Written Word

Amos – Part 2

During the time of the prophet Amos, Israel had become a wicked nation. Yet they hadn’t abandoned the practice of their religious duties. Their corrupt behaviour, however, rendered their worship an offence to Almighty God. “I hate, I despise your religious feasts,” God says, “I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23) When God uses such strong words – I hate, I despise… I cannot stand… I will not accept… I have no regard for… I will not listen – we all need to pay attention.

A spirit of complacency prevailed in the land. Israel was self-satisfied and displayed an attitude of indifference. “You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” (Amos 6:4-6) No one “grieved over the ruin of Joseph”. The spiritual decline in the nation, which brought a lowering of standards in every area of life, had been ignored. Israel was self-destructing and no one grieved. No one cared. No one was doing anything about it. To reinforce the point, Amos asks, “Do horses run on rocky crags? Does one plow there [on rocky crags] with oxen?” Of course not. Yet Israel had done what should never have been done: they “turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness.” (Amos 6:12)

Visions of the Coming Judgement

Amos is shown the impending judgement in a series of visions. The first two visions lead him to plead with God to extend mercy to Israel and his prayers buy them some time. (Amos 7:1-6) In the third vision, Amos sees “the Lord standing by a wall that has been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said, ‘I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.'” (Amos 7:7-8) The plumb line shows just how crooked Israel has become. In the fourth vision, God shows Amos a basket of ripe fruit and says, “The time is ripe… for my people Israel, I will spare them no longer.” (Amos 8:2)

When the judgement of God came upon Israel, it was not without justification. The people had ignored repeated warnings, rejected the prophets and embraced an ungodly lifestyle. Here’s another example of their behaviour: “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?'” They were “skimping 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.” (Amos 8:4-6) Commercial life had become exceedingly corrupt, dishonest practice and extortion an everyday occurrence. Israel’s sinfulness had reached capacity and there would no longer be any communication from God. Their sins had brought them to a point where a word from God would be a waste of time. A spiritual famine would descend upon 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. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.'” (Amos 8:11-12)

Forever Faithful

Though Israel had become unfaithful, God would still fullfil all the promises he had made to them. Through the descendants of Israel, God would bring into the world a Saviour whose sacrificial death would be a blessing to all who believe. (Amos 9:11-15) At the council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) James quotes the prophet Amos to show that the conversion of the Gentiles shows the fulfilling of God’s ancient promises.

What the Prophet Teaches Us About God

What does the prophet Amos teach us about God?

  1. Worship from an impure heart offends God
  2. God notes injustice, greed and dishonest practices
  3. God’s judgement comes only after repeated warning
  4. God is always faithful to his promises