September 22, 2017
Scripture Reading – Amos 5-9
Remembering the distinction between Israel, the northern kingdom made up of ten tribes, and Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, Amos takes up the prophecy of the LORD against Israel in Amos 5.
God’s condemnation and exposure of Israel’s hypocrisy gives way to His lamentation over the judgment and sorrows that will soon come upon the people (5:1-3). Though the heart of the nation was to do evil, nevertheless the LORD appealed to Israel to hear, heed and repent (5:4, 6, 8, 14-15)!
Amos names the sins of the nation…unjust and rejecting righteousness (5:7), hating bearers of truth (5:10), abusing the poor (5:11), afflicting the righteous and taking bribes (5:12). Pronouncements of “Woe!” bring the chapter to a close (5:18-27). The people had continued to make a pretense of outward conformity (5:21-22), but God knew their hearts and the prophet condemns their hypocrisy [note verse 23 – Even their songs had the character of noise].
Amos 6 continues the prophet’s declarations of “woes”, against Israel, identified as Samaria, and Judah, identified as Zion (6:1). Identifying Philistine and Syrian cities that had fallen to the Assyrian army, Amos questioned if Israel and Judah were foolish enough to believe the same would not soon befall them? (5:2)
In spite of the clouds of doom on the horizon, the people continued to indulge themselves, resting on “beds of ivory”, eating “the lambs out of the flock”; entertaining themselves with music, drunkenness and reveling in pleasures till they were carried into captivity bearing the chains of slavery (6:4-7).
In Amos 7-8, the prophet states six prophetic visions; five of judgment and the 6th of the day God will establish His heavenly kingdom.
The first judgment is of grasshoppers (Amos 7:1-3) – God planned to bring locusts to devour the people’s second harvest; however, God heard Amos’ plea for the people and the “LORD repented” [that does not mean God planned to do evil or changed His attitude toward the evil of His people; it means He is longsuffering and changed His mind after hearing the plea of His servant].
The second judgment is one of fire (Amos 7:4-6) – Fire drying up water is a picture of the drought God planned to bring against His people. Once again, God heard the intercession of His prophet and “repented” (7:6).
The third judgment is the plumb line (Amos 7:7-9) – The plumb line is a tool used by a builder to make sure a wall is straight. God’s plumb line of judgment is His Law. Seeing the plumb line of God’s Law and Commandments and the failure of the people measured by the Law of God, Amos did not intercede for the nation.
Amos 7 reminds us faithful preachers who declare the Word of God often find themselves in conflict with government and religious authorities.
Jeroboam, the wicked king of Israel (the northern 10 tribes), appointed Amaziah to serve as “the priest of Bethel” and to offer sacrifices. Hearing the words of Amos and his bold declaration of the prophecies of the LORD against Israel and the king, Amaziah counseled there was no place for Amos in Israel (7:10-11). Rather than hearing and heeding the message God had given His prophet, both Amaziah and the king wanted the prophet silenced (7:12-13). Rehearsing God’s call upon his life, Amos set his heart he would not be silent and boldly declared God’s judgment (7:14-17).
The fourth judgment is a picture of fruit harvested at the end of summer, expressing the imminent judgment of God (8:1-14).
The fifth and final judgment prophesied by Amos is a vision of a temple destroyed (most likely not the one in Jerusalem, but the idolatrous one established in Samaria) and worshippers slain in the destruction (Amos 9:1-10).
The words of Amos would come to pass. Israel, the northern kingdom consisting of ten tribes, was the first taken captive, scattered “among all nations” and never to return to Canaan (9:9). Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of Judah and Benjamin, is promised, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (9:8). Seventy years after Judah was taken captive, the people were allowed to return to their land, rebuild the temple and Jerusalem (9:11-15).
Amos 9 concludes with God’s promise to one day restore God’s people to their land and place upon the throne of David a legitimate heir.
An observation as I close: A legitimate heir of David has not sat upon the throne of Israel since the time of the captivity to our day. The Jews have returned to their homeland, but no king reigns in Israel. When a legitimate heir of Israel sits on the throne of David He will be none other than Jesus Christ, Son of David, the Only begotten Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith