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Amos 6-9 Listen
An introduction to Amos
Amos was a prophet during the reign of King Uzziah (790-739) of Judah and King Jeroboam II (793-753) of Israel. According to Amos 7:14, he was a shepherd and gatherer of Sycamore fruit, but he was called to go prophesy to the Northern Kingdom. Amos lived in Tekoa, 10 miles south of Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom. Jeroboam II, of Israel (Northern Kingdom - Amos' target audience), was always into pagan worship as were all the kings of the Northern Kingdom. In the Southern Kingdom, Uzziah was a good king of Judah at first, but went astray during the latter part of his reign.
You're living it up for now (Amos 6)
1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
7 Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.
8 The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
9 And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
10 And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.
11 For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.
12 Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:
13 Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?
14 But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.
These verses are particularly cryptic at first glance, but keep in mind, he's talking to the God-rejecting, living-it-up inhabitants of Israel (Northern Kingdom); the less-than-obvious references in this chapter would have been very piercing to Israel's inhabitants with regard to some of their daily practices and attitudes. All of these verses implicate Israel in that they took pride in their riches and national strength, but Assyria would soon bring all of their pride to a screeching halt. Woe to you! They were living like there was no tomorrow - no tomorrow to face God. But notice the prophecy of Amos in verse 8, "The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein." Verse 14 caps this chapter off with the promise that God will raise up a nation against Israel to afflict them. Assyria is coming! Assyria's defeat of Israel (Northern Kingdom) took place in 721/722 B.C. during the reign of King Hoshea of Israel (II Kings 17, see notes).
Warning visions (Amos 7:1-9)
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.
2 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.
3 The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.
4 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.
5 Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
6 The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
7 Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
8 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:
9 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.
Amos first gets a vision of the locusts coming and eating up all the grass after the first mowing of the season, the crop tax designated for the king's livestock. This would leave no grass for the cattle of the people of Israel. Amos makes an appeal, and God dismisses that judgment.
Then Amos has a second vision of fire consuming the land of Israel, but God dismisses this judgment as well. However, in the third vision, God invokes the plumb line. You've seen a plumb line before. It's a weight on the end of a string to make certain that vertical structures are precisely vertical. Here's what God is saying in this third vision. His judgment will be based upon a concrete standard (like a plumb line) of Israel serving (or not) the one true God. If they don't, they will fall to the Assyrians. Verse 8 says, "...I will not again pass by them any more:" God is saying that he will no longer pass by them without judging them for their sin.
King Jeroboam's chief priest becomes hostile (Amos 7:10-17)
10 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.
11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.
14 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:
15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
16 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.
17 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.
Whoa! The truth hurts. Remember? Amos lived in Judah, but prophesied in religiously-corrupt Israel. Well, the chief priest (Amaziah) of Pagan Central (my term) in Bethel was sent by Jeroboam II to put a stop to the prophesying of Amos - to send him packing back to Judah and never return. In effect he says, "Go home and prophesy, and don't come back here." In the process, he accuses Amos of conspiracy against the king by twisting the prophecy of Amos (compare verse 11 with verse 9) in order to try to evoke a more violent reaction from Jeroboam.
Listen, it's not good to mess with God's prophets; you might get a little personal prophecy that you didn't bargain for...as Amaziah did in verse 17. Amos tells him: your wife will be violated, your children will die, you will lose all you have and die in a pagan country. Whoa! I know Amaziah (the pagan priest) was sorry he brought it up! Isn't it interesting that God's man (Amos) had no tolerance (nor did God) for the false religion of this priest and the King of Israel he served. I'm amused at the reply Amos gives the big-wig pagan priest in verses 14-15, "I wasn't a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but God told me to tell them, and I told them." So, what are the qualifications for proclaiming righteousness? Just God's command to go.
The last straw (Amos 8)
1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.
3 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?
7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.
8 Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:
10 And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.
11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.
13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.
14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
God had given Israel many chances to turn back to God, but they had declined all of them. This is the last straw, the end of the line, the deal breaker, so to speak. In other words: NO MORE CHANCES! Notice the declaration of verse 2, "The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more." Hang on; the Assyrians are coming.Amos speaks directly to the pride and sin of the people of the Northern Kingdom in verses 4-7. All indications are that they were clueless regarding their impending destruction. In verse 7 he says, "Surely I will never forget any of their works." Their judgment is seen in verses 8-10, and God takes credit for the fall to Assyria which is in store for them. In verses 11-14 we see that they will one day seek answers to their dilemma, but none will be available at that late date. Their rejection of God will prevent him from delivering them.
Incidentally, the phrases "Behold, the days come" and "it shall come to pass in that day" have often been over simplified by some Bible teachers. We find these phrases here in this passage. Some have suggested that they always pack with them implications for the tribulation and afterward, but these words must always be viewed in light of their context. Here the references are clearly to the fall of Israel to the Assyrians, an event which took place in 721/722 B.C. during the reign of King Hoshea of Israel (II Kings 17, see notes). This prophecy has already been fulfilled in history.
The reference to "Dan" in verse 14 denotes one of the two locations where the founder of the Northern Kingdom, Jeroboam I, had erected one of two golden-calf altars for Israel's worship back in I Kings 12:25-33 (see notes). This worship of the calf became the state religion of the Northern Kingdom at that point. The "sin of Samaria" in that verse is a description of their worship of false gods instead of the one true God of Israel.
Nowhere to hide (Amos 9:1-10)
1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.
2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:
4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
5 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.
6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.
7 ARE YE NOT AS CHILDREN OF THE ETHIOPIANS UNTO ME, O CHILDREN OF ISRAEL? SAITH THE LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are UPON THE SINFUL KINGDOM, AND I WILL DESTROY IT FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH; SAVING THAT I WILL NOT UTTERLY DESTROY THE HOUSE OF JACOB, SAITH THE LORD.
9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
Amos sees a vision of the heathen temple of the Northern Kingdom falling in on the people and the rest being slain. Amos then goes into great detail explaining that none of the false-worshipping Jews of the Northern Kingdom would escape judgment; there would simply be no place to hide. Notice the thoroughness with which Israel will be destroyed in verse 9, "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth." They won't simply be defeated by the Assyrian army; they will be deported and spread throughout the nations. In fact, at the fall of Israel to the Assyrians, the influential people of Israel were deported to other lands. However, Amos does prophesy the preservation of a God-fearing remnant in verse 8 when he says, "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD."
11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
So, what about this restoration seen in the last five verses of Amos? Well, James quotes from this passage in Amos: Acts 15:16-17 (see notes) "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." James was speaking to the Jerusalem council on the issue of Gentiles getting saved. These verses speak of the millennium under the provisions of the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes). The writer of Hebrews emphasizes the provisions of the new covenant also in Hebrews 8:8-12 (see notes) where he quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes). The new covenant consists of an inward law written onto one's heart rather than an external law like the Law of Moses. It's a description of New Testament salvation in Christ.
The complete fulfillment of this new covenant for the Jews does not take place until every Jew is saved under its conditions - the conditions that will exist the first day of the millennium. So, while all of us today are saved by its conditions, the whole nation of Israel (per the covenant) will not be saved by those conditions until the millennium.
More information regarding the conditions of the millennium may be seen by viewing the notes on the following passages: