The first reason for the four judgments, this against Damascus for their threshing of their threshing of the Gilead region where the two and a half tribes settled on the other side of the Jordan, Gad Reuben and Manasseh.
The forth reason for the four judgments, this on Edom itself. Edom, the descendants of Jacob's brother Esau in their unrelenting wrath not only received all the Israelite captives from Damascus/Gaza/Tyrus but pursued more with vengeance.
Edom and Ammon are at the center of these reasons so far with assistance from Damascus Gaza and Tyrus. These are all kin to Israel rooted deep with the patriarchs, but, have long been enemies and sore spots to Israel. They have taken their hostility way too far (as kin folk often do) and violated common brotherly/tribal/national sensibility.
With all of these external reasons given we finally get to Israel and Judah, all the more reason for judgment. Judah for despising the Law, not carrying out the commandments, and walking in the lies of their fathers. Israel for their callous treatment of the righteous/poor/meek, their sexual perversion and spiritual profanity. Both have witnessed God's work against other nations but disregarded that fact that their puffiness as 'the chosen' against God is all the worse.
So this is where that quote comes from "shall two walk together lest they be agreed". Some sayings just stick. Do you walk with the Lord? Then do the two of you agree? Do the two of you not agree? Then you don't walk together. For Israel and also Judah there is a whole lot of agreeing needing to be done and there is only one way left for the Lord to get them to see that; they apparently think that everything is now settled.
All of this and yet 'ye have not returned to me'. Sure there is the attempt at worship, the attempt at sacrifice, but, this religion is hollow and puffed and idolatrous. Bethel was one of the two temples of the golden calf. Gilgal (there were a couple) was either a religious landmark of the 12 stones by the Jordan or a school of prophets. They are called kine of Bashan (cows from east of the Jordan) and the calf that they worship at supposedly symbolic of Jehovah as a replacement for having to go into Jerusalem. Nothing God has done to this point has worked. They are told to prepare to meet their God.
The Ammorite god of fire Moloch has had influence upon this nation for a long time. Solomon had even built a temple to it during his decline. Chuin is probably the Phoenician god Saturn to whom human sacrifices were being made. The mention of the star I will have to look into. I do not know when the traditional Star of David came into use, but, is curious if the two would be similar.
Many today think of their sins as personal things that have little or no effect on others such as the just, the poor, the oppressed, the needy. This passage speaks of such transgressions causing a nation's judgment as a whole to become as soft porous wormwood and it's righteousness to be left off. The stark evidences can be found in how the just are more and more rebuked, abhorred and afflicted (to the point the just are better off personally to keep silent). The results are a form of personal prosperity and social suave that comes quickly to an end having no bases of support (earlier described as being lead away by fish hooks). The nation as a whole is judged not only by it's failed condition, but, by God. Doesn't sound all that personal to me.
For some Israelites here, the conditions don't seem to be all that bad; beds of ivory, bowels of wine, music upon their porches. One might say that their gods have blessed them well. What gods? Like their gods, is this not all by their selfish imaginations? Is this not all by their deliberate stiff handed taking? Today we package it as assertiveness, as going out and getting what you desire, as the eye of the tiger, virility and fertility. These are the same pictures that many other gods portray, they are symbols of a darker wisdom. Yes, it brings some prosperity, but, it destroys many others, it is at other's expense. And for what? A moment on a roof top looking down on all the soiled masses. Oh my what a view.
The Lord repenting does not mean the same as believers repenting from sin. The suggestion would be then that the Lord somehow was going to do something evil and was talked out of it. The truth is simply that the Lord changed His mind. It may for instance not have been His plan to begin with and that He was using this discussion as a teachable moment (what if I). I remember as a father proposing different forms of discipline with my children to get them to think about their wrong (what if I take away television privileges for a week?). Another way of thinking it is that the Lord had options, out of these options he was going to do this (and would have been within His rights to do so) but, chose rather to do that.
The land could not bear words of Amos' mouth. He was being blamed for everything that was going on. No, it wasn't the idolatry or the thievery or the oppression or deceit, it was the words of one minor herdsman prophet near Bethel. The well meaning friend is just as off by trying to talk Amos into moving to Judah for his own safety. When it is God's words one better hold true.
A famine from the word of God. You would think that the word of God is exactly what they need, that the word of the prophets would increase or that the initial scrolls would be uncovered or something. The problem is that they've had the word all along and have chosen not to do anything with it. It is often true that you never really hunger or thirst for something until it is taken away. You don't realize how much you needed it until it is no longer there.