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Amos 8-9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 16, 2014


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Amos was not your typical prophet.

He was a man who made his living raising sheep and cultivating fig trees.

Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judah.

He was from the town of Tekoa.

The message is primarily aimed at the northern kingdom of Israel.

We believe this book was probably given at a one-time event when Amos traveled north to the city of Bethel and gave this message in the king’s chapel there.

The message was given in 762 BC, forty years before the Assyrian army would conquer the northern kingdom and haul them into captivity.

8:1-14 Summer Fruit

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

:1 summer fruit

Remember that one of Amos’ occupations was that of a fig cultivator.

(Am 7:14 NKJV) …But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit.
tenderbalac – to gather figs, tend sycamore trees
The word for “tender” is a technical term used to describe the process of carefully slashing each fruit to make it ripen quicker.
Sycamore-fig trees produced fruit three or four times a year, and the summer fruit was the last fruit produced for the year.

Summer fruit is the last fruit of the season.

Amos’ basket has fully ripe fruit, and the shelf life isn’t going to be too long.

We don’t think about such things today because even if we want certain kinds of fresh fruit, it seems to always be available in the market.  All the grocery store chain has to do is fly the fruit in from another part of the world where the fruit is still in season.

For Amos’ day, the idea is that the “season” of fruit is about to come to a close.

: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.

:2  summer fruit … end has come

:2 summer fruitqayits – summer, summer-fruit


:2 endqets – end


There is a play on words here.  Both words are similar in appearance as well as sounding similar.

Often a prophet is given a message by something that reminds him of something else.
The “summer fruit” (qayits) is a reminder that the “end” (qets) has come.
Israel, like a basket of summer fruit, is at the end of its fruitfulness.

: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.”

:3 songs … wailing

There will no longer be happy songs at church.

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

:4 you who swallow up the needy

This next passage is about those who take advantage of the poor.

: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,

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

:5 ephah small… shekel large

The ephah was the container they measured the wheat with.

The shekel was the weight that they would use to measure the customer’s silver (their money) with.

In ancient days, there were no official standards for capacity and weight.

If the going rate for selling wheat was one ephah of wheat for two shekels, then a cheating merchant would be able to doubly cheat his customers by giving them less than they asked for and asking them to pay more than they should.

:5 When will the New Moon be past

These people were religious.  They celebrated all the right holidays, including the “New Moon”, the beginning of the month.

But instead of the holy-days being a chance to honor God, the holy days just got in the way of their business of taking advantage of the poor.

:6 the needy for a pair of sandals

They forced the poor into slavery over very small sums of money

:6 Even sell the bad wheat?

(Am 8:6 NLT) And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor.

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

:7 the pride of Jacob

Some commentators say this is one of the ways that God refers to Himself. He is swearing by Himself.

(Ho 5:5 NKJV) The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them.

pridega’own – exaltation, majesty, pride

We saw last week that God hated the pride of Jacob (same Hebrew word).

(Am 6:8 NKJV) 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.”
It could refer to the city of Samaria, or it could refer to Jacob’s actual pride.

: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.

:8 swell like the River

Every year the Nile River would overflow its banks and flood the land.

It was kind of like a Tsunami, rising to wipe out everything and then receding to leave destruction in its place.

: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;

:9 the sun go down at noon

Amos could be describing a solar eclipse.

There were some significant solar eclipses in 790 BC, 777 BC, 769 BC, and 764 BC.

See the NASA site.
These were eclipses that would have been seen in Israel.
The people of Israel listening to Amos would know what that was all about.

There would be another significant eclipse in the year that Amos gave this prophecy, 762 BC.

There would be significant eclipses in 743 BC and 736 BC.

There would be another significant solar eclipse in 723 BC, the year before the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom.

There was another significant solar eclipse in December of 586 BC (the year the Temple was destroyed)

: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.

:11 famine … the words of the Lord


Hungry Silence

For Israel, part of God’s judgment would be His silence. He would not speak to them.
Those within the land of Israel will search for a word from God (“from sea to sea”) but won’t find it.
Those that will be scattered among the nations will not have prophets to speak to them.
When Saul disobeyed the Lord, God was silent.
(1 Sa 28:5–6 NKJV) —5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.
Sometimes God’s Word is not too pleasant.
Sometimes God’s Word tends to point out our flaws and reminds us we need to change.
And sometimes we can get kind of tired of it.
Paul wrote,
(2 Ti 4:3–4 NKJV) —3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

The problem comes when we decide that we don’t like what God has to say.

It’s an easy fix – we can find a church that will tell us things that don’t make us uncomfortable.  They might have a good band, or they might have candles or incense.  We feel like we’ve done our “religion” thing and we can stay comfortable.

But we might just find that God Himself is actually silent.

Do you have a “hunger” for the things of God?
Play Snickers’ Betty White commercial
There is one thing that satisfies spiritual hunger is God’s Word.
When Paul was saying goodbye to the elders of Ephesus, he gave them the best advice he could to help their spiritual hunger:

(Ac 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.

We don’t live in a land where there is a “famine” of hearing God’s words.

There are many good churches that are teaching God’s Word right here in Orange County.

The bigger issue is this – am I willing to listen to all that God has to say to me, or am I going to get offended when God pokes at something that needs to change?

: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.”

:14 the sin of Samaria

The sin of the northern kingdom was in all the other “gods” that the people followed instead of worshipping the One True God in Jerusalem.

Those who worship these other “gods” will be scattered in the coming captivity.

9:1-10 Israel’s Destruction

: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.”

:4 I will set My eyes on them for harm

Even when the northern kingdom is taken away into captivity to distant lands, God is still watching them.

Even in captivity they will not be able to escape the judgment of God.


No Hiding

The motto of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is “They always get their man”.
Play Dudley Do-Right clip
You can’t hide from God.
The poet Francis Thompson wrote a famous poem where he called God “The Hound of Heaven”.
His point was that you can’t escape God.
Francis Thompson wrote a famous poem called “The Hound of Heaven”

The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

King David wrote,
(Ps 139:7–12 NKJV) —7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
So why would you try to run from Him?
You may see Him as being “out to get you”.

You may see Him only interested in punishing you for your sins.

And to be honest, that’s exactly what He will do if you don’t stop running and turn to Him for help.

But God’s desire isn’t to punish you, it’s to save you.

Jesus said,
(Jn 3:16–19 NKJV) —16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

It’s like a story where somebody finds out that a lawyer has been asking questions about him.  The man becomes afraid and starts running.  When the lawyer finally hunts him down, he finds out that the lawyer was simply trying to inform him of his inheritance, that his rich uncle died and left his entire fortune to him.

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, wanted to play a practical joke on twelve of his friends, he sent a note to each of them that simply read, “Flee at once. All is discovered.” Within twenty-four hours, all twelve friends had left the country. That’s what you call a guilty conscience.
Is God serious about your sin?
Does God want you to stop your sin?
Does God want to forgive you and give you eternal life?
Stop running.

: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.

:5 swell … subside

This is the same phrase as in 8:8

: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.

:7Are 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?

Play Ethiopia to Kir map clip

Ethiopia was a large Gentile nation south of Egypt.

God had indeed brought Israel out of the land of Egypt into their own land.

The Philistine people came originally from Caphtor, another name for the island of Crete.

The Syrians came from Kir in Mesopotamia.

:7 the people of Ethiopia

The ancient Ethiopia included what is the south of modern Egypt, Sudan, and northern modern Ethiopia.

:7 Israel from the land of Egypt

This the Israelites knew.

They thought this made them special before God.

:7 Philistines from Caphtor

Caphtor was another name for the island of Crete.

The Philistines were originally from the island of Crete, but settled in the land of Israel.

God says He brought them from Crete.

:7 Syrians from Kir

Kir was somewhere in the land of Mesopotamia (Iraq/Iran)

:7 Are you not like…

Even though God did bring Israel out of the land of Egypt, the fact that God had worked in their nation didn’t mean that God wasn’t working other places as well.  They may be God’s chosen people, but God’s work is much bigger than the geographical area of Israel.

God is simply to letting the people of Israel know that even though they have a special place in God’s sight, He will treat them like any 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.

:8 I will destroy it

The sinful kingdom is Israel, and its government will be destroyed.

:8 I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob

God will destroy the government of the northern kingdom, but he will not destroy all the people.

Even though God promised to destroy some of these other kingdoms, and though He will bring judgment on Israel, He will not completely destroy them.  He will even promise to one day restore them:

(Am 9:14 NKJV) I will bring back the captives of My people Israel…

: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.

:9 sifted in a sieve

God will sift the nation and the righteous will be caught in the sieve and won’t fall to the ground.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed Jesus said to Peter,

(Lk 22:31–34 NKJV) —31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” 34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Satan wanted to separate Peter from the Lord.
Jesus was praying for Peter.
Peter would deny Jesus, but Jesus was praying that Peter would come back and strengthen the others.

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

:10 All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword

A very sobering statement.

It wasn’t enough to claim that you were a descendant of Israel.  Or an American.

If you were an unforgiven sinner, you were going to die, even if you didn’t think it would.

9:11-15 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;

:11 raise up the tabernacle of David

The tent of David, the house of David would one day be restored as king over all of Israel.

When David was king, all the tribes of Israel followed David.

When the kingdom divided, only the southern tribes followed the house of David.

There will be a day when there will be one nation, ruled by the house of David.

Jesus was a “son of David”.
One day He will return and rule.

: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.

:12 all the Gentiles who are called by My name

There will be Gentiles who will be saved.

By Jesus’ day, the Jews had come to think that Gentiles were beyond being saved, yet in Amos’ day, God says that one day they will be saved.

The early church had trouble conceiving of a Gentile becoming saved.

Once Gentiles began to be saved, the church had to rethink their ideas.
The early church decided they need to hold a meeting to discuss the issue of what to do with the Gentiles.  Did the Gentiles need to become circumcised and follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved?
James stood up to give the deciding argument, and he quoted from our passage in Amos (Acts 15:15-17)
(Ac 15:15–18 NKJV) —15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.
The church decided that God had planned all along for Gentiles to be saved, and they decided that salvation was through faith in Jesus, not the keeping of the Law of Moses.

Six years later when Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, the issue at hand was the rumor that Paul had brought a Gentile into Herod’s Temple (which he had not).

The unbelieving Jewish crowd in the Temple rioted because of this accusation against Paul.
When Paul began to address the crowd, they listened to his testimony of meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road.  They listened to everything Paul said until he got to the part where Jesus said to Paul:
(Ac 22:21 NKJV) …‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”

How many of you here today are believers who are not Jewish?

This verse is one of the Scriptures that showed that you could be saved.

: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.

:13  the plowman shall overtake the reaper

When Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom on the earth, 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.

:14 I will bring back the captives

This has been happening over the last century as Jews from around the world immigrate to Israel.

:14 build the waste cities

When I make my Google maps of Israel for you, the coordinates of the ancient cities are often right next to a modern city that goes by the same name.

Like Tekoa and Beth Shemesh.

: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.

:15 no longer shall they be pulled up

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 may not be 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 kingdom that Jesus sets up after He returns.


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, except the love of money will get you into trouble.
There will be a day when we will live in prosperity.  But the promise of God is for when Jesus comes back.
Don’t get too disappointed if you don’t see prosperity in this life.
Jesus told His disciples:

(Jn 16:33 NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The peace we are looking for is the peace that comes from knowing God.

Do you know Him?