Amos chapter 9: Punishment on Israel, Holy Remnant, Jacob’s Trouble, Regathering of Israel

Nov 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Amos, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Amos chapter 9: Punishment on Israel, Holy Remnant, Jacob’s Trouble, Regathering of Israel

Amos 9:1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

”I saw the Lord standing upon [by] the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them [the people—RSV and NIV] in the head, all of them.” In this fifth vision, Amos would have seen the Lord as a huge figure. What is the significance of the Lord’s standing “by” the altar? (The Hebrew verifies the use of “by” in the NIV.) The altar would have been a pagan altar, and the vision showed that judgment was coming.

When the Lord said, “Smite the lintel of the door,” etc., He was talking to Amos. In other words, Amos was expected to forward the message in the vision, but what action did he take?

The prophet reasoned that he would have to go to Dan or Bethel (probably the latter) and pronounce this very strong and unfavorable message at the site of the altar. He would select a day when many people would be present so that the audience would be large—probably at some feast or observance. Amos knew there would be repercussions, but he wanted to discharge this responsibility.

The smiting of the lintel and doorposts of the false religious worship was figurative, not literal. Since the Lord was standing by the altar in the vision, He was speaking religiously, but the religious and the political were so intertwined that both civil and religious leaders would be affected. Isaiah 6:4 reads, “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” In this vision of Isaiah, the “house” had both a religious and a political connotation. Here in Amos, the smiting meant that the religious and civil leadership would come to an end. Paul prophesied similarly in Hebrews 12:26,27 from the standpoint of Mount Sinai; namely, everything that is movable will be removed, and everything that is not movable will remain. This prediction, too, pertained to both civil and religious. The laws Moses gave to the people were both civil and religious.

Therefore, the shaking of the posts signifies the ultimate removal. Earthquake tremors are the precursor of an actual earthquake that later erupts violently. In the vision, the Lord was angry, and tremors were occurring, forecasting destruction sometime in the future. The ten-tribe kingdom would be dissolved both religiously and politically.

“Cut them [the people] in the head, all of them.” The leadership, the upper strata, the “head,” would be destroyed. This removal would affect the common people as well.

“And I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.” A great slaughter would occur, especially of the guiltiest. “I will slay the last of them” suggests that others would be killed by other means, such as hunger and anarchy, and that some would flee to outlying areas. But the escapees would die by violence (“the sword”). Any attempt to escape the judgment would be futile except for a small not-as-iniquitous remnant. When the king of Assyria came down, he butchered many, many people.

“He that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.” Those who fled would be searched out and killed. Their flight would be to no avail.

There would be no escaping the judgment even for deserters.

Amos 9:2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

“Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them”; that is, even if escapees should flee into tombs and sepulchres to hide below ground, they would be found and killed.

Comment: If people live in tombs in the City of the Dead outside Cairo, then we should not be surprised that escapees would try to hide in tombs.

“Though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” Some would climb cliffs and almost inaccessible heights in an effort to escape, but they, too, would be found and killed.

Amos 9:3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:

“And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence.” The top of Mount Carmel is riddled with caves, but again the hiding would be to no avail. The Assyrians had such hatred for the Jews that they would search them out even here.

They wanted to utterly destroy the ten-tribe kingdom, which had been such a thorn in their flesh. God would permit this slaughter because He was fed up with Israel’s sins.

“And though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them.” To escape the slaughter, some would submerge themselves in water and breathe through a pipe or reed protruding above the surface. This attempt to hide would also fail.

What a hard message for Amos to give! And Amaziah, the priest, had clearly told him to “prophesy not again any more at Beth-el” (Amos 7:13). Amos was a humble shepherd, not one of the regular prophets, but he was chosen for this mission. His name appropriately means “burden bearer.”

Amos 9:4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.

To avoid being killed, some would raise a white flag of truce and go to the enemy, but the enemy would put them to death. Whatever means of escape they tried would be to no avail.

Amos 9:5 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

Over and over Amos called Jehovah “the Lord GOD of hosts.” Amos 8:8 also used the term “flood of Egypt”—a reference to the Nile flooding its banks each year. All the people would mourn. Verse 5 suggests that although not every person would die, every family would have a casualty. Similarly in Egypt, each family mourned the death of the firstborn. Primarily affected would be all those of the ten tribes who were bordering on incorrigibility in their false religion and disassociation from God.

Amos 9:6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.

The word “stories” means “spheres” (KJV margin), “worlds,” and “galaxies.” The galaxies are not only numerous but very far apart. In each galaxy alone, there are trillions and trillions of miles. In other words, many planes of being and many, many spheres will ultimately be inhabited—and the Lord GOD made them all! The beginning of verse 6 refers to various places of future abode, of which we know nothing.

“Troop” means “bundle” (KJV margin); that is, the seas on the earth, as decreed by God, will not pass their set boundaries. But He who set the boundaries and issued the decrees has the liberty to reverse them. At the time of the Flood, oceans emptied and overflowed the land, in addition to rains falling from above. Just as the Lord GOD of hosts commands planets, so He controls the waters of the sea. The earth’s surface is three-fourths sea and one-fourth land.

Amos was saying, “The Lord standing by the altar is the One who controls the planets and the seas; He is the One talking to you.” Nothing can hinder or thwart God’s purpose.

Jumping ahead to verse 10, we read, “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.” ALL who had the nerve to oppose or contradict Amos when he made this dire pronouncement would die, for they were opposing God’s judgment. There is an antitype for our day in regard to a dire prediction of the end of the age.

Amos 9:7 Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?

As instructed by God, Amos declared these words to his contemporaries about 800 BC.

Comment: The Israelites looked down on the Ethiopians (called “Cushites” in the RSV), but God was saying that Israel was no different.

Reply: Yes, Ethiopia was usually thought of in a derogatory sense. Since the Exodus was from Egypt, when did God take Israel from Ethiopia? There was a close relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt, and some of the Pharaohs had more Ethiopian blood than Egyptian blood.

In Egypt, the regal line was traced through women. Therefore, one had to be properly married to be the Pharaoh. Many of the Pharaohs had an Ethiopian-Egyptian mixture.

When God took the Israelites out of Egypt, they were in a poor state. Following Joseph’s death, the Pharaohs no longer favored the Israelites, who had been given the land of Goshen, the best land in Egypt, for raising cattle. A caste system had developed, as it were, with the Israelites being slaves and despised shepherds. As a persecuted people, they lacked leadership.

In that lowly condition, God called them as His people and drew them out of Egypt under Moses. Here God was reminding Israel of their low-born origin.

“Have not I brought up … the Philistines from Caphtor?” Caphtor is the island of Crete. The Philistines were called from Caphtor to the Gaza Strip area (to Philistia). What caused them to move to the mainland? Archaeologists tell of a tremendous earthquake on Crete that affected hundreds of miles. Crete was a very advanced and civilized island, but God caused this natural catastrophe to occur so that the Philistines would leave for a new beginning in Gaza. Of Israel God had said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). Hence it was not in this sense that God called the Philistines—they would not be His special people. Rather, Divine Providence decided that this generation of Philistines would inhabit the Gaza area, so that at a later time, they would have an effect on Israel. Philistine cities include Ekron, Ashdod, Gaza, and Ashkelon.

“Have not I brought up … the Syrians from Kir?” Today ancient Kir is known as Kars in Turkey. Kars is something like Nimrut Dagh with statues near the top of a mountain, but in Kars, the statues are larger, showing it was an ancient civilization and a center or capital. Just the head alone makes a human being seem miniaturized, so the full height of the statues is very tall. The Syrians’ origin was Kir (Kars), and from there, they were brought south. Syria became a part of Assyria, which is a larger area. Like the Ethiopians, the Syrians were called for a purpose. God brought them to where they are located today. God knows how people will act genetically, so He sets the stage in His plan.

In summary, God has dealt with other peoples. Now He was talking to the northern kingdom through Amos. The ten tribes had the name “Israel,” which originally comprised all 12 tribes.

In principle, verse 7 was saying: (1) God is in command, (2) He could have used any of these other peoples instead of Israel, and (3) the nation of Israel fell from its previous estate when the ten-tribes separated from Benjamin and Judah—or, stated another way, the separation of the ten-tribes marked the beginning of their decline because they immediately set up rival centers of worship with golden calves. As 200 years went by, they sank lower and lower. Now, in their fallen condition, the ten tribes thought they were God’s people because they had the name “Israel,” wealth, and the majority of the people. They arrogantly applied the promises to themselves, whereas in reality, they had deteriorated to the condition of these other nations whom they regarded with disdain. Through Amos, God was castigating the ten tribes for feeling confident in their relationship to Him. God was saying, “You are just like these other nobodies. You have sunk to their level.”

Comment: In Matthew 3:9, John the Baptist enunciated the same principle: “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.”

Amos 9:8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.

The “sinful kingdom” was the northern kingdom. The antitype is Papacy, or Catholicism, which prides itself on numbers, has the name “Catholic” (universal), and supposedly has Peter as the first pope with a lineage of popes up to the present. Papacy is confident of being the true Church, the mother Church, but as a system, it is the “sinful kingdom” in the Lord’s sight.

“And I will destroy it [the sinful kingdom] from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.” In the antitype, the sinful kingdom will be destroyed forever “from off the face of the earth.” But Amos was speaking of the literal ten tribe kingdom, which will not be utterly destroyed and is called the “house of Jacob,” a term that is meaningful. After Jacob wrestled with the angel, God said He would no longer call him Jacob but “Israel,” which means “prince with God.” Based upon this incident, the ten-tribe kingdom was called the “house of Jacob,” even though Jacob was buried in Judah in Hebron (Gen. 32:24-30). The ten tribes liked to pride themselves that they were of Jacob (rather than Abraham), and they thought of him as their cardinal patriarch. The woman of Samaria said Jacob drank at that well (John 4:6,7,12). As we look to George Washington as the father of our country, so the ten tribes looked to Jacob. In short, then, the fortunes of the northern kingdom would not be completely annihilated.

Amos 9:9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

In Hebrew, this verse is stated in a way that can have two different applications depending on intonation. When the ten tribes were overthrown by the king of Assyria, those who were taken captive were so scattered that they became known as the “lost tribes of Israel.” They were sold on the open market as slaves. In contrast, the two tribes were taken to the river Chebar, a specific location.

Usually the emphasis is put o n the dispersion of the northern kingdom, the thought being that the people would be sifted like corn in a sieve among all nations (Germany, Austria, France, etc.) in the Diaspora. That thought is correct, but the wording intentionally gives a twofold application. The most important application is the one yet future in the end time. Instead of the emphasis being on sifting and shaking the corn so that it falls among all nations, the future application emphasizes what is left in the sieve: the Holy Remnant. Verse 9 progresses from a past application to a future application, from the Diaspora to individuals, in that not “the least grain [individual in the Holy Remnant]” will fall on the ground. Not one grain, not one individual in the Diaspora whom God will select as part of the Holy Remnant, will fall to the ground. Inferentially here, and stated plainly elsewhere, all such grains will be regathered to Israel, some before and some after Jacob’s Trouble (in the second regathering). The regathering we see now started in the past and is continuing, but the second regathering, yet future, will be from all nations.

Amos 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.

In the antitype, all sinners will die by violence. There will come a time when all of the Little Flock must be cut off. There will subsequently come a time when the Great Company must be off the earthly scene. And shortly afterward there will come a time when all Jews not “written in the book” will be cut off—temporarily (Dan. 12:1). Jesus will inaugurate the Kingdom with a Holy Remnant. The term “not the least grain” suggests that the great majority will go through the sieve.

In the prophet’s day, the sinners said, “The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.” The ten-tribe kingdom was very confident, but Amos was saying that the great bulk would die by the sword of the Assyrians. With the ten tribes, this prophecy was literally fulfilled but not down to the individual; that is, it was fulfilled with a broad-brush stroke. In contrast, the end-time fulfillment will be literal with each individual.

Comment: The NIV translates “evil” as “disaster,” which is more accurate, for God does not cause moral evil but can cause a physical disaster.

Amos 9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

Acts 15:16,17 quotes Amos 9:11,12 as follows: “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

“In that day [after the Church is complete] will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.” What is the “tabernacle of David”?

Q: In Young’s Analytical Concordance, “tabernacle” is the Hebrew word sukkah, defined as “covering,” “covert,” or “booth.” Sukkah is used repeatedly in the phrase “feast of tabernacles,” and it is also used in Isaiah 4:6, where God speaks of the “tabernacle” He will establish for Israel in the future: “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” The word sukkah seems to be an embracive term that implies more than just house or lineage. Does the “tabernacle of David” have the thought of a protective arrangement that includes the government and the Ancient Worthies—just as God’s protective care was over the Israelites in the past?

A: Yes, there will be protective care. A tent is usually raised up to provide shelter and to serve as a residence.

The “breaches” of the tabernacle of David will be closed up, the “ruins” will be raised up, and God will “build it as in the days of old.” The tabernacle of David, as a government, can be thought of as the house of David. God will restore Israel’s judges as at the first, meaning that a divine arrangement will be instituted somewhat like that of the past (Isa. 1:26).

Comment: Even though the term is “the tabernacle of David,” it seems to include the thought of a literal Temple from the standpoint that David’s desire was to build a house for the Lord. This would be the fruition of David’s desire in a pure sense; that is, it would not be defiled like Solomon’s Temple.

Reply: We would read into this verse that the Temple will be restored, but the structure is only emblematic of a government. The Third Temple will be a house of prayer and communication. When the nations go to Israel in the Kingdom, even representatively, a building of some kind must be there. Since the Scriptures clearly teach that a literal Temple will be built, the expression “tabernacle of David” can convey all of the thoughts already suggested. The literal house is emblematic of the restoration of Israel as a whole. The Ancient Worthies are included because the prince will be the most honored person in the Third Temple (Ezek. 44:1-3). Only the prince will be allowed to sit in the closed outer east gate. As the representative of the people, the presiding Ancient Worthy will worship at the inner east gate. In addition, the Zadok priesthood will officiate in the Temple (Ezek. 43:19; 48:11). Messiah will fulfill the three roles of Prophet, Priest, and King. The Ancient Worthies will be his mouthpieces. The Church will be part of the government, reigning with Jesus. Hence the “tabernacle of David” includes prayer, communication, leadership, guidance, and rulership in the future.

“And I will build it as in the days of old.” The New Covenant will be very much like the old Law Covenant. One difference is that the New Covenant will have tried and true representatives.

God will “close up the breaches” of the tabernacle of David. The future government will be the Ancient Worthies, and the future religious leadership will be the Zadok priesthood. Hence the current leaders, both political and religious (the “breaches,” or openings), will be closed up.

Q: In the Old Testament (for example, in the Book of Nehemiah), “breaches” usually referred to openings in the wall. Ezekiel’s Temple will have a defined area. Could verse 11 be referring to the literal rebuilding of a wall around the Temple?

A: Verse 11 implies that the present site will be leveled and raised up by an earthquake. Just as the Lord’s true representatives, as individuals, will be installed in office, so the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa must be leveled and the true Temple erected on the Temple Mount. Usually verse 11 is given only a figurative application, which is the most important, but a certain fullness is lacking if the natural picture is not seen.

Comment: Jeremiah 30:17,18 describes the restoration of Israel: “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after. Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace [Temple] shall remain after the manner thereof.”

Amos 9:12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

“That they [Israel] may possess the remnant of Edom [the Arab nations in the natural picture], and of all the heathen [the Gentiles].” Edom is another name for Esau, who in the Muslim faith is believed to be the seed through whom the Abrahamic promise comes (instead of through Isaac). The Muslims believe the promise comes through Ishmael but use Esau in their writings.

The prophecy is that Ishmael will have 12 princes (as Jacob had 12 sons or tribes). Edom was a thorn in Israel’s flesh for a long period of time. Edom was south of Ammon and Moab, near Petra, at the southern end of the Dead Sea and south of the Arnon. Esau did get a blessing but along temporal lines. Jacob’s blessing of the birthright includes earthly blessings, but the chief blessing is spiritual from a natural standpoint because Israel will be the chief nation on earth. The way verse 12 is worded implies that Edom was somewhat kindred to Israel. From a natural standpoint, they are brothers, for they were children of Abraham. All Arabs are of the Muslim faith, but not all Muslims are Arabs.

Comment: The word “possess” (“that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen”) proves that those who come into the Kingdom arrangement will have to become Israelitish. They will come in under that arrangement.

In Acts 15:17, “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and [even] all the Gentiles,” the Apostle James gave Amos 9:12, which has a future application, a current application during the Gospel Age. James was saying that Gentiles who become Christians, who convert to Christianity, are partakers of the promise. Because Jewish Christians had a hard time accepting this teaching, James quoted Amos 9:12. He was summing up what had been discussed previously with Peter taking the leading role.

In the spiritual application, Edom represents Christendom, and the time setting is the Kingdom. “They” (natural Israel, the Holy Remnant, and the Ancient Worthies) will possess the remnant of Christendom. Israel’s possessing Christendom will be a very humbling situation for the popes, bishops, reverends, evangelists, etc., some of whom have led dual lives in one way or another.

The word “remnant” in verse 12 suggests that the Arabs will have a problem initially, whereby only a remnant will survive into the beginning of the Kingdom. Not only will there be a holocaust of the ungodly of Israel in Jacob’s Trouble, but there will be massive destruction of the Arab peoples surrounding Israel prior to Jacob’s Trouble (Psalm 83). The Arab remnant is not described as a “holy” remnant. Those Arabs who survive Jacob’s Trouble will witness God’s mighty miracles on behalf of Israel. When they see that Allah has permitted the destruction of their mosque (Dome of the Rock), they will fall into line.

Comment: It may be providential for the future fulfillment of Psalm 83 that the Arabs are being physically separated from the Israelis with this current peace accord. Then, in the future, it will be easy for Israel to defeat the Arabs in their concentrated pockets in Israel.

Reply: In other words, with the Arabs being confined to definite areas, a bomb could be dropped on them without adverse effects to the Jews.

Several Scriptures indicate a tremendous loss of life in the world in the anarchy and in Israel in Jacob’s Trouble. “For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many” (Isa. 66:16). “And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground” (Jer. 25:33). This verse shows the extensiveness of the deaths; they will be “from one end of the earth even unto the other.”

“Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth. And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword” (Ezek. 35:7,8). Those who seek righteousness and meekness in the earth, those who keep as separate as possible from all violent acts during the anarchy, will be in a better position to survive the anarchy.

“Which are called by my name.” Spiritually, Christendom is called by God’s name. When the nominal system falls, the people will not all be destroyed, just their religion. Henceforth there will be no more religious deceptions. The deception in the Little Season will be along other Satanic lines. Those who succumb will get certain benefits. By following Satan’s reasoning, they will show that they did not really learn the lessons of the Kingdom under Messiah because of a wrong heart condition. Incidentally, the Old Testament shows that the Great Company will be given as a possession to the Little Flock. In the type, the Levites were set up as a class and given to the priesthood in a formal dedication ceremony (Numbers 8).

Amos 9:13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

Amos 9:14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

Amos 9:15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.

When verses 13-15 are considered as a whole, with a broad-brush stroke, they sound optimistic and favorable, especially when verses 11 and 12 are considered too. The prophets often criticized, but generally their later chapters contained good news pertaining to the times of restitution.

Before the spiritual application for the end of the Gospel Age is considered, we will discuss the natural application for the generation contemporary with Amos. When Amos uttered the prophecy of verses 11-15 to the ten-tribe kingdom, the people would have applied it to the time when Messiah would come, especially verse 13. Also, they might have connected it to Leviticus 26:5, which is a promise about the land producing abundantly: “And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” In other words, verse 13 would have been considered an agrarian picture of great plenitude and a land of milk and honey. The seasons would yield such abundant produce that they would overlap.

Comment: The Israelites were promised enough food to supply them on sabbath days, weeks, and years when they were not to plant or harvest. For example, for the sabbath year, the food plentifully supplied them from the preceding year on through the sabbath year and up to the third year when they could again sow and reap. The forty-ninth year was a sabbath year followed by the Jubilee in the fiftieth year. At that time, there were two years during which the Israelites could neither sow nor reap, so the land fruitage of the previous year supplied them for two additional years, leading them up to the next year when they could sow and reap.

Comment: Joel 3:18 is similar to Amos 9:13. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”

Reply: The two verses are similar, but Joel 3:18 combines several thoughts, whereas Amos 9:13 just tells about the land. Joel 3:18 also refers to the time of the dedication of the Third Temple, when water will come out from underneath the threshold.

Those who heard this prophecy in the days of Amos applied it to Messiah’s Kingdom, a time when there will be food, housing, clothing, health, happiness, etc., for all. The new, or “sweet,” wine will be God’s pure truth.

Verse 13 can also be considered from another standpoint. Several ingredients are mentioned: plowman, reaper, treader of grapes, and sower of seed. The order, or sequence, in nature is plowing, sowing, reaping, and treading grapes. One must first plow in order to sow, then the reaper gathers that which was previously sown, and finally the grapes are trodden in the second harvest. In other words, first comes the grain harvest, then the fruit harvest.

“And the mountains shall drop sweet wine.” Wine comes from grapes. “And all the hills shall melt.” There are different types of “melting.” From a natural standpoint, this melting, which is favorable, means that streams of water will flow, making the land productive.

“The plowman shall overtake the reaper.” The Pastor said that the “plowman” was the Time of Trouble. The thought was that the Time of Trouble would prepare the way for a beneficial reaping. However, we have a little different thought.

Jesus is the Chief Reaper. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Jesus said to let both wheat and tares grow together until the end of the age, when a reaping work would be done. During the Harvest, reaping is the predominant work, not sowing. Nevertheless, sowing is still done based on Ecclesiastes 11:6, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.”

If the reaper here in Amos, in a spiritual sense, represents Jesus and his message and work, the plowman must also be a personality, that is, Satan (and not the Time of Trouble). Thus verse 13 is another Scripture that shows Satan is not bound. At the end of the age, Satan will be given MORE liberty, not less liberty, and even a partial binding would mean less liberty. If one is being bound, he is being straitened—he is not as free as previously. From one standpoint, Satan has been bound in tartaroo in earth’s atmosphere ever since the Flood, but his powers and capabilities can be exerted from that position. As Beelzebub, the chief of the demons, the god of this world, he can manipulate and influence by remote control, as it were. However, the binding at the end of the age is more than just the tartaroo binding. The time is coming in the near future when Satan will be given more liberty, which he will use to disrupt the Harvest work. Stated another way, Satan is the plowman behind the trouble. The “Man of Sin” chapter in the Second Volume, under the subhead “Antichrist’s Final End,” pages 358-361, says there will be a great energetic effort by Satan at the end of the age. The Pastor did his own translation to give the correct thought. “Whose coming [presence] is after [accompanied by or during] the working [an energetic operation] of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish [and with every iniquitous deception for those perishing]; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved [preserved]. And for this cause [reason] God shall send them strong delusion [God will send to them a deluding power], that they should believe a lie [that they might believe the error]: That they all might be damned [judged] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness [iniquity]” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

What is the “reaper” doing? He is reaping the true wheat, the very elect. God is looking for the Little Flock, whereas the Great Company is a by-product because of His mercy, forgiveness, and patience. The hearts of the Great Company are basically correct but not their heads. With those who go into Second Death, their heads may be relatively all right but not their hearts—a more culpable situation.

The commission of the Lord’s people in the  Harvest is primarily to look for those who are already Christians and help them to see Harvest truths now due and to come out of the nominal system. The secondary work is sowing. When the Pastor spoke of sowing during the Harvest period, he called it “sowing for the new age,” for the Kingdom. This statement was made because, for a while, he thought the door was closing.

Q: According to the KJV margin for “soweth seed,” the Hebrew literally means “draweth forth.” Does this refer to drawing forth the Lord’s people from Babylon, calling them to come out?

A: No, the thought is still of sowing seed. In those days, farmers carried grain seed in a bag slung over their shoulders. The farmer put his hand into the bag, drew forth seed, and strewed it into rows plowed in the dirt.

Although there is a preparing work for the next age, we always hope the seed will rest in one who will consecrate now for the high calling. Therefore, a sowing and a reaping work progress at the same time, even though the main thrust is on reaping.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” Verse 13 is tricky. To repeat: the usual Bible Student interpretation is that the plowman of trouble will overtake the Harvest work.

In other circles, verse 13 is usually interpreted to mean a ti me of plenty, based on Leviticus26:5, “And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” There the picture is unquestionably one of plenitude, but not in Amos 9:13, for even though the “reaper” is associated with the “threshing,” there is a contradiction. Leviticus 26:5 says the vintage will reach unto the sowing, which seems to harmonize with Amos 9:13; however, the rest of the verse does not harmonize. Once the first part of Amos 9:13 is correctly understood, then the second half falls into line.

“The plowman shall overtake the reaper.” This statement is contrary to nature and, therefore, is meant to stand out as an enigma. This agricultural procedure is not natural, whereas Leviticus 26:5 is. The Leviticus text shows a long season with no interval in between—the barley harvest, the wheat harvest, the grapes, preparation for the cold weather, rains, sowing, etc.—but Amos 9:13 is different. The Pastor gave a spiritual application without explaining the natural because there was no natural application.

The Pastor’s application was as follows. The “plowman” is the Time of Trouble that overtakes the “reaper” (the Harvest work); that is, the Harvest work should continue on until the time when no man can work. This interpretation, that the reaping would be interrupted by the plowman of trouble, was very unusual, and at first, it was the only explanation that seemed to answer the spiritual application of this verse. Moreover, this interpretation harmonizes with what Jesus said—that we must work while it is called day, for the night cometh wherein no man can work (John 9:4). A time of trouble certainly interrupted Jesus’ life, and that is what he was referring to. Up until the time for his crucifixion, he was laying down his life in connection with his ministry.

Let us now reason from the known to the unknown. Verse 13 does not refer to a natural picture; it has only a spiritual application. What or who is the “reaper”? Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. He said, “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:30). Jesus is the Chief Reaper, and the obedient and loyal Church are reapers who assist him.

In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he told his disciples that the Harvest was ready: “You say four months to harvest, but I say it is already ripe” (John 4:35 paraphrase). His disciples did do harvest work, but he selected the apostles and gathered a nucleus to start the work of the Gospel Age. He gathered out of Israel the cream of the crop. Thus Jesus was the Chief Reaper at the beginning of the Gospel Age until Gethsemane, when he was apprehended. “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” he said (John 14:30). Jesus had warned his disciples that the night would come wherein no man could work. Although Jesus applied John 9:4 to himself, there is also an application to the Church, for there will come a time at the end of the age when no man can work. And who was the “plowman” at the First Advent? It was Satan! Jesus’ time of trouble occurred when Satan’s hour of power came upon him, and he could no longer preach as he had done before. Now Jesus was to acquiesce. According to the Father’s plan, he was not to assert his authority but was to submit meekly as a Lamb because it was his time to die. Jesus had been active up to that time, but now came the plowman of trouble on him, not on Israel. (Israel’s trouble came later.) Satan’s hour of power came on Jesus, the Chief Reaper, and terminated that work.

The Pastor gave the application of the Time of Trouble coming and overtaking the reaper, but that certainly is not happening now. In fact, the reverse is true—there is no better time for tracting and publishing for the promulgation of the truth. The only problem is an apathetic public, not many hearing ears. But opportunities still exist to go out and engage in Harvest work. The response is less because fewer are being called with the smaller number of remaining vacancies. Nevertheless, the reaping ability is not being terminated by trouble.

The trouble referred to here—powerful trouble—will end the career of the Church. Then, later, will come the great Time of Trouble for the world. The Jewish nation said, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). That did occur but not until after Jesus’ death.

“The treader of grapes [shall overtake] him that soweth seed.” The application is the same. With the treading of the grapes, we are accustomed to thinking in terms of Revelation 14, where grain is contrasted with the grapes of wrath, and the wheat is the harvesting of the Church. In Revelation 14, the wheat represents the Church, and the grapes picture nominal Christendom, which is to be trod in the winepress of God’s wrath. But that is NOT the thought in Amos 9:13. There are other grapes besides grapes of wrath. For example, grapes are crushed to make the wine for the Memorial, which the Church partakes of. It was right after the Memorial that Jesus was apprehended, after he had partaken of the wine that symbolized his death. In the Garden of Gethsemane just a few hours later, he was seized. The Memorial was associated with Jesus’ most trying experience at the end of his career. Just as Satan’s hour of power came after that Memorial, so it will be at the end of this age when the grape class is fully developed on the true vine. It will then be time for these grapes to be crushed—the Church’s time of trouble. Jesus took the wine, which symbolized the crushing of the grapes; the cup represented his death, or his “blood,” and the next day he was crucified. In that cup, we see the crushing of many grapes—the crushing of The Christ. In this dispensational Scripture, Amos 9:13, the feet members are especially represented.

Q: “Reaping” is a different work than “sowing.” How are both represented at the end of the age? Is it primarily a reaping work with the sowing occurring incidentally?

A: Yes. We should do both. In the morning, we sow the seed, and in the evening, we should not withhold our hand (Eccl. 11:6). That has been the message all down the Gospel Age. The call to repentance and forgiveness does not cease. While the general call ended in 1881 from the standpoint that if all had made their calling and election sure, there would have been no more vacancies in the body of Christ, such was not the case. Therefore, we sow the seed now, as well as before. The only difference is that since a reaping work is to be done now also, we should keep the Harvest work in mind as the objective at the end of the age. Now is the time of Harvest, but the sowing is incidental and does not terminate.

Q: Is the “treader of grapes” synonymous with the “plowman”?

A: Yes. Both terms refer to Satan, the instrument being used. As the Chief Reaper, Jesus presides over the reaping class still down here in the flesh. The work of that class will be interrupted at the end of the age. When the reaping work is complete, the plowman will be allowed to come in, just as at the First Advent, Satan was permitted to take Jesus’ life. Genesis 3:15 refers to this event as the bruising of the “heel” members. This interpretation of Amos 9:13 harmonizes with many other pictures and is more specific instead of just being generalized as the Time of Trouble.

Q: Would we say that the plowman overtaking the reaper also occurred at the First Advent?

A: That is true in principle, but the application is actually to the Second Advent. The Second Psalm, which is prophetic, zeros in on Jesus’ ministry and says in effect, “As he died, so the last members, whoever they are, will similarly die.”

With regard to the term “treader of grapes,” Satan will tread the true grapes in the Harvest at the end of the age when he has his future “hour of power.” Instead of his being bound more and more during the past 120 years, he will get more liberty and be instrumental in the execution of the last body members of the true Church. When the time comes in God’s plan for the completion of the Church, Satan will be the unwitting agent. As illustrated with Jesus, Satan’s opposition at the First Advent, which resulted in the Crucifixion, was actually a victory for our Lord. Because he was faithful unto death, he paid the ransom price and got a resurrection to the divine nature. Similarly, the rest of verse 13 shows that as a result of the treading of the grapes, new wine will bless mankind. The Church is called to be able ministers of the New Covenant, which will benefit mankind. The Lord has been training a humble people to be kings and priests in the next age. When they finish their course, the  results will be a benefaction to the world. “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined” (Isa. 25:6). Different feasts are mentioned in Scripture, and this one is the last. The “well refined” work is the development of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in God’s people in the Gospel Age, and that fruitage will benefit mankind. The new wine pertains to the introduction of Christ’s Kingdom.

Q: Is the thought that the plowman, Satan, will bring to a close the work of the reaper, and thus the Harvest will close? The treader of grapes, Satan, will persecute the feet members, resulting in the completion of the Church.

A: Yes. In other words, the plowman and the treader are both Satan.

Q: Do the plowman and the treader of grapes both pertain to the Second Advent?

A: Yes. Christ is an example to the Church. When he began his ministry, Satan was there tempting him. When his life terminated, Satan was there again. In saying, “The night cometh, when no man can work,” Jesus applied this statement to himself—that the nighttime of trouble would come upon him, and the disciples would be greatly disappointed. When news of Jesus’ resurrection came parts of three days later, the disciples were delirious with joy, and they worked far more as his emissaries than previously, when they had been learning. Thus, instead of Jesus’ death stopping the work, it enlarged the work. All of the disciples were enthusiastic and KNEW he was truly the Messiah. At the end of this age, the feet members will have the same experience (Psa. 2:1-3). The statement “the night cometh, when no man can work” is fitting for the end of the age, whereas at no time during the Gospel Age did God suffer the oil or the wine to stop. The work continued.

“I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel.” In verse 14, Amos was telling the ten-tribe kingdom they would be regathered to their homeland following their destruction and captivity. God, in His mercy, would again favor Israel.

Comment: The NIV says, “I will bring back my exiled people Israel.”

Comment: This would be the second regathering and not the returning to Israel we are seeing today. The second regathering will take place after Jacob’s Trouble.

Reply: Yes, there are two regatherings at the end of the age, one before and one after Jacob’s Trouble. The latter regathering will occur in the Kingdom Age.

Comment: Many encouraging and upbuilding verbs are in verse 14: build, inhabit, plant, drink, make, eat.

Reply: Yes, and every man shall have his own vine and fig tree (Mic. 4:4). The message is very encouraging.

Verse 15 states, “And I [God] will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up.” Nevermore will the Jew be plucked up after God delivers the Holy Remnant. God has tried His people with regard to faith. Amos lived about 800 BC. In AD 69, when Jerusalem was destroyed, millions died and the rest were plucked up and sold as slaves. In AD 135, the few who had escaped and were not made slaves were defeated. The death penalty was henceforth placed on any Jew who got within sight of Jerusalem. The Diaspora was a long and trying period, but the Kingdom blessings are coming. God’s promises are sure!

1994

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