Amos Chapter 7: Prophecy against Israel and Amaziah the Priest

Nov 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Amos, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Amos Chapter 7: Prophecy against Israel and Amaziah the Priest

Amos 7:1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shown unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings.

Chapter 7 begins a new setting. Amos had a series of five visions, of which this vision was the first.

God showed Amos, in vision, a plague of grasshoppers in the “latter growth after the king’s mowings.” The “king’s mowings” happened in the spring. As soon as the crop came forth, the king got the first mowing as a form of taxation. The tithe was supposed to be for the Lord, but the king took the “cream of the crop,” the firstfruits, as it were. After this mowing, the crop continued to grow, and the people could harvest this latter growth for themselves. But in the vision, when the latter growth was ready to be harvested for the sustenance of the common people and their families, there occurred a locust plague, which affected their very survival.

Amos 7:2 And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.

Amos was so affected by what he saw in the vision that he cried out, “O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” (See the RSV.) These words were repeated after the second vision (Amos 7:5).

Comment: The phraseology is touching: Jacob “is so small.” Amos knew that without God’s help, the nation would be nothing.

Reply: Amos knew that the boasting of the people was just hot air—all words, no substance.

Amos 7:3 The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.

God heard and relented because of His feelings for Amos. God’s personal address to the prophet was unusual and would have been very comforting because Amos was having a lonely experience. He had come from Judah and was told to speak hard things to the ten tribes.

Amos was telling the people about his dream. “In the vision, locusts ate up the crop after the king’s mowings. I prayed to God that this would not happen, for it would threaten your very survival. God heard me.” Amos remonstrated like Abraham, who had tried to reason with God: “If there be in Sodom forty-five righteous, … thirty, … twenty,” etc. (Gen. 18:27-32).

Amos 7:4 Thus hath the Lord GOD shown unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part.

Amos 7:5 Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.

Amos 7:6 The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.

“This also shall not be” implied that God had previously called off a judgment at the request of Amos, that is, the plague of locusts, or grasshoppers, shown in the first vision (verse 3). Here, too, in the second vision, Amos intervened and asked God to be merciful to “small” Jacob (yet the ten tribes had bragged repeatedly about their numbers, wealth, and power). God exercised forgiveness twice.

“The great deep” is the ocean. In the second vision, the fireball catastrophe “devoured” the ocean and “part” of the land, that is, the ten-tribe part of the nation of Israel.

Amos 7:7 Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.

This third vision was of a plumb line, which is God’s righteous standard. The following Scriptures are pertinent.

“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place” (Isa. 28:17). A plumb line hangs straight down, being always perpendicular to the ground.

“But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness” (Isa. 34:11). If the plumb line represents righteousness, uprightness, etc., the “line of confusion” refers to the lawlessness and confusion of the people, who did not follow the righteous standard. In other words, the righteous standard exposed the failures and sins of the people. Stated another way, their lack of living up to the righteous standard was exposed, and the effect was confusion.

“The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together” (Lam. 2:8). The plumb line hung straight down, exposing the crooked wall of Jerusalem, and thus it showed that the city was not living up to God’s standard. Jerusalem was supposed to be a place of information and guidance in civil and religious (or moral) matters, for the Temple was there.

“Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem” (Zech. 1:16). In the future, Jerusalem will meet divine standards in both civil (government) and religious (Temple) matters. All will be done according to God’s will.

“The Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.” Whether the Lord stood on top of the wall or beside it, the plumb line now showed that the wall was crooked. Originally the wall was straight, having been built with a plumb line, but it had deteriorated and was no longer upright, no longer in harmony with God’s will. When Joshua entered the Promised Land, the nation was set up according to divine standards. The Law was read every seven years. But as time went on, the wall began to lean and then got more and more crooked.

“I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down” (2 Kings 21:13). This Scripture will be discussed under verse 9.

Amos 7:8 And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:

This is the first time God called Amos by name. Here was an intimate reassurance that the prophet was doing his job. When Aaron and Miriam felt that Moses should share some of the responsibility of government with them, they spoke unkindly, implying that Moses was power hungry and taking too much upon himself. God angrily asked them, “Where do you get the nerve to criticize my servant Moses, with whom I speak face to face?” Since God had put the power into Moses’ hands, the criticism was a criticism of God Himself.

Q: In the first and second chapters of Amos, God said over and over again, “For three transgressions and for four, I will do such and such.” God was referring to the heathen nations surrounding Israel. They had three opportunities, and on the fourth, their judgment came.

Here with Israel (Christendom in the antitype), there were only two opportunities and then the judgment. Was this because Israel had more light and more advantages (the Law and the prophets)—and hence more responsibility? And in the antitype, Christendom has more responsibility.

A: Yes. It would be “four times and you are out” with regard to the heathen nations, and “three times and you are out” for Israel and Christendom.

God would “not again pass by them any more” in the sense of repenting of judgment. He would no longer spare the ten tribes from judgment.

Amos 7:9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Why were the ten tribes called “Isaac”? This title can be tied in with the antitype. Just as Papacy claims the antiquity of going back to the Apostle Peter and thus that Catholicism is the true religion, so the ten tribes felt they had a higher form of religion with their multiplicity of altars and innovations than what the Lord had authorized in Jerusalem. The ten tribes claimed to go back to Isaac to show their antiquity and the authenticity of their roots.

Isaac had such respect for Abraham and God that he obeyed, even knowing he would be sacrificed. The disobedience of the ten tribes was in direct contrast to Isaac’s obedience, yet they claimed him. The northern kingdom identified themselves with Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, yet all three were buried in Judah.

Q: Ezekiel 21:14 comes to mind about the sword being doubled thrice. Again the thought is of final judgment coming the third time. Would that text relate, at least in principle, to the three visions here in Amos, and perhaps also in antitype?

A: Yes. In both cases, the judgment was irrevocable. Twice God gave Christendom space to repent, but the opportunities were ignored. The third time, yet future, the judgment will come.

Comment: With both the ten tribes and the two tribes, there was the principle of judgment coming the third time.

Now we can consider 2 Kings 21:13 with regard to the “line of Samaria” being stretched over Jerusalem, or Judah. The plumb line showed how far the conduct of the northern kingdom had deviated from God’s upright standard and thus that judgment was necessary and irrevocable.

Samaria did receive judgment, and more than 100 years later, the same plumb line showed that Judah was wanting and that a necessary and irrevocable judgment was coming.

“I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” Jeroboam II was the current king, so this prophecy touched a sore spot. To speak out so courageously, Amos needed the further encouragement of being called by name and thus being assured of God’s friendship (verse 8).

Amos 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.

Amos 7:11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.

First, Amaziah sent a message to the king to report what Amos had supposedly said. Then he spoke to Amos (verse 12), saying in effect, “I have reported your words to the king. For your own safety, you had better return to Judah.”

If we analyze what Amaziah told King Jeroboam II, we realize that he said Amos was involved in a conspiracy (a plot of a group of people). According to Amaziah, Amos had said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword,” but that is not what Amos had prophesied. The words of Amos were, “The house of Jeroboam will be slain with the sword.” The government fell during the reign of the next king—King Hoshea. “The house of Jeroboam” started with Jeroboam I, who had separated from Judah, started the ten-tribe kingdom, and set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel to rival Jerusalem as a place of worship. In other words, the dynasty of Jeroboam would collapse—Amos had not prophesied personally against Jeroboam II. Amaziah was a false witness because he wanted Amos to be punished.

Q: Would the principle be like the difference with us when we predict the fall of Papacy but do not personally single out the pope?

A: Yes. The institution of the Papacy as a false religion is what we are against, and not Pope Leo XIII, Pope Gregory, etc.

Comment: Like Amos, the feet members will be accused of treason and conspiracy.

“Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.” These words of Amaziah were true. Amos had uttered this prophecy.

Amos 7:12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:

Amos 7:13 But prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.

“O thou seer” was sarcasm. “Seer” can be used in Scripture in a favorable sense, but when Amaziah used the term sarcastically, he meant that Amos was a false prophet, or a visionary (predicting something that would not happen). Thus Amaziah downgraded Amos. He was saying, “For your own good, flee back to Judah.” Amos had strongly prophesied at Bethel, the heart of the false religion with the golden calf.

“Flee … into … Judah, and there eat bread.” Amaziah implied that Amos, as part of a conspiracy, was being paid to prophesy and that he used his prophecies to earn a livelihood. Understanding Amaziah’s intent explains why Amos replied as he did in verses 14 and 15.

“Beth-el … is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.” In some respects, Bethel was not only the center of religion but also the center of government. Samaria was the technical capital, but Bethel was associated with civil government because the “king’s court” was there.

Amos 7:14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit:

Amos 7:15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

The nature of Amos’s reply was that he was not part of a conspiracy but that God had selected him. He was not a prophet in the customary sense—not by heredity or of the school of the prophets. He was not an “ordained minister,” but he was a true prophet because God had told him personally, as an individual, what and how to prophesy. Amos was saying, “I was pleased and satisfied with my former peaceful occupation, but God told me to leave that comfortable life and go to the northern kingdom. There I was to speak words as He would direct.” Amos was rebutting Amaziah’s accusation that he was prophesying for monetary reward or as part of a conspiracy.

Comment: This again sounds like the feet members, who are satisfied to be humble and quiet on the sidelines, but when the time comes, they have to speak out.

Amos 7:16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.

Amos 7:17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.

Because Amaziah personally slandered Amos, God said he would receive a personal judgment in two ways: (1) he would lose his wife, for she would become a harlot, and (2) his sons and daughters would die in warfare. Amaziah’s property would be confiscated and divided by the conqueror, Assyria, and he would ultimately be a captive and die in that foreign land. Amos courageously prophesied the fate of Amaziah and of the ten-tribe kingdom, which would “surely go into captivity.”

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