They will wander from sea to sea and from north to east, seeking the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.
The word “wander” literally means “reel.” The word is used of the reeling of drunkards, of the swaying to and fro of trees in the wind, and the searching of people bewildered. The idea is that these people are wandering about, not knowing what has happened or what to do. You’ve seen the pictures and video of people who escaped front the World Trade Center shortly before it imploded wandering about in the heavy dust, not knowing what has happened or what to do. That’s really the idea of what’s going on here—the people are so bewildered without divine revelation that they do not know what to do.
The people wander from sea to Sea and from north to east, seeking the word of the Lord. The description “from sea to sea” refers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, in other words, this means from east to west. Thus, the people are going everywhere—east and west, north and south—seeking for a prophet but none would be found. Although the people would desire desperately to hear from God, he would not answer them.
In the day of the famine, the fair virgins and strong young men shall faint from thirst. The mention of the fair virgins and strong young men refers to those who would best be able to endure a famine, but the famine is taking a toll on them and they are beginning to fall under the severity of the famine. This shows just how terrible this famine is. It is so severe that those who are best able to endure it cannot endure.
This famine would come upon those who gave themselves to idolatry. The famine would come upon those who swore by the sin of Samaria. The sin of Samaria obviously refers to the golden calves Jeroboam established. That’s clear from the mention of Dan and Beersheba, where Jeroboam erected these golden calves.
These would fall and never rise again. Falling and never rising again certainly refers to the Assyrian invasion when Assyria took the northern kingdom of Israel. Those northern tribes were lost, never to rise again. This underscores just how seriously God takes obedience to his Word. Because the people rejected God’s Word, he was going to reject them—he would send them off and they would no longer he his people. He had given them an opportunity for repentance; in fact, Amos’ preaching was an opportunity for repentance and returning to the Lord, but the people refused to hear him.
We need to understand how seriously God takes obedience to his Word. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 Jn. 6).
If we disobey God, he will severely punish us as he did the 10 tribes. At Saul’s coronation, Samuel told the Israelites, “If you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers” (1 Sam. 12:15). Jesus will come to take vengeance “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).
Will you receive God’s vengeance for disobedience? Do you need to come and begin obeying the Lord this morning?