Amos 9


‘I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape. Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them. Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there I will command the sword to slay them. “I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.” Amos 9:1-4

Israel To Be Destroyed

In this final chapter, Amos receives his fifth vision. He sees the Lord standing beside the altar but no one is sure what altar he saw in the vision, whether it was Jerusalem or one of the false altars of worship.

Amos 1:2 talks about Jerusalem, so it may be the altar in the temple, but the destruction he talks about is of the places of false worship, such as Bethel and Dan.

He strikes the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake, the thresholds are at the bottom of a door. So the picture we have here is one of destruction from top to bottom.

There will be no hiding place for the people. They can’t hide at the top of Mount Carmel or the bottom of the sea. God who is omniscient and omnipotent, will find them and slay them wherever they go. God’s judgment would start at the altar and spread to all the nations.

‘The Lord, the LORD Almighty—he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt; he builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth; he calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land—the LORD is his name.’ Amos 9:5-6

Here we have a reminder of the power of God, it’s a vivid description of the Lord Almighty, Amos 4:13 / Amos 5:8 / Amos 8:8.

When God rises up, He brings judgment that will overwhelm those of His creation as a flood of waters, Amos 8:8. In other words, there is no escaping the upcoming judgment, 2 Corinthians 5:10. God calls on the ‘waters of the sea’, that is, the nations, to flood over His people.

‘Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,” declares the LORD. “For I will give the command, and I will shake the people of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’ Amos 9:7-10

Israel is regarded by God as a far-away foreign nation. No longer do they have special privileges, no longer do they have a special relationship with God.

You Israelites are no different than anyone else now. God says, He brought them out of Egypt, but He also says, He brought the Philistines from Caphtor. He brought nations such as the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Philistines and Arameans into existence, Genesis 12:3 / Acts 14:16-17.

Israel is a sinful kingdom that will be destroyed, Revelation 19:11-21, but there is hope, that God will not utterly destroy the people. The nation will go, but a remnant will remain, 1 Kings 19:10 / Romans 11:4.

Israel is shaken like a sieve and scattered among the nations. Through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, God would send His people as captives into many nations. Those who are complacent will be destroyed but there is hope for the righteous and those who repent.

Israel’s Restoration

‘In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter—I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things.’ Amos 9:11-12

Up to this point, Amos has painted a black picture for Israel. Now there is a word of hope for the future.

We read of the restoration of David’s fallen tent. This is a metaphorical statement that refers to the church of the living God. The rule of David ended with the division of the kingdom. This will be restored, the broken places will be repaired by the Messiah, the son of David.

The kingdom will be a worldwide kingdom, a Messianic kingdom as predicted here. These verses were quoted by James in Acts 15:15-18. The passage is used in the New Testament as justification for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. In other words, this prophecy was fulfilled in the establishment of the church.

The building of the tabernacle, that is, the church, would be built in ‘all nations’, that bear His Name, Isaiah 60:14 / Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16.

Motyer, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The warlike metaphor in many of these passages is, of course, to be understood in terms of the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ and the missionary expansion of his Church. This is the interpretation authorized by the New Testament, Acts 15:12-19.’

‘The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.’ Amos 9:13-15

Here we have a picture of prosperity and security. God will return the captives of His people and restore their fortune in their land. The planting and harvesting will overlap, the harvest will be so abundant that the people will be reaping at the same time as re-planting.

Because God was bringing to an end the nation of Israel, with the captivity, the permanent restoration here to the land was not in reference to national Israel, but to the spiritual Israel of God, the church.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Throughout the world, amid the desert of Heathendom, which was formerly deserted by God, Churches of Christ have arisen, which, for the firmness of faith, may be called cities, and for the gladness of hope which needeth not to be ashamed.’

The certainty of the message is given in the final words, ‘says the LORD your God’.