AMOS 3:3

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

The above text is often quoted to support agreement in all kinds of areas. But many times have we heard it quoted to support what the context teaches?

Before we look at the verse and its context, consider this very obvious, important, yet overlooked, point:

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah plainly tells us that every message and messenger from God will speak according to the law and prophets as found in the Old Testament (cf., Luke 24:44-49.) See 2 Peter 1:20 and Isa. 28:10. (Notice 2 Pet. 1:21! The implication is that NO New Testament PASSAGE [especially prophetic passages] WILL STAND APART FROM AN Old Testament PROPHECY.)

No passage will stand alone, and when seen in the light of other passages, very few will say what they appear to say in their 'literal' sense. A term used by Charles C. Ryrie is "consistent literalism."

Since consistent literalism is the logical and obvious principle of interpretation, dispensationalism is more than justified. (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today. Moody Press, Chicago. 1965. P. 97. Quoted by LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy. Principles of Prophetic Interpretation. Hans K. LaRondelle. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan. P. 11.)

Dispensationalism is a result of consistent application of the basic hermeneutical principle of literal, normal, or plain interpretation. No other system of theology can claim this. (Ryrie, ibid, 96.)

Consistent literalism is at the heart of dispensational eschatology. (Ryrie, Ibid, 158.)

A better term for Ryrie's literalism is "speculative literalism," for those of his strip are more interested in applying the prophetic words to modern events than they are in the historical-grammatical exegesis of the prophetic passages. (Principles, p. 17.) Over the years, their applications have had to change with the daily news.

Those of Ryrie's stripe must dogmatically reject any exegesis that goes beyond the grammatico-historical exegesis of Holy Scripture—that is, includes the "‘theological' principle of hermeneutics because it would allow a blending of Israel and the Church, placing a non-literal application beside a literal exegesis of Old Testament prophetic Scripture." (Principles, p. 25.) Without that Church/literal Israel distinction, dispensationalism collapses.

Scofield stated unambiguously that specific prophetic sections of Scripture must be interpreted and applied with absolute literalism: "Prophecies may never be spiritualised, but always literal." Such an absolute literalism in prophetic interpretation, however, leads irrevocably to a forced interpretation. Not only must Israel be restored as a national theocracy, but also Edom, Moab, and Ammon must the be restored as nations, because the prediction reads: "They [Israelites] will lay hands on Edon and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them" (Isaiah 11:14). Such a consistent literalism may not be unjustly be called "the insanity of literalism." The historic Christian position recognizes that the literal exegesis of Old Testament Scripture permits the typological application as employed by Christ and His apostles in the New Testament. This acknowledges that the Old Testament is "a Christian book."
Dispensational literalism does not allow that Jesus Christ provided a new perspective for interpreting the Old Testament. Dispensationalism is therefore basically oriented to the Old Covenant instead of to the Cross. (Principles, 26.)

LaRondelle states the case well. Dispensationalism revolves around the Old Covenant given to national Israel, making it the central theme of Scripture and history, instead of making the Cross of Christ the central theme of Scripture and history.

If dispensationalists would be true to their faith, they would have to condemn Paul for allegorizing Scripture with Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 21, Galatians 4:24-31), and condemn him for "spiritualizing" the law concerning the ox (Deuteronomy 25:4, 1 Corinthians 9:9). Hence, allegorical interpretation cannot be condemned as "anti-historical in character" as does J.D. Pentecost. (Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 112. Prophecy, 27.)

Even a superficial examination of Dispensationalism reveals that that doctrine only literalizes or spiritualize passages which will support their required Church/literal Israel distinction.

The New Testament presents nothing new, (except the mediation work of Christ). The message is not new. Thus, every NT doctrine must be understood in the light of what is already established in the law and the prophets. The Lord Himself made this extremely clear, Jn. 5:45-47; Lk. 24:44-48:

The Reformers started from the assumption that the Old Testament and the New Testament are organically related to each other. In spite of the differences in the forms of administering God's grace, the two Testaments are substantially the same, both teaching redemption by one and the same Mediator and Redeemer, both having one hope and one fellowship with the same covenant God, summed up in the words, "I will be your God and you shall be my people." (The Israel of God in Prophecy. Principles of Prophetic Interpretation. Hans K. LaRondelle. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan. P. 28.)

Therefore, the question "can two walk together, except thy be agreed" must be viewed in the light of the law and of the prophets. Let's follow Amos just a little.

In chapter one, the Lord pronounces His judgment against the heathen nations, saying that even the pagans will be held accountable to the Lord God of Heaven. No one will escape His notice and judgment. His judgment against the heathens is for obvious wickedness. Anyone should have known not to do these things.

The Lord points out that if the heathen cannot avoid the judicial wrath of God, then how do His people expect to avoid His wrath? They can not and will not.

Then He moves on to His people. Judah and Israel, 2:4-8. Why is God going to move in His wrath against them? Amos 2:4, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments. The Lord then promises to send a fire upon His people, to devour the palaces... Despise here is speaking of rejecting. Scripture interprets Scripture:

Lev. 26:43
I Sam. 8:7; 15:23, 26; 16:1
Isaiah 5:24; (30:12)
Jer. 6:(19) 30; 8:9
Ezek. 5:5-8 (20:13, 16, 24)

The passage which best sums up what Amos 2:4 and 3:3 says is Leviticus 26, where despise is used in vv. 15 and 43, which is re-given and expanded upon in Deuteronomy 28-32. Let us look at some major points.

First, Leviticus 26:12 is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16:

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Then in Ephesians 2:21:

In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord.

These are only two of the many New Testament passages that refer to the fact that God dwells in His people. Thus, although Leviticus 26 was addressed to the Old Testament Hebrew nation, the principle contained therein is as far reaching as the Church of the living God today.

Second, Leviticus 26:3 gives the condition for inheriting God's blessings: If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Vv. 4-13 gives the blessedness of walking in His statutes.

Third, v. 14, But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. Vv. 16-39 describe the result.

Fourth, vv. 40-46. We can reverse what is said with no damage to the context, and we see that if His people ignore or reject their responsibility to obey His law, He will cast them away.

Without exception, in all the passages listed above (and many more which are not listed), we see that when God's people reject (despise), the law of God as given by Moses, God will reject them, which is what Amos is saying, 2:4.

God's people despised the law of the Lord, and kept not His commandments. The result was a fire of judgment upon them. Not only did Paul apply this law for the church, so did Peter (1 Pet. 1:14-25), and the writer of Hebrew, 10:26-32.

Amos 3:2, 3.

V. 2, the Lord reminds His covenant people that they alone are the chosen ones. They are the ones who He choose to show Himself strong through by giving to them His law.

Then in v. 3, we see that His people rejected His law. In doing so, and in accord with Leviticus 26 and Deutonomery 28, their God departed from them, which brings us to the verse itself.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Agreed on what? Biblically, it is: Agreed that every area of life must be submitted to the law of God; agreed that everything must be done in accord with His revealed will (as given to Moses); agreed in their desire of obedience to that revealed law-word of God.

The agreement here is not that the world is a mess, though it is. The agreement is not even that the word of God is the word of God.

The agreement here is primarily between the law-giver and the ones the law was given to. Between God and man. As long as man agrees with God that His law alone is the rule for everything he does and he is committed to doing the commandments by the indwelling grace, power, of God, the law-giver will walk with the law-keeper.

A secondary application is between man and man. The agreement here is that the law of God is the final authority, and the two, by God's grace are dedicated to law-keeping. Another application is between a man and a woman, i.e., marriage. If the two cannot agree on the things each holds important before marriage, then trouble is ahead.

The walking together is based in the mutual dedication to that law.

As the two walk in that mutual agreement and dedication, they cannot help but be together. The mutual agreement and dedication is not that they should be together, but that they should walk in the total law-word of God.

As people walk in dedication to the total law-word of God, others will see their love for God's word. Their holy righteous life will bring conviction (or persecution), on those watching and the dedication to the commandments will reveal the law of God in us, John 15:10.

The walking together here is common dedication to 1 Corinthians 10:31:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

The passage, It must be a common dedication to bringing every area of life and thought under the authority of the law-word of God.