Amos the Prophet

Amos 7:10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words. 11 For thus Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! 13 But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal [cq]residence.”

14 Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a [cr]grower of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from [cs]following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’ 16 Now hear the word of the Lord: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you [ct]speak against the house of Isaac.’ 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line and you yourself will die [cu]upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’”

As you can see, Amos prophesied mainly to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jereboam II, an evil king who reigned for 41 years (790-750 BC)of mainly prosperity and peace. Jonah the prophet, according to 2 Kings 14:23-27, had given a good prophecy to Jereboam that he would be successful militarily, that God was not ready yet to turn Israel over to foreign powers. But Amos, looking at the evil and idolatry of Jereboam, gives a different prophesy. He predicts that Israel will go into captivity soon, and they did, to Assyria, in 722 BC. Jonah finally went to Nivevah, the capital of Assyria, and preached to them which led to their repentance, which made Jonah angry and depressed. We don’t know what happened to Jonah after he returned from Ninevah as the Bible is silent on that. If he did return to Israel to continue prophesying to Jereboam, you have to wonder if he and Amos ever met and had a discussion about Amos’ prophecy that Assyria would take Israel into exile. Can you imagine how Jonah felt when he heard Amos’ prediction that it would be Israel falling and not Assyria?

Amos 3:

“You only have I [ab]chosen among all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will [ac]punish you for all your iniquities.”
Do two men walk together unless they have made an [ad]appointment?
Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?
Does a young lion [ae]growl from his den unless he has captured something?
Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no [af]bait in it?
Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?
If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?
If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?
7 [ag]Surely the Lord [ah]God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord [ai]God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

This is a very insightful passage about God’s work with His prophets. Who knows the mind, thinking, and plans of God? No one. Does God want man to know what He is planning and doing, and why He is doing it? Yes. So He communicates to man through “His servants the prophets”. The Hebrew word for prophet simply means “spokesman”. That phrase is used many times in the Old Testament. The prophet was God’s spokesman. Of course, God used the Holy Spirit to inspire (the Greek word means “God breathed”) or put His words in their mouths. 2 Peter 1: 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” There is a constant battle to defend the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Amos 2:Thus says the Lord,
“For three transgressions of Israel and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals.
“These who [o]pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless
Also turn aside the way of the humble;
And a man and his father [p]resort to the same [q]girl
In order to profane My holy name.
“On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar,
And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

Amos 3:15 “I will also smite the [ao]winter house together with the summer house;
The houses of [ap]ivory will also perish
And the great houses will come to an end,”
Declares the Lord.

Then there is this condemnation of the women of Israel where Amos calls them the “cows of Bashan” (the image of fat cows enjoying the green grass of Bashan). In my mission experiences, the women usually end up as the spiritual strength of the congregations. Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
Who say to [aq]your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!”

In Amos 4 tells us that, as evil as Israel was, they still loved to offer their sacrifices and give their tithes. They are the prime example of “hypocritical religion”.

“Enter Bethel and transgress;
In Gilgal multiply transgression!
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
Your tithes every three days.
[au]Offer a thank offering also from that which is leavened,
And proclaim freewill offerings, make them known.
For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,”
Declares the Lord God.

Amos 5:10 They hate him who reproves in the [bb]gate,
And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.
11 Therefore because you [bc]impose heavy rent on the poor
And exact a tribute of grain from them,
Though you have built houses of well-hewn stone,
Yet you will not live in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great,
You who distress the righteous and accept bribes
And [bd]turn aside the poor in the [be]gate.
13 Therefore at [bf]such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.”

Amos 5:

21 “I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I [bj]delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24 “But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 6:

Those who recline on beds of ivory
And sprawl on their couches,
And eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall,
Who improvise to the sound of the harp,
And like David have [bp]composed songs for themselves,
Who drink wine from [bq]sacrificial bowls
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.
Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles,
And the sprawlers’ [br]banqueting will [bs]pass away.

Amos 8: Hear this, you who [da]trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying,

“When will the new moon [db]be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,
To make the [dc]bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with [dd]dishonest scales,
So as to buy the helpless for [de]money
And the needy for a pair of sandals,
And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

I have cited all these passages to show the sins of Israel and their religious hypocrisy. It scares me to see America committing similar sins. We have such a luxurious lifestyle even though everyone complains about their financial situation. Compared to the 3rd world countries, almost everyone in the U.S. is well off. Yet the average church going Christian gives 2-3% of his income to any kind of charity or church. In the meantime, most of us have nice houses, even a vacation house added to that, nice cars, eat out a lot at nice restaurants, take nice expensive vacations, etc. But we continue with our nice churches with multi-million dollar buildings and well paid professional church staffs. Churches spend most of their contributions on themselves and very little for helping the people of the world whom God would want us to focus on.

The last half of the book consists of visions of the judgment of Israel that Amos sees: a locust swarm (that God actually changes His mind and doesn’t send), a fire (He changes His mind and doesn’t send that either), a plumb line (like that used by builders to lay straight block) that shows that Israel is not obeying God like it should be, and a basket of overripe summer fruit (getting spoiled and ready to dispose of ).

As bad as all that sounds, Amos closes with a prediction of hope for Israel. There will be no return from Assyrian captivity as their was with Judah returning from Babylonian captivity, so Amos did not predict a return from captivity. Instead, he made a Messianic prediction:

Amos 9:

11 “In that day I will raise up the fallen [dl]booth of David,
And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom
And all the [dm]nations who are called by My name,”
Declares the Lord who does this.

13 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When the plowman will overtake the reaper
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
When the mountains will drip sweet wine
And all the hills will be dissolved.
14 “Also I will restore the [dn]captivity of My people Israel,
And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them;
They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
And make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 “I will also plant them on their land,
And they will not again be rooted out from their land
Which I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

I know this is Messianic because James quoted this passage in Amos 9 when, in the Jerusalem council, he was showing that the Gentiles had been added to the Jewish church at the time he was speaking.

Acts 15:13 After they had stopped speaking, [e]James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 ‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the [f]tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of [g]mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles [h]who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who [i]makes these things known from long ago.

You seldom hear this prophesy from Amos discussed but it is extremely important. James’ citation in Acts 15 shows that the “fallen tabernacle of David” had been restored as he spoke, in about 50 AD. That shows that it is figurative language referring to the church that Jesus established that began in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost in 30 AD with the first 3,000 souls who were saved and added to the church. That shows that the Gentile believers were added on an equal basis to that church along with Jewish believers, which is why James quoted Amos 9. It also shows the use of figurative language by the prophets in describing the future church. An image of reapers walking right behind the sowers gathering the fruit immediately from seeds just sowed (obviously impossible), of mountains dripping sweet wine (I’ve seen little water falls coming out of mountains, but not wine), of Israel being restored to their land never to be plucked up again off off it (even that was fulfilled figuratively in the early church and it had nothing to do with actually being restored to the land of Palestine although that is how most interpret it). None of these Messianic predictions were to be fulfilled literally. David’s tabernacle was not to be restored with some physical structure like the OT tabernacle.

But in conclusion, one of the things that stands out about Amos is his very common background. A shepherd and caretaker of trees who did not attend the school of prophets as was common during his time. A common man who was called by God to go condemn Israel (and other nations). Even his language throughout the book is the language used by commoners.

Amos 3:

Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?
Does a young lion [ae]growl from his den unless he has captured something?
Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no [af]bait in it?
Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?

Amos 5:

18 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,
For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
19 As when a man flees from a lion
And a bear meets him,
[bi]Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.

These passages are examples taken from everyday life of common people. We live in a world of professional preachers and clergy. Often we think that system is essential for the church business and big, stable churches that we have developed. I guess that it is if that is the system of churches that you want to develop. But, in my opinion, the professional preacher/clergy system has done more harm than good. I have seen churches with multiple, common men who could speak the word of God on Sundays to the flock (preferable men who were elders) and use all that money that we pay staff to drill wells for people in 3rd world countries, take care of AIDS orphans, or print Bibles in foreign languages to teach them about Jesus and His church. Often it is professional preachers/clergy who lead the flock astray, using their influence to teach false doctrine (like preachers who advocate homosexuality and homosexual marriages). Often it is professional preachers/clergy who cause multiple splits over minor doctrines in the church. We have many common men with common jobs who can teach and speak the words of God as well as any professional. Let’s build our churches around common men like Amos.

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