The judgment of Israel, the northern kingdom, extends from chapter 3 to the end of the book (9:10), and surprisingly, his condemnations remind us of our own times.
He accuses Israel of turning justice into bitterness” and “throwing righteousness to the ground.” He condemns their lives of indolence with these words: “You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David . . . You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph” (6:4-6).
Israel is a society whose people are determined to “get theirs” no matter who it hurts, and God is furious. In chapter 4 God lists all the horrible things God had done to get the people to look to Him and repent, yet, five times He repeats, “you have not returned to me.” In chapter 5, the Lord says: You get what you have given: Since you have oppressed the poor, you will become poor. The judgment is certain. Like a man who comes upon a lion, only to meet a bear, who escapes the bear and finds shelter in his home only to be bitten by a snake, there will be no escape for Israel.
God’s people have but one hope: seek good, hate evil, promote justice. This is not a way to escape the judgment, only a way to find mercy in a judgment sure to come.