Monday 18th July 2022

AMOS 6, 7, 8 and 9

“Do horses run on the rocky crags?  Does one plow the sea with oxen?  But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness…”.  God is now rebuking both Israel and Judah for their complacency, since they worship the Lord in a ritualistic fashion, but have no relationship with him.  In Amos 6:1, the twin worship centres of Samaria and Jerusalem are both condemned for paying lip-service to the Lord, whilst the people neglected human justice.  Verse 12, quoted at the beginning of today’s notes, shows that even the normal understanding and standards of justice that the surrounding nations have, is not being upheld by Israel.

Twice in Amos 7, the prophet sees the judgment that God is about to bring upon Israel and twice he begs God to forgive and not to bring that judgment; twice God hears Amos and agrees to stay his hand.  But then the Lord shows Amos a vision of a plumb line against a brick wall and says that he will bring justice/judgment to this nation and will not relent any further.

Then Amaziah, the priest in charge at Bethel, gets to hear of Amos’s prophecies and tells him to clear off back to Judah and stop meddling in Israel’s affairs. Amos tells Amaziah that he is no ‘professional’ prophet and that God himself appointed him to travel to Israel to speak the words that he has heard.  As a result of Amaziah’s threats, judgment will also fall on his family too.

Then, on to timing:  God shows Amos a basket of ripe fruit and produces a pun (even God is into puns!) that translates that the time is ripe for the judgment to fall now.  “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”—skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.”  

God is thoroughly fed up with their fake religion and rough justice; he can stomach it no longer!  Therefore, he will send a famine in the land:  “The days are coming”, declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”  The worst famine of all!

The final five verses of the last chapter are a message of hope.  “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter—I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name, ” declares the Lord, who will do these things.  “The days are coming”, declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes.  New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.  “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.  They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them”, says the Lord your God”.

The first two verses of the above were used by James, the leader of the Jerusalem church in Acts, to conclude that God had determined to reach out the gospel to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  There will be a final revival time of great prosperity in which the seasons will run together, planting and harvesting occurring at the same time, as miraculous growth happens at the end of the age.  More a reference to the New Covenant than the Old, I think.

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