3. Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
3. Qui procul rejicitis diem malum, et appropinquatis solium violentiae.
The Prophet here reproves the Jews and Israelites for another crime, -- that they had often provoked God's wrath, and ceased not by their sins to call forth new punishments, and in the meantime rejected, through their haughtiness and obstinacy, all his threatening, as if they were vain, and would never be executed on them. We must ever remember what I have said before, -- that the Prophet speaks not here of the whole people, but of the chiefs; for the expression, that they drew nigh the throne of iniquity, could not have been applied to the common people. This discourse then was addressed particularly to the judges and counselors, and those who were in power in both kingdoms, in Judah as well as in Israel.
But it is a remarkable saying, that they drove far off the evil day, while they drew nigh the throne of iniquity, or of violence; as though he said, |Ye seek for yourselves a fever by your intemperance, and yet ye drive it far off, as drunken men are wont to do, who swallow down wine without any moderation; and when a physician comes or one more moderate, and warns them not to indulge in excess, they ridicule all their forebodings: What! will a fever seize on me? I am wholly free from fever; I am indeed accustomed to drink wine.'| Such are ungodly men, when they provoke God's wrath as it were designedly, and at the same time scorn all threatening, as though they were safe through some special privilege. We now then see what the Prophet had in view by saying, that they drove far the evil day, and yet drew nigh the throne of iniquity He means, that they drew nigh the throne of iniquity, when the judges strengthened themselves in their tyranny, and took the liberty to steal, to rob, to plunder, to oppress. When therefore they thus hardened themselves in all kinds of licentiousness, they then drew nigh the throne of iniquity. And they put away the evil day, because they were touched by no alarm; for when the Prophets denounced God's vengeance, they regarded it as a fable.
In short, Amos charges here the principal men of the two kingdoms with two crimes, -- that they ceased not to provoke continually the wrath of God by subverting and casting under foot all equity, and by ruling the people in a tyrannical and haughty manner -- and that, in the mean time, they heedlessly despised all threatening, prolonged time, and promised impunity to themselves: even when God seriously and sharply addressed them, they still thought that the evil day was not nigh. Passages of this kind meet us everywhere in the Prophets, in which they show their indignation at this kind of heedlessness, when hypocrites putting off every feeling of grief, as though they had fascinated themselves, laughed to scorn all the Prophets, because they thought that the hand of God was far removed from them. Thus they are spoken of by Isaiah, as saying,
Let us eat and drink, since we must die,'
They indeed thought that the Prophets did not seriously threaten them; but they regarded the mention of a near destruction as an empty bugbear. We now then understand what the Prophet meant. It follows --