Vituperation Not Veneration; A Study In The Book Of Amos
October 1, 2004

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2012

Vituperation Not Veneration
A Study In The Book Of Amos

For some reason other than one explained to me, the Lord wanted this month's newsletter to incorporate a look into this ancient prophet.

Amos followed the ministries of Obadiah (840 BC) and Joel (835 BC). Amos was a preacher from "that other bunch." Because Israel comprised the ten Northern tribes, they resented the intrusion of a Southern-kingdom farmer, who had the audacity to point out their sins and call for repentance. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (whose ministry appointment was where Abraham built an altar, where Jacob wrestled with God and became Israel, the place where Joshua defeated the king of Bethel, where Samuel judged in circuit, where the sons of Israel inquired of the Lord about warring with Benjamin, (I kings 13) where Jeroboam's hand was stricken when he broached the man of God, the place of golden calves and the famous prophesies of Jeremiah and Hosea against them), vocalized his resentment. Amaziah was considered the spokesman of authorized religion and he came down hard on God's prophet, after notifying the king.

"Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread, and there prophesy, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is the royal residence (7:12-13)."

Amos responded to him by giving a review of his calling; then he said, "You say, 'do not prophesy against Israel, and do not spout against the house of Isaac.'" Amos then prophesied over him--which should again happen in modern times to those opposed to the will and wisdom of God: "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." (Thank God Amos was not living in our day. His words would have netted him a civil suit based on making a threat against a religious leader and intolerance of religious preference. He would have been castigated by all who adhere to interfaith ministries, restrained by court order from appearing anywhere near them and remonstrated by television newscasters and religious authorities.) His words would still be true!

His prophesies used a method called the "spiral effect," beginning with the countries surrounding Israel, his intended target. His prophesies utilize more first person singular statements originating from God than any of his contemporaries. When God said, "I will send a fire," those words sealed off the target of His remarks and settled the issue for Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab and Judah.

Amos used the phrase, "for three transgressions and for four," which in essence means the "last straw." His list of grievances from God was precise and conclusive. Beginning in chapter 2 verse 6, he progressed toward his final stroke: Israel's punishment as unavoidable and inescapable (to paraphrase Jonathan Edwards).

God was justified in the inevitability of judgment because he sent prophets consistently (even from their own people), who were rejected and their message ignored. God asked the personal question, "Is it not so, O you children of Israel?"

Amos pointed out that the nation sought to corrupt those prophets: "You gave the Nazirites wine to drink and commanded the prophets saying, 'Do not prophesy (2:12).'" Power and money are corrupting many today.

One commentator succinctly stated: "Israel's doom is sealed (3:11; 5:27; 8:1-3) because she has passed up repeated chances to be reconciled to the God of the covenant (4:6-11; 5:4-6, 14-15, 24). Nothing else remains to be done or said except to issue a warning for the nation to prepare to meet the God who is coming in judgment (4:12). He reveals that his strategy all along has been to hem Israel in on every side with the fires of judgment (1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5). She now stands isolated as the last victim of Yahweh's wrath. His patience with her, as with the other nations, has run out (2:6-13)." (source:

Amos also had some mighty famous words, which usually are grandly omitted from modern homily.

"(You) drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god." This might suffice for today's judgment on communion.

"Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" The indomitable question posed to all who continue to sit in pews while heresy is preached on a weekly basis and also posed to those who align their congregations with interfaith ministries.

"The Lord has spoken! Who can but prophesy?" Those who prophesy so freely should notice the sequence.

"An adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength." This is a most cogent commentary on the national activities of today! (3:11).

"I will visit destruction on the altars of Bethel (3:14)." How could God destroy such a sacred and hallowed place? Listen to the facetious call of Amos, "Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning (4:4)." In other words, every religious activity deemed sacred, when offered on a defiled altar is considered further evidence for judgment. (Gilgal: where Joshua set up the twelve stones of crossing, where Saul was anointed of Samuel, where Samuel confronted Saul and killed Agag, where Elisha stood before the prophets, where Hosea and Micah spoke against. The same place where God spoke in Josh 5:9 "Then the LORD said to Joshua, 'This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.' Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.") Gilgal: wheel—where the reproach was rolled away and in Amos, the judgment rolled back.

Five "yet's" and a conclusion: "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel (4:12)." Since Israel evidently had no idea who God was, they must be introduced.

"The virgin of Israel has fallen." Their purity was history and there are none pure enough to restore it.

"Seek Me and live; But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal…seek the Lord and live (5:4)." Instead of entering conventions, digging the wells, or claiming old promises—it is time to seek God; let Him define terms and determine boundaries.

"…You who lay righteousness to rest in the earth!" The funeral has occurred, and the burial has taken place. Oh, that we might discover where it is buried!

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you?" Listen to this—the only prayer for the "holiness ones" is the prayer for God to bring about the end time factors in rapid order, but to those "left behind" theorists, Amos' question is valid! "Woe to you who put far off the day of doom." This is a sealed day.

"Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments, BUT let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." Only – Only – when this is the cry from the pulpit will that pulpit be worthy of listening to!

"Woe to you who are at ease in Zion" Zion: OT:6726 Tsiyown (tsee-yone'); the same (regularly) as OT:6725; Tsijon (as a permanent capital), a mountain of Jerusalem: KJV - Zion. (OT:6725 tsiyuwn (tsee-yoon'); from the same as OT:6723 in the sense of conspicuousness [compare OT:5329]; a monumental or guiding pillar: KJV - sign, title, waymark. [Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc].) The play on words is simple: you are at ease in your Zion, but your Zion is not where I abide. "Surely I will never forget any of their works. Shall the land not tremble for this, and everyone mourn who dwells in it?"

The Visions:

Amos was given a vision of locusts (so great was the economic devastation the Lord declined to use it), the vision of fire (a destruction so enveloping that the Lord rescinded it), a plumb line of separation (which the Lord retained). The first response after the plumbline was the rebuke of Amaziah--go figure.

Another series of visions arose to greet Amos, the rotten summer fruit was the first. "They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it (8:12)." How different today when everyday a new conference or convention bids, "Come here and get the latest and grandest from God."

The Lord was standing by the altar and commanded, "Strike the doorposts that the threshold may shake." (In demolition, striking the lentil would be the easiest method of destroying a door frame, but God instructed him to strike the doorposts. Could it be these doorposts did not have the blood applied, or could it be the framework holding them was so destroyed that the rotten threshold came with it?)

"On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down." The tabernacle where David entered was not the structure of tradition but the place where the individual without corporate sanction could minister before the Lord.

Strangely, the only passages made famous by charismatica and the modern ecclesia are the final ones of chapter nine, beginning with verses 13. Truly these verses reflect a wondrous time for the prophet's audience. One must remember, however, what prophesies lay between them and this final hour. Hosea, Jonah, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel, Lamentations, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi would come forth in that order before all of the fulfillment could begin. A nation would experience the awesome discipline of Babylon, and it would forever stand out greater than Egypt in its mind. Babylon would join Sodom and Gomorrah as a historical landmark never to be forgotten, a reference point God would use to jar the mind of those "at ease in Zion." Revelation used Babylon to underscore the condition of the world before the end time and the putrified church at ease in it.

Israel and Judah entered Babylon's correction as a divided nation guided by waffling leadership which mostly leaned to superficial repentance and flagrant sin. They returned a unified remnant with a limited kingship which dwindled in authority until the Messiah came.

Amos stood early among the prophets, but his message spanned all the way to our future. The plumbline has not been retracted, the call to righteousness and repentance is still valid, and the inevitability of judgment looms larger by the day.

Author's note: Whoever this is for, let me say it has been interesting to follow the Lord in this discussion.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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