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The Book of Amos
The last chapter of Amos brings us to the final vision given to Amos by the Lord, which is destruction of the temple. The scene is the main sanctuary of the Northern Kingdom at Bethel, not at Jerusalem. The Lord Himself directs the judgment and commands that the tops of the pillars, be smitten, so that the very thresholds may shake. The blow from the top shatters the sanctuary to its foundation. Both the top and bottom are mentioned to show the complete destruction. When the pillars come crashing down, they will fall on the heads of the people who are gathered in the temple on a festive occasion. They would all be buried in the ruins. Just in case any should escape, they would be killed with a sword.
In this vivid fashion, Amos portrays the righteous wrath of God upon all the idolatrous worship in Israel, and His resulting judgment upon it . . . a judgment without remedy (Pro.6:15; 20:1). We today should beware of the worship of idols . . . which is ANYTHING or ANYONE except Almighty God!
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. (KJV)
This describes the coming of the Assyrians. “The altar” is not the altar of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem but is probably the altar of the temple to Baal in Samaria. At the time of the siege, the people would seek refuge in their temples, but the temples would be brought down so suddenly that many of the people would be trapped when the pillars crumbled. Those who would escape alive from the city would be carried into captivity.
Now Amos brings these frightful words.
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: (KJV)
The word translated “hell” is the Hebrew word sheol, meaning “the grave or the place of the dead.” There are two things that cause the terror of the wicked. In our day, people have been so brainwashed by our ungodly society that many of them try to blot it out of their minds; but if they give ANY thought to it at all, the two things which bring terror to the heart of the wicked person are the omnipresence and the immutability of God.
God is omnipresent; that is, He is everywhere. Even death cannot separate you from Him. You CANNOT get away from God! (Psalm 139:7-10). And the immutability of God means that God never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. These two truths are a great comfort to God’s children, but they frighten the wicked.
To the TRUE child of God the omnipresence of God assures him that God will never leave him. The Lord Jesus said, “… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). To God's children, that is fantastic! Also He said, “… him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). When He receives you, He receives you for eternity. No one can take you out of His hand; and, if you are in His hand, you are very close to Him. The Lord Jesus also likened our relationship to Him to that of a vine and its branches (John 15:1-6). What can be closer to a vine than its branch? The omnipresence of God is a great comfort to the believer. The same One who walked by the Sea of Galilee, is still the same One who walks with the believer today.
BUT . . . for the unbeliever, the omnipresence of God is an absolute terror. Then there is the immutability of God. He doesn’t change His mind. He never changes. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). That is wonderful for the child of God to know, BUT, for an unbeliever, that is horrible IF they give it any thought at all! They may not know the Bible, BUT they have heard things about God's judgment, like the Flood, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other places where God revealed His judgment by His wrath against sin, and IF there is any thought whatsoever, they can't help but feel terror
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: (KJV)
Mount Carmel is a wooded mountain, a symbol of inaccessibility. It rises to a height of about 1800 feet. It is said that there are over 1000 caves there, especially on the side toward the sea. But even there, it would be impossible to hide from God. God knows where you are! Even though they should try to hide in the bottom of the sea, God would find them there, and tell a sea serpent to bite them. They CANNOT escape Him. No one can escape God’s judgment. Psalms 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (KJV)
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. (KJV)
Even though they would go into captivity voluntarily in order to spare their lives, they still will NOT escape God’s judgment; the sword would destroy them there. The wicked would be wise to fear God and to fear the future. There is NO escape for them. Anyone who commits suicide, thinking that he will get rid of his troubles, will move into real trouble when he faces God. It is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire . . . and that is almost literally.
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. (KJV)
Lest any of his hearers falsely comfort themselves that the Lord will not or cannot do as He has threatened, Amos majestically sets forth the awesome omnipotence of our God, the Lord Jehovah of hosts. He is the God of ALL power and ALL wisdom and ALL Truth and ALL righteousness (4:13; 5:8-9; 8:8). Without a doubt, power belongs to the Lord, no matter how much power nations claim to have. The Lord need only touch the Earth in judgment and it will dissolve (Ps.46:6).
God can any devastation to the Earth that He chooses, and rivers of the world to rise and sink at His command . . . (Isa.11:15; 19:5-10; Eze.29:4; Amos 8:8).
Don't you think, that since Almighty God framed the Heavens and the Earth, He is quite capable of bringing droughts, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, ANYWHERE that He chooses??? ALL nature is at His beck and call. Just as GOD has judged the world in the past, He shall do again in the future. God will use the forces of nature to carry out judgment on the ungodly. This is absolutely clear in the Book of Revelation. Amos asks Israel: “Can you escape God?” I ask YOU the same question, and I’ll answer: “NO, you cannot!”
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. (KJV)
What a beautiful way for Amos to remind his people of the omnipotence of God. Not only is He omnipresent, but He is also omnipotent (all powerful). It is He who does all of this. In the heavens above; the sun, the moon, the planets, the tremendous galaxies, the celestial bodies . . . the entire universe obeys God. He has made certain laws by which they are to move, and they ALL obey those laws. Just as the laws of nature here to stay, so too, is Israel! (Jer.31:35-37).
But what about man? Man has always been, and still is in rebellion against the omnipotent God. Amos asks Israel, “Do you think we can escape such a God?”
Just because Israel was God’s chosen people, that would not turn away the wrath of God that was against them, for they had rebelled against God, and turned to idol worship which infuriated God. They had lowered themselves to the level of sinful, ungodly heathens. God was NOT happy with them and judgment loomed. What we today must remember, is that God keeps ALL His Promises! Both those of blessings AND those of judgment! There is a Heaven, also a Hell! Please read Amos with an open mind. He’s speaking to us too.
Now here is one of the strangest statements in the Bible, and it is really great.
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? (KJV)
The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush. They had been taken from their original Arabia to Africa. Cush was south of Egypt, a remote and exotic land to the Israelites. Caphtor is the island of Crete, where the Philistines lived as they migrated to Palestine. The Syrians had migrated from Kir to Damascus (1:4). All these were heathen nations. God says that He would judge Israel no differently than He judges the foreign nations. God is seen as God of ALL nations in chapters 1 &2. He is not the God of Israel only; He is God of the universe, and He controls ALL nations, ALL people! There is only ONE God . . . the Almighty Creator God of the Bible, who controls the entire Universe!
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. (KJV)
“The sinful kingdom” is Israel. “I will destroy it from off the face of the earth” means that God will destroy it as a separate kingdom. When God finally returns the people of Israel to their land, they will not be a divided kingdom but will be one nation under the sovereignty of the One sitting on the throne of David.
God MUST punish ALL sins of ALL people, and punish those who depart from Him. So He states that His Eyes are upon the sinful kingdom of Ephraim to destroy it from the face of the Earth. The words “sinful kingdom” is an unusual choice for the Northern Kingdom. How contrary this is to God’s ideal for them in Ex.19:6.
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. (KJV)
“I will sift the house of Israel among all nations.” . . . Where are the so-called “lost tribes of Israel”? They are scattered throughout the world, but they are NOT “lost” as far as God is concerned. “Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” God will not lose one of them. Although not the least grain (the righteous, the believers) will fall to the ground. ALL sinners of the nation will perish, especially the defiant ones whom Amos has been addressing. Although Assyria would destroy Israel and take the people into exile, some would be preserved (those true to God, the remnant). This exile had been predicted hundreds of years earlier (Deut. 28:63-68). Although the nation would be purified through this invasion and captivity, not one TRUE believer would be eternally lost (then or now). Our system of justice, our courts today certainly is not always perfect, but God is. Sinners will not get away, but the faithful will not be forgotten. True believers will not be lost.
Amos 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. (KJV)
The sinners are going to die. God will judge the individuals who refuse to turn to Him (rejecters, unbelievers). It’s similar in the present church. NOT all church members are saved. And NOT all church members are genuine believers . . . even if they are church members. The apostle Paul says, “… For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6). There are TWO kinds of Israelites, the natural ones, and the spiritual ones. Amos assured the Israelites that God would not “totally destroy” Israel. In other words, the punishment would not be permanent or total. God wants to redeem, not punish. But any time that punishment is necessary, God will not withhold it. Like a loving father, God disciplines those He loves in order to correct them. If God disciplines you, accept it as a sign of His love.
This brings us to the final vision of Amos, that of the worldwide regathering and restoration of the kingdom of the Lord. Amos saw beyond the terrible days of judgment and scattering of His people, even beyond the Great Tribulation (which is still future in our day).
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: (KJV)
Up to this point in the Book of Amos, there has been no word to relieve or ease the sentence of judgment. The prophecy has said nothing about predictions of future blessings and prosperity. But at the end of Israel’s sad dispersion, God has promised to regather them and place over them His own Righteous Ruler, the Messiah, the Son of David. Amos does a wonderful job of foretelling this in words of great beauty.
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. (KJV)
In the punishment, the house of David was reduced to a “fallen tent.” God’s covenant with David stated that one of David’s descendants would always sit on his throne (2 Sam. 7:12-16). God’s judgment of exile made this promise seem impossible. But “in that day” God would raise up and restore the kingdom to its promised glory. This was a promise to both Israel and Judah, not to be fulfilled by an earthly, political ruler, but by the Messiah, who would renew the spiritual kingdom and rule forever. James quoted these verses (Acts 15:16-17), finding the promise fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection and in the presence of both Jews and Gentiles in the church.
“Possess the remnant of Edom” envisions the Messianic kingdom, which will be universal and include Gentiles. When God brings in the Gentiles, He is restoring the ruins. After the Gentiles are called together (Rom.11:25), God will renew and restore the fortunes of the new Israel. ALL the land that was once under David’s rule will again be part of God’s nation. There will be many nations which will enter the Millennium.
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. (KJV)
When the people of Israel are being blessed, the land of Israel is being blessed. The people and the land belong together. God makes it clear that when He returns the people of Israel to their land, it will again be the land of milk and honey. The land is not that way now; so I don’t think that the present return is the one predicted. Although Jews are returning to their land, they are NOT returning to their God.
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. (KJV)
God is going to restore Israel to the land. It will all be Israel, an undivided kingdom, as it was in the beginning of its history. It will be all twelve tribes. They are scattered over the whole world today. They are spread out among all nations. The prophecy clearly states that they will be scattered among all nations. Look around. God has done that. But it will not be that way forever. God will return Israel to the land.
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. (KJV)
One day, Israel shall be head of all nations, and her land will be abundantly fruitful. The one plowing will overtake the reaper, and the treader of the grapes, the one sowing seed. The thought is that the farmer will barely finish plowing when the crop will be ripe (Lev. 26:5). Vintage time will continue to the sowing time because the fruit is so plentiful.
Going to church and being good is NOT enough. God expects our belief in Him to penetrate all areas of our thoughts, our hearts, our minds, our conduct, our speech and to extend to all people and all circumstances.
Amos’s words should inspire us to live faithfully according to God’s desires and will. BUT . . . if we, like Israel, continue on in sin, God’s judgments shall fall on us. We do not have prophets, but we DO have God’s Holy Word! We had better OBEY it!
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5 . Ch.6 . Ch.7 . Ch.8 . Ch.9