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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Amos 7

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5

WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH

‘By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.’

Amos 7:5

As uttered by the prophet, this may be regarded as the language of complaint, of sorrow, of despondency; and yet also of inquiry, of hope, and of prayer.

I. Jacob symbolises the Church; and there may be in the Church certain elements of weakness.—A church may be weak because its members are few, poor, and scattered, and without much worldly influence; but there are other elements of weakness, which render the most numerous, and wealthy, and compact Church weak indeed. One of these is inactivity; an inactive Church must be weak.

Another element of weakness is worldliness; and the inactive Church is sure to be worldly. And then follows illiberality; when nothing is done little is given. Then prayer is restrained; the family altar is deserted; and the social circle of prayer is not frequented.

The Church may be weakened, too, by the neglect of discipline. Thus the standard of piety becomes low, and there is but little difference between the Church and the world. In view of these things, we may ask, ‘By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.’ And we may use these words as expressive of complaint, of sorrow, of despondency; and yet, too, of inquiry, of hope, and of prayer, as did Amos.

II. And the prayer is for strength, that Jacob may arise and be strong.—And strength does not consist wholly in numbers, nor wealth, nor influence; we may be few, and poor, and scattered, and yet be strong. The elements of strength are these: Union—a united people are strong, for union is strength; love—love to Christ, to each other, to the souls of men—a loving people are strong; faith—confidence in God as the founder and Saviour of Zion—a faithful, confiding people are strong; zeal—a zealous people are strong; activity, effort—an active, laborious people are strong; liberality—a giving people are strong; prayer—a prayerful people are strong, for prayer prevails with God; it moves the hand that moves the world.

III. But by whom shall Jacob arise and become strong?—By God only; and yet He will use the Church’s instrumentality in this work. He may raise up some special leader for the work; but usually He employs her present clergy and people. He arouses them to a sense of their personal responsibilities and duties. He leads every one to feel that there is a work for him to do, and He constrains each one to do his own proper work; to repent of his deadness and worldliness, and return unto God. And then He pours out a spirit of grace and of supplication, and leads to earnestness and importunity in prayer. Then He blesses His Word and ordinances; and He answers prayer; revives His work; souls are converted; and Zion arises and puts on strength, she arises and shines, because the glory of Christ rises upon her. Thus it is that Jacob, though small, is made strong; and he shall thus wax stronger and stronger.

IV. Let us remember that every one who is connected with this Church also adds either to its weakness or its strength.—If we are inactive, worldly, illiberal, prayerless, then we take just so much from the strength of the Church and add just so much to its weakness. Alas! were all like us, how small and weak must Jacob be! But if we abound in love, and faith, and zeal, and effort, and liberality, and prayer, and also keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, then we add to the strength of the Church. How strong and vigorous would Zion be did all possess and manifest this spirit! Let us so live that this Church shall be stronger, and better, and purer for our connection with it. And let us never despair. Jacob shall arise! And, with God’s help, whatever is needful to be done can be done. Though numbers may be few, and wealth not abundant, yet what ought to be done can be done! Where there is a will there is a way!

Verse 15

TAKEN INTO FELLOWSHIP

‘The Lord took me as I followed the flock.’

Amos 7:15

It was so with the shepherd-king. ‘He chose David also His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes that gave suck He brought him to feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.’ It is a blessed experience when the Lord takes man or woman from the ordinary avocations of life, and gives them specific work for the souls of men.

I. He takes us into covenant relationship with Himself.—This is the greatest experience which can befall us, when God comes into our lives and says, ‘I have redeemed thee: thou art Mine.’ He puts the ring of changeless love upon our finger, and binds us to Himself and Himself to us for ever. This is fundamental to all our after-influence.

II. He takes us into fellowship with His purposes.—He shows us those other sheep which are not of this fold, and whispers: ‘These also I must bring.’ He shows us the great multitudes that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, as He did to Carey, who kept the map of the world before him as he cobbled shoes. And, lastly, He lays on us the burden of the perishing souls of men, so that we rest not day nor night thinking of them.

III. He takes us into the chamber of His anointing.—The servants are bidden to go on before, our relatives are not told; but God takes the vial of oil, and pours the chrism of Pentecost on our heads, and from that moment we are His anointed ones. Oh, that we may never come to our Gilboa! (Cf. 1 Samuel 10 with 2 Samuel 1.)

Illustration

‘Often in the story of Israel, prophet and priest were in collision, because the prophet rebuked the priest for his heartless ritual and shameless life. So it was here, and, as so often, the false priest accused the prophet to the king. Amaziah felt that so long as Amos persisted in making Bethel the scene of his ministry, there would be no foothold there for himself; so by approaching the king on the one hand, and by suggesting to Amos to remove Judah where he would be sure at least of his bread, he hoped to secure relief. In answer, Amos could only fall back on his original commission which had come to him unsought. But, instead of Amaziah speaking against him, it would have been wiser far to have joined forces in a common effort to bring Israel back to God, because the sins which were rife could only bring the punishment of those ruthless Assyrian soldiers, who would show no mercy to man or woman.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Amos 7". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/amos-7.html. 1876.
 
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