November 22, 2021
God will punish sinners, even (especially?) those sinners who claim they are "God's people." We must examine our hearts and repent of what the Spirit shows us there. As God's people here, we must be the first to lead the world in repentance.
"All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, 'Disaster shall not overtake us.'"
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes!
2 Pass over to Calneh, and see,
and from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
3 O you who put far away the day of disaster
and bring near the seat of violence?
Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
6 who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”
8 The Lord God has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds,
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”
9 And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. 10 And when one's relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?” he shall say, “No”; and he shall say, “Silence! We must not mention the name of the LORD.”
For behold, the LORD commands,
and the great house shall be struck down into fragments,
and the little house into bits.
12 Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there 1 6:12 Or the sea with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood 2 6:12 Or into bitter fruit —
13 you who rejoice in Lo-debar, 3 6:13 Lo-debar means nothing
who say, “Have we not by our own strength
captured Karnaim 4 6:13 Karnaim means horns (a symbol of strength) for ourselves?”
14 “For behold, I will raise up against you a nation,
O house of Israel,” declares the LORD, the God of hosts;
“and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath
to the Brook of the Arabah.”
1 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings. 2 When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,
“O Lord God, please forgive!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
3 The LORD relented concerning this:
“It shall not be,” said the LORD.
4 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. 5 Then I said,
“O Lord God, please cease!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
6 The LORD relented concerning this:
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.
7 This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“Behold, I am setting a plumb line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them;
9 the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said,
‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.’”
12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was 5 7:14 Or am; twice in this verse no prophet, nor a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’
17 Therefore thus says the LORD:
‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’”
1 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me,
The Hebrew words for end and summer fruit sound alike
has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them.
3 The songs of the temple 7 8:3 Or palace shall become wailings 8 8:3 Or The singing women of the palace shall wail in that day,”
declares the Lord God.
“So many dead bodies!”
“They are thrown everywhere!”
Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
5 saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel 9 8:5 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
6 that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
8 Shall not the land tremble on this account,
and everyone mourn who dwells in it,
and all of it rise like the Nile,
and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”
“And on that day,” declares the Lord God,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist
and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.
Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.
In that day the lovely virgins and the young men
shall faint for thirst.
14 Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria,
and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’
and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’
they shall fall, and never rise again.”
1 I saw the Lord standing beside 10 9:1 Or on the altar, and he said:
“Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
and shatter them on the heads of all the people; 11 9:1 Hebrew all of them
and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword;
not one of them shall flee away;
not one of them shall escape.
If they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
3 If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search them out and take them;
and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
4 And if they go into captivity before their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes upon them
for evil and not for good.”
The Lord God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who dwell in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens
and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the LORD is his name.
“Are you not like the Cushites to me,
O people of Israel?” declares the LORD.
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?
8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground,
except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
declares the LORD.
“For behold, I will command,
and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
but no pebble shall fall to the earth.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’
In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and 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 nations who are called by my name,” 12 9:12 Hebrew; Septuagint (compare Acts 15:17) that the remnant of mankind and all the nations who are called by my name may seek the Lord
declares the LORD who does this.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the LORD your God.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Old Testament prophets.
I love how they emphasize that God is always in control, that He is aware of the evil around us, and that He will not let it go unpunished. He will never be caught off guard by events, whether pandemics, elections, or hurricanes. He's got this down.
But I hate how they remind us that God's patience can be exhausted, and in due time, He will punish evil. And what I really hate about that is when I look in the mirror, I see a sinner—saved by His grace, but still a sinner contributing to the sin of my nation, my culture, my people—and I wonder how long it will be before God's punishment will fall on our nation like it did on Israel.
We forget that God's warnings of punishment were conditional: When Nineveh repented at Jonah's preaching, God postponed the punishment He had planned, even though Jonah's message made no hint of "unless you repent."
So when I read Amos' warnings of doom, I was compelled to ask God to send a new Great Awakening to our nation. God has turned this nation around before, and He can do it again. But it begins with God's people. God told Solomon, "If my people . . . humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways" (2 Chronicles 7:14). Surely the sin of "those wicked people" outside the church tries God's patience. But it is our self-righteousness that delays God's healing of our land. We who belong to God must lead in repentance and prayer, pleading that God will send repentance and healing to our country.
Amaziah was a chief priest at Bethel and probably preached against sin regularly. He must have been pretty confident of his relationship with God, or he wouldn't have commanded Amos to stop preaching there. But the Lord's words to him through Amos were terrifying (Amos 7:17).
We've got to repent and pray. I've got to repent and pray.
Excuse me. I've got some urgent confession and prayer to attend to.
1. It seems to me that all throughout history (at least since Moses), the people that did the most damage to God's purposes were the people who claimed to be speaking and acting for Him (i.e., Amaziah). So, when I claim to be one of His people, I need to be sure that I am living my life in accordance with His will. My worst temptation is pride, thinking that I know more than you do. And I have a few other problems, including lust, sloth, not taking care of my body, poor self-discipline, etc. What temptations do you struggle with? What steps can you take to overcome them?
2. Often it's the sins considered "respectable" in our culture that are most pernicious. Hopefully you haven't given in to porn or drunkenness lately, but how are you doing with pride or greed? Do your choices in cars or clothes or technology glorify God? Do your business practices exceed normal competitiveness to become predatory? (Confession: My waistline, for example, has not glorified God these last few years!)
3. How can your community group help you see, confess, and repent of your own sins, praying for God's intervention? How can you help them toward their own repentance?
4. Amos was very concerned about the poor, and he was angry with merchants and businesses who took unfair advantage of the poor. What do you think he would say about how we treat the poor today? What would he recommend that we do about the poor?