Amos 1:3-5
Thus says the LORD: 
    “ For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four,
      I will not turn away its punishment,
      Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.
       4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael,
      Which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad.
       5 I will also break the gate bar of Damascus,
      And cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven,
      And the one who holds the scepter from Beth Eden.
      The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,”
      Says the LORD. 
A couple weeks ago we began a series of exhortations from the prophet Amos. God chose the sheepherder Amos to speak the Word of God to the corrupt people of Israel and Judah. However, before Amos speaks to the people of God, he speaks the Word of God to the nations around Israel. Though God was not in covenant with the nations surrounding Israel, he makes very clear that He is nevertheless their Ruler and Judge. He is Lord of all the nations of the earth.
In our text today God speaks a word of judgment on the nation of Syria with its capital at Damascus. The ancient king of Syria, a man by the name of Hazael, had been chosen by God Himself to rule Syria. Once a servant of the King of Syria, Hazael was sent to the prophet Elisha to discover whether the king would recover from his illness. There Eliasha announced that Hazael would be the next king of Syria. But even as Elisha made the announcement, he wept openly. Hazael, astonished, asked why he wept. And this was Elisha’s reply:
“Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.”
It is for these cruelties that Syria is condemned by the prophet Amos:
“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four,
         I will not turn away its punishment,
         Because they have threshed Gilead [in n. Israel] with implements of iron. 

So what would be the consequence of Syria’s cruelty toward the people of God? God would hold them accountable. He would bring down the throne of Hazael, destroy his palaces, bring desolation on his land and people, and take many of the Syrians into captivity – words that were fulfilled when the mighty nation of Assyria destroyed Damascus within the next 50 years.
Now if it was true that God was Lord of all the nations of the earth in the Old Covenant, when God was permitting the nations of the world by and large to go their own way, how much more true is it now that Jesus is exalted as the Ruler of all the nations. Jesus rules and reigns among the nations of the earth and calls them to implement justice, righteousness, and purity on the earth. And even as God executed judgment on the nations of the ancient world for three transgressions and for four, so Jesus executes judgment on the nations of the modern world. Why have the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya fallen this year? Why is the modern nation of Syria facing serious unrest? Because Jesus rules and reigns in history and overthrows wickedness and injustice, especially when that injustice is practiced against His people. And so the call to all the nations is, “Kiss the Son lest he become angry and you perish in the way.” Jesus is remarkably patient; he waits for three transgressions, even four before he strikes. But strike he will if we refuse to give heed to Him – especially if we strike out against His people.
And this is a sober reminder; after all our own nation is practicing cruelty. We are threshing the unborn with implements of iron, slaughtering our children in the womb; we are removing ancient boundary stones and meddling in affairs that are not our own; we are corrupting ourselves and others through the perversity and coarseness of our media; for three transgressions and for four Jesus judges – so let us kneel and confess our sins, requesting that God in His mercy would grant us repentance.