Shall we turn in our Bibles to Amos chapter 6.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel has become apostate. They are living in luxury, carelessness, indifference towards God, when suddenly their peace is disturbed because of an unknown person to them who suddenly arises in Bethel, one of their cities of worship, and begins to denounce their worship. Begins to denounce the Northern Kingdom, and begins to prophecy the judgment of God. Amos suddenly appeared on the scene, telling of the judgment of God that is soon to come upon this apostate kingdom. In chapter 6, continuing his denunciations he declares,
Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion, that are trusting in the mountain of Samaria, which are named for the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Pass unto Calneh, and see; go from there to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their borders greater than your borders? Ye that put far away the evil day, and caused the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon the beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves out on your couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent instruments of music, like David; That drink your wine out of bowls, and anoint yourselves with the oils: but you are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (6:1-6).
So he describes now the conditions that existed in the Northern Kingdom that were actually perpetuating its destruction. At ease in Zion, they were trusting in the mountains of Samaria. They felt that their cities were well defensed. That the city of Samaria, a very great stronghold. Actually, Samaria sits on the top of a mountain. They had ingeniously brought water into the city by a spring that was several miles away on another hill, and had brought a tunnel all the way along and up into Samaria. And by the process of water seeking its own level, as the pool on the other hill would fill, of course it would bring the water to the level there within Samaria. So they had a good source of fresh water within the city. The city had the strong walls, the great towers, and built on the hill they felt that they were impregnable as far as their enemies were concerned. So they were trusting in their military strength, in their strategic location, rather than really trusting in the Lord. So the prophet said, “Now go to some of these other cities that have fallen. You think that you’re any stronger or greater than they were? And yet they’ve been taken. You say that the evil day is far off, but in reality you are hastening your own destruction.”
There are always those who will mock the prophet of God by saying, “Oh, you know, that’s not going to come for years. All the things that you’re talking about, they’re way down the road. We’re going to go on; we’ve got enough oil for the next hundred years. Let’s use up the supply, don’t have to worry about it.” In that attitude, actually, you’re only hastening the evil day of judgment.
Now the kingdom of Samaria had become very prosperous under Jeroboam. In the excavations of that city of Samaria, in excavating the ruins they found furniture made out of ivory. So this is not a figure of speech. But he’s talking about literal things that were happening. They were stretching themselves out on their beds of ivory, and upon their ivory couches. It was quite a vogue thing to have ivory furniture. As they feasted on their lambs and upon their pen-fed calves, as they were just indulging themselves in wine, in music, in luxurious living, living in the lap of luxury, and yet judgment is waiting right around the corner. They weren’t really grieved over the afflictions of Joseph. Therefore, these who are living in the lap of luxury are going to be the first to go into captivity.
The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, I hate his palaces: therefore I will deliver the city up to the enemies and all that is in it (6:8).
This is again one of those places where it declares that God swore by Himself.
Now we do not really practice the taking of oaths much anymore. It used to be a very common practice where a person would seek to affirm that what he is saying is really true. He would swear to the truth of his statement, and he would always swear by something greater than himself. You couldn’t say, “Well, I swear by my name that I’ll do it.” Your name might not be any good. So you’d swear by my mother’s honor, or you’d swear by heaven, or, “I swear by God that I will do it.” That was to confirm what a person was saying.
Now Jesus said, “You really shouldn’t be doing that. You shouldn’t have to be doing that. If you say yes, you should mean yes. If you say no, you should mean no.” Therefore, to take an oath or to take a vow is really superfluous. Be a man of your word, let your yes be a yes, let your no be a no, so that you don’t have to swear to declare that you’re going to do it, or you’re not going to do it. If I just, if I say I’m going to do it, let my word be as my bond.
But God on occasions wanted to impress how definite was His decision in a certain matter. To establish the covenant so that they would know that this indeed is what God will do, God would swear. But who is He going to swear by? There’s nothing greater in all the universe to swear by; He’s the greatest. So He would always have to swear by Himself. So God to confirm the covenant with…and the oath to Abraham swore by Himself saying, “And in blessing surely I will bless thee.” Confirming that covenant. Now God is…Amos is saying that God is swearing to the fact that He abhors the excellency of Jacob, and the palaces, and He promises to deliver the city up to the enemies, and God did do just that.
It shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, they’ll all die. And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burns him, shall bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say to 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 Jehovah (6:9-10).
Now he’s talking about the destruction that’s going to come. The people are going to be slaughtered, they’ll come to the houses and to take the bodies of those that had been slaughtered to burn them. It was a very common practice to cremate the bodies.
There are some people today who wonder about the practice of cremation. Is it scriptural, or is it biblically right or wrong to be cremated? It was a practice in the Old Testament to cremate bodies. Saul’s body was cremated. I do not know of a single Scripture that condemns cremation. I personally have no problems with cremation. They can do with my body whatever they please. I’ll care less. Once my spirit has moved out of this old house, I don’t care how they dispose of the house. To me cremation only speeds up the natural processes, and will do in thirty-seven minutes what nature will do in thirty-seven years or so. So I have absolutely no problem with cremation. There are some people that have problems, and if you have a problem, then let the worms eat it. But once I move out of this house, this old tent, I then have a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and so what they do with the tent could concern me less. You know, just, I don’t care.
I do care on another sense. I don’t want people going into hock to buy some fancy coffin for this old carcass. I think that’s ridiculous. I could care less if I’m buried in a pine box, or whatever. I means, this…the body isn’t me. The body is only a tent that I’m living in for a while. The real me is spirit; I’ll be gone. Do with the body whatever you want, but dispose of it as reasonably as possible. People make such a big to-do over the carcass. We ought to make a greater to-do over the person.
Behold, the LORD commands, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts. Shall horses run on the rocks? will one plow there on the rocks with oxen? (6:11-12)
Now, of course, you really need to go over to the land of Israel to appreciate those Scriptures, because there are just hillsides that are just barren rock. Horses just don’t run on the rocks, nor is there any value in trying to plow them.
ye have turned judgment into gall, the fruit of righteousness into hemlock: Ye which rejoice in a thing of nothing, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? 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 (6:12-14).
So God’s rebuke against them.
Now the Lord showed unto Amos certain judgments whereby He could bring His judgment against Israel. These were shown to Amos, no doubt, in the form of a vision.
And thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me; and, behold, he formed the grasshoppers [literally, the locusts] in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. And it came to pass, that when he had made an end (7:1-2)
That is, the locusts had made an end of eating the grass of the land, as he saw in the vision the locusts coming in and destroying the green crops completely.
then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. And so the LORD repented for this: And it shall not be, saith the LORD (7:2-3).
Now here is language with which we are bound, by which we seek to describe the actions of God. And as we use human language to describe the actions of God, it makes it as though God has the same kind of human reactions that we have. The word translated repent should probably better be translated relented. So God relented. The Bible tells us that God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. God doesn’t change. And the word repent means change. “Behold, I am the Lord God, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
But as we look at the activity of God from our human standpoint, there are times when it would appear that God did change. That God started to do a certain thing, and then did not carry through with it. And so from my standpoint, describing the action of God from a human standpoint, because I am bound by language that deals with human beings, I have to use the language of man and say, “Well, God changed.” As though He changed His mind. God doesn’t change His mind. “God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19). But we are using human language to describe the activities of God, and therein we have a problem. So I have to use some words to describe what went on. So I use a human term, but it isn’t really an accurate term in describing the activity of God.
So God showed to him a vision of the locusts destroying the crops. This is one way by which God could bring His judgment against the nation. As he sees the devouring locusts, the crops destroyed, he cries out in intercession to God, “Oh God, don’t do that. Forgive, I beseech Thee.” And so God relented; He did not bring the plague of locusts.
One thing that we might note here is the intercession of the prophet for the people. This indeed is commendable. It is quite a stark contrast to what we will read next Sunday night when we get to Jonah and his prophecies against the Ninevites. How that he became angry when God didn’t wipe them out. He was far from interceding for the Ninevites. He was just the opposite; he was encouraging God to destroy them. “Wipe them out, Lord!” And became extremely angry with God when God didn’t wipe them out, in fact, sat down pouting and asked God to kill him. “You don’t want to kill them? Just kill me then, Lord, I don’t want to live!”
So here is the prophet of God interceding and, of course, this is always more true to the purpose of God for the prophet that he would intercede for the people. You might have to declare the judgment of God that is going to come; nonetheless, we still intercede. We don’t declare God’s judgment that is coming with a, “You know, God’s going to get even with you, you wicked people.” It’s just, “If you continue in your wickedness, this will be the inevitable result. Turn from your wickedness. Oh God, work in their hearts, cause them to turn.” And you intercede.
Many people misinterpret the prophets as they declared the judgment of God that was coming, as though they were relishing the idea of the judgment of God. Not so! Here is Amos declaring God’s judgment that must fall because of the way these people were living. But even so, he’s interceding, “Oh God, forgive them. Lord, they’re small, how are they ever going to rise if they’re wiped out like that?”
Then he saw a vision of a fire devouring the cities. And again he intercedes and prays for forgiveness. So God says, “All right, they won’t be destroyed by a fire.”
Then the Lord showed him, and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what do you see? And he said, I see a plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I’m going to set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: and I will not again pass by them any more (7:7-8):
They’ve become so crooked. God laid the plumbline in order that, of course, the purpose of the plumbline is to make the straight corner, the straight wall. God held the plumbline and He could see the crookedness, the perversity.
The high places of Isaac (7:9)
That is, those places that they had made for the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth.
they’ll be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel (7:9)
Whereby they worshiped the calf and the false gods.
will be laid waste; and I will raise again the house of Jeroboam with a sword (7:9).
“I will rise,” actually, “against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.” Now at this point,
Amaziah who was a priest there in Bethel (7:10)
He was not a priest of God, but one of the priests of the religious system there in Bethel.
sent to Jeroboam the king who was in Samaria, saying, Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel: the land isn’t able to bear his words. For Amos is saying, Jeroboam is going to die by the sword, and Israel will be led away captive out of their own land (7:10-11).
So this priest became concerned at the prophecies of Amos, sent a message to Jeroboam, “You better do something about it. We can’t bear the words of this man. He’s right here in the midst of your country, but he’s speaking out against you. He’s conspired against you.”
And then he came to Amos, and he said, O thou seer (7:12),
The prophets were often called seers because of their visions and their ability to see into that spirit world. “O thou seer,”
go, flee thee away into the land of Judah (7:12),
“Go back where you came from.” He’d come from the southern province of Judah, from Tekoah, southeast of Bethlehem.
get back to the land of Judah and there eat bread, and there do your prophesying: But don’t prophesy again any more at Bethel: for this is the king’s chapel, and this is the king’s court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdsman, I was a gatherer of the sycamore fruit [which is a fig]: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, and prophesy to my people Israel. Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: You say, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Your own wife will be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your 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 out of his land (7:12-17).
The line, the plumbline that God has set. Those that are straight will be spared; those that are crooked will be destroyed. Those that are out of line will be destroyed. “So Amaziah, you’re a part of line that is out of line; you’re going to be destroyed. Your family, your wife will become a prostitute in the streets.”
Amos in answering this priest, who was really challenging his authority, “Who ordained you? Where did you go to seminary? Who gave you the authority?” These are challenges that are often made today concerning those who are doing the work of the Lord. “Who ordained you? Who gave you the authority? What seminary did you attend?” It is because somehow we have a false concept that somehow a seminary education ordains a man for the ministry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only God ordains a man for the ministry. Seminary education may be beneficial, but only God really ordains.
Many of the young ministers that have gone out from Calvary in order to start works in other areas are lacking Bible college or seminary experience, so they are really challenged. Especially when their churches grow and they have the largest church in town. “But who ordained you? Who gave you the authority?” You know. All they can say is, “Well, I was just a drug pusher, and while I was pushing drugs the Lord got hold of my life and changed me, and now I’m pushing the gospel!”
“Amos, where’d you come from? Who gave you the authority? What seminary?” Amos said, “Look, I was only a shepherd; I was just a herdsman. I picked sycamore fruit. And while I was following the herd, the Lord said to me, ‘Go and prophesy.’” No formal background, no training, just the call of God.
It is interesting to me that John the Baptist had the same kind of challenge. When John was preaching in the wilderness, the Pharisees came to him and said, “Who gave you the authority to baptize?” They even challenged Jesus. They said to Jesus, “Who gave You the authority to do these things?” So I sort of laugh when they come around today and say, “Who gave the authority? Who’s ordained?” When it’s obvious that God had ordained John the Baptist, and it’s obvious that the Lord had called.
Now, what people seem to have a hard time accepting is that God so often calls and uses just plain ordinary people. But that is usually the case. God calls ordinary people to do His work. Somehow we put a special little aura around those men who have been used of God, and we put them on a pedestal, and we begin to think of them in sort of a super-saint classification. In our minds we somehow feel they are something special, they are out of the ordinary. They are…they’re not really, they’re somewhere between human and angelic. But they’re not just plain people. They don’t think as I think. They don’t respond as I respond. Surely they must always respond just perfectly. They never, surely never, get angry, nor get upset! They must be just so perfect and that’s why God has used them. Not so. God uses just plain ordinary people. Elijah was a man of like passions just like you. No different from what you are. Amos was just a herdsman. He was following after the herds when the Lord spoke to him, and called him for this ministry.
God has a plan and a purpose for each one of your lives. God has a work for you to do. But you disqualify yourself so often from the work of God. “But, Lord, I don’t have the education. But Lord, I’m just a plain ordinary person. I’m just me, Lord, how can You use me?” And you disqualify yourself because you are ordinary and somehow you think God doesn’t use ordinary people. Because you are flawed, and you think God doesn’t use flawed people. Because you are weak, and you think God doesn’t use weak people. God uses just plain people. God wants to use you. Those men that God called were always surprised at the call of God and many times sought to excuse themselves because of the fact that they were just plain.
When God came to Gideon as he was threshing wheat of the threshing floor of his father and said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might and deliver Israel out of the hand of the Midianites.” Gideon said, “Oh Lord, You can’t mean me. Hey, don’t You know my family, my father is nothing, and I’m the least in my father’s household? Lord, I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m just out here threshing wheat. Lord, I’m nothing, what do You mean me? Lord, You’ve got to…You’ve made a mistake. I’m ordinary. You know, You use super saints.” But yet the Lord called Gideon and the Lord used Gideon. Now you notice how the people sought to elevate him once God had used him. Gideon said, “No way. You’re not going to make me your king, nor any of my sons. I’m...” He went right back to threshing wheat.
God called Moses. Moses said, “Lord, I can’t do that. No one’s going to believe me. Lord, I’m just an ordinary person. I’m just out here watching these sheep for forty years. What do you mean go down to tell Pharaoh let Your people go? Can’t do that, Lord! I’m just an ordinary person.” Yes, that’s exactly who God uses, just ordinary persons. And God wants to use you.
“While I was following the flock...” A mistake that many people make in seeking to offer their lives to God is to quit their job and just go out and wait for God to lead them then into whatever ministry He has. But as a rule, God will take you right out of your job if He wants you. I think that it’s wrong to quit your work, and say, “Well, I’m just going to serve the Lord. I quit my job last week, and now I’m just going to serve the Lord.” Many people have suffered disastrous consequences from a movement like that. You can get real hungry.
“While I was following the flock, the Lord spake to me.” While Peter and John were mending their nets, Jesus came by and said, “Leave your nets and follow Me.” But you’re not to leave your nets until the Lord comes by and says, “Leave the nets.” As Matthew was sitting at the receipt of customs, Jesus passed by and said, “Come follow Me.” But he was right on the job, doing the job when the Lord called him. And the Lord can call you right from your job. You don’t have to quit and go into some wilderness area and just wait upon God for the vision or the call. God will call you right where you are if you’re only listening.
“Go prophesy to My people Israel.” Now Israel had forsaken God. Israel was worshiping the false gods. Still God calls them “My people.” When does God let a man go? When does God disclaim you? When does God say Loammi, no more My people? God was claiming them as His people long after they had disclaimed God as their God. God still claims you. He has claims upon your life. He won’t let them go. God won’t let you go. He has claims on your life. It’s sort of thrilling that God speaks of us as His people, “My son, My child.” That thrills me that God claims me as His own.
Now in chapter 8:
Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit (8:1).
So now another vision, and in this vision he sees this summer fruit, apricots and peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries.
He said, Amos what do you see? He said, I see a basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people Israel; I will not pass by them again any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: and there shall be many dead bodies in every place; and they shall cast them forth with silence (8:2-3).
So the devastation that’s going to come. The songs of mirth within the temple are going to turn into howlings. Dead carcasses everywhere buried in silence.
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy (8:4),
And here again God makes the indictment as He speaks against the oppression of the poor by the wealthy people at that time, “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy,”
even to make the poor of the land to fail (8:4),
Taking advantage of the poor people.
Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat (8:5),
The new moon was a sabbath day. They were not allowed to work on the sabbath day. So they detested the new moon. They really didn’t like to see the new moon. “When will it be gone? I want to sell. Got to close shop today. Don’t want to close shop; want to make a profit here.” And they got to where they detested those ordained sabbath days when they had to close shop. So greedy were they for gain that they became upset that they would have to close on the sabbath day. You mean people could be so greedy for gain that they’d want to be open seven days a week? Terrible. No wonder God brought His judgment. “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? The sabbath that we may set forth the wheat.”
and then they made the ephah small (8:5),
Now the ephah was a bushel basket, but they started making the basket smaller. Still charging you for a bushel, but you weren’t getting a full measure. So they were taking and keep cutting down on the size of the bushel basket.
they made the shekel great [that was the weight], and they falsified the balances by deceit (8:5).
Now it came to the place where they would have two sets of weights; one by which they would buy, and the other by which they would sell. Without a national bureau of standards of weights and measures, things became very chaotic. Because they were taking advantage of people. They were cheating people. They would have the light weights by which they would buy your grain, and then in turning around to sell it, they had the heavy weights. Or vice a versa. False balances. In the Proverbs it says that they’re an abomination unto the Lord.
That we may buy the poor for silver, the needy for a pair of shoes; and they were selling the refuse of the wheat? (8:6)
I mean, they were just really ripping people off, taking advantage of people, making people sell themselves for their food. These kind of things are an abomination unto God. Taking advantage of the needy and of the poor is something that God just does not abide.
The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwells therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. 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: 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 (8:7-10).
Now, when God here prophesied that the sun would go down at noon and darken the earth in a clear day, there are those who say that is only a figure of speech. That because of the desolation and devastation of their enemies, that it’s like you say, “Oh, the sun really set on me yesterday.” You’re talking about the gloom and the sorrow that overcame you. There are others who believe that Amos was actually predicting certain eclipses that did take place in Israel there within the next twenty years or so. Bishop Usher speaks about three eclipses that took place in succeeding years. Each of them on the feast days: one on the Feast of Pentecost, another at the Feast of Trumpets at the following year, and then, and the following year again on the Feast of Pentecost. Thus, making the sun to go down at noon and darkening the earth on a clear day, and turning their feasts into mourning.
In 763 there was an eclipse of the sun which was about twenty-four years after this prophecy. However, the total eclipse was over Africa and it would not have been a total eclipse there in Samaria. However, we do read of one day which was a feast day, the Feast of Passover, in which it turned dark at noon on a clear day. It could not have been an eclipse, because Passover takes place at full moon, and it’s impossible to have an eclipse on a full moon. That was the day that Jesus was crucified. You remember how it declares that darkness covered the land from the ninth hour onward, sixth hour there was darkness over the land? This could be a prophecy of that darkness of that time of the crucifixion of Christ. The sun to go down at noon and darken the earth on a clear day and turn the feast into mourning, the songs into lamentations, to bring up the sackcloth and all the loins. Baldness, which was a shaving of the head in grief over the dead.
And behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor thirst for water, but of hearing of the words of the LORD (8:11):
I believe that we are living in those days where there is a famine for the Word of God. The paradox is that there probably never more Bibles in print in any time in the history of the world than there is now, and more versions, and in more languages. The famine for the Word of God is that people would no longer be hearing the Word of God. It isn’t that God isn’t any longer speaking. It doesn’t mean that the Word of God isn’t there. It means that people are no longer hearing the Word of God.
You remember how Jesus over and over again said, “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying”? As He addressed Himself to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, to each church there was that repeated exhortation as He gave His message, then He would say, “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says.” But the truth is, there are many who do not have an ear to hear what God is saying. They just don’t hear the Word of God. It isn’t that God isn’t speaking; it’s just that they can’t hear the Word of God. It’s just a jumble of words; it just doesn’t make sense. They don’t have an ear to hear. “God’s hand is not short that He cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, but your sins have separated between you and God” (Isaiah 59:1-2). You see, the problem is never on God’s side. It isn’t that God isn’t’ speaking, it’s that we’re not listening. It really isn’t that God can’t hear. Our lifestyles have made it inconsistent for God to respond.
Now because they weren’t hearing the Word of God, because there was this famine for the Word of God, notice what the result was.
And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from north even to the east, and they shall run to and fro and seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it (8:12).
This restlessness would ensue as they were searching trying to find that which would satisfy them. Look at the restlessness in the world today. How that people are wandering all over the world from sea to sea, from north to the east, wandering around the world, looking for something that will satisfy. If you don’t hear the Word of God, if your heart isn’t satisfied in God’s Word, you’re going to find yourself just blindly searching here and there trying to find something that will fill that void within your life. This restlessness is always the consequence of no longer hearing the voice of God, or the Word of God in your hearts. That void causes the restlessness, and as a result,
The fair virgins and the young men shall faint for thirst (8:13).
It doesn’t say the old people who are over the hill, and the elderly and decrepit are going to faint, but the young virgins, the young men, those who are in the prime of strength will find that thirst, and faint as the result of that thirst. Because they don’t have anything that will really sustain them and help them. The prime, those that are in their prime cannot really exist apart from the living Word of God. How much we need to hear and to heed the Word of God.
They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan (8:14),
Dan was the religious center for the northern part of the kingdom of Israel. There is where Jeroboam made an altar and put a calf and said, “This is the god that delivered you out of Egypt. This is the god that you worship.” And the people of Samaria, swearing by that god of Dan, “Thy god, O Dan,”
lives; and, The manner of Beersheba lives; even they shall fall, and never rise again (8:14).
Now in chapter 9 the final prophecy of Amos, he said,
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: and he that flees of them shall not flee away, and he that escapes of them shall not be delivered (9:1).
So this great shaking of God. God said that though they try and flee, they’re not going to escape. Though they seem to escape, they’re not going to get away.
Though they dig into hell, from there my hand will take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them from there; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, from there I will command the serpent, and it will bite them: And thought they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it will slay them: and I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good (9:2-4).
So the judgment of God is going to fall against apostate Israel. There is no escaping of it neither in the grave, nor in heaven, nor on Carmel, nor under the sea, nor even in captivity. There will the sword of God still pursue and they will be persecuted. God’s hand against them for evil.
And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that touches the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein will mourn: and it will rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. 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 pours them out upon the face of the earth: Jehovah is his name (9:5-6).
He is the One who is now declaring that judgment that He’s going to bring against the apostate nation.
Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, [totally heathen, totally pagan] 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? Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon a 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 (9:7-8).
God will spare a remnant. God will not utterly destroy, for God has yet a marvelous purpose for Jacob, and for the people of Israel.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, and yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us (9:9-10).
So God declares His judgment is going to come. They’re going to be sifted; they’d be sifted throughout all of the nations of the earth. And surely as you look at the Jewish race, that did indeed happen to them. They were sifted throughout the nations, throughout the world, scattered throughout the world.
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and I’ll close the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old (9:11):
So the promise of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom, a promise of the restoration of the tabernacle of David. Now there are those who take this Scripture and interpret as that there will not be a rebuilding, actually, of the temple in Jerusalem, but only of the tabernacle of David, so they will rebuild a tabernacle in Jerusalem. However, there are other Scriptures that clearly declare the temple, giving its measurements, its walls and so forth. So that the tabernacle of David is speaking of the Davidic kingdom that God will raise up again. That Davidic kingdom which is fallen. He’ll raise up the ruins. “I’ll build it as in the days of old.”
That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all of the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this (9:12).
And now God’s future blessings, the Kingdom Age, something that we look forward to today.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman will overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and the hills shall melt. 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; and they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God (9:13-15).
So this promised restoration. The day will come. I wish that you could go over to Israel with us. I wish that you could see the vineyards that have been planted, the gardens that have been planted, the waste cities that have been rebuilt. Surely God has declared this restoration of the land and as you go over you can see these things of which the Lord spoke, as He has brought the people back again into the land, as they have rebuilt the waste places, as they have planted vineyards, and gardens, and fields, and orchards, and you can see God’s Word fulfilled right before your eyes there in that land.
How faithful God is to His Word. When God said it, you better believe it, because you can be sure that it shall indeed happen. “God will not fail one word of His prophecy.”
There are many times people who come along proclaiming a gift of prophecy and the ability to foretell certain events. They have accurately predicted things that did indeed happen, which does not really prove necessarily that their predictions were from God. In order that a person might indeed claim divine inspiration for his prophetic utterances, you would have to have one hundred percent accuracy. Because God doesn’t make a single mistake. The Bible testifies of itself and says, “Not one word of the prophecy shall fail.” Up to this point, He’s batting a thousand. Not one single word of prophecy has failed. If He is batting a thousand up to this point, chances are He’ll continue to bat a thousand right on out to the end of the game. You can bank on it. You better bank on it. “Let us take heed to the things which we have heard,” the Bible says, “lest at any time we should drift away from them. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,” and it is, “and every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect this great salvation that God has offered to us?” (Hebrews 2:1-3)
Now God said concerning Israel, “There’s no escape. I don’t care. They try and hide in hell, I’ll dig them out from there. If they try to climb to heaven, I’ll pull them down from there. If they try to hide in the forests at Carmel, I’ll find them. If they try to hide in the bottom of the sea, I’ll send the serpent to bite them.” No escaping even if they be carried into captivity, the sword will follow them there. There is no escaping from God.
How shall we escape? There is no escape except the one escape that God Himself has provided, and that escape is in Jesus Christ. And that is the great salvation. “How shall we escape if we neglect the great salvation?” You see, God has made the only way of escape and that is through Jesus Christ. And if you reject Him, then there remains only that fearful looking forward to the fiery indignation of God’s wrath by which He will devour His adversaries. I mean, that’s just as straight as you can put it. Right out of the Scriptures.
God has kept His Word. You have every reason to believe He will go right on keeping His Word, and will complete that which He has started. Israel was punished, Israel was carried away captive into the nations, Israel was sifted by the nations, and yet God spared her. “They will not utterly be destroyed.” And in a miracle in itself, Israel remained a national identity. The Jew remained a Jew though he had no homeland. And for two thousand years, sifted through the nations and still they remained a national ethnic group, identifiable ethnic group. As God said, “I’m going to spare a remnant of them, and then I will bring them back into the land, and bring them out from the nations where they’ve been scattered, I’ll plant them again in the land. They will build the waste places, they’ll plant their vineyards.” They’ve done it. It’s there, you can see it with your eyes. God has kept His Word. And God will continue to keep His Word, and that remaining portion of prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled will surely be fulfilled, and that glorious day will indeed come when Jesus will come again and establish the kingdom, God’s kingdom, sitting upon the throne of David, and the whole picture will then be complete. We shall live and reign with Him upon the earth.
So, the prophet Amos, very interesting fellow. Fig picker, herdman, and yet called of God, fulfilled his prophecy and left for us this glorious proof of the divine origin of the Word, as we can see today that proof in the land. Next week Obadiah, and then that interesting character Jonah. I’m fascinated by the story of Jonah.