Amos 6-9

Thursday Evening Bible Study

April 20, 2006


Amos is living at the time prior to the destruction of the northern kingdom. It was a prosperous time economically. It was a disastrous time spiritually.

Amos 6

:1 Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, Notable persons in the chief nation, To whom the house of Israel comes!

ZionSamaria – this isn’t just aimed at the northern kingdom (Samaria), but is also a warning to the southern kingdom (those who are at ease in Zion).

chief nation – or, “first nation”

:2 Go over to Calneh and see; And from there go to Hamath the great; Then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory?

Gath had already been captured by Uzziah in 760 BC.

Calneh and Hamath would soon be captured by the Assyrians.

If these people didn’t escape judgment, neither would Israel.

:3 Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near;

:4 Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall;

:5 Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;

Pictures of luxury.

:6 Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

They only care for their own comfort. They can’t see past their own comfort.

:7 Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed.

These notable members of the “first nation” (vs. 1) would be the first to go into captivity.

:8 The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, The LORD God of hosts says: "I abhor the pride of Jacob, And hate his palaces; Therefore I will deliver up the city And all that is in it."

:9 Then it shall come to pass, that if ten men remain in one house, they shall die.

Those that didn’t die in battle would die of disease.

:10 And when a relative of the dead, with one who will burn the bodies, picks up the bodies to take them out of the house, he will say to one inside the house, "Are there any more with you?" Then someone will say, "None." And he will say, "Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the LORD."

It will be very obvious that God’s judgment has come. The people will be terrified to mention God’s name lest they too be put to death.

It’s interesting that today the Jews have a great reverence/fear regarding the name of God.

They will never say the name Yahweh, but will refer to it as “the name”, they will spell it out as “G_d”, or they will use the Hebrew word for “Lord”, which is Adonai.

:11 For behold, the LORD gives a command: He will break the great house into bits, And the little house into pieces.

:12 Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into gall, And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,

Horses do not run on rocks – they will get hurt. Israel’s sense of right and wrong made as much sense as a horse trying to run on rocks.

:13 You who rejoice over Lo Debar, Who say, "Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves By our own strength?"

They were bragging about their previous conquests. Under Jeroboam II, the northern kingdom had greatly expanded.

:14 "But, behold, I will raise up a nation against you, O house of Israel," Says the LORD God of hosts; "And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath To the Valley of the Arabah."

Hamath … Arabah – from the farthest north to the farthest south of the northern kingdom.

The Assyrians were coming …

:3 Woe to you who put far off the day of doom…


A warning for us?

“It will never happen to us …”
But it did. Thirty some years after Amos delivered his message, the Assyrians showed up and wiped them out.
A lot of this warning seems aimed at people who were thinking that tragedy could never strike them.
The events of 9/11 were pretty difficult, but it seems so distant to us now. I wonder if we really think it could happen to us.
The disasters of the Tsunami and Katrina. Could they happen here? There have been TV specials on about the 100 year anniversary of the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and whether or not we’re ready for the next “Big One”.
Perhaps we shouldn’t get too comfortable in this world.
I imagine there are some who think that Jesus isn’t coming back either. But He will.
(2 Pet 3:8-12 NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. {9} The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. {11} Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, {12} looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

Amos 7

Amos will now see a series of “visions”. These are things that a person sees while they’re awake (dreams come when you’re asleep).

:1-3 Locusts

:1 Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king's mowings.

The king had the right to claim the first batch of grain from the harvesting. The people would get their harvest from the “late crop”. The vision that Amos sees is of a swarm of locusts coming after the king got his portion, but before the people got their portion.

:2 And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: "O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!"

Amos prays for the nation. He even asks for forgiveness.

:3 So the LORD relented concerning this. "It shall not be," said the LORD.

God responded to Amos’ prayers and stopped the locusts. But it doesn’t say that God forgave them.

:4-6 Fire

:4 Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, the Lord GOD called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory.

great deep – the fire burned up the sources of water. This is a picture of drought.

:5 Then I said: "O Lord GOD, cease, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!"

Amos again prays, this time he doesn’t mention forgiveness.

:6 So the LORD relented concerning this. "This also shall not be," said the Lord GOD.


How to respond

Because I'm a Guy
Because I’m a guy, I must hold the television remote control in my hand while I watch TV. If the thing has been misplaced, I’ll miss a whole show looking for it, though one time I was able to survive by holding a calculator.
Because I’m a guy, I don’t think we’re all that lost, and no, I don’t think we should stop and ask someone. Why would you listen to a complete stranger-how the heck could HE know where we’re going?
Because I’m a guy, when I lock my keys in the car I will fiddle with a wire clothes hanger and ignore your suggestions that we call a road service until long after hypothermia has set in. Oh, and when the car isn’t running very well, I will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know what I’m looking at. If another guy shows up, one of us will say to the other, “I used to be able to fix these things, but now with all these computers and everything, I wouldn’t know where to start.” We will then drink Pepsi.
Because I’m a guy and this is, after all, 2006, I will share equally in the housework. You do the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, and the dishes. I’ll do the rest.
Because I’m a guy, when one of our appliances stops working I will insist on taking it apart, despite evidence that this will just cost me twice as much once the repair person gets here and has to put it back together.

What do you do when something’s “broken”?  Us guys like to “fix” things.

Here’s the issue:  I believe that God still speaks to people today. Sometimes it seems that God will give an individual a spiritual insight to things, to people, to situations.

I’ve been asked, “What do I do with this insight?”
You can’t always “fix” everything. But you can pray.
I think that one reason we don’t pray more is because we don’t think that it “fixes” anything.
(Mat 17:14-21 NKJV)  And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, {15} "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. {16} "So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him." {17} Then Jesus answered and said, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me." {18} And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. {19} Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" {20} So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. {21} "However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

Jesus seemed to indicate that some things could NEVER be fixed unless you pray.

:7-9 The Plumb Line

:7 Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.

A plumb line is a carpenter’s tool. It’s a weight that hangs on a string, giving a vertical line to help build things straight.

:8 And the LORD said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said: "Behold, I am setting a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.

Israel was crooked. It did not match God’s standards.

:9 The high places of Isaac shall be desolate, And the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste. I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam."

high places – the centers for the false worship. These were usually found at a higher altitude, perhaps the people thought that they were closer to God somehow.

Jeroboam – this is Jeroboam II, the current king. Like all the kings of the northern kingdom, he was “evil”. But he also was a great military strategist and had brought the nation great military and economic success. But they weren’t closer to God.

:10-17 Amaziah complains

:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.

Bethel and Dan were the two main centers of worship for the northern kingdom. It was in these two places where the first Jeroboam had set up golden calves for the people to worship as an alternative to going to Jerusalem to worship.

The kings of the northern kingdom maintained a “royal chapel” in Bethel. Amaziah is the priest at this chapel.

:11 "For thus Amos has said: 'Jeroboam shall die by the sword, And Israel shall surely be led away captive From their own land.'"

This is exactly what Amos had been saying. For citizens of the northern kingdom, this sounded like treason.

:12 Then Amaziah said to Amos: "Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread, And there prophesy.

seer – another name for a prophet. Amos “saw” things, he had visions.

Judah – Amaziah was telling Amos to go home.

:13 But never again prophesy at Bethel, For it is the king's sanctuary, And it is the royal residence."

:14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: "I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit.

tender of sycamore fruit – A pincher or nipper of these figs, a necessary procedure in order for the fruit to ripen.

Amos didn’t become a prophet by choice. He didn’t grow up wanting to be a prophet. He was just a shepherd and fig-pincher.

:15 Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, And the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to My people Israel.'


Faithful in the few

Amaziah had simply been doing his job when God spoke and made him a prophet.
(Luke 16:10-12 NKJV) "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. {11} "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
I think that for a person who has a sense that God may be calling them into deeper service to Him, they need to pay attention to this principle.
Be faithful where you are.
God will see your faithfulness.

:16 Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, And do not spout against the house of Isaac.'

:17 "Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; Your land shall be divided by survey line; You shall die in a defiled land; And Israel shall surely be led away captive From his own land.'"

A harsh word for this idolatrous priest.

Amos 8

:1-14 Summer Fruit

:1 Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, a basket of summer fruit.

summer fruit – End-of-the-season fruit, fully ripe, not a long shelf-life, it will go bad quickly

:2 And He said, "Amos, what do you see?" So I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the LORD said to me: "The end has come upon My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.

summer fruitqayits – summer, summer-fruit

endqets – end

The two words look and sound very similar. God used this basket of summer fruit to get Amos to realize that the “end” was near.

The end has come. Israel, like a basket of summer fruit, has ripened for judgment.

:3 And the songs of the temple Shall be wailing in that day," Says the Lord GOD; "Many dead bodies everywhere, They shall be thrown out in silence."

:4 Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, And make the poor of the land fail,

:5 Saying: "When will the New Moon be past, That we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, That we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, Falsifying the scales by deceit,

When will … be past – these people were religious. They celebrated the “holy days”. But they could also hardly wait for them to pass so they could get on with their cheatin’ ways.

ephah … shekel – The ephah was the container they measured the wheat with. The shekel was the weight that they would use to measure a customer’s money. If the container was small and the weight extra heavy, then the merchant was able to cheat his customer two ways.

:6 That we may buy the poor for silver, And the needy for a pair of sandals; Even sell the bad wheat?"

:7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: "Surely I will never forget any of their works.

the pride of Jacob – this is one of the ways that God refers to Himself. He is swearing by Himself.

:8 Shall the land not tremble for this, And everyone mourn who dwells in it? All of it shall swell like the River, Heave and subside Like the River of Egypt.

:9 "And it shall come to pass in that day," says the Lord GOD, "That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;

sun go down at noon – Amos could be talking about a total eclipse. An eclipse had occurred in 784 BC, another in 763 BC. It would be a picture of God’s coming judgment.

:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day.

:11 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.

:12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.


Feeding on God’s Word

For Israel, part of God’s judgment would be His silence. He would not speak to them.
For our modern time period, I believe God speaks, but in some churches it’s a bit harder to hear Him than in others.
That’s one thing I appreciate about our Calvary Chapel movement. There is no famine of God’s Word.
I was talking the other day with a gal who used to be in my youth group thirty years ago. She shared with me how she had been going to various churches and had recently started attending Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. She has fallen in love with the teaching there, amazed at how much she is learning. And it’s simple verse-by-verse teaching. Just like we used to do back in the youth group.
Back at our outreach concert a few weeks back I ran into another gal who used to go to our church years ago. She told me about the churches she has been at, and how she wishes she could get her friends to come to our church because she misses the teaching of God’s Word.
I wonder some times if we realize what an amazing thing this book is.
Sometimes I wonder if those of us who are blessed to be in the Word so much can take for granted the work that God’s Word does for our hearts and souls.
Last night in the elders’ meeting we were reading from Romans:

(Rom 10:11-17 NKJV) For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." {12} For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. {13} For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." {14} How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" {16} But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" {17} So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Paul is talking about the preaching of the gospel, the sharing of God’s Word with people. It’s the sharing of God’s Word, the truth about Jesus and how we are saved by faith, that brings a person to the point where they put their faith in Jesus.

Faith comes from hearing the Word of God.

But I believe that it’s more than just saving faith – I believe that all of our faith is strengthened as we study God’s Word.

I may not be the pizzazziest of public speakers. But it’s not listening to me that builds you up, it’s the work of God’s Word.

As Paul was saying “goodbye” to the Ephesian elders on his last trip through Ephesus, he said,

(Acts 20:32 NKJV) "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

I have been criticized because I believe so strongly in the ministry of teaching God’s Word. And maybe I’ve ignored the importance of other aspects of the church. But I will not stop placing God’s Word as a top priority in our church. It’s what feeds us and makes us grow.

:13 "In that day the fair virgins And strong young men Shall faint from thirst.

:14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, Who say, 'As your god lives, O Dan!' And, 'As the way of Beersheba lives!' They shall fall and never rise again."

Amos is talking about the coming captivity for the northern kingdom. They will be taken away to foreign lands where they will grow far from God.

Amos 9

:1-10 The coming judgment

:1 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said: "Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake, And break them on the heads of them all. I will slay the last of them with the sword. He who flees from them shall not get away, And he who escapes from them shall not be delivered.

:2 "Though they dig into hell, From there my hand shall take them; Though they climb up to heaven, From there I will bring them down;

:3 And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, From there I will search and take them; Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea, From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them;

:4 Though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword, And it shall slay them. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good."

They will not be able to escape the judgment of God.

You can’t run from God.

:5 The Lord GOD of hosts, He who touches the earth and it melts, And all who dwell there mourn; All of it shall swell like the River, And subside like the River of Egypt.

:6 He who builds His layers in the sky, And has founded His strata in the earth; Who calls for the waters of the sea, And pours them out on the face of the earth; The LORD is His name.

:7 "Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, O children of Israel?" says the LORD. "Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, The Philistines from Caphtor, And the Syrians from Kir?

In a sense the Israelites are nothing special. They are just like every other nation.

:8 "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," Says the LORD.

sinful kingdomIsrael

:9 "For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.

The righteous will be caught in the sieve and won’t fall to the ground.

:10 All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, Who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.'

But those who are “sinners”, those who are rebellious, won’t be able to escape God’s judgment.

:11-15 Restoration

:11 "On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old;

tabernacle of David – the throne, the kingship that comes from David. The kings of the southern kingdom were all descendants of David. Jesus was a “son of David”.

:12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name," Says the LORD who does this thing.

Verses 11-12 would be used at the first church conference.

The Issue: The church had been wrestling with what to do with the Gentile believers. There were some who were claiming that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and become Jews in order to be saved. Peter and Paul both argued that salvation came through grace by believing and not through the Law. Then James stood up to speak (Acts 15:13-20) and quoted from verses 11-12.

It was these verses in Amos that helped convince the conference that God had long ago planned on Gentiles coming to Him. And as a result, the church decided that Gentiles did not need to become “Jewish” in order to be saved, but only to be careful not to do things that would offend the Jews (like immorality, etc.)

:13 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.

There will be such a great harvest in the fields that before the reaper can finish reaping the fields, it will be time to plant the next crop.

This is prosperity.

:14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.

:15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God.

Even though the nation of Israel was partially restored after the Babylonian captivity, they were again scattered among the nations after being conquered by the Romans in AD 70.

They were again restored as a nation in 1948, but even this is probably not permanent. It would seem that the antichrist will initially form an alliance with Israel, but then turn his back on them and try to destroy the Jews.

Ultimately this is speaking of the complete restoration of the kingdom of God on earth under the Messiah. This is the “Millennial Kingdom” when Jesus rules and reigns on the earth for 1,000 years.


Looking for peace and prosperity?

The story goes that there once was a daughter of a fashionable couple from a large eastern city who went to Africa as a Peace corps volunteer. She had been to finishing school and her parents had made every effort to see that she was properly prepared to occupy a place in their social strata. When the young woman’s term on the field was over she sent a telegram announcing that she would be bringing her new husband home with her. Her mother and father waited with excited anticipation at the airport gate. Their daughter emerged from the plane on the arm of a man about seven feet tall who was adorned in feathers, beads, skulls, tigers’ teeth, and assorted pouches of magical potions around his neck. He even had a bone through his nose and rings in his ears! The mother fainted. As the father held his now unconscious wife, he shouted to his daughter, “No, no, dear. We said we wanted you to marry a rich doctor.”
Some folks make it their life’s goal to become wealthy and prosperous.
Money isn’t a bad thing.  It’s the love of money that gets you into trouble.
Some folks teach that if you just “name it”, you can “claim it”, though I’m not sure just where God promises financial prosperity to every one of His children.
There will be a day when we will live in the lap of luxury.  And it will happen.  But the promise of God is for when Jesus comes back.
Don’t get too disappointed if you don’t see it in this life.