Rebuilding David’s Fallen Booth – Amos 9

(From sermon notes on Amos 9:13-15, originally published on July 6, 2008)

Read Amos 9, focusing on verses 13-15.

Underneath the surface of the text of Amos 9:13-15, and with the full light of the New Covenant shining upon it, the prophet’s words in these verses point to the glory of the Gospel age culminating in the future glory of the new heavens and new earth which will be ushered in with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the age. Promises such as these prophetic words are said to be both ‘already,’ and ‘not yet;’ that is to say, the promises are ours to believe and hold fast to now, but await their eternal fruition in the future.

The plowman shall overtake the reaper.” While this is a reference to the physical land of Israel, it is a shadow of the greater truth of Christ’s removal of the curse incurred at the fall of man into sin. This describes far more than merely the reversal of agricultural affects associated with the fall of man, but it applies both to the church in this present age, as Christ converts sinners and the kingdom of God comes on earth, as well as a future church triumphant, in glory. As people from every tribe and tongue and nation are gloriously saved, they become members of the invisible church which prefigures a day when people from all nations will worship God as one, before the eternal throne of heaven (Rev 5:9-10, 7:9-10).

The return of an exiled people, the rehabitation of cities, and enjoyment of the vineyards and gardens, again goes beyond merely speaking of an earthly land; these are all shadows fulfilled in a future greater manner. Hebrews 11:9-10 makes it implicitly clear that while Abraham dwelled in the Promised Land, he understood that even though promised by God, that land would be temporary and point to a future city whose builder and maker is God. The Christian church made up of Jews and Gentiles together in the New Covenant, have already experienced a return from exile and enjoyment of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Is 55:1-7, Jer 31:31-34, Gal 5:22-25). Today it is the church of Jesus Christ that is described as a holy nation (1 Pet 2:9) even as we await a future dwelling place that is yet to come.

Finally God promises through the mouth of the prophet, I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up. Hallelujah! There is coming a day when the land which mankind surrendered at the Fall – Paradise Lost – will be Paradise Regained and restored in an eternal building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1-2. Rev 22:1-5). It is the triumph and glory of the church – men from every tribe, tongue and nation redeemed to God by the blood of Christ – that will outlast all other forces, even the very gates of hell (Matt 16:18) to be the permanent possession of the Lord!

Amos 9:13-15 The Glory of the Church

Underneath the surface of the text and with the full light of the New Covenant shining upon it, Amos’ words in these verses point to the glory of the Gospel age culminating in the future glory of the new heavens and new earth which will be ushered in with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the age. Promises such as these are said to be both ‘already,’ and ‘not yet;’ that is, such Gospel promises are ours to believe and hold fast to now, but await their eternal fruition in the future.

The plowman shall overtake the reaper, while a reference to physical land, is a shadow of the greater truth of the removal of the curse in Christ. This describes far more than merely the reversal of agricultural affects associated with the fall of man, but this applies to the church in this present age and in glory, as Christ converts sinners and the kingdom of God leavens the world (Matt 13:33). As people from every tribe and tongue and nation are gloriously saved, they become members of the invisible church which prefigures a day when people from all nations will worship God as one, before the eternal throne of heaven (Rev 5:9-10, 7:9-10).

The return of an exiled people, the rehabitation of cities, and enjoyment of the vineyards and gardens, again goes beyond merely speaking of human real estate; these are all shadows of a greater substance. Hebrews 11:9-10 makes it implicitly clear that while Abraham dwelled in the Promised Land, he understood that even though promised by God, that land would be temporary and point to a future city whose builder and maker is God. The Christian church made up of Jews and Gentiles together in the New Covenant, experience a return from exile and enjoyment of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Is 55:1-7, Jer 31:31-34, Gal 5:22-25). Today it is the church of Jesus Christ that is described as a holy nation (1 Pet 2:9). We must be careful as to what we call holy. Is not a land or nation ‘holy,’ because of the presence of God? Can we honestly claim that any land on earth is holy when it wishes nothing to do with Christ? Think about this, particularly if you believe that this prophecy of Amos was fulfilled by the nation of Israel in 1948. Is it not the church of Jesus Christ that is a holy nation – and the only solid ground amid the shifting sands of human history and government?

Finally God promises through the mouth of the prophet, I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up. Hallelujah! There is coming a day when the land which mankind surrendered at the Fall, (Paradise Lost), will be Paradise Regained and restored in an eternal building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1-2. Rev 22:1-5). It is the triumph and glory of the church – men from every tribe, tongue and nation redeemed to God by the blood of Christ – that will outlast all other forces, even the very gates of hell (Matt 16:18) to be the permanent possession of the Lord!

Amos 9:9-12 David’s Tabernacle

“For surely I will command,

And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,

As grain is sifted in a sieve;

Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.

All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,

Who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’

“On that day I will raise up

The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,

And repair its damages;

I will raise up its ruins,

And rebuild it as in the days of old;

That they may possess the remnant of Edom ,

And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”

Says the LORD who does this thing.

“For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

How terribly has this prophecy been fulfilled in human history! Since the day they cried, “Let His blood be upon us and on our children,” how the sword, the torch, and the plough of the Roman armies desolated the foundation of the beloved city, Jerusalem . Since that day in 70 A.D. until only 60 years ago, for almost two millennia, the suffering of the Jewish people has been unparalleled. From the siege of Jerusalem until the Holocaust, they have been persecuted, and their race has become a byword. Perhaps no two chapters in human history show more the work of the devil than do the Jews in Nazi Germany and before that, the history of the Jews in Spain . An industrious people, they have prospered wherever they have been planted, but their wealth has been extorted from them. Wherever they roam, they could never be sure of life and limb. Their torture has served as the amusement of monarchs and mobs.

In 1868, Charles Spurgeon preached these words: “Nation of God’s election, yet to be restored to joy, for whom a glorious future is certainly ordained – how has thou been trodden as the more in the street! … O God, how long? When wilt thou return and bid Judah ’s Lion-standard once more wave in triumph? When shall the throne be restored unto Jerusalem , and the kingdom of Judah ? When shall the long-expected Messiah set up the kingdom, which shall endure forever?”

Verses 11-15 of Amos’ prophecy mention several important things about a future Golden Age of Israel. While Bible scholars differ in their interpretations, if these verses are to be taken literally, which we should unless there is a prevailing reason to take them figuratively, then they refer to a future time of coming blessing upon a literal nation.

In 1865 Spurgeon spoke of such a time, “ Israel is now blotted out from the map of nations her sons are scattered far and wide; her daughters mourn beside all the rivers of the earth. Her sacred song is hushed; no king reigns in Jerusalem ; she bringeth forth no governors among her tribes. But she is to be restored; she is to be restored “as from the dead.” When her own sons have given up all hope of her, then is God to appear for her. She is to be reorganised; her scattered bones are to be brought together. … “I will place you in your own land,” is God’s promise to them. They shall again walk upon her mountains, shall once more sit under her vines and rejoice under her fig trees. And they are also to be reunited. There shall not be two, nor ten, nor twelve, but one Israel praising one God, serving one king, and that one king the Son of David, the descended Messiah.”

Can you think of a legitimate manner in which the prophecy of Amos 9:11 – the restoration of David’s fallen tabernacle – has already been fulfilled? Read Romans chapter 11; it contains Paul’s hopeful discourse as to how these promises will come to pass in Israel ’s future.

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Amos 9:11-15 The End of a Long Night

Our journey through this long tunnel is accomplished, and we have emerged into glorious sunlight. So vivid is the contrast between Amos 9:11-15 and the rest of the prophecy, that some have felt that this final section could not have been the work of Amos himself, but rather some post-exilic writer who wanted the book to end on a positive note. But such criticism cannot stand up to examination.

Is this gloriously bright ending to this dark prophecy that unexpected though? None would deny that the book of Amos is full of judgment, yet right from the beginning God has also carefully woven into the prophecy an emphasis upon His faithfulness. The preaching of judgment has carried with it a call to repentance (4:12, 5:14-15, 24). We have found Amos to in the Moses-like role of a compassionate intercessor (7:2,5). We have seen the God whose terrifying roar was heard throughout the land was none other than Yahweh – the God who keeps His covenant and shows His mercy. Thus God remains faithful to the unconditional covenant He first made with Abraham (Gen. 15 and 17), as well as the conditional covenant with Moses affirmed by the Jewish people at Sinai (Exod.19 and 20). It is in the light of these covenant relationships that we understand both the severity of the judgment for violations, and the ultimate salvation of the faithful. So this vision section of the prophecy, which in chapter 7 began with judgment averted, now ends with an eternal promise of judgment finished forever. In these final 5 verses Amos gives us a glorious glimpse of the future salvation of those who have rested securely on the foundation of grace, and thus found themselves plumb with the law.

In this oracle of surpassing beauty, Amos reveals 5 aspects of that glorious day: 1) the revelation of the King, 2) the end of the separation of the nations, 3) the end of the curse upon the earth, 4) the end of the captivity of the people of God, and 5) the final inheritance of an eternal land.

This week compare and contrast this passage with other prophetic glimpses of the future: Isaiah 11-12; 24; 32:1-2; 35; Ezekiel 40-48; Zephaniah 3:14-20, Zechariah 14.

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Amos 9:7-10 The Sifting

There is a line from a popular contemporary Christmas song that goes: “And man shall live forever more because of Christmas day.” Is this a true statement? Does a mere date on a calendar guarantee eternal life to anybody, let alone everybody, as the song suggests? Surely the Universalist can sing these words and believe them, but not the Christian. The Christian realizes that Christ’s wondrous birth in a stable, by itself secures nothing – man does not live forever more because of a day, but because the Word made flesh finished the work resulting in the ongoing course of action, namely, saving His people from their sins.

Yet man often thinks of his own salvation as an event that has taken place in his own history. One large ministry advocates that one should write down their ‘spiritual birthday,’ that is the date they came to Christ, in order to gain assurance of one’s salvation. Many professing Christians point to a day they, ‘prayed the prayer with Billy Graham on television,’ or walked an aisle of a church or signed a decision card. But can we really say that we live forever more because of the day we confessed belief in Christ?

In verse 7 of Amos chapter 9, God reveals that He does not look with favor upon the nation of Israel because of any particular privileged historical day in their past. Lest they get an overinflated notion of a relationship with God based upon the flesh, God reminds Israel that their exodus from Egypt was no different than that of Philistia or Syria. In verse 8 God calls Israel a sinful kingdom, as He is not interested in their ability to call upon their spiritual past, but is more concerned with their moral present. Even so, the purpose of God in judgment of the nation was not complete annihilation, but salvage (verse 9). So God shakes up the pretending people in order to shake out the fakes and to purify a people marked by holiness. While sifting out the chaff, He safeguards every kernel of wheat so that not one falls to the ground.

In the same manner, many in what constitutes the church of today are relying upon a once-said faith, or in the act of baptism, or church membership, as the evidence of their salvation. But God is not interested in your spiritual past; He is interested in where you were last night, your business dealings this week, your mindset in worship right now. In order to make your calling and election sure, you must not dangle before God what you did on some past day, but rather the true mark of your election is your present life and your present and continuing faith – a persevering faith that is tried and purged in the sieve of affliction.

Jesus told Peter that although Satan would sift him like wheat, he assures Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Lk 22:32). We can be thankful to God that despite the war on pretence which He wages in the church, with all the power of divine omnipotence, that not one hair of the head of the elect will be hurt as He purifies a holy people called by His name.

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Amos 9:1-6 Hiding in Hell

I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said:
“Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake,
And break them on the heads of them all.
I will slay the last of them with the sword.
He who flees from them shall not get away,
And he who escapes from them shall not be delivered.
“Though they dig into hell,
From there My hand shall take them;
Though they climb up to heaven,
From there I will bring them down;

And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel ,
From there I will search and take them;
Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea,
From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them;
Though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I will command the sword,
And it shall slay them.
I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.”

The Lord GOD of hosts,
He who touches the earth and it melts,
And all who dwell there mourn;

All of it shall swell like the River,
And subside like the River of Egypt .
He who builds His layers in the sky,
And has founded His strata in the earth;

Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth —
The LORD is His name.

The vision of the autumnal presentation of ripe fruit is here succeeded by a fifth and final vision revealed to the prophet Amos. As though a veil has been removed, in this vision we find the chief Agent of judgment to be the Lord Himself. Not insignificantly Amos has hitherto used the covenant name “Yahweh,” but here in verse 1 uses “Adonai,” to describe the Lord standing by the altar; this serves as a sign that it is as judge and ruler over all that He visits Israel . The Sovereign Lord of the universe has now replaced the human offering of ripe fruit beside the altar. Alec Motyer writes in The Bible Speaks Today (©1974 Inter-Varsity) Commentary on Amos: The counterfeit is replaced by the real, the human by the divine, the king who had come to prop us his dynasty by the King who had come to throw it down. The day of pretence was over and the war on pretence had begun.

Once God comes in wrath there is no escape for man; there is no supernatural or natural refuge where he may run. There is one thing that is worse than death itself, and that is the wrath of an angry God. Under such wrath, death itself may even be sought as an escape (see Jer 8:3, Hos 10:8, Luke 23:27-31, Rev 6:16-17). It is the essence of the human’s sinful nature to try to escape encountering God. From the very first sin, after which Adam and Eve sought to hide themselves from God, mankind has ever since sought to throw a cloak of religion and pretence over his self-governed life. People use God and religion to cover their own selfish desires. But the Psalmist knew of God’s omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-8): Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Cross References: Exodus 20:18-19, 1 Kings 8:27, Jer. 23:23-24, Jonah 1:3-4,10

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Amos 8:11-14 A Famine (Pt. 2)

John MacArthur writes: Some observers might think the evangelical movement is larger and healthier today than it has ever been. After all, there are more megachurches than ever, some boasting attendance figures exceeding 20,000 people per week. Massive pep rallies, enormous songfests, and stadium sized men’s meetings have become fairly commonplace in the modern evangelical culture. He continues saying that nonetheless, there is a spiritual famine in the land which he links to the dearth of biblical preaching.

We have found this to be the case in ancient Israel in the 8th century B.C. during the time which Amos was sent by God to prophesy. Despite vibrant worship, great religious zeal, and lofty numbers of people gathering at the three worship centers of Israel – Bethel, Dan and Beersheba – Amos announced that the days were coming when God would send a famine on the land, a famine not of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. We found that this coming spiritual famine would be so severe that young and old alike would stagger from coast to coast looking for a word, but would not find it.

Are we in such a time today? I am convinced we are! But how can this be, when ‘Christianity’ appears to be prospering so? After all, Contemporary Christian Music is the fastest-growing segment of the recording industry. Christian publishing has become big business; a few evangelical novels have even made it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Evangelicals as a group seem to be enjoying more clout in our nation than perhaps since our nation’s inception. It seems to our eyes to be anything but a famine.

But after a closer look at the fruit that is being produced by the modern church, it shortly becomes clear to the discerning Christian that the signs of such a famine abound. Pastor Steven J. Lawson writes, “[in their] new way of doing church, exposition is being replaced by entertainment, preaching by performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics.”

With no spiritual sustenance offered from the pulpit, the church has gone into ‘survival mode,’ staggering and seeking a word from God in every place but where God has ordained it to be found. While ‘boomers’ and ‘busters’ have settled into their seeker-friendly, purpose-driven megachurches, ‘Gen Xers,’ ‘Ys’ and ‘Millenials,’ exasperated by the ways of their parents, are ‘doing church’ in emerging fashion. Seeking to conform to the changes in culture, the emergent church has adopted a post-modern philosophy where there are no longer any cold hard facts, but only warm, fuzzy subjectivity. Experience and relativism trumps Biblical Truth, which ultimately makes saving faith in Jesus Christ unnecessary and meaningless. Meanwhile, the hyper-spirituality of the signs-and-wonders movements have sent a generation of people literally staggering from Pensacola to Toronto seeking gold dust, gold fillings, laughter, barking and howling. Add to this the staggering of the church, up and down the radio dial, and internet, and it becomes implicitly clear – there is indeed a famine of the true word of the Lord in our day!

Amos 8:11-14 A Famine

Following the vision of the basket of summer fruit the subsequent judgment oracle reaches its climax with the bleak declaration that Israel ’s rejection of the Word will result in God’s withdrawal of His Word from them. The dismissal of God’s Word in a society often results in His removal of the Word to the detriment of His people (see Ps 74:9, Lam 2:9). In Amos 2:12 we have seen how Israel demanded that the prophets not prophesy, and in 7:12-13, Amaziah, reflecting the desire of the people, reiterated this to Amos. Those who reject the Word cannot expect that it will always be available.

If this is a correct evaluation, perhaps we can attribute the anemic state of preaching in our day to our nation’s rejection of the Word of God. Several theologians and pastors have declared that the famine of which Amos speaks has come upon our nation. Among them, Walter Kaiser has stated, “the famine of the Word continues in massive proportions in most places in North America .” Steven Lawson writes, “a dearth of biblical preaching has left the evangelical movement weak, starving for spiritual truth …” John MacArthur agrees saying that the evidence for this famine is “overwhelming. … Numerous churches,” he continues, “including some of the largest and best-known ones – have relegated the pulpit ministry to second-class status. … Where preaching is still featured, it is rarely biblical preaching.”

As the pulpit goes, so goes the church; so the feeble state of the church can be traced to a famine of the Word of the Lord from contemporary pulpits. In their “new way of doing church,” Lawson notes, “exposition is being replaced by entertainment, preaching by performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics.” The irony is that the preaching of the cross, which the apostle Paul wrote is supposed to be foolishness to the world (1 Cor 1:18), has become foolishness to the contemporary church as well. Pastors have turned to other means of communication, and the result has been a famine of the Word in our land.

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated, “The most urgent need in the Christian church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the church, it is the greatest need of the world also.” The only way that the church is going to be restored is if pastors repent and return to an unwavering commitment to feeding the people the Word of God through persistent biblical preaching and teaching. This was the priority of early church (Acts 2:42), where the apostles doctrine is purposefully listed first in the passage. Jesus launched his public ministry with preaching (Mark 1:14, 38, Luke 4:18). Moved with compassion, Jesus taught the multitude (Mark 6:34). After His resurrection, He continued to teach and preach (Luke 24:27, 44-45, Acts 1:1-9). Jesus commanded that His disciples would continue teaching (Matt 28:19-20), and that his followers would be primarily identified, not as “fellowshipers,” not as “breakers-of-bread,” not even as “prayers,” but as “disciples,” or learners. The apostles continued after the practice they learned from Jesus by preaching and teaching (Acts 2:42, 3:11-26, 4:1-2, 8-12, 19-20, 31,33, 5:20-21, 29-32, 42; 6:2-10; 7:1-53). Preaching and doctrinal devotion was the first duty with which Paul charged Timothy (1 Tim 1:3 – see also 1 Tim 4:6, 11, 13-16; 5:17; 6:17, 20 and 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2, 14-15, 24; 4:2).

Biblical preaching must occupy the leading place of influence in the church – it always has, and must continue, or else the church will continue to waste away. Jonathan Edwards declared, “the primary importance of the pastor is to be an expository preacher.” But tragically, most of what passes itself off as preaching today falls far short of the standards set by the early church and Jesus Himself. If the church is going to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, if people are going to be brought to saving faith in Christ, and subsequent growth in Christ, they need the pure milk and strong meat of the Word of God – pastors much preach the message of Scripture, focused on Christ, and full of doctrinal instruction and sound theology.

Where are such pulpits today? The early church intensely hungered for them as the fruit of their genuine conversion. Panting after the Word of God is the usual and certain response of anyone truly born again, just as a baby desires his mother’s milk – he cannot get enough of it. Yet today professing Christians stagger like drunken men from coast to coast looking for “a Word from the Lord,” in every place except where it should be found. Thankfully we can state with assurance that the Word of God is still preached from pulpits in this nation, and hearts that hunger and thirst for such preaching can still find it. Though we may very well be in the midst of judgment through famine, Christ, who is our good shepherd, has not starved His church in this nation. The question is: are you starving yourself by neglecting and abstaining from the full-course meals offered from biblical preaching?

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Amos 8:1-10 A Basket of Summer Fruit

A basket of summer fruit – what a wholesome and healthful symbol – it looks good, tastes good, and conveys good wishes, health and strength. A basket of ripened summer fruit was used in the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles – a time of joy celebrating how God delivered the nation and provided for them in their wilderness wandering. This feast was for the nation, a turning of the year – the past year having ripened and a new year of hope for a prosperous future ahead. Imagine how Amos must have been baffled at first with this vision. Could this vision of a basket of summer fruit have symbolized fruitfulness, joy, blessing, and a hopeful future in light of all that Amos has prophesied to this point? The answer is a devastating ‘No!’ Rather than the joy of the harvest, this basket of summer fruit represented the onset of disaster; as Jeremiah lamented, ‘The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved’ (Jer 8:20). Instead of celebration and weal, this vision meant woe; instead of life, it meant death; songs would become wailings; solid land will tremble; the sun will set a noon; joyous feasts will be turned into morning and songs into lamentations. The atmosphere of revelry will suddenly be replaced by that of a funeral, and God himself will be the agent of this destruction. Israel was ripe alright, ripe for judgment!

The text reminds us again that the certain judgment of God is coming upon the nation because of the multitude of her sin and rebellion. Israel’s false and empty religion and social injustice all stems from their failure to recognize who God is. When God is reduced to merely one of many interests, he will soon become irrelevant. When God is in His deserved place of exaltation, whether in a nation, or an individual’s life, all other things – relationships, leisure, work, money – fall into their proper place. But in the nation of Israel, self has become the jealous master, pushing out all else. Greed, gain, dishonesty, theft, and other practices that served self were enthroned; and righteousness, justice, and mercy were cast out. Anything which did not serve self-interest became disposable. These were a people who loved gain more than they loved God – they loved gain more than honesty and integrity. As the plumb-line hangs vertically in the unwavering hand of God, such offenses were exposed as it revealed that the nation were neither resting on the level foundation of grace nor were they constructed upright and square to the law. The central evidence was their pitiless behavior toward the poor, which is the central evidence of false religion (James 1:27) and dead faith (James 2:14-17).

There are many Scriptures that teach both by precept and example that the Lord hates the domineering exploitation of people. This week search the Scriptures in order to support this idea.

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Amos 7:10-17 The Priest and the Troublemaker

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel , saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel . The land is not able to bear all his words.

For thus Amos has said:

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land.'”

Then Amaziah said to Amos:

“Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah . There eat bread, and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel , for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the royal residence.”

Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:

“I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel .’ Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel , and do not spout against the house of Isaac.’ “Therefore thus says the LORD:

‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.'”

After Amos relates the subject of his third vision – that of a plumb-line, he goes on to make the prediction that Israel would be desolate, its sanctuaries laid waste and its king’s house destroyed (Amos 7:9). Perhaps the bluntness of these words stirred the political machinery of Israel to stand up and make an objection. Right in the midst of relaying the five visions which the Lord gave to Amos, comes this brief narrative describing a conversation between Amos, an unknown Judean shepherd-farmer turned prophet of God, and Amaziah, the influential priest of Bethel of the powerful kingdom of Israel.

Amaziah reflects the culture’s mindset in 8th century B.C. Israel – trusting in their outward success and prosperity as a nation. In such an environment, prophetic voices appear rude and unwarranted. The prophet is seen as a trouble-maker. It is very hard indeed for the outwardly successful establishment to hear truth, especially when it threatens to upset its comfort! So, cloaking himself in the pomp and circumstance of the established religious order, Amaziah with patronizing disdain, bids Amos to return to the job security of his home and speak to his own people – basically saying, “Yankee go home!”

This world and the devil, as well as the established church will forever be attempting to silence the prophets in one way or another. We live in an age where adhering to Biblicism is considered, “old fashioned.” “Preaching,” it is supposed, “is outdated – we must be open to other forms of evangelism and ministry in our churches.” Satan is constantly at work to discourage Gospel ministers from holding fast the faithful word. Even human governments are attempting to legislate political correctness in church pulpits. How must the man of God respond to such guile? He must not allow, ‘Amaziah’ to bully him into setting aside his God-given ministry. He must be certain of his commission to preach the Word and revisit the moments when he became conscious of his call. This is exactly what Amos does. In verses 14-15, Amos recounts his own calling. These verses contain what is called a ‘call narrative,’ a description of the specific and direct call of God on the prophet’s life. We find similar ‘call narratives,’ of Moses in Exodus 3, Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, Isaiah in Isaiah 6, Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1, and Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1.

In the end when the plumb-line of God’s Word falls between Amaziah, the priest, and Amos, the troublemaker, it is the priest who is exposed as the self-seeking, unscrupulous politician who would not heed God’s Word. And because the priest seeks to silence God’s mouthpiece, he will find himself silenced. Everything that Amaziah had come to trust in will be lost, as he will be destroyed by the very Word he despised.

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