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Amos

June 3, 2009

Background

I. Introduction Amos 1:1-2

II. Judgment against Judah, Israel, and the Surrounding Nations Amos 1:3-2:16

III. Be Assured, The Lord will Punish Israel for Her Sin Amos 3:1-15

IV. The Lord Confirms His Progressive Plan of Discipline Amos 4:1-5:3

V. Repentance Required for Restoration Amos 5:4-17

VI. Amos Laments over Israel’s Pride and Arrogance Amos 5:18-6:14

VII. Appraisal Time for Israel at Bethel Amos 7:1-17

VIII. Decision Time Amos 8:1-9:10

IX. God Promises to Restore Israel Amos 9:11-15

Background

Amos was a shepherd and horticulturist who lived in Tekoa, a town 6 miles
south of Bethlehem and 11 miles south of Jerusalem. He was a farmer, not an
aristocrat. He prophesied during the reign of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II
in Israel in the years 765-755BC. He followed Elisha by 30-35 years and was
a contemporary of Isaiah and to some extent Hosea. Isaiah’s ministry concerned
both Judah and Israel but was conducted from Jerusalem. Amos’ ministry was to
Israel, the northern kingdom, and was conducted at Bethel about 15 miles north
of Jerusalem and on the border between Israel and Judah. Perhaps Amos’ family
was from Bethel and relocated when the kingdom split in 936 BC. But that is
pure speculation on my part to explain why a prophet in the south would be so
concerned about the northern kingdom, Israel. Little is known about Amos other
than what he himself recorded. He, no doubt, related well to those living in
the area of Bethel. He prophesies in a time of prosperity in both Israel and
Judah, the greatest since Solomon. He prophesies that times will soon change.

Introduction                                                           Amos 1:1-2

Amos introduces himself as “one of the shepherds”, a common man.
His vocation was that of a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees [Amos 7:14].
Amos was a layman called to proclaim God’s Word based on what he was, a man
of vision who received visions. He saw what was taking place around him, the
attitudes and actions of the people, and realized God was not pleased. Therefore,
God was destined to exercise judgment. Amos also received visions of God’s judgment
and was given the responsibility to warn others. The majority of what God revealed
to him came in visions about two years before the earthquake which happened
during King Uzziah’s reign. Amos sees and hears from the Lord loud and clear
[vs. 2]. A drought and/or famine is coming. Read Leviticus 26 to understand
the progressive punishment system of the Lord. What Amos sees in verse 2 is
level 2 of 4 levels total.

We too have a responsibility to prophesy what God is telling us through His
Word. Read it, study it, meditate upon it, and share what you learn with others.
We are to share so as to encourage and benefit others. What we say may be the
difference between life or death to them.

Judgment against Judah, Israel, and the Surrounding Nation                             Amos 1:3-2:16

Chapters 1 and 2 can best be summarized by the following chart.

Verse People/Nation Sin Punishment Fulfillment
Amos 1:3-5[see Is. 17:1-14] Arameans/Syria Destruction of Gilead. [II Kings 13:1-9] Destruction of cities and kings resulting in exile. Assyrian invasion by Tiglath-pileser in 732 BC. [II Kings 16:9]
Amos 1:6-8[See Is. 14:28-32] Philistines Raided Israelite cities and sold them as slaves to Edom. Destruction of the major cities and kings, killing all the people. Assyrian invasion in 701BC under Sennacherib and/or subsequent invasions
in that Sennacherib did not kill all.
Amos 1:9-10[see Is. 23:1-18] Tyre/Phoenecians Captives sold as slaves to Edom. Destruction of Tyre. Babylonian invasion weakened Tyre and Alexander conquered it in 332AD.
Amos 1:11-12[see Is. 21:11-12] Edomites Continuous hostility and war against Israel/Judah. Destruction of the major cities of Teman and Bozrah. Assyrian invasion by Tiglath-pileser III in 732BC and/or by the Nabataeans
later on.
Amos 1:13-15 Ammonites War against Gilead involving genocide to gain land. Fire and Destruction of their capital Rabbah; kings and leaders exiled. Babylonian invasion in 605BC under Nebuchadnezzar.
Amos 2:1-3[see Is. 15:1-16:3] Moabites War against Edom and the desecration of the King’s body. Fire and destruction of Kerioth, their capital city; king and leaders
killed.
Babylonian invasion in 605-601 BC by Nebuchadnezzar or Sennacherib’s quelling
of their rebellion in 725 BC.
Amos 2:4-5 Judah Rejected God’s Law and worshipped idols. Fire and destruction of Jerusalem. Babylonian invasion in 599-586BC by Nebuchadnezzar.
Amos 2:6-16 Israel Oppression, adultery, idolatry, bribery, drunkenness, shutting up prophets,
etc.
Crush the people and destroy their army. Assyrian invasion in 722BC by Shalmaneser and taken into exile.

Be Assured, The Lord will Punish Israel for Her Sin                                     Amos  3:1-15

Chapters 1 and 2 pronounced judgment in summary fashion. Chapter 3 focuses
on all of Israel using logic and analogies from nature. The emphasis seems to
shift from all Israel to the northern kingdom, Israel, beginning with verse
8. God’s message is clear. He will punish Israel for her sin.

The Lord is the accuser against Israel, all of Israel, all the tribes He brought
out of Egypt. God chose them as His children and He will deal with their disobedience
as a father does with his children. God is going to use His rod so as not to
spoil His children [Proverbs 13:24].

Verse 3 seems to have a double meaning. God is disappointed that He and all
Israel have chosen to walk separately or, more correctly, Israel has chosen
to walk separate from Him. He is also disappointed that His children no longer
walk as one. The Lord’s family is dysfunctional. If all was OK, the lion would
not roar, a snare would not be set, and a trumpet would not be sounding.

But the lion is roaring and God has sent His Prophets to tell Israel their
punishment for failing to follow His Word. Isaiah and Hosea join Amos in prophesying.
Their messages are the same. The Lord God will judge Israel for their sin. Even
the Philistines and Egypt will hear the Lord’s prophets. Israel is a nation
in turmoil who oppresses her people and who is unwilling to share its’ wealth
among her people. They practice evil instead of righteousness.

Therefore [verse 11], God will send an enemy to conquer their land and plunder
their wealth. Israel will be destroyed but a remnant will be saved. Israel’s
idols and altars of idolatry will be destroyed as will the leader’s homes and
government offices. Nothing of value will be left standing. Of those who remain,
it will be just them and God. God has decided to start over.

Do you hear God’s message? God punishes sin! When disaster strikes, is it
not of the Lord? [see vs. 8] It may be but let’s put it in proper perspective
[read Luke 13:1-5 and John 9:1-3]. God has a permissive will and a perfecting
will. When disaster strikes, discernment is required. Disaster comes as a result
of:

  1. Living in a fallen world [stuff happens].
  2. Making bad or wrong choices [cause and effect].
  3. God wanting to display His power [witness, consider the lives of Job, Paul, and Jesus].
  4. God punishing our sin [His perfecting and sanctifying work].

When disaster strikes, get on your knees before God and let Him tell you His
Will and rejoice in it. It’s easier said than done but it is absolutely necessary
if one is to live victoriously in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Confirms His Progressive Plan of Discipline                         Amos 4:1-5:3

Amos seems to begin this oracle by addressing the wealthy aristocratic women.
Perhaps they made up the majority of his audience that day in Bethel. These
are women who exercise power over the poor and needy. That is probably how they
obtained their wealth and power. They were women whose lifestyle and purpose
mirrored Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, to the point of ruling over their husbands.
Their future is bleak. They are going to be removed from the land and the last
ones to leave will never return. In other words, their future is a life of exile.
Instead of oppressing others, they will be the ones oppressed and shamed.

Amos continues to speak with “tongue in cheek” telling these women
[and perhaps men too] to continue on to the high places of Bethel and Gilgal
to sin. These places were of historical significance to Israel. Bethel is where
Abraham worshipped the Lord God upon entering the Promised Land. Bethel is where
Jacob first met the Lord when fleeing and also where he worshipped upon returning.
Gilgal is where a stone “altar” was erected by the tribes given land
on the east side of the Jordan upon their return after helping secure the Promised
Land under Joshua. It was to remind the tribes west of the Jordan of their unity
and God’s goodness in granting them victory. In the time of Amos, the golden
calf was worshipped at these sites instead of the Lord God. Thus, the gifts
and sacrifices mentioned are for the worship of idols. They boasted of their
worship to a false god, a true ‘slap in the face” to the true Lord God
who enabled them to possess the land.

As a result, God has subjected them to His Progressive Plan of Discipline
[Lev. 26] in hope of getting them to repent of their sin and turn back to worshipping
Him. He has:

  1. Caused famines [vs. 6-7]                                               Lev. 26:16-19
  2. Dried up water supplies [vs. 8]                                   Lev. 26:16-19
  3. Destroyed their crops [vs. 9]                                       Lev. 26:16-19
  4. Sent plagues among them causing their armies to be defeated [vs. 10]        Lev. 26:23-25
  5. Destroyed whole cities [vs. 11]                                  Lev. 26:23-25

Since they have refused to repent and turn to the Lord God, the fullness of
God’s wrath is coming. HE is the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and
earth, and will punish them for their sin. He is faithful to His Word. God is
deserting them and nobody else is coming to their aid either. Basically, God
declares only 10% of them will live. See Lev. 26:27-38. God has clearly pronounced
His judgment against Israel for their sin.

Disobeying God is serious. Disobeying God is risky, especially if we willingly
sin, ignore God’s warnings and rationalize His punishment [see Heb. 6:1-8].
God has a purpose for us and that is to serve Him. We sin against God, our Creator,
when we refuse to listen to and obey His Will. We are called to fear God but
not to live in fear of Him. We are to exercise a healthy fear of the Lord God,
not a paranoid fear of Him. Israel’s attitudes and actions are disastrous. Our
nation may or may not follow in her footsteps depending on how well we Christians
obey God. Thus far we have been blessed. But remember, God’s love in unconditional
whereas His blessings are conditional. God also deals with individuals in the
same manner as he does with nations. Our responsibility as individuals and as
a nation is to:

Seek God.

Listen to God.

Hear God.

Repent of our sin before God.

Identify with God.

Trust God.

Love God.

Serve God.

Worship God.

Doing so assures us of fellowship and eternal life with God in His Promised
Land called Heaven.

Repentance Required for Restoration                                 Amos 5:4-17

This may or may not be associated with Amos’ words in Chapter 4. I believe
it is because it follows Leviticus 26 so closely. What the Lord said through
Moses in Leviticus 26 seems to be replayed by Amos as he relates it to the present
state of Israel. Here is my outline of Leviticus 26 and 27 but take the time
to review my comments or the comments of others too.

The Right Way                                      Lev. 26:1-13

The Wrong Way                                  Lev. 26:14-39

The Restored Way                              Lev. 26:40-46

The Devoted Way                                Lev. 27:1-34

The previous section related to Lev. 26:14-39. This section relates to Lev.
26:40-46

Restoration comes by seeking God and turning back from worshipping at Bethel
and Gilgal and not journeying to Beersheba. Beersheba was in the southern part
of Judah and evidently was a place of pagan worship visited by both the people
of Israel [the northern kingdom] and Judah. Gilgal and Bethel are two of the
cities targeted by God to be destroyed. Israel is challenged to seek God if
they want to live. Christ gave a similar message in Luke 13:3. See my comments
on Luke 13:1-9, Lesson 71, in A New Testament Commentary. Christ’s message was
“Repent or die”. Another way of saying the same thing is “Repent
and live” or like Amos says, “Seek God and live”.

To make his point, Amos proceeds to define the sins of Israel in contrast
to God’s omnipotence and omniscience.

Israel
God is:
  • Turns justice into bitterness and abandons righteousness [vs. 7]
  • Hates those who tell the truth and who disagree with their form of
    justice [vs. 10]
  • Tramples on and steals from the poor [vs.11]
  • Oppresses the righteous, takes bribes, and deprives justice to the
    poor [vs. 12]
  • Silences those who seek what is right and good [vs. 13]
  • Creator [vs. 8]
  • Lord [vs. 8]
  • Almighty [vs. 9]
  • All Knowing [vs. 12

Amos is saying “God knows your heart” and you must turn from evil
and seek to do good and promote justice. God’s mercy is available if and when
they are willing to repent and follow Him. Failure to repent will bring mourning
just like the mourning the Lord caused in Egypt when He passed through that
land and slew the first born of those who refused to follow His instructions
and place the blood of the sacrificial lamb over their door posts. Likewise,
God will slay Israel if they refuse to repent, to seek forgiveness of their
sin, and to follow Him. God is righteous and holy. God never changes. He is
the Almighty One, omnipotent and omniscient. Take heed and seek the Lord with
all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Restoration is possible but one must:

Repent and Seek the Lord.

Then you will LIVE!

Amos Laments over Israel’s Pride and Arrogance                         Amos 5:18-6:14

I have chosen to divide the text here because the NIV translators have chosen
to change the tone and use “woe” in Amos 5:18 and 6:1. I have also
chosen to keep the outline more simple than that given in the NIV Study Bible.

The “day of the Lord” usually refers to the end of the age when
the Lord’s wrath is poured out on those nations bent on destroying God’s chosen
people, Israel. There are two main schools of thought concerning these end days.
Dispensationalists believe Israel finally repents and is restored as God’s chosen
people and Israel and His Church become one body. Others believe that the Church
has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. I argue for Biblical consistency
which would mean verses 18-20 relate to the End Time. However, the overall context
seems to indicate the “day of the Lord” for Israel, the northern kingdom,
is when they are attacked, conquered, and exiled. If we take a more general
approach, “the day of the Lord” would be any time His wrath is poured
out to destroy sin. Such a definition would fit both scenarios. With this exile,
Israel’s ten tribes disappear until their remnant appears in the 144,000 evangelists
during the tribulation. Three scholarly commentaries seem to think this is a
reasonable approach too.

In verses 18-20, Israel is portrayed as a nation who will welcome the day
of the Lord. They believed they will be exonerated and honored as God’s people
on that day. They have a false sense of security because God thinks differently.
That day will not be a good day for Israel. It will be a “dark day without
light”. Why? Israel may celebrate the Lord’s feasts, bring the best offerings,
and sing the right songs but their hearts are far from God. They are proud and
arrogant instead of humble and dependant upon God. They have a heart for themselves
instead of a heart for God. They are no different than Cain in Genesis 4. Why
is God so angry? Their actions do not support their words. They are hypocrites.
They are false witnesses of God’s Word. They do not practice or promote what
is just and right. They are worthless to God. Therefore, God is going to exile
them beyond Damascus to Assyria.

Next, the Lord and Amos lament the complacency of both Judah’s and Israel’s
leaders. They compare themselves to nations around them and believe they are
invincible and untouchable. They are partying and believe all is well. They
have no concern or feel any responsibility for assuring that all Israel remains
faithful to God. In fact, their actions drive the nation further from God and
His Word. Consequently, the leaders are the first ones exiled.

Israel’s trust is not in God but in their fortressed cities. In fact they
believe their fortressed cities will hide them from the Lord’s wrath [vs. 9-10].
But God’s destruction will be complete for both Israel [great house] and Judah
[small house] according to verse 11.

The justification for God’s wrath is their unjust and unrighteous practices.
They depend on themselves instead of God. They do not feel the need for God
or His blessings. They are filled with pride and arrogance for all that they
have accomplished. They refuse to recognize God’s involvement in their lives
such that they are where they are. Therefore, God is raising up another nation
who will oppress them as they have oppressed their own. God is turning the tables
on them and giving them some of their own medicine. God is angry with them and
He is disciplining them in hope of saving a remnant for future use.

Believe it or not, God is exercising love and mercy even as He is causing
His people to be destroyed, conquered, and sent into exile. They are responsible
for God’s wrath against them but God is taking responsibility to bring them
to repentance so He can restore them as His Children once again.

God does not like hypocrites, those who say one thing and do another. Jesus
prophesied against the Pharisees many times for their hypocrisy. The Church
at Laodicea was criticized for being “luke- warm”, compromising principles
and doctrine. God’s will is that His message be pure and holy and that His messengers
[Israel, Church, Christians] be pure and holy too. That is why He disciplines
us as a Father does His Children. It is the only way we learn His Will and His
Way. Discern your Father’s discipline, thank Him, rejoice in it, and let Him
mature your faith and trust in Him. Submitting to Him enables one to enjoy Him
forever. That is LIFE, life eternal!

We would be most wise to evaluate what we say and do, including our attitudes,
against His Word to make sure we are not making the same mistake Israel made
in thinking they were good in God’s eyes and that He had no reason to be angry
with them. We must search our hearts and we must let Him search our hearts.

  • We are to be humble and loving children, not proud and arrogant children.
  • We are to be children that others would like to be around and know.
  • We are to be children that honor our Father in heaven and praise His name.
  • We are to be children that God can use to show others His love and mercy.
  • We are to be Kingdom builders for the Lord God Almighty.

We are to be God’s Children and We are to be Like Him.

Appraisal Time for Israel at Bethel                                              Amos 7:1-17

Up to this point the Lord has pointed out Israel’s sin through His prophet
Amos and warned them of their pending judgment [exile] if they refuse to repent
and change their ways. Israel has shown they have deaf ears and have no intention
of repenting. So we have the Lord and Amos sitting down together having a round
table discussion about what next to do with Israel [Amos 7:1-9].

God proposes to send locusts after the “first fruits” were gathered
to destroy Israel’s food supply. Amos intercedes with the argument that it’s
possible none would survive so the Lord tables that punishment. God’s second
proposal is judgment by fire implying a drought which would affect their water
supply in addition to their crops. Again Amos intercedes with the argument that
Israel could not survive so the Lord tables that punishment too.

Next the Lord brings out a plumb line used to determine what is straight.
This is God’s standard, His Law, and His Covenant with His people. Whatever
and whoever does not measure up will be destroyed. Amos can not in good conscience
intercede for Israel against God’s standard so judgment is pronounced on the
destruction of her high places and sanctuaries focusing on Israel’s idolatry
and corrupt leadership, particularly Jeroboam II who was king of Israel at that
time.

Amaziah, serving as priest at Bethel for Jeroboam’s idolatrous religious system,
expresses concern to Jeroboam about Amos’ prophesies and the potential of a
coup against Jeroboam instigated by Amos. Actually, Amaziah orders Amos to leave
Bethel and go back to Judah and prophesy there. Amos responds that he is just
a farmer called by God to prophesy to Israel. He is just an obedient “shepherd”
of the Lord. As Amos leaves Bethel he announces the Lord’s judgment against
Amaziah and Israel. Amaziah will be exiled, his land divided and given to others,
his sons and daughters killed, and his wife will become a prostitute. In addition,
Israel will be exiled to another land. Thus, God’s “plumb line judgment”
begins with the houses of Amaziah and Jeroboam II.

As we have concluded earlier, it is very important that we know God’s Word
and obey God’s Word. We are and will be held accountable to God’s plumb line.
Pride and arrogance toward God brings destruction. Humility and repentance floods
us with His mercy and grace. Again, God is very clear and will not be mocked.
He looks on our hearts and measures them with His plumb line. Choose to be like
Amos, obeying and serving the Lord God Almighty as a humble shepherd bringing
His Word to all who will hear. God appraised Israel, He appraised Amos, He appraised
Amaziah, He appraised Jeroboam II, and He is appraising you and me. We will
hear one of two pronouncements from the Lord; “Come, my good and faithful
servant” or “Depart from me, I never knew you”. The first means
life eternal. The second means everlasting anguish. Listen to God’s appraisal
and repent of your sin now.

Decision Time                                                  Amos 8:1-9:10

The threat of exile no longer exists. Exile is now a sure thing. God has seen
enough. His patience has run out. Looking into the hearts of Israel reveals
no further repentance. The Israelites have made their decisions and now God
makes His decision. Perhaps this pronouncement was made at Bethel before Amos
left or perhaps it came at a later time after Amos had returned to Judah. Personally
I believe the later but my only reason is that it feels right at the time of
this writing. It just seems as if there is a time interval between Chapters
7 and 8.

Amos and the Lord are having another roundtable discussion. The Lord shows
Amos a basket of fruit and asks Amos what he sees. Amos replies “ripe fruit”
and God announces that Israel is “ripe” for exile. Israel is ready
to be devoured. Amos does not disagree or argue. Israel has had their opportunity
to repent and has refused to do such. Now they must suffer the consequences
of their decision. They have made their decision and so God makes His decision.
Exile it is. It took place about 30 years later in 722BC.

Verses 3 mentions a temple and we could take the Lord’s decree to mean both
the southern and northern kingdoms in that both were exiled. However, I believe
this decree is specific to the northern kingdom and the temple is actually a
pagan temple in Samaria or at Bethel where Amaziah was a priest [Chapter 7].
Israel’s arrogance and pride turns into wailing and then there is silence. The
Lord denounces their corrupt business practices that oppressed the people and
enslaved the poor and needy [vs. 4-6]. Israel will be like the Nile River, flooding
with tears of mourning and then drying up in desolation [vs. 8]. The sun will
darken at noon and their rejoicing will turn to mourning and their fine clothes
will be replaced with sackcloth. The Lord will send a famine, not of food but
a famine of His Word, the Truth. God’s prophets will be silent. Israel will
search for truth and meaning to life but they will not find it. They will call
out to their false gods and idols to no avail. Their calls for wisdom and help
will be met with SILENCE. No one cares. They didn’t care when others needed
help. Now when they need help, there is no one who cares, not even God. God,
too, has chosen to remain SILENT. Israel has refused to repent so God is refusing
His mercy.

Chapter 9 begins by telling the destruction God has planned for Israel. Their
government buildings will collapse and the people will be killed. Even those
who hide in caves [graves], run to the mountains, or even try to escape by boat
will be hunted down, seized, exiled, and killed. The Lord God Almighty, the
Creator God has the power to make it happen. He is the Omnipotent One. Israel,
unfortunately, is no different than Egypt at the time God freed Israel from
them. The only Israelites who will not die are those who trust in God [Amos
9:8-10]. They are subject to the Lord’s wrath but they will live and not die
by the sword.

God is patient but He is also just, holy, and righteous. God calls us to repentance
and to Him by and through His love for us. But if our hearts refuse to hear and respond
to His love, He has no choice but to be faithful to His Word, judging who is
righteous and who is not; saving the righteous by His grace and mercy and destroying
the unrighteous with His wrath. When God is SILENT it is time to worry. Let
us keep the lines to God open, communicating with Him through our prayers and
praise to Him, listening to His Word, obeying His Will, and living assured of
His Love. It is the only way to live in the present and in the future.

God Promises to Restore Israel                                     Amos 9:11-15

There will come a day when God will restore Israel. It will be completely
rebuilt as it was. This refers to both the northern and southern kingdoms, Israel
and Judah because it references the territory over which David ruled [vs. 11].
This restoration will also include the unification of all people who bear the
name of the Lord, namely Christians. These Christians will be Israelites, Edomites
[Palestinians?], and other Gentiles. James referred to this passage in Acts
15 to support the concept that the Lord’s kingdom consists of both Jews and
Gentiles.

Israel will be a productive land. This is already happening today with the
use of irrigation and hot houses. Israel’s yields far exceed those of other
nations and they must because Jews are returning to their homeland in record
numbers. Assimilation of immigrants is a major effort in Israel. Cities are
being rebuilt and new cities are coming to life. The nation came into being
once again in 1948 and unless God has some other plans, Israel will remain a
nation to the end.

Looking back at verse 11, obviously the walls of Jerusalem and the Lord’s
temple were rebuilt when the Israelites returned from their Babylonian exile.
However, they are not yet unified with God’s other people, the Christian Church,
nor are Christians welcomed to live in Israel. Also, Israel had not controlled
or governed their land until 1948. Therefore, this passage promising the restoration
of Israel is in the process of being fulfilled. There is more to come but the
process has begun. Watch the news and see this promise unfold and come to life.

This is a fitting close for a prophet, Amos, who prophesied concerning Israel’s
sin and exile. All is not doom and gloom. There is a reason to hope. God is
preserving a remnant who will know Him and worship Him and He will use that
remnant to re-establish Israel in its Promised Land and provide them a King in
the lineage of David; God’s Son, Jesus Christ who will return to rule the earth
as the King of Kings. Remember God is a God of Hope. He willingly restores His
Children who seek to follow His voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd.

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