Book of Amos
Chapter 7, Part 17
December 4, 2011
Amos made it clear in chapters 3-6 that the reason for God’s punishment on them was their greed, their social and judicial injustice, their hypocritical worship, their economic exploitation of the poor and their self-indulgence. They broke every commandment God gave them. They broke their covenant with God by worshipping idols, robbing the poor, and living a pleasure-seeking life. Now, in chapter seven, Amos will describe the judgment of God that must befall Israel. Yes, individuals who repented could still be saved, but the nation would suffer terribly for their folly.
God gave Amos 5 visions to share with the people to show them what was to come.
Vision 1: “Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings” (Amos 7:1). God “showed” Amos that He was building an army of locusts to come into Israel after the first cutting of the best grasses that would go into the King’s storehouse. This spoke of the annual event when the people harvested their fields and sent the king His portion of their reaping. It was a sort of tax. This most likely refers to wheat because, when lost, the people starve, and some die. Instead of taking the choicest grass, in His mercy, God would wait to send the locusts to destroy the second, and less valuable, growth.
Locusts are not content to stay in the fields. They devour everything in their path. That means every planted or wild growth that was used to feed the people would be destroyed of God did what the vision showed.
You know, it just occurred to me that the kings of Israel always got the first and best of everything, the grasses, vineyard, flocks and herds. Doesn’t it make sense that GOD would get our first best of everything? God has blessed us abundantly and we should bless Him by using our time, talent and treasure to serve Him.
“And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small” (verse 2). When Amos’ vision ended and he saw what devastation the locusts would cause if God indeed sent them, and Amos prayed that God would forgive the people and not really send this plague. The people themselves remained unrepentant, but Amos stood in the gap, prayed furiously, and repented for the nation. We can learn a lot right here. God has always had prophets in this world. He still uses them to this day. I believe it’s the prayers of those prophets that have keep God from punishing the people of this country. Yes, we have true Christians who love the Lord, but many people here are seeking to erase any vestige of God from this land. They worship self, idols, statues, rocks, crystals, water, sun, moon, etc… They lost sight of the fact that God created people to worship Him only. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). Now that abortion has become such an accepted way of getting rid of a woman’s “problem” we are seeing more women killing their born children of all ages. There have always been women who abused their children. I know that for a fact. But when you think of a woman sitting in a rocking chair calmly stabbing her daughter to death while defying the police who were commanding her to stop, resulting in her daughter’s death and her own, you see just a little of how deep the depravity of a country without God goes. Yet, by the intercession of the prophets, God has been merciful. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”(James 5:16b). But, as with Israel, rest assured, the sinful misbehavior of the people of this country will not be allowed to continue much longer.
Amos probably referred to Israel as Jacob to remind God of the covenant that stood between Him and Jacob. That is, God’s promise to protect Israel and her people as long as they obeyed Him. God’s punishment was well deserved, but Amos begged for the Lord to stay His hand. And God did.
“The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD” (verse 3). God heard Amos’ fervent prayers for Israel and He cancelled His plan for judgment. Understand this, though. God did not change His mind about Israel needing judgment; He just changed the timing of it. The Assyrians would not be loosed to kill and capture just then.
Vision 2: “Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD” (verses 4-6). Amos’ second vision was of fire. God caused the heat of the sun to intensify so much it scorched all the grasses and trees. They were so dry, in fact, they spontaneously combusted causing fires to spread over the land. The “great deep” was the underground supply of water that fed the rivers, lakes and streams. It too had dried up so there was no water with which to fight the fires. They raged on unchallenged in Amos’ vision
Then Amos was back on his face begging the Lord not to send such a punishment. He cried out, “O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee!” We would say, “Oh my God! Please stop this fire! I’m begging You, please don’t send this fire!” And Amos reminded God of Jacob once again. God “repented” or changed His mind and did not send the fire. Israel was still not forgiven, though, as her people had still not repented.
Vision 3: “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the LORD stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand” (verse 7). Here, in Amos’ third vision, God “showed” him the straight line which He had used to build Israel. Any carpenter will tell you that unless a wall is plumb, it will not hold itself together. A plumbline was used to detect if building were true or if they had shifted. If a wall is out of plumb, it bulges and causes weakness. This could cause the building to collapse. If an inspector finds the wall out of plumb, he can issue an order to raze it to the ground. This is the picture we are getting of God.
“And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the LORD, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (verses 8, 9). The plumbline Amos saw God holding up was the Law, the Ten Commandments upon which He built Israel. When God built the land of Israel (the wall) and gave her the surrounding lands as covenant, He built it true to plumb. There were certain requirements the people were expected to meet in order to stay true, but they failed. God would tear this building down.
Knowing that Amos would surely hit the ground face down in intercession for Israel, God said, “I will not again pass by them any more.” He made it clear to Amos that this judgment would not be cancelled. God had reached His limit and Israel would see His wrath very soon. "The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; He hath stretched out a line; He hath not withdrawn His hand from destroying; therefore He made the rampart and wall to lament" (Lamentations 2:8). Let’s remember that it will not be a total destruction of the people. God always keeps a remnant for Himself.
God showed Amos that the ten tribes of Israel came up short in the plumb. Their religious and political systems would be destroyed. All the high places, altars on the hilltops and mountains that Isaac had built where he worshipped God would be pulled down. Their mansions would also be destroyed. Everything they held dear would be taken away from them and they would go into captivity. The sanctuaries and homes they thought would keep them safe would be destroyed and they would have nowhere to hide. God would show His power by first destroying the house of Jeroboam and his golden calf where false idols were worshipped. As a matter of fact, Jeroboam II’s son, Zecharias was killed with a sword in front of the people by Shallum who conspired against him and took over the kingdom. (II Kings 15:8-10)
Communion at this time of year should cause us to pause and reflect on our relationship with Jesus. We should examine what He means to our hearts and how we think of Him in our minds. We should take time to think about (ponder; meditate on) what the doctrine we believe. Do we believe with all our hearts that Jesus was born through the ministration of the Holy Spirit to a virgin girl? Do we believe He came to save that which was lost, first the house of Israel, then the Gentiles? Do you know without a doubt that Jesus agreed to come to earth to save us, each individual one of us? De we believe He would have done it if there was only one “us” to save? Do we believe that God is love and that because of this great love He gave us His Son as a ransom to buy us back from the devil? Do we believe that Jesus knew before He was born all that He would suffer for our sakes?
Jesus knew. He knew He was heading for the cross and He came willingly to do it for us. Give God all the glory, for He alone is worthy.
Reading in Luke 22, we understand that Jesus longed for and desired to eat this last meal with His apostles, His inner core. Jesus knew this would be His last Passover Supper as a human being. He told His disciples that He would eat the Passover again, but not until “it is fulfilled in the kingdom.” This doesn’t mean Jesus will eat Passover in the kingdom because it has already been fulfilled in Him. It means that He is the Passover and they would all eat together in Heaven.
He took the cup and made it clear that He would not drink of it again until God’s kingdom is complete with all who will be saved.
Then Jesus instituted communion. “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Take the bread now.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Take the cup now.
Book of Amos
Chapter 7, Part 18
December 11, 2011
“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10). Amaziah was scared. He knew the only chance the people had to be saved was if they repented of all their sins, knocked down the high places, and reestablished justice for all in the land. Amaziah knew that if Amos succeeded, his business as the priest that sacrificed to Jeroboam’s golden calf was over. He wanted the people to continue in their sin because he was getting richer and fatter on their unrighteous acts. It was true that “the land is not able to bear all his words” because they were words of redemption and totally contrary to what the priest promoted.
For one thing, Amos was certainly not conspiring against Jeroboam because he was alone in this mission. To “conspire” means to be in agreement with someone or some others to do whatever is agreed on. Also, conspiracy is planned in secret. Amos was most vocal about what God gave him to prophesy. It was Amos alone speaking God’s words. So that was the first lie Amaziah spoke against Amos. He tried to make Jeroboam believe Amos was a traitor.
There is another man in history who was falsely accused of treason by the priests. This man was accused of rebellion against the Roman Empire. Do you know who that was? It was Jesus. The priests said He claimed to be the King (Luke 23:2) and that He was agitating the people against Rome (Luke 23:5). Both false claims that got Jesus killed in the end.
Amaziah told Jeroboam that “the land is not able to bear all his (Amos’) words.” They were a heavy burden on their conscience. Amaziah made it seem to Jeroboam that the people would be so overcome by the prophecy that they would repent and turn away from all idol worship. He also made it sound like Amos would stir up the people to dethrone Jeroboam. Yes, God used Amos to stir Israeli hearts, but he had no plan to form and uprising against the king. That was Amaziah’s own interpretation of fact that he hoped would end Amos’ ministry in Israel.
“For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land” (verse 11). Amaziah wanted the same thing for Amos: Death. He wanted to be rid of the guy who was stirring up the consciences of the people. He was protecting his future. Instead of seeing the truth of redemption in the prophecy, the devil blinded him with jealousy and fear. Amaziah sent letters to the king to warn him that Amos claimed Jeroboam would be killed by the sword, meaning in battle. Amos never said that. Rather, he said that Israel would become captive to the army God would send. They were eventually taken captive by the Assyrians.
“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court” (verses 12, 13). There is no record that Jeroboam, King of Israel, ever responded to Amaziah’s letter of accusation against Amos. Amaziah took control of the situation himself and spoke with Amos directly when he didn’t hear back from Jeroboam. He called Amos a “seer” which was used for the true prophets of God, so he at least got that right. Knowing Amos was a seer speaking for the Lord should have scared Amaziah. No one should ever mock someone who comes in the name of the Lord. Then, he basically told Amos to “get out of Dodge.” He intimated that Amos was prophesying for selfish gain when he told him to eat bread in Judah.
Then came the warning from Amaziah: Don’t preach your message here in Israel again. This is the land where the king’s house and sanctuary are. This is where the royal family lives and worships. It’s here the king makes his sacrifices to his god, the golden calf he had built and the other gods of Israel. This is also where the king issues his laws and edicts and where judgments are made. Your message, Amos, is too harsh. Go prophesy in Judah to your own people in your own homeland and leave the kingdom of the north alone.
But Amos could not do that. He was selected by God to deliver this message, and he knew that not doing so would immediately remove him from the will of God. Matthew said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Amos feared God, and I love his response to Amaziah.
”Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (verses 14, 15). It was like Amos was saying, “Hey, Buddy, I didn’t go looking for this job. I didn’t ask for the job of prophesying over Israel. I was perfectly content being a fruit picker and herdsman. But God called me and gave me this assignment and I will do it till He’s satisfied it’s been done right.” Amos was not scared of Amaziah, but of God. He responded to Amaziah with humility and truth, two things the priest knew nothing about.
Amos explained, “And the LORD took me as I followed the flock.” Amos made it clear that he was no prophet, nor were his ancestors. He was not trained to deliver God’s Word to the people. God gave him what He wanted spoken and Amos spoke it out. He was herding the sheep from behind, and the Lord tapped Him on the shoulder, so to speak, and said, “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” From this statement, we can understand that God had not given up on Israel. They remained HIS people. He wanted them saved, but they were a stubborn people. We can understand this from their time in the desert. Even then, when God’s glory was with them day and night, they whined, complained, begged and built false gods to worship. Solomon explained it pretty well in Proverbs 16:18, when he said, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Now that Amos had answered Amaziah’s accusations and threats, he had something to say to Amaziah. “Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land” (verse 16, 17). Right now, listen, pay attention, and “Hear the word of the LORD.” This should have made Amaziah sit up and take notice.
“…and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.” Drop is just another word for prophesy. Amaziah told Amos not to speak against the ten tribes of Israel. He didn’t want Amos to spread the word of repentance among the tribes. Again, it had to do with selfish gain. If Israel came up out of sin, repented, and walked with God, Amaziah would lose all he had.
Amaziah, in trying to silence Amos, was struggling against the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit of God in Amos that gave him the courage to continue prophesying in the face of persecution. But, because Amaziah spoke against the prophet of God who was filled with the Spirit, God had a word for Amaziah and his family. God said that his wife would be a harlot and that his sons and daughters would be killed by the sword. Mrs. Amaziah would have to sell herself for food and to supply their needs because Priest Amaziah was going to lose everything he owned, including his land. And they would be taken from Israel by the Assyrians and die in a “polluted” land. This means a land of religious idolatry, which is ironic, as that’s what they had made Israel.
It was then as it is now, as John W. Ritenbaugh said, “a Laodicean society.” Sin was rampant from top to bottom. Justice was perverted to honor the guilty and harm the innocent. Tolerance was the watchword. Righteousness was old fashioned; a thing of the past. And no one believed God would really destroy an entire nation. Wrong! Read the Bible and see about Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding nations. When God is fed up, He takes action. God is only waiting for that last person He knows will be saved before He strikes. The church will surely be removed and this country will be punished, along with all the other idolatrous on this old earth. Praise God, then as now, He gives us enough time to repent and get right with Him, but that won’t last much longer.