Reading through the Bible together
This chapter presents three of Amos’ five visions of coming judgment on Israel (vv. 1-9), and his confrontation with Amaziah, the priest at Bethel (vv. 10-17).
The first judgment is famine (v.1). “Locusts” as instruments of God’s wrath came upon the land to destroy its beauty and its fruit bringing hunger and starvation to the inhabitants. God bears long with people, but not always, particularly when it comes to such gross wickedness. Yet, the judgment was mingled with God’s mercy. The insects ate up only the latter growth, the after-grass, which is of little value in comparison with the former.
Notice the mercies which God continues to give us are more numerous and more valuable than those He removes from us. This should make us more gratefully submissive to His will when disappointments come.
Seeing the dreadful work of the locusts, Amos interceded on behalf of Israel (v. 2). It was the business of prophets to pray for those to whom they prophesied, and thus to show that though they denounced people they did not delight in their destruction.
The next vision, judgment by fire (v.4) shows that God has many ways of humbling a sinful nation. This fire or searing drought which God called for did terrible things; it even devoured the deepest reservoirs of water, informing us that nothing can stop God’s visitations. Again, the prophet interceded on behalf of sinners. He acknowledged that Israel had become smaller from the earlier chastisements by their enemies. But the Lord did relent by delaying His judgments, because prophetic intercession does make a difference in God’s response to people.
The third vision of plumb line (v.7) reminds us that Israel was like a strong wall which God Himself had reared. But God now stands upon the wall with a plumb-line, not to hold it up, but to measure it and bring judgments on it because it did not measure up to His expectations. The punishment would be certain. Notice that the time will come when those who have been spared often, shall no longer be spared.
Despite Amos’ intercession for Israel, she continued in sin. Moreover, she persecuted the prophet. Amaziah, the chief priest of calf worship at Bethel, complained to Jeroboam the king, about the prophet, never mentioning his prayer for them. Notice that the great pretenders of sanctity are commonly the worst enemies of those who are really sanctified.
Amos was to prophesy where God appointed him (vv. 14,15). He testified that God called him while he was a herdsman, not to fear man, but do the Lord’s will. His abilities were from God (v. 12). He was a prophet, not by profession and earn a livelihood from it, but called as a trust to honor God, serve the people, and do good.
Amos condemns Amaziah for denouncing God’s judgments (vv. 16,17). When Amaziah wanted Amos to be silent, the prophet prophesied against his wife and his children. His wife will be treated as a harlot; his sons and his daughters will be killed by the sword of war; he himself shall live to see it and then be led away captive to die in a foreign land. He had trained them in worshiping idols, and therefore God will cut them off in their sins. Sometimes the judgments against the sins of others are to be seen as judgments of God because of us.
Deepati Vara Prasad, Ph.D.
Watchman Publishing House, India