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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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: and I will not again pass by them any more ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 ( Amos 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna serve the Lord. I quit my job last week, and now I'm just gonna 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. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Amos 7". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29