Scripture reading – Amos 7; Amos 8

Click on this link for translations of this Bible study. 

Amos 6 concluded with the prophet foretelling God’s judgment of Israel for the oppression of His people and the sinful indulgence of that nation’s leaders. Amos warned the LORD would raise up a nation that would be the vessel of His judgment, and the cities and strongholds of the nation would be destroyed and the people taken away.

Continuing his prophetic ministry, Amos delivered five prophetic visions of imminent judgment to the people of Israel. The first four judgments are the subject of today’s Bible study.

A Vision of Grasshoppers [Locusts] (Amos 7:1-3)

Amos 7 – Three Visions of Judgment

 

A Vision of Grasshoppers [Locusts] (Amos 7:1-3)

Locusts (identified as grasshoppers) were, and are, a devastating event for people living in an agricultural economy. Eating and destroying everything in their path, locusts can be so thick in number that they turn the light of day into darkness. In ancient times, the massing of locusts would lead to famine in any land.

Amos declared that the LORD revealed to him that a judgment of locusts would befall Israel and devour the second harvest (for the first crop (i.e., mowings) was taxed by the king, Amos 7:1). Amos described how He pleaded with the LORD for Jacob (i.e., Israel), He asked, “By whom shall Jacob arise?” for Israel was a small nation. (Amos 7:2).

The LORD heard Amos’ appeal, and He “repented” and showed compassion for the people (Amos 7:3). Though the nation’s sins invited His judgment, the LORD heard the prayer of His prophet and determined to withhold judgment for a season.

 

A Vision of Fire (Amos 7:4-6)

Fire is a symbol of judgment throughout the Scriptures, and the LORD used the same to warn Amos that His judgment of Israel would “eat up a part” (meaning a portion God had determined to destroy, Amos 7:4). Once again, the prophet interceded for Israel. He reasoned with the LORD and said, “O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: By whom shall Jacob [the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel] arise? for he is small” (Amos 7:5).

Evidencing mercy and grace, the LORD heard his prophet’s intercessory prayer, “repented,” and said, “This also shall not be” (Amos 7:6).

The Vision of a Plumb Line (Amos 7:7-9)

The Vision of a Plumb Line (Amos 7:7-9) 

A plumb line was a tool used by builders to ensure the blocks of a wall were laid straight. Attaching a weight to twine or a thin rope, the plumb line would give block layers a straight line to follow by course as they built up the walls of a city or building.

Using the illustration of a plumb line, the LORD gave Amos a vision of the LORD standing “upon a wall…with a plumbline in His hand” (Amos 7:7). The LORD questioned the prophet and asked, “Amos, what seest thou?” (Amos 7:8a). Amos identified the plumb line, and the LORD said, “Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:8).

What was the meaning of the plumb line? It was a symbol of God’s perfect standard and one by which the works of a man and nation should be judged. As a plumbline reveals the imperfections in the blocks of a builder’s wall, the LORD measures His people by His perfect standard. God gave Israel His perfect standard (His Law and Commandments), which the people rejected. Yet, the nation would be judged by the same (Amos 7:8). As the prophet Daniel would declare that Babylon was “weighed in the balances and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27), Israel was doomed to judgment.

God’s judgment was inevitable, and Amos did not pray for Him to spare the nation. The people had refused to measure themselves by the LORD’s plumb line. Therefore, declared the LORD, “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 [the first king of a divided Israel] with the sword” (Amos 7:9).

 

Amos’ Confrontation with the Spiritual and Political Leaders of Israel (Amos 7:10-17)

It was inevitable that Amos’ bold declarations would reach the ears of “Amaziah the priest of Bethel,” who led the nation to worship Jeroboam’s golden calves (Amos 7:10a). The priest defamed God’s prophet to Jeroboam II, the king of Israel and accused him of treason saying, “Amos hath conspired against thee” (Amos 7:10). He warned Jeroboam II that Amos had prophesied the king would “die by the sword,” and that Israel would be conquered and “led away captive out of their own land” (Amos 7:11).   

It may be that Jeroboam dismissed Amaziah’s warnings, for he turned to intimidation and demanded the prophet should return to Judah, “and there eat bread, and prophesy” (Amos 7:12). Rather than heed Amos’ warning of imminent judgment, Amaziah warned the prophet, “prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:13).

Amos, though, was undeterred and refused to be silent. He declared how the LORD called him to prophesy. He did not aspire to be a prophet. Neither was he “a prophet’s son” (Amos 7:14). He had been “an herdman [shepherd], and a gatherer of sycomore fruit [a farmer]: 15 And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).

Amaziah warned Amos that he “Prophesy not against Israel” (Amos 7:16). Amos, however, was undeterred and answered that wicked priest with a personal warning of judgment that would befall him and his family: 

“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” (Amos 7:17).

A Famine “of Hearing the Words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11)

Amos 8 – The Fourth Vision

After answering Amaziah’s threats with a warning that God’s judgment would fall upon the priest’s household, Amos returned to his prophecies against Israel.

 

The Vision of “Summer Fruit” Ripe for the Harvest (Amos 8:1-3)

The nearness of God’s judgment was foretold as “a basket of summer fruit” ready to be harvested (Amos 8:1). The LORD warned Amos, “The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 8:2).

Tragically, Israel was past the point of repentance, and the “songs of the temple” would turn to “howlings” of sorrow and death (Amos 8:3). Amos foretold there would be so many dead bodies when God’s judgment began that there would be no place or time for a proper burial (Amos 8:3).

 

The End Was Near (Amos 8:4-10)

The abuses of the rich and powerful and how they had oppressed the poor (Amos 8:4-6) would be answered with God’s judgment. The LORD warned He would not forget their wickedness (Amos 8:7-9). He promised to turn Israel’s “feasts into mourning” and their “songs into lamentation” (Amos 8:10).

 

A Famine “of Hearing the Words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11)

Amos had warned Israel that drought and famine would accompany God’s judgment; however, there was a famine more sinister that would be the sign of God’s judgment—the Word of the LORD would be silenced (Amos 8:11b). 

The people would “seek the word of the LORD,” and it would not be found (Amos 8:12). “Fair virgins and young men [would] faint for thirst” (Amos 8:12-13, but it would be too late. The prophets would be silenced, and the Word of the LORD would not be found (Amos 8:12-13).

 

Closing thoughts –

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Religion are assailed in our world today. The rich, powerful, and influential are attempting to control the narrative by censorship, and they have no tolerance for God’s Word, His Law, and Commandments.

Preachers and teachers have failed to teach and preach the whole counsel of God in the pulpits. Those who profess to believe have little interest in hearing and heeding the principles and precepts of God’s Word. With few exceptions, we have become like Israel of old:

The Word of God has been silenced.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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