Canaan from Genesis chapter 9 through Genesis chapter 12, it is very clear that it has nothing to do with black people in Africa, but is all about the promised-land and why that land of Canaan was promised to Abraham.


The Bible does not in any way encourage or support racism of any kind. As a matter of fact the major themes of the Bible make it the greatest book on equality that has ever been written. If people want to look at the book of Genesis to see from where various races can trace their descendents, then they need to simply go back to the beginning of the book of Genesis and they will see that every person of every race has the exact same lineage according to the Bible. We are all equally descended from Adam and Eve. As a matter of fact the Bible emphasizes our common ancestry from Adam, and the common problem that it gives us all: we are all sinners. It says in First Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” God loves us all equally. When it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” it is obvious that God loves every person equally no matter what is their race. Notice how this great equality is expressed in Romans 3:22-23, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Notice the use of the word “all” in these verses. Phrases like this are found all through the New Testament describing the common spiritual need of all human beings and the common solution. Everyone gets saved the same way: by believing in Jesus. Notice the phrase, “there is no difference” in Romans 3:23. It means there is no difference between people. All are the same. We all get saved the same way too. It says in Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And then after we are saved, we are all equally brothers and sisters in Christ: members if one great family. Notice how believers are described in Colossians 3:10-11, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:[11] Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Christians are spoken of repeatedly in the Bible as “brothers,” members of one family, having the same Father. This teaches equality in its ultimate possibility. The Bible does not teach or support racism or segregation of any kind. The opposite is true. Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” It says in Romans 13:8, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” The concepts of segregation do not promote love. They promote hard feelings, misunderstanding, division, and ill-will. You should never evaluate anyone based upon their race, but only based upon their character or actions. That is what God does, and He offers His great love through Christ to all.



Copyright; 2014 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved