Hidden Stories in Amos and Isaiah - Part 1
- Ruth Beechick Contributing Writer
- 2005 3 Mar
The little book of Amos tells an astonishing story, almost hidden. It begins in the first verse. There, Amos said he received prophecies in the days of King Uzziah "two years before the earthquake." It says earthquake in English, anyway, because that was the best the translators could do with the word raash. Elsewhere they called it commotion, or shaking, or several other words that indicate violent Earth upheavals.
Two clues in the Bible show that this was more than an ordinary earthquake. We find one clue by skim reading down through chapter 1 of Amos and into chapter 2, marking the word fire each time we find it. (Seven times.) Besides fire upon all those cities, Amos said that Mount Carmel would wither.
A second clue to the extraordinary violence is in Zechariah 14:5. Zechariah foretold a future time of judgment. Then he said to the Jews, "85ye shall flee, like as ye fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah." By Zechariah's time the raash was history, no longer a prophecy, and he said that people fled. But people do not flee before an earthquake because they cannot tell when one is coming. In modern times we predict an imminent volcano eruption and people evacuate in time, but try as we might we cannot do that yet for earthquakes.
Since people fled the raash, it had to be an event that they could foresee. Some scientists have a suggestion. They say that the Earth could have been too close to a comet or other heavenly body. Astronomers could see that ahead of time, even ancient astronomers, as they were smarter than we think they were. Such an astronomical event could cause fire and other destruction.
Survivors who had fled returned and found burned cities as Amos had prophesied. Somebody killed Amos, and Isaiah began preaching. He said:
Why should ye be stricken any more85Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land85it is desolate85Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah (from Isaiah 1:7-9).
In the following years, two more astonishing events happened. Ahaz became king, and then his son Hezekiah. Isaiah continued prophesying, and Hezekiah sent for him to help with two troubles. Hezekiah was sick and the enemy Assyrians endangered his city as a huge army crowded to the very gates of Jerusalem. God gave Isaiah answers for both troubles. Hezekiah would not die but live fifteen more years, and a "blast" would destroy the Assyrian army. God sent a sign that He would do as He said.
Behold, I will bring again the shadow of degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down (Isaiah 38:8).
Ten degrees of the full 360 degrees in a day works out to be forty minutes. So for Ahaz, one day was forty minutes too long, and for his son Hezekiah one day was forty minutes too short. The very night of the short day, according to Jewish historians, the blast came. In the morning 185,000 Assyrian soldiers outside the city walls were dead.
This made three earthshaking events in one century: 1) the raash that Amos prophesied, 2) Earth's slower rotation for Ahaz, and 3) Earth's faster rotation for Hezekiah. Also with the third earthshaking, a blast from heaven killed the Assyrians. People read these amazing stories and interpret them differently.
[Editor's Note: Next week's article will address the topic of reading prophecy and also give some ideas on how to tie this all in with science.]
Dr. Ruth Beechick is retired from a long and varied career in education, and lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She now writes for homeschoolers, whom she sees as the greatest hope for the future of our society. Her books for homeschooling parents can be found at http://www.HomeschoolingBooks.com