LINK: Amos 7-9 (read over the next two days)
The prophecies of Amos occurred from 767-755 B.C. during the reigns of Jeroboam II, King of Israel and Uzziah (Azariah), King of Judah. His prophecy was primarily to Israel, and the king of Israel and his priest, Amaziah, did not like what he had to say!
Amos, the shepherd and fruit picker, saw a series of visions of locusts (7:1-3), fire (7:4-6), wall and plumb line (7:7-9), basket of ripe fruit (8:1ff), and God standing by the altar (9:1ff).
In the first two visions, Amos's intercession causes God to relent from His punishment. Prayer is important!
In the third vision, Amos sees a wall and plumb line. A plumb line is a cord with a lead weight at the end. It is used to make sure that a wall is straight because a wall that is not straight will eventually collapse. The nation of Israel had been built "true to plumb," but it was now "out of plumb" because they were no longer in line with the plumb line of God's Law. In this situation, the nation had gone too far, and there was no hope. Amos did not intercede. He faithfully proclaimed the Word of the Lord to Amaziah, and Amaziah and Jeroboam II refused to listen. The result would be the Assyrian captivity and exile.
In the fourth vision, Amos sees a basket of ripe fruit. Israel was ripe for judgement because they had broken God's Law and did not live by His covenant. His longsuffering had run out because they did not love God, and they did not love their neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40). Four pictures (earthquake, darkness, funeral, and famine) describe the terror of this judgment. The last picture is interesting in that it would not only be a famine of literal food but also of spiritual nourishment in the deprivation of hearing the Word of the Lord to give comfort and direction in their time of crisis; only silence.
The final vision of Amos involves the Lord standing by the altar. This center of worship would be the scene of judgment for all 12 tribes. Yet, God would not "totally destroy" the house of Jacob (9:8). The nation would be purified, but God would restore "David's fallen tent" because of God's covenant with David that one of his descendants would sit on his throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16, 25-29).
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
That promised descendant will be fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus, who will establish His rule forever. He will rule in the Messianic kingdom and will include both Jews and Gentiles (the "remnant of Edom" in Amos 9:12). He will bring light, justice, and full knowledge of the LORD to all nations on the earth (Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-13; 42:1-7; 45:22-25; 49:5-7; 55:1-5). It should be noted that at the Jerusalem Council, James cited Amos 9:11-12 as proof that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised and live as Jews in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-20). They would have full rights in God's coming kingdom!
Amos concludes his prophecy with hope. Israel would be planted, protected, and restored to their land!
REFLECTION and APPLICATION
Two things stand out to me in these chapters: the plumb line and the obedience of Amos.
Our plumb line is God's Word. How do you measure up to it? Is your wall a little crooked these days? Are you "out of plumb"? I really believe there is a "famine" with the Word of God lately, especially with younger people. I am praying that changes and one of the reasons I am so passionate about this Bible Book Club! I want people to feast on God's Word so they can have straight plumb lines!
Amos was just a shepherd and tender of sycamore trees with no special preparation, education, or pedigree. In spite of his lack of "qualifications," God had big plans for him. This ordinary man became extraordinary just because he listened and obeyed God's calling on his life. Are you obeying God's call on your life or do you think you do not have the right qualifications?
Lord, thank You for the plumb line of Your Word. Help us to be in "plumb" with You. Also, help us to obey Your calling on our lives no matter how disqualified we may be in the world's eyes. We ask it in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.