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Friday, May 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Amos 9

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 9-15

A Bird's-Eye View of Amos

Amos 9:9-15

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We wish to suggest five things about the Prophet whom God used to deliver His message to Israel.

1. Amos, the man. Our opening verse reads: "The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa." The Lord does not always choose the cultured, educated, and perhaps withal more or less physically weakened youths, to do His work. He often goes into the most rugged places, where nature has hardened her young men to difficult tasks; and from thence He selects a man prepared by toil, to do His bidding.

A herdsman is usually thought of as rough, rugged and ruddy; and as one hardly considered to be bent toward piety and spiritual things. With Amos it was different. He was rough, we have no doubt; he was rugged and ruddy, beyond question; and yet he was capable of both a spiritual vision, and of a heart of compassion toward others.

In the 7th chapter of Amos, Amos 7:14 , we read concerning this herdsman: "I was no Prophet, neither was I a Prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit."

2. Amos and his call. Amos said: "The Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy." We believe that every minister and Prophet of today should have a direct call from Heaven. The ministry is not an occupation to be chosen, as other avocations are chosen: we must be God-sent, if we would be God-honored and God-blessed.

3. Amos and his burden. In Amos 5:1 , it is written: "Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel." The true Prophet must have more than God's approval, more than God's power and more than a commission from God. He must have also the compassion which consumed His Lord.

4. Amos and his times. Often we think of the minor Prophet as living years after the major Prophets were dead. Such is not the case with Amos. He lived somewhere around B. C. 776-763, and he was a contemporary of Rehoboam II. He lived also in the days of Uzziah, that mighty king, who reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem and finally died under God's curse of leprosy.

5. Amos, the Prophet, as a seer. Perhaps one of the outstanding features of the prophecy of Amos was his frequent use of imagery and symbolism in his messages. Let us give you a few of these:

In Amos 5:8 , he uses the imagery of the seven stars and Orion.

In Amos 2:13 , he speaks of a cart pressed full of sheaves.

In Amos 3:12 , he speaks of a shepherd, of a lion, and of a lamb.

In Amos 4:1 , he speaks of the kine of Bashan.

In Amos 6:12 , he tells of horses who run, of oxen who plow.

In Amos 8:1 , he speaks under the imagery of a basket of summer fruit.

This could be continued. We only desire to show that there is a very prominent place given to homey and common illustrations and comparisons in the words of a God-endued and God-sent Prophet.

I. DOES GOD PUNISH NATIONAL SINS? (Amos 1:3 ; Amos 1:6-7 ; Amos 1:13 )

Frequently we imagine that everything that happens in the way of the judgments which fall upon nations, happens accidentally or as a matter of natural sequence. God is usually left out of the picture.

It must be still conceded that "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." If we are willing to grant that individuals are punished for their transgressions, why should we forget that nations are also punished?

In. the Book of Amos, we read: "The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem." This word, "roar," suggests judgment and destruction following out God's sentence against a people.

1. God punishes the Gentile nations.

In Amos 1:3 of our chapter, we read concerning Damascus : "I will not turn away the punishment thereof."

In Amos 1:6 , we read: "For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof."

In Amos 1:9 , God says: "For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof."

In Amos 1:11 , it is written: "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof."

The same thing is written concerning the children of Ammon and of Moab.

These statements suffice us. God does punish nations, and particularly those nations who war against His people, Israel. When God called Abraham, He said, He that blesseth thee shall be blessed, and he that curseth thee shall be cursed.

2. God punishes His own people, Judah. In Amos 2:4 , it is written: "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof." It seems to us that God's own people, Israel and Judah, were the more severely punished because they had a fuller light and a deeper knowledge of God. Let us deduct our own spiritual lessons.

II. GOD'S CASE AGAINST THE CHOSEN NATION (Amos 3:1-3 )

The statement that God would punish Judah and Israel is given in chapter 2. To this we referred. We now enter into the details of God's curse against Israel as a whole. May the reader keep in mind that Judah composed two and a half tribes, and Israel ten and a half; however, the word, "Israel," which in chapter 2, Amos 2:6 , is used against the ten and a half tribes, is used in chapter 3, Amos 3:1 , against the twelve tribes. The verse reads: "Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O Children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt."

1. The twelve tribes were a delivered people. Amos 3:1 says: "I brought (you) up from the land of Egypt."

2. The twelve tribes were a chosen people. Amos 3:2 says: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth."

3. The twelve tribes were a favored people. Amos 3:3 says that the Children of Israel were a people who walked with God.

It is sad beyond thought that against such a people, a delivered, chosen, favored people, it became necessary for God to say, "I will punish you for all your iniquities."

4. Amos certifies his prophecy. In Amos 3:1 , it is written: "Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you." As God's judgments follow throughout the chapter, we wonder if there shall ever be left one of the Children of Israel, who shall not fall and be cut off forever? In answer to this, Amos 3:12 gives us the calm assurance, "Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the Children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria." How graphic is this description! The Children of Israel will be saved, and yet saved only, as it were, by two uneaten legs or by the piece of an ear.

III. AMOS' LAMENTATION (Amos 4:12 )

1. The call to prepare to meet God. Amos 4:12 says: "Because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." All through the Book of Amos there are marvelous opportunities for spiritual lessons which may be rightly applied to the saints of our day. If Israel had to meet her God, so do we. We must meet Him at the Bema judgment of Christ, where every one shall be giving account of himself to God. Then shall we receive just judgment.

2. The hopelessness of a people who had sinned against their Lord. "The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up." God, however, can raise her up, and He has kept unto Himself a remnant. In Amos 5:3 , we read: "The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the House of Israel."

3. The hope of a people who have sinned against the Lord. In Amos 4:4 , it is written: "Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years." In Amos 5:6 , we read: "Seek the Lord, and ye shall live." The 5th verse warns Israel against seeking Bethel. It is God, and God alone, who can save. In Amos 5:8 , a cry is made.

There is no more graphic language giving glory to God in the Book of Amos than this. It is to such a God, the God of the stars, the God who poureth water upon the earth, that Israel is to come for help.

IV. GOD'S CURSE UPON PASSIVITY (Amos 6:1 )

1. They were at ease in Zion. The Children of Israel, in the days of the prophecy of Amos, were flourishing. They were sinning against God, to be sure, and yet withal keeping up more or less of a form of spiritual activity. They neither dreaded the foes which were around them, neither did they dread the judgments which God was about to pour forth. They were at ease in Zion.

Alas! Alas! Such is the case today. There are many churches which are saying: "I am rich, and increased in goods and have need of nothing." They know not that they are poor and miserable and blind and naked, and about to be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord.

2. There was no sense of need. Their trust, according to Amos 6:1 , was in the mountain of Samaria. They put off every thought of an evil day. They delighted to lie upon beds of idleness, and to stretch themselves upon their couches. Their joy was eating the lambs out of the flock. They chanted their hymns to the sound of the viol. They drank wine in bowls, and anointed themselves with the chief ointment. It was for this cause that they had no sense of need. God, however, hated their palaces, and the things which they called excellent, were a stench before Him.

3. In the hour of their self-confidence and ease, God sounded forth His judgment. He said (Amos 6:14 ): "Behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O House of Israel, * * and they shall afflict you." In the day of God's judgment, they would find their own utter helplessness revealed, for the Lord would smite their great house with breaches. They had "turned (their) judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock." They had taken unto themselves the horns of their own strength, but had rejected the horns of the altar.

V. AMOS COMES TO VISIONS (Amos 7:1 ; Amos 7:4 ; Amos 7:8 ; Amos 7:10 )

1. The vision of the ravaging locusts. Amos 7:1 says: "Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me; and, behold, He formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth." When the grasshoppers had made an end of eating the grass of the land, poor Amos cried, "O Lord God, forgive, I beseech Thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." We have no doubt that these were actual locusts which were sent to destroy the land, and they were a pest unconquerable and devastating.

2. The vision of the destroying fire. Amos 7:4 tells us: "The Lord God shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord God called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part." Once again the Prophet cried, "O Lord God, cease, I beseech Thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." How startling to think of a great nation falling prey to the insignificant grasshopper and now being consumed by the terrific roar of the fire!

3. The vision of the plumb line. In Amos 7:8 , Amos saw a plumb line. "Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel." There is something about a plumb line that is unimpeachable. When it falls down by the side of a wall, every onlooker condemns the wall for its crookedness and not the plumb line for its straightness.

After Amos had delivered these visions unto the Children of Israel, "Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the House of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words."

Let any true minister of God sound forth a faithful warning to the Church of today, and he will find plenty of Amaziahs among apostate preachers who are ready to sound forth his condemnation.

VI. A QUERY AND A RESPONSE (Amos 8:5 )

1. The query. Our key verse says: "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?" It is not difficult for us to fathom the meaning of these questions. They were upset because they had to stop their making money in order to worship the Lord.

Their worship, was no more than mere formality: therefore worship was a great weariness to them. The Book of Malachi gives us further light on these same conditions in Israel. God Himself cried out to Israel, rebuking them, because everything they did for Him was done with an evil eye.

Present-hour conditions, alas, are much the same in many localities. History is repeating itself.

2. The response. God answered Israel and said: "I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day." Israel wanted to know when their Sabbaths, and their periods of sacrifices, would cease. The Lord seemed to say to them through the lips of Amos: They shall cease when the Son of God passeth around the cycle of His suffering and the sun ceases to shine at midday.

3. The prophecy. Here is one of Amos' most graphic and meaningful words. He prophesied: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the Words of the Lord."

If we know the Word of the Lord, that day is fast coming upon them, and upon us now. When the Church is raptured and the antichrist seeks to destroy every vestige of Divine mercy, there will be indeed a famine for the Word of the Lord. May God pity those who live in that hour.

VII. SIFTED, AS IN A SIEVE (Amos 9:9 )

1. The unescapableness of God's judgment. When Amos prophesied, the people perhaps mocked him. and laughed at his words. The Lord, however, makes His words sure and steadfast. In Amos 9:2 , the Lord said by Amos: "Though they dig into hell, thence shall Mine hand take them; though they climb up to Heaven, thence will I bring them down."

People, today, look too lightly upon the Church's departure from the faith; as well as upon the present worldliness which engulfs it. God seems, even now, to be saying to the Church, "If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee."

2. The certainty of God's favors. As God's judgments are inescapable and sure, so also are His favors. If Israel is to be sifted, according to Amos 9:9 , among all nations like as corn is sifted in a sieve, so also shall she be gathered again. The last statement of Amos 9:9 , which reads: "Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth," is just as sure of fulfillment as the fact of her sifting. Thank God! His people are not cast off forever.

3. Planted never to be pulled down. There have been many restorations of Israel. The earlier chapters of the Book of judges are full of them. Israel sinned, God delivered her to her enemies, Israel cried unto the Lord and repented, and God restored her. Here, however, in the closing verses of Amos, we have a different kind of restoration. It is written: "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; 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 up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God."

These words are authoritative, trustworthy, and final. What God has promised, He will do.

AN ILLUSTRATION

It was God who made the ministry of the herdsmen of Tekoa blessed.

What a beautiful legend it is that lingers about the memory of the great artist, Michelangelo. Engaged one time, so the legend runs, on a great painting he began to feel incompetent for the great and delicate work he had undertaken. At last he grew weary, became discouraged and fell asleep with the task unfinished before him and bearing marks of imperfection which could not hide themselves from his great genius, though he had despaired of doing any better. Then it was that while he slept an angel came, and taking the brush which had fallen from the sleeping artist's fingers, went over the painting and touched it into rarest beauty and Divine completeness. At length the great artist awoke with a sense of shame that he had neglected his task in self-indulgent sleep. Still discouraged he took his brush and determined to overcome the imperfections and to complete the picture. But as he lifted his eyes to the canvas his soul was thrilled and his heart was overjoyed as he realized that his painting was finished, and that it had been

"painted fairer

Far than any picture of his making

In the past, with tint and touch Divine,

And a light of God above it breaking."

Child of God. here is great comfort for you and me. How earnestly we have longed to be like the Master. We have prayed and we have striven, and we have sought for strength from every quarter. But we are conscious of failure; our achievement does not measure up to our ideals; we seem to be making little if any progress and we grow discouraged. But is it not true that in the very hour of our faintness the Master-workman comes, even the Spirit of our God, full of grace and almightiness, and silently works His beauty in our soul? One day, blessed be His precious Name, we shall awake and find our work has been finished; and we shall be satisfied, for we shall awake in His likeness. W. E. B.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Amos 9". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/amos-9.html.
 
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