Amos 7


‘This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the LORD relented. “This will not happen,” the LORD said. This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, “Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the LORD relented. “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign LORD said. This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.” Amos 7:1-9

Locusts, Fire And A Plumb Line

The first four visions begin with similar statements, ‘this is what the Lord showed me’.

1. The vision of locusts.

In his vision, Amos saw God preparing a swarm of locusts just as the second crop was coming up, remember, this wasn’t a literal plague of locusts as in Joel, but a visual scene.

Deane, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This refers to the retreat of the Assyrians under Pul, the usurping monarch who assumed the name of Tiglath-Pileser II, 2 Kings 15:17-29. Some commentators consider this judgment to be literally a plague of locusts but this is not probable.

Amos pleads to God because he sees utter destruction, complete destruction. So God relented. The self-sufficiency of the nation was attacked through blight before the arrival of the Assyrians.

2. The vision of Fire.

This time the Lord brings judgment by fire which was even more devastating. The fire devoured the sea and was eating up the land, it threatened total destruction. It seems even more devastating than the locusts. So once again, Amos intercedes and again the Lord relents and gives the people time to repent.

3. The vision of the plumb line.

In this vision Amos sees the Lord standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb. He had a plumb line in his hand. The wall symbolises Israel, which had been built in accordance with the plumb-line of God.

But God now comes to re-assess the wall with his plumb-line, and this time finds the wall, that is, Israel, off the true vertical, 2 Kings 21:13 / Isaiah 28:17 / Isaiah 34:11 / Lamentations 2:8.

They were measured and found wanting, their uprightness has been found faulty! God says that he will no longer spare them. They have had the opportunity to repent many times.

The people had built for themselves places where they practised idolatry, but God will destroy the high places, the idol temples at Dan and Bethel, 1 Kings 12:29, at Gilgal, Amos 4:4, the monarchy will be wiped out by the Lord but this time Amos does not intervene. God’s patience is exhausted and there is no more time to repent.

Amos And Amaziah

‘Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amos 7:10-13

We have a break in the visions, an intermission. We see here that the priest Amaziah informs Jeroboam II of Amos’ actions. He accuses Amos of conspiracy and quotes Amos as saying, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’ We’re not told what Jeroboam’s response to this was.

Amaziah was a religious leader who was on the payroll of the state, and so, brought charges against Amos before the state. He told Amos to get out of Israel, because this was the king’s sanctuary, 1 Kings 12:28, and go back to his homeland, Judah. Earn your money there, he suggests that Amos would earn more money in his own country.

‘Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the LORD. You say, “‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’ “Therefore this is what the LORD says: “‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” Amos 7:14-17

This is Amos’ answer to Amaziah. Amos wasn’t a prophet who represented the ‘professional prophets’, he was a simple farmer whom God had chosen. Amos wasn’t prophesying for money, he was there because he was obeying the command of God.

Amos continues with a message for Amaziah, you have told me to stop prophesying, therefore God says that your wife will become a prostitute, your sons and daughters will die by the sword, your land will be divided up, and you will die in an unclean land. And Israel will certainly go into exile away from their native land. This would bring to an end the descendants of Amaziah.

Smith, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Amaziah undoubtedly felt secure behind the defences of Samaria and the religious observances at Bethel. He erred in considering the word of God to be just the word of a man and in failing to examine himself and his society, and may we add, and his religion, in light of the covenant privileges and responsibilities.’

Go To Amos 8