Study Notes

Amos 7:1-9:15


We have spent the last four Thursday nights examining the book of Amos. We have seen that God has been giving ample warning regarding the consequences of sin. He has continually called for their repentance, but instead they give Him only religion, which He despises. Their destruction must be certain by now.

Tonight, we will finish the final three chapters, as the Lord gives Amos five prophetic visions regarding the future of Israel.

7:1 A Locust Swarm

The first vision Amos had was that of the Lord forming a swarm of locusts to attack the Israelites' spring crops. The timing of the horde is noted as being "after the king's mowing."

As you recall, the prophet Samuel had warned the Israelites when they asked for a king,

1Sam. 8:11, 14 And he said, "This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place {them} for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots ... And he will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves...

Apparently, that practice became commonplace - the king must have gotten first mowing privileges of the fields.

After the king had gotten his share, the locusts were coming to consume the rest - the people would have no produce.

Of course, the Lord had warned Israel that sin would bring about judgment. He even mentioned this specifically:

Deut. 28:15, 38 "But it shall come about, if you will not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. ... You shall bring out much seed to the field but you shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it."

Amos was being shown this vision before it happened.

7:2-3 Amos' Intercession

When Amos saw the devastation that the locusts left in their wake, he interceded for the people. He pleaded with the Lord not to do this thing. And, amazingly, the Lord changed His mind!

Now, this is a theological hand grenade. How can the Lord, who is all-knowing, who has the plan all worked out, change His mind? I don't know. But I do know that it has happened before. When Moses was on the mountaintop with God, the Lord saw that the Israelites had manufactured a golden calf to worship. He was angry and told Moses,

Exod. 32:10 "Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation."

But Moses interceded, entreating the Lord, praying that He would be merciful.

Exod. 32:14 So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

Later, when the Lord proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem through the prophet Me-KAW, King Hezekiah prayed for the nation. Jeremiah then proclaimed,

Jer. 26:19 "...Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and the LORD changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them?..."

Now, you know that God knew in advance what He would do. But it pleased Him to cause Moses, Hezekiah, and Amos to intercede. One of the things that this accomplishes is that these men of God became more like God when they desired mercy for an undeserving people.

In the same way, the Lord desires that you would intercede on behalf of others. So often, we are praying for justice and judgment to befall people. Yet, the heart of God is calling to us to be intercessors. Praying, "Be merciful to them, Lord. Demonstrate your longsuffering in this situation." Jesus said,

Matt. 5:44-45 "...I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven..."

When it appears that we are changing God's mind, we are in fact, ourselves changing to have minds more like God's.

Amos interceded, and the Lord said, "It shall not be."

7:4 A Fire

The second vision Amos was given was that of a consuming fire. This fire was so intense that it consumed the ocean in addition to the farm land.

7:5-6 Another Change Of Mind

Once again, Amos interceded for the people, and the Lord changed His mind and said that He would not destroy the Jews this way.

7:7-9 A Plumb Line

The third vision was that of a plumb line in the midst of the people. A plumb line is a string with a heavy weight on the end of it. This causes the string to be vertically level, making a perfect standard by which to measure.

The Lord says that He is going to put that plumb line in the midst of His people. He will measure them by His perfect standard, and they will be found wanting.

A lot of people believe that God grades on the curve. That, as long as they are better than some people or most others, that they will not have a problem getting into heaven. But as Paul pointed out,

2Cor. 10:12 ...when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

We will not be compared to other people. We will be compared to the perfectly vertical plumb line that God has established.

Notice that Amos did not intercede this time. Mercy will only hold out so long against judgment for sin. Amos had heard the Lord proclaim that He was not going to spare them any longer, so the time of mercy was over. Israel would be judged - laid to waste.

7:10-11 A Bad Report

An interesting side note is inserted here. As Amos was publicly prophesying these visions, he spoke the words that the Lord gave Him. In verse nine, the Lord had said,

Amos 7:9 "...Then shall I rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."

The house of Jeroboam would be judged. But as is so often the case, the man of God is misquoted. Am-ats-YAW, the apostate priest of the golden calf of Bayth-ALE, heard that Amos had said this, and sent word to King Jeroboam. The report sent to the king claimed that Amos was conspiring against Jeroboam and that he was saying Jeroboam would die by the sword.

Of course, neither of these things were true, but the truth never stopped false accusations before! In the beatitudes, Jesus said,

Matt. 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when {men} cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Notice that Jesus did not say "blessed are you IF men falsely accuse you," but rather "WHEN men falsely accuse you." It is a matter of fact in the Christian life that the devil will inspire others to falsely accuse us. We cannot control the accusations, but we can control how we live our lives and how we respond to these accusations. As Jesus said,

Matt. 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

And Peter wrote,

1Pet. 3:16 ...keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

7:12-13 Amaziah Threatens Amos

Am-ats-YAW the priest threatened Amos, trying to intimidate the prophet to leave Bayth-ALE, to go south to Judah. In the priest's mind, this was his territory, not Amos'. Why didn't Amos just go make his living as a prophet, building his career in some other town?

7:14-17 Prophecy Against Amaziah

Amos' response was that he was not in this to make a living or build a career. He'd had a career - he was a sheep raiser. But God had called him into the ministry, and specifically said, "Prophesy to My people Israel."

This was what God had said, this is what Amos will do. He will not give in to intimidation or threats.

And while Amos was at it, he passed along a word from the Lord that Am-ats-YAW and his family would suffer the consequences of judgment, along with the nation.

8:1-3 A Basket Of Summer Fruit

Now we see the fourth vision which God gave to Amos. This vision was of a basket of summer fruit. God was using it as a picture of Israel, because summer fruit is ripe - it is not able to be preserved, but must be consumed immediately.

8:4-7 The Sins Of The People

The Israelites, as we have noted in earlier studies, had a form of religious observance. But they had no heart for God. When the festivals and holidays were taking place, instead of celebrating, they longed for them to be over, wanting to be back in the marketplace making money.

Even today, there are many who attend church because of religious obligation. And from the moment they enter the building, can't wait for it to be over. They glance at their watches, and look impatient all through service. They think about the Nascar race they're missing, or the football game that's on in an hour, and set their watches to beep at noon.

Aside from being just plain rude, this is also grievous sin. The Lord sees this behavior and says,


One day, everyone will give an account to God for saying, "When will this be over?"

8:8-14 judgment On Samaria

Just as God has waited mercifully, He will judge their sin severely. Earthquakes, famines, and drought will befall them.

9:1-4 Smite The Capitals

The fifth vision is given to Amos now - a clear picture of the destruction of the nation for sin. There will be nowhere to hide from God's wrath - they will be taken into captivity and then die.

9:5-10 Sinners Will Die

God, the almighty and all-powerful Lord, is angry over the sin and apostasy of Israel. He compares them to the immoral and idolatrous nations. Although God had miraculously delivered the Israelites from Egypt, it meant nothing to them. So the Lord says, "The Philistines migrated from Kaf-TORE, the Arameans came from Keer, and the Israelites had travelled from Egypt."

Surely, He would destroy them as He had the other nations.

9:11-15 Restoration Promised

Even after proclaiming the terrible judgments that would befall the nation, God gives a message of future hope and blessing. He had made unconditional promises to the descendants of Abraham, and to the throne of David. These would be fulfilled in spite of the sinfulness of this generation.

Now, in this gracious statement by the Lord, we have a promise of the church - speaking directly of us! You may remember that early in the days of the church there was a big meeting in Jerusalem over whether Gentiles had to become Jews under the Law before they could receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

Simon Peter explained how Gentiles were hearing the gospel and receiving the Holy Spirit, about how God wasn't making distinction between Jews and Gentiles.

James agreed, and quoted these verses of Amos as proof.

Acts 15:14-18 "Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, IN ORDER THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,' SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM OF OLD."

Praise the Lord for His grace! He has both restored Israel and called we who were far off, "My people."

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