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Sunday, September 21, 2014

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This chapter, the last of the visions that Amos records, clearly has two sections, first the destruction of Israel (vv.1-10), and second, restoration of Israel (vv.11-15).

Amos is given a glimpse of the Majesty of heaven depicted as ready to punish His rebellious people. Standing by the altar, the Lord commanded the destroying angel to strike the doorposts and break down the pillars. The destruction of the entire structure is intended in the command, implying the death of all, and no one will escape (v.1). It is futile to even try to escape for the Lord will find them (in heaven or hell figuratively speaking) high on Mt. Carmel, the top most place, or at the bottom of the sea meaning the lowest place on earth (vv.2-3).

The wicked Israelites will not be safe from the sword, even in the land of captivity (v.4). The Lord God of hosts, the Ruler of heaven and earth, is able to do what He says—He touches the earth and it melts, it swells and subsides like the River of Egypt, and all the dwellers mourn. He builds chambers in the sky, arranges strata in the earth, calls for sea water and pours it on the earth as rain—the Lord is His name (vv.5-6), nothing is impossible for Him. Israel was a chosen nation only on the condition of obedience to His word to proclaim His name to all nations bringing them into His one great family. In this sense, Israel and Ethiopia are equally important to Him. He is the One who brought Israel out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan where He had allowed the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir to live. The decisions of the Lord are final, so the captivity of Israel is inevitable.

However, God graciously promises to save a remnant (vv-7-8). Israel would be tossed, as it were, in the” sieve” of affliction to distinguish the true followers of God from those who cling to sin. All the wicked among God’s people, who challenged His ways, would be destroyed.

Amos now turns from the chastisement of God’s people to the bright and glorious promise of future restoration. When Judah and Israel failed to live up to this promised future, what God had planned could only be fulfilled in part as the faithful returned from Babylonian exile. The Lord wanted to raise up the “house of David” to be a spiritual Israel. History shows that the spiritual breaks in the walls were only partly repaired and the spiritual ruins were only cleared up to some extent. When the Jewish nation rejected its Savior, the blessings and promises to Israel were given to the spiritual seed of Abraham, the followers of Jesus Christ.
Verses 13-15 depict in striking language the multitude of blessings that might have come to literal Israel but now will come to the true Israel of God. The promise made to Abraham that his seed would inherit the land of Canaan was only partially fulfilled when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The final fulfillment of this wonderful promise will come when the Holy City, the New Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven and is permanently established on the earth in the land of Canaan. That day is not far away!

Deepati Vara Prasad, Ph.D.
Watchman Publishing House, India