Total Pageviews

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Fruit: Ripe for the Picking


Introduction

Earlier, in Amos 7, Amos received three visions from the LORD. GOD showed him what Israel had become and what judgment would befall them because of His righteousness and their covenant unfaithfulness to Him. With the first two visions-locust swarm and fire, Amos intervened for Israel asking GOD’s pardon for them. With the third vision of chapter seven, that of the plumb line, Amos did not mediate to GOD for the Israelites. He realized the extreme extent of their sins and the rightness of GOD’s charge and judgment on them.

In chapter seven, the chief priest of the northern kingdom, Amaziah, interrupted Amos charging him with wanting to overthrow the government. This priest cried out when Amos deigned to speak GOD’s judgment on the religion of Israel. Amaziah prohibited Amos from prophesying in Israel. He tried to censor him. Amos retorted he was a shepherd not a prophet trained or by birth. GOD called him to the task. With the last exclamation by Amaziah, Amos prophesied GOD’s words against Amaziah and the priesthood. Amaziah and his line would die by the sword. The captors would dishonor them. Amaziah would remain unclean on unclean soil.

With chapter eight of Amos, Amos revealed another vision the LORD gave him. This vision, like the first three, aimed directly at a sub-group of Israel’s population, the merchants. With this vision, GOD’s charge of the people and His judgment resound along with the feared removal of GOD’s protection of them and the resultant gloom and mourning.


Vision of Summer Fruit

In Amos 8:1-3, the LORD gave a vision to Amos of ripe summer fruit, explained the vision to him, and told him how it related to the Israelites. Amos said in verses one through three,
1 “Thus, the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. 2 And He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. 3 The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Many will be the corpses; in every place, they will cast them forth in silence.’” (NASB)
This fourth vision spoke about Israel’s theological trouble. They worshiped false gods, and did not keep Yehovah’s laws. That showed by lack of love for the LORD and lack of care for the poor. The gods the Israelites worshiped would not raise them above GOD’s judgment. What GOD says will happen will most surely occur.

At the beginning of this warning/sermon, Amos ensured people knew from whom his vision came. He said the Lord GOD showed him. This Lord GOD is Adonay, the revered mighty God, and Yehovah, the existing One who always was, is, and would be. He is the I AM who spoke to Moses and of whom Moses taught the Israelites. This Lord GOD showed Amos a basket of summer fruit. The vision appears mild until put into perspective with GOD’s judgment of Israel throughout the chapter. The Hebrew word from which “fruit” comes is qayits. The fruit represents harvest time, the ripening of time and produce for the plucking, cutting, and reaping. It tells the readers the time of which GOD spoke to Amos was harvest time, the time in which to celebrate the bounty from GOD’s hands. Humans sometimes perceive this time as the harvest festival or fall festival of what we have produced from our land. For GOD and Amos, this basket of summer fruit represented Israel. They were ripe and ready for plucking. Their sins were great/complete (“for three transgressions and for four” as Amos said in Amos 2). They had not turned away from their sins to return to GOD, so this harvest would be a harvest of judgment. GOD would not let them sin anymore before His judgment came upon them. We understand this better with verse two when GOD explains the vision to Amos.

In verse two, GOD told Amos, “The end has come for My people Israel.” The English word “end” comes from the Hebrew word qets. Qets and qayits of verse one sound similar and so are a play on words. This play on words re-enforces GOD’s judgment by saying just as the fruit is ripe at the end of summer and ready for picking, so Israel is ripe for plucking from her land because of her sin and GOD’s judgment on them. Israel’s sin upon sin made her ripe for GOD’s picking, His judgment. Amos was not the only prophet to say the Israelites’ end had come. Ezekiel 7:2 & 6 say the same thing. He recorded GOD said, “The end has come upon the four corners of the Land! I will unleash My anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices.” (NASB) Besides ensuring the Israelites understood the LORD spoke this judgment against them and that their end was near, Amos made sure they knew GOD still considered them-the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-His people. He chose them and they covenanted with Him. GOD judged them because of His love for them and His covenant faithfulness toward them. The LORD said He would not spare them again. His Father’s heart gave them mercy and grace for many sins, but His love for them required no sparing of discipline anymore.

Yehovah explained to Amos the extent of His judgment on Israel. He said the songs of the palace, and the songs of praise for the harvest the Israelites sang in their temples and homes would become dirges. Earlier in Amos 5:23, Amos said GOD would not listen to their music. The Israelites should have sung songs to Yehovah, not to their idols and themselves. The priests should have shouted and sung about the judgments coming upon them-the anguish, death, and destruction. GOD said their songs of the harvest would turn to wailing when His judgment occurred. Why? His judgment on them meant many people would die. In every place, they would cast forth corpses. Remember in Amos 6:8-10 Amos told the Israelites their relatives would come to carry out the bodies and burn them. There would be so many bodies, they had to throw them into a fire together or into a mass grave. Important to understand, GOD said they would do this in silence. Too many dead people makes a town, city, and nation overwhelmed. The paid mourners and wailers would be too busy finding and casting out the dead to give their professional services for all the dead of Israel. Israel would be silent as they cast forth the corpses. They would be silent recognizing the justice of GOD’s judgment. The people of Israel had no defense for GOD’s charge and kept silent in the face of His judgment. The terror and enormity of what happened would make them silent. GOD’s charges and judgments against Israel were just. The people of Israel would receive His judgment and recognize the justice of it for themselves. GOD’s justice comes from His righteousness. His righteousness is the absolute by which to compare the righteousness of humanity. With this vision and its explanation given to Amos, Amos could do nothing but proclaim it to Israel. He loved them because they were family and because GOD loved them.
·         Are you basking in the summer sun?
·         Are you enjoying the fresh fruit and taking the credit for it?
·         Are you thanking and praising God for His gifts and seeking His word and will for your life?

A Final Warning

GOD’s Charge

With verses four through fourteen, Amos gives a final warning, a sermon, to the Israelites. Like in earlier chapters where he spoke to the rich, the leaders, the priests, the kings, and the judges, in this chapter he relayed GOD’s judgment to a group of Israelites, the merchants. What did GOD charge against the merchants of Israel? Amos told them in verses four through six. Amos said,
“Hear this, you who trample the needy to do away with the humble of the land saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may buy grain, and the Sabbath, that we may open the wheat market to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat.?’” (NASB)
Just as he did in each of his other sermons/proclamations, Amos began with the word shama. Remember, shama means to hear, listen, and obey. He used a word familiar to them from priests and from the past when the Israelites walked with Moses during the exodus. This word would catch their attention. What came next the Israelites would not expect. Amos spoke a reproof. Their priests seldom corrected the Israelites about their way of living. They encouraged greediness as long as the people appeased their gods, paid the priests well, and gave them an important place in society. To whom did Amos speak GOD’s words? He spoke to the people “who trampled the needy” and did away with the “humble of the land.” The Hebrew word from which “trample” comes is sha’aph. It means to crush, tread on, and pant after what another person has so much you would get it by deceit and trickery. David spoke of these people in Psalm 14:4 as evil doers who devoured his people like bread. Proverbs 30:14 said the people had jaws set with knives to devour the poor and needy. These people would do whatever it took to get richer from the people who had the least in their nation. Besides this, GOD said through Amos these people did away with the humble of the land. The destroyed the poor, weak, and needy just because they could since they were wealthy.

Amos explained the minds of these merchants who cared for riches instead of humanity in verse five. He said they “chomped at the bit” for the completion of the religious festivals so they could sell more and make more money. They asked when the new moon festival, the first day of the lunar month, would be over so they could sell grain. Whether these merchants served Yehovah or their idols, they did not want to give a day for worshiping and celebrating. Greed was their influence, not their god. GOD told the Israelites in Numbers 28:11 that the first of every month, the lunar month, they were to offer burnt offerings to Him. In Exodus 21:13-17, GOD set aside the Sabbath as holy and for a day of rest. Whether the new moon celebration and the keeping of the Sabbath came from their history of worship of the LORD or from their own minds in worship of their idols, the merchants of Israel did not want to set aside that time away from their shops. Israel and Judah both received judgment for this. Nehemiah 13:15 records Judah trod winepresses on the Sabbath. The merchants did not want to go through the ritual, much less the intent for the festivals. They did not care about their people or their religious celebrations. They cared about wealth.

These merchants wanted to sell grain, open the wheat market, and make money. GOD said even in doing that, they showed themselves as unrighteous. In the second half of verse five, we read of them shorting the buyers of wheat and shorting the sellers of gold or silver. The merchants made the bushel smaller, possibly by putting a false bottom in it. They then charged the person the price for a full bushel. This action is like what food manufacturers today do when they make a package bigger than the product to make it look like a person is buying more than they are. These merchants did not steal only from their buyers. They stole from people from whom they bought products. A common occurrence among unscrupulous merchants was to have two sets of weights, one small and one large, to put on the balance scale. When a person bought from him, the merchant would put the large weight on the balance to show how much money the person owed him. When the merchant bought products, he would put the token of lighter weight on the balance and owe the seller less. Archeologists have found two sizes of weights in their digs in Samaria that show this was a common practice. GOD forbade this practice in Deuteronomy 25:13-16, and Leviticus 19:35-36. The LORD told Amos He saw these merchants cheating with dishonest scales. They chose to pervert the law and defraud people in the market, including the poor. The poor had no one who would stand up for them in court. The merchant had nothing to fear from them. He would have to be very sneaky to defraud another merchant because the buying merchant might have the funds to bribe a judge. Besides Amos speaking against dishonest merchants, Hosea 12:7 and Micah 6:11 speak against someone who measured with false weights and dishonest scales.

This dishonesty affected the poor most. They had little money by which to live. The needy had to take a loan to pay for new tree bark sandals and then the lender took them to court for the price of those sandals when they did not repay, which was equaled about fifty cents today. Verse six speaks about this as does Amos 2:6. The helpless had no one in power who would stand up for him or her and his or her rights as a child of GOD and a fellow human being. These merchants cared little for the poor. Amos went further and stated they stooped so low as to sell the refuse of the wheat, the chaff that came out of the sieve, to the poor. The merchants knew no one else would buy the chaff, but the poor were so desperate that eating chaff, even if it had no nutrients, was better than nothing. For the cost of the sandals or the price of wheat chaff, the merchants would enslave their fellow Israelites though that person was a child of GOD and a member of their Israelite family. GOD gave a law against it in Leviticus 25:39 that said a countryman should not enslave another countryman. It would bring GOD’s judgment, according to Amos 2:6. GOD forbade slavery in Amos 1:6 & 9, too.

The rich were so greedy they could barely wait one day even if it was a religious festival or a Sabbath to get back to pursuing the humble, poor, and needy, and making more money. The holy day was a hindrance to them and their greed. These merchants loved market days more than Sabbath days. They liked cheating people more than being honest. Though GOD made the Sabbath and festival days to be days of rest and ceasing work, the merchants grudgingly obeyed that. They wanted more money. Money was their god. A dichotomy exists from this occurrence. If they had kept the Sabbath holy, they would not have abused the poor. Keeping the Sabbath was a safeguard against the abuse of the poor because it helped keep a person in a right relationship with the LORD. When in a right relationship with the LORD, a person has a right relationship with people, too. A person does not abuse or exploit people for his or her own gain. It is easier to harm another person when we do not meet with the Lord regularly, which causes our relationship with Him to grow weak.
·         Do you do anything that God would consider trampling the needy or selling the poor for the price of sandals?
·         What would God rather you do when you meet a beggar?
·         What do you do when a person bumps your car or cuts you off in traffic? What is the godly alternative?


GOD’s Oath

GOD could have just spoken His judgment against the Israelites and let it go; however, He had already stated with certainty in chapters four and six that when He says something will happen, it will most assuredly occur. GOD’s oath in verse seven expresses this same thing. Amos said in verse seven,
“The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.’” (NASB)
This verse states, just as Amos said in earlier chapters, the LORD Yehovah, the GOD who was, is, and will be swore an oath. Anyone can swear they will do something, but when a person swears, that person might lie because he or she is sinful. This oath GOD took reminds us of the covenants He made with the Israelite people. GOD sealed and attested to Old Testament covenants with His presence as the tongue of flame that walked between the two halves of the sacrificial animal used to confirm the covenant. GOD’s presence and His being are the statement of certainty that what He says He will do. It will occur because He is the basis of truth and righteousness. So, when GOD said He swore, He gave an oath of constant faithfulness to what He said He would do. He swore by Himself, by His own name, as Amos said in Amos 6:8, and in Amos 4:2 where He swore on His holiness. Besides GOD’s truthfulness, He said He swore on the pride of Jacob. The “pride of Jacob” of which Amos spoke refers to every descendant of Jacob/Israel, not just the Israelites of the northern kingdom. The northern kingdom tainted the “pride of Jacob” with self-pride that harmed others. The “pride of Jacob” is what Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy 33:26 and 29 when he said there is no one like the GOD of Jeshurun. This pride of Jacob is what David spoke of in Psalm 68:34 when he proclaimed the power of GOD. The pride of I AM is who made a promise to Abraham to give him descendants and make of him a nation, and to give them a promised land. The GOD who made this promise and fulfilled it is “the pride of Jacob.” This oath surely got the Israelites’ attention. What GOD stated next would have made them cower.

GOD stated an oath on himself that He would “never forget any of the Israelites’ deeds”. Each the animals they sacrificed to their idols did not atone-wipe away-their sins. Their sins covered them with darkness. GOD remembered them, He said. He would never forget them. The sins of the Israelites were serious and GOD would remember them and bring judgment on them. Let’s look closer at these words. The English word “forget” comes from the Hebrew word shakach. It means to forget and cease to care. With Yehovah’s statement in this verse, He said He would never forget or cease to care about the sins of the Israelites and the plight of the poor. He would not let it go unpunished. After speaking of the affliction of the poor and humble, David said in Psalm 10:17-18, “O, LORD, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt strengthen their heart, Thou wilt incline thine ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, that man who is of the earth may cause terror no more.” (NASB) David knew Yehovah was great and faithful to His people. Hosea 7:2 said evil people did not realize GOD remembered all their evil deeds. He said in Hosea 8:13 the LORD will remember their wickedness and punish their sins. People throughout the Old and New Testaments knew, and we know from our experiences with GOD, that He will defend the weak and oppressed and bring judgment on the persecutors. That GOD swore on Himself in verse seven told the Israelites and tells us today, what GOD said He would do would most surely happen.
·         Have your actions or words ever caused a person to wonder if you are a Christian?
·         Have your words or actions ever caused God grief like Israel’s did?


GOD’s Judgment

In verses eight through fourteen, GOD told the Israelites through Amos what would happen to the northern kingdom because of their sin and His judgment of them. Amos told them six things would occur because of GOD’s judgment-earthquake, unexpected darkness, mourning, famine, LORD’s hiding from them, and the fall of the nation. GOD would directly cause three of these. He states these in verses nine through eleven with “I” statements-unexpected darkness, mourning, and famine.

Amos began this part of the prophecy with two rhetorical questions in verse eight. He asked them “would not the land quake because of the LORD’s judgment”. The second question he asked was “would not the people mourn”. Obviously, the answer to both questions is yes. The Israelites would remember the earthquake that occurred two years after Amos’ ministry began in Israel. They would remember the suddenness of it and not knowing how it would affect and harm them. The earthquake made no place safe. When Amos said GOD would make the land quake, he meant the people of the land would quake, too. Their fear from the earthquake and of GOD would make them tremble. The fear of GOD’s judgment would cause the Israelites to tremble. Isaiah 5:25 speaks of the LORD causing the mountains to shake because of His anger toward His people. As a visual image for the people, Amos said the land would rise up like the Nile River. This provided a sensory reminder for the Israelites of how fearful a natural phenomenon like an earthquake is. On the other hand, they would know the Nile rises slowly over a couple of months, but an earthquake is sudden. People saw the Nile floods as helpful to the land providing rich nutrients for crops, but an earthquake would turn everything over and create chaos and devastation. This was the first devastation GOD said His judgment of them would cause. The Assyrians would overturn the Israelites’ lives in 722 BC. The Assyrians entry to the land came from GOD removing His hand of protection from Israel. This caused chaos and devastation.

GOD as Destroyer

With verse nine, GOD spoke in the first person. He said through Amos that He would make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark during daylight hours. Before this, GOD said, “In that day.” This day He spoke of was “the day of the LORD” like in Amos 5:18. It would be a day of GOD’s active presence in the midst of the Israelites. The Israelites would not doubt by whose hands these terrible things occurred. The terrible thing is this verse would be darkness instead of light. A solar eclipse is the literal interpretation of this part of GOD’s judgment. Scientists determined a near total eclipse occurred June 15, 763 BC. The people would know about eclipses and the fear they caused because eclipses were unnatural. The figurative meaning is Yehovah would overpower Ra, the sun god. GOD’s power would show the Israelites’ idol had no power.

Another figurative allusion of the darkness in this verse is the grand lifestyles and luxurious living would fall away and days of gloom and misery would come upon the Israelites. The time of prosperity and sunshine would end and GOD’s calamities would fall on them bringing darkness and distress. The Israelites would have trouble, afflictions, and distress, and experience persecution. That time of darkness would be a period of evil, suffering, and loss for the corrupt and oppressive Israelites. Job 5:14 speaks of a darkness coming during the daytime. Isaiah 13:10 says the rising sun would darken. Jeremiah 15:9 prophesies the sun would set while it was still day. Micah 3:6 explains the sun would set for the prophets of the false gods and the day would go dark for them. Without the sun, literally, and the ways of life the Israelites loved to live, their days would be dark, just as earth would be dark. It would be a time of confusion and GOD would hide His face from them. Isaiah 59:9 says the Israelites looked for light, but all was darkness. Remember, too, Amos 4:13 and 5:8 say GOD turns dawn to darkness, darkens day to night, and turns midnight into dawn. The LORD would show Himself as more powerful than the Israelites’ gods and greater than the wealth they gathered for themselves and about which they boasted.


Verse ten gives another example of GOD speaking in first person of His own hand bringing the judgment upon Israel. He said, “I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring sackcloth on everyone’s loins and baldness on every head. And I will make it a time of mourning like for an only son, and the end of it will be like a bitter day.” (NASB) The word “turn” means to overthrow, overturn, or transform. The festivals of which the LORD spoke were the festivals the people celebrated for their false gods and for themselves because of their business acumen and “getting one over” on other people. GOD said He would overthrow those festivals and transform them back to what He intended, times of praise for His provision. They were again to be times to rejoice together-rich and poor, young and old. Job 20:23 says GOD would vent His anger against them. Amos 5:21 says the LORD despised their religious festivals. GOD does not want action without proper intent, nor does He want improper action forgetting from Whom each person receives any blessings. This “day of the LORD” would bring unending mourning and grief as compared to the days of feasts-religious or secular.

The day of the LORD would end with mournful songs-lamentations and dirges-and not songs of joy in which they sang about themselves and their false gods. Besides the “day of the LORD’ bringing mourning and lamentations, it would cause every person to wear sackcloth and baldness. The rich would understand firsthand the mourning the poor and needy experienced. They, with the poor, would wear sackcloth to show their sorrow and humility before GOD. Wearing sackcloth showed through an outward sign the inward condition of a person. Sackcloth, made of dark goat’s hair, was very uncomfortable against the skin. It reminded them of their sorrow. Isaiah 50:3, Revelation 6:12, 1 Kings 21:27, 2 Kings 6:30, Job 16:15, an Isaiah 32:11 each record people wearing sackcloth. Besides mourning and wearing sackcloth, GOD said the people would be bald. The word “bald” comes from the Hebrew word gorchah, which means baldness, plucked-out scalp, and shaved scalp. As a sign of their mourning, the people would pluck out their hair or would shave it. This sign was a custom GOD banned in Deuteronomy 14:1. Still, Jeremiah 48:37 and Ezekiel 27:31 prophesy the people would put on sackcloth and make themselves bald. Making themselves bald was a grieving custom the Israelites learned from other nations and practiced though GOD forbade it.

GOD said the Israelites’ mourning would be so intense because of their guilt, affliction, and recognition of the might and majesty of Yehovah when compared to their false gods. This mourning would be like mourning the death of an only son. Remember, men had property rights and were the leaders of the people, tribes, clans, and families. If a man or woman did not have a son to protect and provide for them in their old age or infirmity that man or woman would become one of the powerless needy of the land. That powerless person would become like the ones they themselves oppressed and of whom they took advantage. So, to say the mourning would be like the mourning for an only son meant their mourning would be of the highest intensity. The Israelites’ mourning would be like Yehovah’s who mourned over His children when they turned away from Him to follow their own ways. They would have no hope that GOD’s judgment would not come against them, just as they had no hope for the family when an only son died. Just as there would be no future for the family when their only son died, Israel would have no future because of their sin and GOD’s judgment on them. This grief would have a bitter end. It would be as bitter as the beginning-death then captivity.
The worst part of GOD’s judgment on Israel this time is that He would be Israel’s destroyer. Along with that, as we will see in verses eleven through fourteen, GOD would abandon them. He would be the one to inflict damage and He would abandon them. The Israelites would have no hope for a reprieve from GOD’s judgment, or from it ending quickly.

GOD’s Abandonment of Israel

GOD explained His abandonment of the Israelites in verse eleven. With the next three verses, He showed how that would affect the people. In Amos 8:11, Amos said,
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.’” (NASB)
The word “behold” introduces something new and surprising, something the Israelites never experienced. The LORD said He would send a famine. A famine that destroyed Israel’s food supply was not new to them. Amos 4:6 speaks about a famine. GOD spoke about a famine for His word. The people would seek Him and would not find Him. The word “hearing” in this verse is from a very important word in the Old Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word shama’. Shama’ means to hear, listen, and obey. The people of Israel would thirst and hunger to hear the word of the LORD. The prophets of the Old Testament knew humans could not live by bread along, but needed the words of the LORD. Moses stated this in Deuteronomy 8:3. Isaiah 55:1-7 states when people can find GOD. To find GOD, the Israelites had to do something-forsake their wickedness and return to a right relationship with the LORD. First Samuel 28:6 and Psalm 13:1 attest to times when people could not find GOD and He would not speak. These times occurred when sin remained unconfessed and people chose ways other than the LORD’s. Saul did not repent, but David did. In Amos 8, GOD said the Israelites would experience a famine and thirst for His words and they would not find Him because they did not seek Him with repentance in their hearts to follow Him and His ways. They wanted only His power to rescue them. The Israelites did not want to hear and obey GOD’s words when they trampled on the poor so they would receive no comfort or hope when their days of mourning came. To find the LORD, the Israelites needed to seek Him with a genuine and repentant heart. First Samuel 3:1 records a time when the word of the LORD was rare. Second Chronicles 15:3 states Israel was without the true GOD for a long time, without a priest to teach them, and without the law. Ezekiel 7:26 speaks of a prophecy about when the people would search for a prophet with a vision and for priestly instruction in the law and would not find them. Micah said there would be darkness without visions and divination. The sun would set for the prophets and the day would go dark for them. The absence of the LORD was total abandonment. The Israelites would not find His word by any means-prophet or priest. They would be thirsty for GOD, but GOD’s judgment brought a famine of Him and His word on the people.

Verse twelve continues this idea. Amos said in verse twelve,
“People will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.” (NASB)
In this verse, we understand Amos told the Israelites no matter where they looked to find GOD and His word, they would not find Him. If they looked from sea to sea or from north to east, they would not find Him. Amos did not say south because south is where the southern kingdom lay and they alienated themselves from Judah. The Israelites would rove about like people who stagger from thirst. They would thirst for GOD’s word, but would not find it. Why? Two reasons give the answer. First, GOD removed His hand and presence from them as punishment. Second, their seeking of the LORD came not from a repentant and sincere heart to obey Him. They recognized the power of Yehovah and just wanted the judgment to end. They feared more punishment. Ezekiel 20:3 records the elders sought Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord, but GOD would not let them find him. Ezekiel said in verse thirty-one of this chapter the people could not inquire of the Lord because they continued in sin. He said the same thing in Ezekiel 14:3. The Israelites would die inwardly because they did not have GOD’s word to feed their souls. He would keep His prophets and priests from preaching to the Israelites. This judgment was unlike any Israel had ever before experienced. At one time the merchants thought it was a waste of time to close their shops for Sabbath and sacred times; later they would try to find and hear GOD’s voice. They would seek GOD like a thirsty man seeks water.

GOD’s judgment would affect everyone, even the youth who were the future of Israel. Amos said in verse thirteen,
“In that day, the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint from thirst.” (NASB)
The failure by the adults to lead the nation and their families to seek the LORD with their whole beings would cause the young girls and men to continue to walk in the ways of their parents. They would turn away from GOD and sin. This would cause the young men and women to faint from a thirst of not hearing the word of the LORD. Their strength was not enough to combat moral and spiritual crises. The unrepentant adults would lead their children to be unrepentant and, thus, to live under the LORD’s judgment in captivity, oppressed and needy. If the young could not survive this judgment, how much less could the weak and old survive. The LORD’s judgment of Israel was so extensive it would affect generations to come. Israel would learn only by hearing and obeying (shama’) GOD’s word could a nation be strong and avoid GOD’s judgment. Isaiah 41:7 and Hosea 2:3 say GOD would make Israel’s land like a desert and slay her with thirst.

Lest anyone continue to think worshiping and swearing by their gods would allow them to avoid GOD’s judgment, GOD said through Amos in verse fourteen,
“As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria, who say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’ and, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives,’ they will fall and not rise again.” (NASB)
This verse should take us back to verse seven and compare the oaths taken by the LORD and then to verse fourteen by the people. Both use the same word shaba’ meaning to take an oath or swear. In verse fourteen, Amos stated the people swore by the guilt of Samaria, the gods of Dan and the way of Beersheba. Looking closer at this verse, we realize the word “guilt” comes from the Hebrew word ashmah. It is a play on words for one of the gods, Ashimah, of the people of Hamath of Aram who lived in Samaria and of the Hebrew exiles in Egypt during the fourth and fifth centuries BC. Amos said the people swore by the guilt of Samaria, following and worshiping false gods, and swore by a god in Samaria, Ashimah. Second Kings 17:30 tells us about this god. These people swore their faithfulness by the power of idols and GOD’s judgment would fall on them. The Israelites swore by the god of Dan, the golden calf. This calf had no power. Men made it by their hands. This statue could not save the Israelites from GOD’s judgment. Lest the southern kingdom consider themselves better than the northern, Amos highlights their sin, too. He said even those who swear by the way of Beersheba (at the south end of Judah where the Negev began), by worshiping her false gods, would fall and not rise again. Amos said in Amos 5:2 “Fallen is virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land with no one to lift her up.” (NASB) From the northernmost point of the Promised Land to its southernmost tip, GOD’s judgment would fall on each person who worshiped false gods. Amos’ prophecies were mostly for the northern kingdom, but he included Judah at times. We can know GOD, through Amos, spoke about false gods because he used the Hebrew word Hê that signifies false Gods, not Hâ, which denotes the true GOD. GOD’s judgment of Israel was unstoppable by no one’s god. The Israelites’ trouble was spiritual. They worshiped false gods, gods who would never raise them up from Yehovah’s judgment on them.
·         Have you ever put something you desired over your love and obedience to God? Possibly a promotion, money, or prize?
·         Have you ever been in the same place as Israel, and wondered why life was so hard and where God was?
·         Have you experienced the joy of knowing all your needs are taken care of and recognize God is in control, then praised Him for His love for you? This is where God wants us to be.

Recap

With chapter eight, GOD showed Amos a fourth vision of ripe fruit and relayed to him the time was near, Israel’s sins were complete and His judgment was imminent. The fruit represented Israel. They were ripe and ready for harvest just as Israel was ripe and ready for GOD’s judgment. GOD explained to Amos who then told Israel GOD’s judgment would most certainly come upon them. He swore on Himself, “the pride of Jacob”. This judgment points to the merchants who cared greatly about making money even if that meant defrauding buyers and sellers, putting the needy into jail or slavery, and wishing the Sabbath and festival days would not happen. The merchants’ intent was to make money, not to care for GOD or His people.

GOD told Amos with this vision, who proclaimed it to the Israelites, His judgment would come soon and would bring gloom and darkness. He said it would be sudden, deadly, and chaotic like an earthquake. GOD’s judgment would take light and joy away. His judgment would cause mourning like for an only son. It would cause everyone to put on sackcloth and remove their hair. Amos explained to the Israelites GOD’s judgment of them including His abandoning them. The Israelites would search for Him after recognizing His supreme might and not be able to find Him because they did not seek Him with their whole being and with repentance. No matter where they went to find the Him, GOD said they would not find Him. Even the young and strong men and women would not find Him, but would lose their strength. Israel would lose their future. Its future, government, and religion would fall and the nation would be no more. Never before had GOD totally abandoned the Israelites. Never had another nation subjugated this theocracy established by Yehovah. The Israelites’ sins were complete. GOD’s judgment was definite.


Conclusion and Relevance

It would be easy to point our fingers at Israel to show how awful they were. They cheated the needy, oppressed the poor, and obstructed justice. The Israelites walked away from Yehovah who called them His people and established them as a nation. Yet, when we take the time to look closely at Israel, we each can and should admit we bear similarities to them. Maybe you call yourself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, but you sometimes do not go to church on the Sabbath. Possibly you “put your thumb on the scale” when you sell products. Perhaps you do not correct someone’s interpretation of another person’s actions and that leads to the other person being disrespected at work and in the community. Perchance you found $100 in front of a store or senior center and pocketed it, not trying to find the person who lost it. Or maybe it was something as simple as the cashier giving you too much change and, when you found out, you did not return it to her. These examples and others happen daily. Each may seem small and of no consequence to you, but they are sins in God’s eyes. They harm and do not help other people. Anything that puts us at an advantage while harming another person is not God’s will. In popular jargon, God’s will brings about a win-win situation where God gets the praise from both sides of the relationship.

God knows us. He knows our hearts, minds, and intentions. The Lord knows we are like sheep easily led away from Him and so He made a way for us to find Him and return to Him. Isaiah said it well in Isaiah 53:6. He said, “All of us like sheep have gone astray (from God and His way), each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (NASB) The old covenant led people to GOD to keep them in a relationship with Him. The new covenant brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah leads us to GOD and provides everlasting salvation. The Old Testament laws required twice daily sacrifices for the atonement of sin. Even those did not remove the stain of sin from the person.  With Jesus’ death and resurrection as the perfect sacrifice provided by GOD, no other sacrifice need occur ever. Once Jesus cleanses a person from his or her sins by His blood when the person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ as GOD’s Son and confesses Him as Lord and Savior, nothing can ever separate that person from GOD again. Paul said it well in Romans 10:9-10 when he said,
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation.” (NASB)
Does GOD still discipline His people? Of course! If He didn’t, He would not love us. Because of His love for us, He gives us grace and mercy though we do not deserve it. Yet, when a person continues to sin, like a loving parent, God must discipline His child so he or she returns to his or her relationship with Him and grows more like Christ each day. The difference between now and during the time of Israel’s judgment is believers are saved and nothing can separate them from God’s love. With Israel, He abandoned them. For His children of the new covenant, Jesus reiterated what Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 29:13. In Matthew 7, Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. He told the people who followed Him about living as a child of God through the salvation He would give. Jesus taught about the righteous in verses seven and eight,
“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.” (NASB)
He said to crave for righteousness, the way of God, and He will give you a gift because He loves you. Seek with your whole being, with heart, mind, body, and soul and you will discover and understand more about God and His will. Knock at God’s door, requesting entrance to Him and He will make Himself open to you. God will refuse no one who asks for His righteousness. Each person who seeks for God will discover, recognize, and come to know Him. God will admit to His presence any person who actively seeks Him. That person will know His will and grace. The Israelites did not ask for knowledge of God or His way. They did not seek Him with all they were while leaving behind their desires for riches. The Israelites did not actively knock asking admittance to the presence of God and His kingdom. They enjoyed their prosperity and left God behind.

Today we each must decide for ourselves if we want only what life on earth can give us or if we want what the One Holy God can give us now and forevermore.

Will you ask for God and His righteousness,
actively seek Him and His will, and

knock intentionally to know Him and to be in His presence forever?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Prohibited Prophet and Condemned Priest


Introduction

In the last Bible study, which covered Amos 7:1-9, we learned God showed three visions to Amos about His judgment of Israel. The first vision showed God allowing locusts to consume everything above the ground. It would affect the food supply for the Israelites. Amos intervened for Israel and asked God to pardon them. He recognized their sin and interceded for God’s mercy. The second vision showed God sending a fire that consumed everything above ground and below such as underground water sources and the roots of the plants. Again, Amos interceded for Israel asking for God’s mercy upon Israel because they were too small to withstand such devastation.

The third vision the LORD showed Amos was of a plumb line and a bulging wall. GOD would stand upon the wall-Israel-and let His plumb line fall beside it. The bulge in the wall that showed when the plumb line lay against it revealed the wall was not up to standards, was not “true”. God would destroy the wall down to below the bulge and rebuild it. He and His righteous laws are the standard and Israel did not meet those standards. They rejected the LORD. With this vision, God showed even the leaders of Israel were not straight and Jeroboam’s house would fall by the sword because of it. In this vision, too, the LORD said He would bring judgment on even Israel’s high places, the places of idol worship. With this vision, Amos realized the LORD’s judgment was just, and he did not intercede for the Israelites this time.

With the rest of this chapter, verses ten through seventeen, Amaziah, the high priest of Bethel, reacted to Amos’ prophetic statement of God’s revealed visions to him. In these final eight verses, Amaziah reported to King Jeroboam about Amos. Next, he forbade Amos to prophesy in Israel. Amaziah tried to persuade him to leave Israel. In the end, Amos spoke a prophecy against Amaziah and the priesthood of Israel.


Amaziah’s Report to Jeroboam

After hearing of the third vision God gave to Amos, Amaziah, the chief priest at Bethel, realized God threatened the king and himself. Out of fear, he had to do something to save himself and his means of income. Remember, God did not appoint the priests of Israel and provide for them through His laws. The kings appointed priests and paid them from their treasury. These priests worked for their living instead of serving the LORD. Amaziah owed his allegiance to the king since he appointed him. Earlier prophets’ words in Israel and surrounding nations brought conspiracy against rulers and helped destroy dynasties while starting new dynasties. Because the king of Israel controlled the religion, Amos’ words threatened Amaziah’s income. Amaziah sought to protect the king’s reign. He did two things: 1. Report to the king and 2. Persuade Amos to leave Israel.

Verses ten and eleven contain Amaziah’s report to King Jeroboam. In these verses, Amos said,

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. For thus Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’” [NASB]

Interestingly, Amaziah’s name means “Jehovah is mighty,” yet his life and service refuse to recognize Jehovah. To understand this passage, we must remember Amaziah was the chief priest of the priesthood in Israel, whom the king appoints and pays. This rule of the king over the nation’s religion began with Jeroboam I and the founding the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:31-32 and 1 Kings 13:33). Jeroboam II charged Amaziah with obeying his rules of religion and leading the other priests and citizens to obey him as the sovereign ruler of the land. Amaziah’s devotion should be to the king first. From this understanding, we can recognize his reactions to Amos’ visions as being self-serving and kingdom-keeping.

In verse ten, Amos recorded Amaziah sent word to Jeroboam about him. What did Amaziah tell the king? He told him Amos conspired against him in their own borders. The word “conspired” comes from the Hebrew word qashar and means to bind together or be in league together with others. Amaziah told Jeroboam Amos conspired to remove his family’s reign from Israel and install new rulers. He tried alarming the king so he would come and put an end to Amos and his prophesying. Amaziah accused Amos of treason against Israel. He sought to bring alarm and fear in Jeroboam’s heart to excite him into action.

Should that statement of Amos conspiring against Jeroboam not excite the king, Amaziah added more. In verse eleven, he said Amos said Jeroboam would die by the sword and Israel would go into exile. We must recognize what Amaziah told Jeroboam was a lie. In verse nine, Amos said, “Then I [God] will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” In the Bible and other writings when a person spoke of rising against a house with the sword, it meant an army or a person would kill another person and his family. Still, Amos did not say explicitly that Jeroboam would die by the sword as Amaziah reported. When Amaziah told the king that Amos said Israel would go into exile, he reported correctly. He said they would go into exile from their specific plot of land given to them by their tribal leader from the Promised Land Yehovah gave the Israelites. Amaziah exaggerated so it would incite the king to act against Amos who threatened the king, Israel, and himself.

·         Have you ever exaggerated to get someone to sympathize with you and join you in your anger or vengeance? Maybe your boss reprimanded you then you spoke to your coworkers to get them to agree the boss wrongly charged you. From that, people would talk about the boss and disrespect him.
·         Have you ever spoken against someone so you could steal their friends or position in the community or in an organization?
·         Have you ever told someone something bad about your sibling or parents to get people to side with you and agree you were right when you chose not to talk to that person?


Amaziah’s Persuasion of Amos

In verses twelve and thirteen, Amos recorded Amaziah’s attempt to persuade him to stop prophesying against Israel, the king, and him. In verses twelve and thirteen, Amos said,
Then Amaziah said to Amos, 

“Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.” [NASB]

When giving a persuasive speech, the speaker speaks to logic and emotion. In these two verses, Amaziah touched on both. He called Amos a seer. This comes from the Hebrew word chozeh. This word was not the most commonly used word for prophet, but when the message of the chozeh was spiritual, the people recognized this person as a prophet. Typically, chozeh denoted someone who saw or perceived and then advised like a king’s paid counselors or advisors.

In verse twelve, Amaziah alluded to both interpretations of chozeh. Firstly, Amaziah recognized Amos’ message was a spiritual message, one that affected the spiritual part of a person. He wanted Amos to leave so as not to persuade Israelites to follow Yehovah instead of Jeroboam’s instituted gods. As to persuading because of logic and emotion, Amaziah appealed to his logic and said Amos would not receive payment in Israel for his services as a prophet because no one followed His God. He would starve to death in Israel. Amaziah appealed to Amos’ emotion and told him to return to his own country where people accept him and want to hear of their God. He feigned concern for Amos’ income and sustenance. Food/income and acceptance are big inducers for jobs. They were Amaziah’s own concerns in being a priest. In this verse, we recognize a dichotomy and a misunderstanding by Amaziah. Amaziah assumed Amos prophesied for payment. He erred in this understanding because in Israel prophets and priests received payment for their services. This understanding showed the dichotomy of the offices of priests and prophets in the two kingdoms. Amos did not prophesy for Yehovah because of promised payment. He prophesied because the LORD called him to do it.

With verse thirteen, Amaziah gave the real reason he wanted Amos out of Israel. He prohibited Amos from prophesying in Israel. Amaziah tried to prevent him speaking for Yehovah not recognizing the greater purpose for the prophecy-repentance, forgiveness, and mercy. Just like the Israelites caused the Nazirites to drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy in Amos 2:12, Amaziah commanded Amos not to prophesy. Had Amaziah not heard Amos earlier? Did it only then and not earlier in Amos 2:12 affect his understanding of his sin and cause him to forbid Amos to speak? Possibly. Still, Amaziah’s reason for prohibiting Amos to prophesy testifies to his lack of understanding. He told Amos Bethel was a sanctuary for the king so do not prophesy there. To Amaziah, Bethel was the high holy place of Israel and the place where their king worshiped. Amaziah’s reason for prohibiting Amos to prophesy at Bethel was political. It was the king’s sanctuary, sacred because of the king, not because of Yehovah’s residence there.

 Amaziah tried persuasion to get Amos to flee Israel. Whether he cared about Amos’ welfare or not, he wanted Amos out of his country. Amaziah thought Amos’ removal would solve his problems. He did not consider his and his peoples’ sins as the real problem, just Amos’ meddling. His solution to Amos’ prophecy against the high places of Isaac as stated in Amos 7:9 was to forbid his prophesying in Bethel. Amaziah’s futile attempt to stifle the LORD’s called prophet and His own judgment against the religious and political powers of Israel would not occur by banishing Amos.

·         Have you ever dealt with a problem and thought, it would go away if you don’t think about it? Did your problem go away?
·         Did anyone ever confront you about your character and you jump and lash out at him for “attacking” you? Was what the person said accurate? Did you grow from the way you reacted to the person’s positive critique?
·         Have you ever noted a message a teacher wrote on your paper and changed your style or content for a subsequent paper then noticed your grade improved? This shows growth and respect for the experienced teacher or leader.


Amos’ Reply to Amaziah

Amaziah spoke to the king and to Amos in verses ten through thirteen of chapter seven. With verses fourteen through seventeen, Amos replied to Amaziah’s misunderstanding of his “job” and the LORD’s unequivocal judgment of Amaziah. Amos 7:14-17 says,  

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


God’s Calling of Amos

In verses fourteen and fifteen, Amos told Amaziah who he was, what his job was, and by whose will he prophesied. Forthrightly in verse fourteen, Amos said he was not a prophet. The Hebrew word used here in nabiy and means a spokesman or prophet, one who “bubbles up” with declarations from God. It is the most common Hebrew word used to speak of a prophet in the Old Testament. Notice Amos did not use the word chozeh like Amaziah did. He differentiated between a paid advisor and a true prophet of God who bubbles forth with the words of the LORD. Still, Amos said he was not a prophet. Amos meant he was not of the tribe of Levi and thus a priest/prophet in that way, nor was he a prophet called by God to prophesy exclusively during his life like Isaiah or Elijah. Amos explained this further for Amaziah. He said he was not the son of a prophet and did not go to a prophet school to learn how to be a prophet. Amos received no payment to be a prophet like the students in the school of prophets written about in 1 Samuel 19:18-24, 2 Kings 2, and 2 Kings 4:38-34. His title at that point came not from an inherited position from his own father. Instead, Amos explained his job in Judah before God called him to go to Israel and speak for Him. He was a herdsman of sheep, goats, and small cattle, and a grower and tender of sycamore figs. Amos’ job was not as a paid prophet upon which he lived, but instead as a manual laborer.

Through verse fifteen, Amos explained how he came to speak as a prophet for God to Israel. Even though he was a manual laborer, God chose him. Amos recognized his calling came from Yehovah, the existing One-I AM. He said GOD took him from tending the flock and fig trees. The word “took” comes from the same Hebrew word, laqach, that Bible writers used when GOD took Elijah and Enoch to heaven in Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11. Amos did nothing purposely to get God’s attention and get the job as prophet. GOD saw him and took him; He chose him. Amos came from a similar background as David, a shepherd, and became the man GOD called to speak to and lead His people (2 Samuel 7:8). David recognized his calling by GOD, too, in Psalm 78:71. Amos’ authority as a prophet came from God, not from a school. He had a divine call, and this verse is the only place Amos references his call. He told Amaziah, “The LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’” The word “said” comes from the Hebrew word ‘amar and means commanded. The LORD commanded Amos to go prophesy to His people Israel. Amos could do nothing but go. GOD’s calling was like a fire burning in his bones, as Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 20:9. The LORD’s calling on Amos’ life compelled him to go. GOD commanded him to go.

One final word. Notice GOD did not tell Amos to go to Israel. He said to go to My people Israel. God still loved Israel and called them His own. He would do much to save them and keep them as His own. The Lord today does the same for us. He keeps calling to His children who have strayed. As a last recourse, the Lord allows hardships to occur in hopes the person will turn back to Him, repent, and seek to follow Him again. God sent many prophets to call Israel to turn back to Him. He loved His people and wanted them to return to a right relationship with Him. God, as loving and righteous, would allow the enemies of Israel to come against and conquer them to punish them and get their attention so they would turn to Him seeking help, confessing their sins, and renewing their relationship with Him.


Amos and the Prophecy Against Amaziah

In verses sixteen and seventeen, Amos spoke to Amaziah. The LORD did not direct this statement of judgment against others, but directly at the high priest of Israel. With verse sixteen, Amos gave the reason for the judgment. Verse seventeen relates GOD’s judgment against Amaziah.

Just as Amos began the other prophecies he spoke in the first six chapters of this book, he began this prophecy against Amaziah. He wanted the high priest of golden calves to realize this prophecy came from Yehovah, the I AM of whom he learned and would recognize. The prophecy stated this way should have made the priest tremble because he would have known about Yehovah and His history with the people of Israel. Besides this, with Amos’ statements above, he should have known Amos was truly a called prophet of the LORD, not an educated, self-chosen prophet for money.

Of what then did GOD charge Amaziah? God said Amaziah told Amos and His other prophets not to prophesy or speak against the house of Isaac. In Amos 2:12, GOD charged the Israelites with commanding His prophets they could not prophesy in Israel. They forbade them to speak GOD’s words-His charges and judgments. Besides this, GOD charged Amaziah with saying Amos “shall not speak against the house of Isaac.” This judgment of God specifically affected Amaziah. The word “speak” comes from the Hebrew word nataph and means to drip or flow. Often Bible writers used it to speak of preaching or prophesying. By using this word, God said Amaziah told Amos he shall not drip/drop words like a refreshing rain or like a bomb against the people, which they would not want to hear. Amaziah censored Amos. He kept his people from hearing the truth and ruffling their feathers so they would not question the worship of idols in Israel, which he led.

For this serious sin of prohibiting God’s called prophet to speak to the Israelites, GOD judged Amaziah harshly. He said through Amos in verse seventeen that Amaziah’s family would experience His judgment of him. Amos relayed God’s words and said, “Your wife will become a harlot in the city.” This spoke of the time of their future capture. It could have meant Amaziah’s family would become so destitute during and after the siege of Israel that to have money to feed her family, his wife would prostitute herself. The other meaning is that Israel’s captors would make Amaziah watch his wife’s dishonor as they forced her to be their sexual toy. He would be unable to prevent her dishonor. Either occurrence showed the depths to which Amaziah, the chief priest of Israel, would fall because of GOD’s judgment of his sins. His family would be poor and dishonored. This judgment is like what Hosea said in Hosea 4:13-14.

Amos continued to relay GOD’s judgment about the devastation upon Amaziah’s family in verse seventeen. He said, “Your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.” His children would die violently by the hands of their enemies. The people Amaziah loved most would die a horrific death. His future would not exist because the enemy killed his children. Amaziah’s line would end. For what use then was he teaching false religion and earning money if he would not have descendants? God’s judgment affected his wife and his children in terrible ways.

Next GOD spoke judgment regarding Amaziah’s land. He said, “Your land will be parceled up by a measuring line.” The word used for land here is the Hebrew word adamah. It means a specific plot of land, not a nation or territory, or earth in general. The verb “parceled up” means to divide, plunder, or assign by a conqueror. The enemies would take the land Amaziah’s family received from their tribe leader when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. God’s judgment would take their inheritance of His promise with Abraham away from his family line. This spoke to GOD removing His promise and His hand of protection from them. The Israelites took for granted God’s covenant with them. They considered He would protect them without faithfully keeping their covenant with Him as their ancestors promised in Deuteronomy 28. God’s judgments now horrendously affected Amaziah’s wife, children, and land. His present, and future blessings became curses because of his sins against GOD.

Finally, if these three judgments against Amaziah did not cause him to repent and return to GOD, the last one should have. GOD told him, “You yourself will die upon unclean soil.” The word “unclean” means religious or ritual uncleanness. A priest would make sure to always be “clean.” He would perform each of the rituals to become clean so he could go before his god. With this part of his judgment, Amaziah would live in an unclean, heathen nation. He could not get ritually cleaned. His ministry would remain tainted in his exile. In 2 Kings 17:6, the writer noted Assyria captured Samaria and took the leaders of Samaria into captivity. Ezekiel 4:13 notes the sons of Israel would eat their bread unclean among the nations where God banished them. God’s judgment of Amaziah affected his family, his honor, his inheritance, his descendants, and his income. God would take away each of His blessings to Amaziah. The removal of His blessings and His presence would cause curses in Amaziah’s life.

The words of Amos were not just the words of a man. They were GOD’s words and should have caused Amaziah to turn toward GOD repenting. Amaziah did not examine himself and his nation regarding covenant blessings, faithfulness, and responsibility. He, like the rich people of Israel, felt secure behind the walls of Samaria and behind the rituals of his king-instituted religion. Amaziah remained blinded by these human achievements-fortresses and religiosity.

·         On what do you count to show your rightness when defending yourself against charges from people? Would these acts of rightness stand up to God’s standards or would God consider you unrighteous?
·         When someone brings an error of yours to your attention, do you go on the defensive or justify yourself? Have you considered the possibility the person is trying to help you grow beyond yourself?
·         On what part of your life has God been speaking to you to change? Have you listened to Him, sought His will, and grown? Have you justified yourself and kept walking in your own way? If the latter, you are like Amaziah and many people.
·         We each sin and try to justify our thoughts, words, and actions. God is the standard. Can our thoughts, words, and actions meet His standards? Not in our own they can’t. We cannot justify ourselves before God.

Consider this passage from Romans 5:1-3. 



Recap

Amos spent much time prophesying to the people of Israel and explaining about their sins of which God charged and judged them. With Amos 7, God gave him three visions of His judgment on His people Israel. He withheld His judgment by locust and fire because of Amos interceding for Israel. The final vision of the plumb line would occur. Amos saw the depth of the Israelites' sins and did not intercede for them after the third vision.

After the third vision and its message that God, through Israel’s enemies, would destroy their sanctuaries and rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword, Amaziah the high priest sent a report to King Jeroboam II telling him about Amos and that he conspired against the king. Next Amaziah tried to persuade Amos to leave Israel feigning concern for his income and his ability to buy bread. He compelled Amos not to prophesy in Bethel. Amaziah stated Amos was a prophet for hire and did not recognize GOD called him to the position for that time.

Amos refuted Amaziah explaining his calling by GOD to go to Israel and speak His prophecies of judgment against them. He told him his job was as a tender of flock and fig trees. Amos said he did not inherit the position of prophet, nor did he attend a prophet’s school. He then prophesied the total destruction and dishonor of Amaziah, his family, and his land. Because of his misdirection, the man to whom a nation looked for spiritual direction would receive a critical, dramatic judgment from the LORD.


Conclusion and Relevance

God calls to each of us to be in a relationship with Him. He speaks to every person to follow Him and grow more like Christ each day. God pricks each person’s conscience when he or she faces temptations to sin against Him and other people. He sends people into our lives to teach or preach His Word so we grow and become strong enough to overcome any temptation we meet. These people come into our lives as God’s voice to teach us so we feel pricks from God to our consciences, feel God’s sadness at our disobedience, and turn back to Him repenting. At times, we are the people growing, being tempted, overcoming temptation, or sinning. Occasionally, we are the people God uses to speak His Word so others may grow and conquer temptation, or repent from sin and return to the Lord.

For his time, Amos was that man of God to Israel.

For our time, we know of people like Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, and Charles Swindoll.

For our time, God may also use any of us to speak to people-to teach and testify about Him.
For all time –
Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
is the teacher and Savior from God.
He not only came to teach, but to be the final sacrifice needed for our sins to redeem us from slavery to sin and defeat the penalty of death our sinning causes us to deserve. Because of God’s love for us, His mercy and lovingkindness, He provided a way for each of us to be in His presence, to experience eternal hope and joy, and to live eternally with Him. Jesus justifies us to God through His death on the cross.

A passage in the Gospel of John speaks about this. John 3:16-18 

For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the word, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [NASB]

Jesus was not just a teacher to tell us about God; He showed God to us here on earth through His life, love, death, and resurrection. Jesus died so we can have eternal life.

His life was a testimony to us about how to live and overcome temptation.

His death and resurrection were an act of God’s love and mercy to us to save us.

We each must decide if we will believe in Jesus Christ and accept His love and forgiveness.

Will you heed the words of Amos, the testimony of Jesus’ life, and receive the love, forgiveness, and eternal life Jesus’ death and resurrection give from God?
It’s your choice.