Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Saving Just a Piece

Is still saving.

Amos 3:12

Thus says the LORD:

“As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion
Two legs or a piece of an ear,
So shall the children of Israel be taken out
Who dwell in Samaria—
In the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch!”

Once again, Amos uses horrifying poetic imagery to describe events. When a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, not much is left of the sheep. So shall the children of Israel be taken out.

There’s an important point in this about the LORD keeping His covenants. His covenant is with the nation of Israel. Having most of the Israelis die at the hands of an invading army doesn’t break that covenant.

But having nothing left would. What matters is the nation. That’s who the covenant is with. All the individual people are going to die eventually anyway. As long as a remnant remains, the LORD has kept His side of the covenant. Even if the remnant is so small that it’s like a shepherd saving just a piece of the ear of a sheep from the jaws of a lion, the covenant is still on.

So, brutal punishment that kills a lot of people is perfectly okay. The children of Israel need to learn that God is serious. If terrible destruction is what it takes to pound this lesson into them, then so be it.

But don’t miss the absurdity of a shepherd saving a piece of an ear from the jaws of a lion. If you were a shepherd, would you do that? Of course not. You’d have to tangle with a lion for almost nothing.

This absurdity highlights God extraordinary love for His people. Like the parable that describes a celebration over finding a lost coin, or the one describing a shepherd leaving 99 sheep to find a wandering one, absurd situations are cited to give emphasis to the point.

God will not abandon His people.

The same lesson applies to us. God will not abandon His covenant with us either. But the lesson on misunderstanding the covenant applies to us too. Like Israel thinking they won’t endure great hardship, we think we won’t either. But the covenant is not one of comfort; it’s one of salvation.

Where does the Bible say we won’t suffer for Christ?


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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