Amos mentioned a literal earthquake that occurred during the reign of King Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah. Zechariah 14:5 refers back to this earthquake, so verse 1 is important for verifying that a future literal earthquake will take place at the end of the present age.
Notice the continuing expression: “For three transgressions … and for four.” These words were used for each of the nations surrounding Israel who were due for judgment. We are not to try to find three or four actual transgressions for each. Rather, the point is that Moab and the other nations had a history of transgressions and would, therefore, be judged.
What did this statement imply for Israel down the road? The implication was that because of Israel’s sins and disobedience, God would have to punish them and turn His back on them in a period of disfavor. No longer could He be patient and deal with them. It was essential for Israel to go into captivity because the nation had ignored the warnings about their sins.
The prophets had to be so much in tune with God’s will and thinking that when they were told to give a message, it would be given with the proper spirit, inflection, and emotion. For instance, if the message was one of indignation and judgment, the prophet had to genuinely thunder. “Offer a sacrifice … with leaven” was delivered in a truly sarcastic tone. So was “proclaim and publish the free offerings”! Not only were those offerings not free, but they were extorted from the common people, who then bragged about their supposed freewill offerings. Their attitude was the exact opposite of Matthew 6:1, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.” The right hand is not to know what the left hand is doing.
The day of the LORD would be “darkness, and not light.” Some Christians and brethren feel that we will just glide into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom will be established gradually. They generalize Jacob’s Trouble as either having taken place or taking place. Such will be very surprised when some prophecies are fulfilled. It was the same situation in the prophet’s day, when some looked forward to the judgment day as a liberation to better conditions. But on whom was the judgment to fall primarily? The wicked: the rich, the wealthy, the proud. And in Amos’s day, as well as today, the false prophets prophesied good things all the time and contradicted the true prophets, who prophesied hard things. We must be careful we do not make restitution the gospel. The gospel is making our calling and election sure. As a general message, the gospel is a mixture of bitter and sweet.
An uncle would come to dispose of the remains in the house. As he entered the door and called out, “Is anyone here?” a person hiding in a remote part of the house would reply, “No.” The uncle would then say, “Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.” Why not? The coming judgment would be so severe that the people, who now commonly approached the Lord, would then be fearful they were not in the right condition to be acceptable. They were very far from the Lord in their conduct. The severity of the judgment would make them think, “If we mention the Lord’s name, there may be further vengeance.”
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).
“I will make it as the mourning of an only son.” The Holy Remnant will mourn in the future when they are miraculously delivered from Jacob’s Trouble and realize Jesus was their Messiah (Zech. 12:11-14). The word “son” is supplied but is correct. As the Jews flee from the enemy through the split Mount of Olives, they will see a huge three-dimensional hologram vision of the Crucifixion, which will convert them suddenly. All who flee through the valley that the earthquake opens up will see the vision, but the Holy Remnant will survive, while the unrighteous class of Jews and the enemy (Gog) will perish. The Temple platform must be leveled and then raised up by the earthquake in preparation for the building of the Third Temple. Just as the literal Temple veil was rent in twain by an earthquake when Jesus died, so the veil will be figuratively rent when the God of Israel manifests His anger in the future earthquake. Many things will happen at one time: the sky will turn dark at noon, the earth will be tumultuously ripped open by the earthquake, buildings such as Dome of the Rock will collapse, etc. Many prophets refer to these events. SUDDEN DRAMA will occur!
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.