“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Amos is one of the shorter books of prophecy in the Old Testament, but it should not be overlooked by any means. This lowly shepherd (Amos 1:1) had a powerful message for the people of Israel: God was coming to judge the people for their unfaithfulness, and the only hope Israel had was to turn from their sins and come back to God.
#1 Ornate Canticles
Chapter 3 of this book contains a typical example of the beauty of Hebrew poetry. This is distinctive from what is called “prose,” or a simple narrative form. It may not rhyme or contain a rhythmic verbal pattern like modern poetry does, but Hebrew poetry is marked by several distinctive features.
Grand allusions to the power of nature are one hallmark, calling to the forefront the awesome power of God’s creation (Job 37:2-13). Another is the use of consecutive numbers to prove a point (Proverbs 6:16), even though the number used may not literally apply to the given situation (Job 40:5). An acrostic poem containing multiple verses or stanzas will begin with a different letter of the alphabet (Psalm 139).
The language of Hebrew poetry is alliterative, full of rich metaphor, melodious when read, and powerful when meditated upon. It is this type of poetry that Amos and others use to make a point or reinforce their message so that it would be memorable and have a lasting impact on its audience.
#2 Obvious Commonsense
Amos opens this portion of his God-given message by proclaiming God’s judgment on the people of Israel (Amos 3:1), and his goal is to show his listeners how obvious and apparent their sin is.
He begins by asking the first question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) The answer that most would arrive at is “no.” Obviously, if two people are walking together, they have a common destination or purpose, or at the very least, are joined together by a shared interest or bond.
He continues to ask questions which have obvious negative answers, hammering away at the minds of the people the point that there is a clearly evident reason that certain events cannot happen. A lion will not roar for no reason, a bird will not attack when there is no prey, and hunters will not rejoice over an empty trap (Amos 3:5).
He then links the established logic of his argument to the judgment of God. He contends that the Lord is behind the coming judgment and that the people should fear it like they fear a trumpet blast from the watchtower (Amos 3:5-6). This use of poetry serves to show that nothing happens by accident, and that there should be an obvious interpretation of the signs God is presenting.
#3 Ominous Calamities
God was coming to punish His unfaithful children for their sins; they knew better, God had warned them of the fate that would await them, but they would not listen (Amos 3:1-2).
These curses came directly from the establishment of God’s covenant with Israel – there were prescribed blessings for keeping the covenant, and curses for breaking it (Deuteronomy 28). If the people did not yield their whole hearts to God and serve Him faithfully, the land would be devastated and the people would be forcibly removed from the land God swore to give them, and they would be carried away into exile.
Centuries of apostasy and half-hearted repentance had now led to this, and God was invoking the terms He promised. Now, He would remove the centers of worship from among the people, and He would destroy their homes and leave the land desolate (Amos 3:14-15). His references to the “winter house,” the “summer house,” and the “houses of ivory” show that the priorities of the people were grossly out of perspective: they had trusted in their wealth and power instead of God, and had turned to foreign idols. And God would soon take it all away from them.
#4 Obligatory Compulsion
Another key aspect of Amos’ words is how compelled he is to give them. God had revealed special messages to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7), and they were under the heavy hand of God to relay those messages faithfully (Amos 3:8). Even if kings and rulers wanted them to pronounce favor in their prophecies, these messengers could only say what God told them (1 Kings 22:13-23). Even if they wanted to remain silent, the majesty of the One Who had given the message would compel them to speak (Jeremiah 20:9).
Amos was not a prophet by trade (Amos 7:14-15), but he had been called by God to give a message to His people.
Amos’ question, “How can two walk together, except they be agreed?” is the same as asking someone, “Is the sky blue?” It is a slightly sarcastic way of telling your listener that what you are about to say should be basic common sense. In other words, that the point you are trying to make should be painfully obvious.
God wanted to make it easily apparent in this message from His servant Amos that the trouble Israel was experiencing at that time was not without cause. It came directly from God, and there was a good reason for it that the people were repeatedly warned about. Now, they were reaping the consequences of their actions.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.