"Amazing Amos"
September 1, 2016

C. R. Oliver

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September 1, 2016

"Amazing Amos"

          Amos, indeed, was amazing.

          Solely a forerunner of prophets, he was one of the first to address the sins and transgressions of the ten tribes to the North (those who broke away from Jerusalem and their brothers, Judah and Benjamin). The ten tribes wanted their own kingdom. They wanted no more of the restraints of David or the majesty of Solomon. They wanted to ordain their own priesthood and worship in their "new" way. They despised the restrictions of the Law and sought freedom to "worship any way they pleased." They chose new gods they thought would guarantee their continued prosperity. They luxuriated in the fabric of wealth and found no boundaries for their insatiable lusts for power and glory. They would "show" the Southern Kingdom "their new and better way." They would cast aside both Temple and Tabernacle. Instead of the noise of Jerusalem and its cramped quarters during pilgrimages, they would worship on the crest of mountains and every green valley, where the air was fresh and the communion with nature felt grand. (Profligacy has a charm that incorporates and heightens the senses of the body and stimulates a way of thinking freely challenging stodgy patterns of morality and promising to open venues beyond the reality of religion).

Spiritism replaced spirituality!

God was not with them, but it made little difference to their bourgeois and blasè lifestyle.

They would determine their own future, as long as business interests were met.

Because the nations that bordered them were weak, they felt safe from attack. Their King, Jeroboam, was almost god-like in his power to rule. He was a servant of Solomon and surely his observance of the wisest man in all history must yield a superior mind. So, they embraced multiculturalism and religious diversity, what difference could that make?

Soon, the God of the universe would invade their habitat and the prophetic words from a country boy of Judah would rattle their cages with invectives that warned of "a reckoning day coming."

Amos was not the first prophet to address Israel. Obadiah came in 840 BC, but his message was primarily about Edom and the mountain people. To the Southern Kingdom came the prophet, Joel (835 BC). Joel's message did not even come near the subject matter of Amos, and it did not address the Northern heresy. About the time of Amos, Jonah preached to Nineveh (760BC), but did not direct his message northward. No, that would be the work assigned to the likes of Amos, a shepherd who also traded in sycamore figs. He knew what solitude delivered--a time to commune with God. From those humble beginnings, God shaped a fierce witness who was unafraid of gross disfavor and total dismissal of his words. What he had to say came from God and there was no compromise. Once his words went forth, they were carried by the character of the Most High. It did not matter the King was infuriated and the High Priest, Amaziah, was advising him to "go home (7:12)." He masterfully executed his Divine Word into an intelligent and understandable format which I offer below.

Section II: The Plan of the Prophecy.

1. After a brief introduction (1:1, 2),
He presented eight judgments (1:3-2:16).
(Amos prophesied against seven of Israel's neighbors. I am sure Israel received this word with many "amen's" and "hallelujah" responses, until Amos addressed Israel in even harsher tones. When the shouting stopped, the call for his death started.)

The seven kingdoms were:
Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab and Judah.

2. Three Sermons came next with words of judgment (3:1-6:14).

a. Sermon One: Israel's present condition and the judgment on it (3:1-15).

b. Sermon Two: Israel's past and how God viewed it (4:1-13).

c. Sermon Three: Israel's future (5:1- 6:14).
          This sermon included two "woes."
                    (1) First Woe (5:16-27).
                    (2.) Second Woe (6:1-14).

3. The five Visions (7:1-9:10).

A. Vision of Locusts (7:1-3) & Fire (7:46).
          (Both these were relented, because of Amos'
          intercessory prayers. Note the content of his appeal
          to God.)

B. Vision of Plumb-Line (7:7-9).

C. Vision of Summer Fruit (rotten figs (8:1-14).

D. Vision of Smitten Doorposts (9:1-10).

4. Israel's five promises (9:11-15).

EDITOR'S NOTE: Using this outline will assist your reading of the entire text of Amos in one sitting. I strongly suggest a read through, to familiarize oneself with the various parts of the prophecy. Next, I am enclosing verbatim copies of the section on Amos in the book, Sealed Unto His Coming, pages 91-97. Not only is it a fine study, but it will familiarize you with the style and depth of studies given the other sixty-five books in that text.

Section III: Amos, from Sealed Unto His Coming.

Page 91


Early Prophet to the Ten Northern Tribes:

Seventy-five years had passed since the prophecies of Obadiah and Joel (840/835 BC). Chronologically, Jonah was ministering in Nineveh (760 BC) while his contemporaries, Amos and Hosea, were speaking to the Northern ten tribes. Amos (a farmer in Judah, the Southern Kingdom) was commissioned first, and was followed in five years by Hosea. These two would be the only prophets sent to the Samaritan breakaway kingdom; seven were sent to Judah (Amos did address Judah, however).

The balance of the scale between Joel and Amos was not equal. One glaring difference between them was evident in their two ministries: the camaraderie afforded Joel seventy-five years earlier was not there for Amos as he encountered his distant cousins. Also, the conciliatory offers from God found in Joel's message were minimalized in Amos. Increased intensity of impending judgment was present with Amos due to the shortened time lapse between pronouncement and fulfillment. Prophet Amos took a machine gun approach to his work. He addressed all the surrounding territories adjacent to Israel and pronounced judgment by fire. His opening lines were, "For three transgressions and for four," and inevitably was followed by God's pronouncement, "But I will send a fire." Judgment by fire hung over Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Moab and Judah. God sent a vision of fire related to Israel.

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It is exciting to see how Amos, closed in on his real target, circling the main concern of his prophetic word at a distance. His considerations for Israel started at the farthest point of concern and circled until the heart of the matter was standing naked: a nation that refused to repent. He hammered it home most powerfully in Chapter 4 by speaking for God in saying, "Yet you have not returned to Me (4:6, 8, 9, 10, and 11)."

Amos focused his attention on Bethel, the royal city, and the residence of King Jeroboam. Building the royal residence in this city indicated a clear decision by Jeroboam to build a spiritual position apart from Jerusalem and on someone else's altar. It was an attempt to settle near the "root" of Jacob rather than the heart of God. (Jacob wrestled the angel here and had his name changed to Israel.) Amos' candid remarks about Bethel and Gilgal laid the ax to those roots. In doing so, he greatly angered the high priest of Bethel, who was evidently a man of distinction and prowess. Their exchanges are very important to a study on "sealing."

The high priest had a curse placed on him by the prophet. Curses seal! Amos did not speak out of vindictiveness, but sealed the destiny of his opponent by placing a curse on him. The priest rose up to tell Amos to return to his homeland, to prophesy there and to leave the royal city to more capable hands. Amos had a word from God for him, and it covered every base in the priest's life. (Would to God that false prophets would be so confronted today; but alas, there are no Amos's.)

'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.' Amos 7:17

In making those pronouncements, Amos coupled Israel (as a nation) and their High Priest, linking them to the destiny of the High Priest. Israel would be condemned for what they condoned. By doing so, Amos answered his own question found in Chapter 3: "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" Those who sanction false religious leaders, by

Page 93

rewarding them financially and socially, share their future! (Deep in this question is the most serious issue put to the modern believer. For those who "Do not know to do right… He shall sap your strength from you and your palaces shall be plundered [Amos 3:11].") Herein is the determination for every nation that regards the living God as a distant relative, acknowledging His existence, but allotting Him no say in the affairs of the family.

Twice, Amos used a "given" to declare another "given." In other words, "Two must be agreed to walk together," and thusly, "The Lord God has spoken, who can but prophesy?" Amos was aware of the sequence, but many modern prophets lack understanding of it. Today, much is spoken in the name of the Lord with a huge desire that God will honor it and make the prophet credible, instead of holding one's tongue until the Lord actually speaks.

Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Ammon, Moab and Judah all bore the seal of fire. The cauterizing effect of fire would seal these nations to the ignominy of Sodom. God gave a reason for each judgment.

Damascus: "Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron (1:3)."

Gaza: "Because they took captive the whole captivity (1:6)."

Tyre: "Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood (1:9)."

Ammon: "Because they ripped up the women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their territory. (1:13)."

Moab: "Because they burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime (2:1)."

Judah: "Because they have despised the law of the Lord and have not kept His commandments (2:4)."

The list was much longer for Israel (than any of the other countries). Her sins had sealed her destiny; there would be

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no way out, short of a mass repentance and God already knew this would never happen. One might call this action predestination, the sovereign act of God, but one would be wrong. "Because they sell the righteous for silver," would be sufficient enough indictment for judgment-for that is what godless nations do when they do not have the living God. Was Israel godless? Yes! They had drunk the, "Wine of the condemned" by their own rationale. They thickened their judgment seal by emulating godless behavior, "You gave the Nazirites (set apart ones for holiness) wine to drink and commanded the prophets (those sent by God of your own people) saying 'Do not prophesy (2:12).'"

Therefore, God took aim at the seat of their devotions, Bethel and Gilgal. "I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground (3:14)." Bethel was where Abraham built an altar, where Jacob wrestled an angel, where Samuel judged in circuit and Israel inquired of the Lord. Bethel's sacred ground was polluted by gross immorality: "A man and his father go in to the same girl to defile My holy name (2:7)." Bethel's priests offered sacrifices on defiled altars. (Hearken to this O' Church, the sins that netted Israel judgment, when committed again, will not glide past the living God. Pouring monies on defiled altars amidst a godless congregation is still sin!)

Facetiously, Amos enjoined the nation to, "Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression (4:4)." Gilgal was where Samuel anointed Saul, the first king of Israel. Gilgal was where Agag was hacked to death and the king rebuked. Gilgal was spoken against by Hosea and Micah. Gilgal (the wheel) was where God rolled away the reproach of Egypt and then rolled judgment back by the word of Amos. Gilgal was where Elisha stood before prophets and would have turned history had they listened. The two most sacred places in the progress of Israel were about to be destroyed in judgment. (Today, multitudes seek to return to places where God has [past tense] been. Digging the wells of revival may sound sweetly sentimental, but resembles Bethel and Gilgal. Sentimentality is lightly regarded by a God who answers by fire.)

Page 95

"Seek ME and live; but do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal," is still the message from the God of Israel!

Amos' famous series of "Woes" were preceded by a single indictment from God, "I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins… therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an 'evil time (5:12ff).'" "Woe to you who desire the 'Day of the Lord', for what good is the day of the Lord to you (5:18)?" (This cogent question could be asked of all those who call for end-time events with little regard to what judgments would befall them. Sealed into the "Day of the Lord" is the Lord's judgment.)

"Woe to you who are at ease in Zion… woe to you who put far off the day of doom," these words ushered in five visions. Two visions were arbitrated by Amos, but the final visions were non- arbitrable. Although God rescinded sending locusts and fire, He maintained the plumb line. The plumb line has never been retracted and is operative today. At this very hour, the plumb line determines what truth is and what error is.

"Surely I will never forget any of their works," was a strong statement from the Lord. "I will turn your feasts into mourning and your songs into lamentation (8:10).""They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it (8:12)." "The eyes of the Lord are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth (9:8)." Censure was tightening its noose around their profligate behavior.

After pronouncing judgment, Amos heard the Lord's plan for Israel's future after all these calamities had passed. "On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down (9:11)." This constitutes one of the greatest promises of the Bible. The tabernacle where David entered was not the structure of tradition, but the room of relationship. Here will be the space where an individual without corporate sanction can minister before his or her Lord. In David's tabernacle, the ark was present with all its covenant aspects; Zadok ministered there (the true priesthood), and the people worshipped as one people (I Chronicles 16).

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God sealed the destiny of His people Israel, "And no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God (9:15)." Restoration always has the element of preservation which is the seal of God.

(Summative Brief) Nothing Minor about these Prophets:

Three separate regions were targeted by these two prophets (Amos and Joel). Their messages were small when compared to an average sermon, but the weight God placed on them was prodigious. If one were to verbalize both messages, it would take less than an hour to preach their combined writing. With just these small prophecies, God expected people to hear His true prophets and respond to their message. Their messages demanded response, and the populace they addressed could not ignore them. (Any comparison of them to today's modern pulpit pedagogy would be ludicrous.)

Earlier, Joel's small treatise may have been repeated to several audiences (no one is told in Scripture the size or make up of his recipients-only that a priest responded), but God expected an entire region of people numbering in the thousands to hear and repent.

Similarly, Amos had a relatively short word and preached it to a small audience. God intended that all of the Northern Kingdom would hear and repent, based on one man with one message. (The combined voices of all today's preachers lack the authority, the focus and the evidence of God's power in comparison to these "minor" prophets.)

Obadiah preached a message of doom to a doomed people. There was no extended hand for repentance. He did not preach to Israel. His message was God's last words to Esau's kids, even though Amos addressed them from a distance. (The world may soon hear God's final word, if it has not been uttered already in these pages.)

Messages, directed to Judah and Israel (spiritual strongholds), were progressive messages. As the time line drew closer to the "Day of the Lord," the messages got stronger and the avenues for repentance fewer. Joel and

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Amos were the early or "distant" prophets (those further from the captivity of Babylon); their messages painted broad outlines of gathering clouds. The closer the time came to the day of doom, the more intense was the prophecy.

Jeremiah, for instance, waged war with the powers of his day in order to get across one great theme: there is now no more time for repentance. If one surveyed the ground between Joel and Amos against the final carrying away of the divided kingdom, evidence would reveal the variants between the early and later prophetic words. Hosea, for instance, drew a graphic picture of the moral state of God's people, but nothing like the exactness of Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Habakkuk or what was found in Lamentations. These ministers to Judah cut to the chase. The closer a nation was to doom, the greater the number of prophets and the more intense their message. Evidence revealed in this manner is one standard measure used in determining the closeness of the projected event.

The focus of God was not, however, on Israel but rather upon Judah. He sent Israel two prophets: Amos and Hosea (five years apart). He sent seven prophetic events prior to Judah's capture. (Amos saw the Assyrian's capturing Israel like a "first testimony" of what would happen to Judah. "Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives… [6: 7] ") Although a hundred years apart, God sent Jonah and Nahum to Nineveh; Jonah brought repentance; Nahum pronounced doom.

Sealing of nations to destruction becomes an interesting study because no one can extirpate completely or leave a remnant. It remains to be said that after all is taken into consideration, it is God who seals in or seals out-the plumb line remains.

Section IV: Noted Scriptures

In this section, I want to point out Scriptures that have captured my attention. Some are famous (Ones we all hear from pulpits over time), others are simply "too hot to handle" for some clergy.

1. Amos 2:6
"Because they sell the righteous for silver,"
(I feel this is referencing Judas.)

2. Amos 3:3
"Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?"
(Many applications can be drawn from this passage. One I like to make is to those who stroll with congregations that have no Spirit power. Ask: Are you also willing to be associated with the judgment that is forthcoming on them?)

3. Amos 3:7
"Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets."

(Here is a quote from Barnes' comments.)

While it is yet a "secret" counsel within Himself, God admits to His servants the prophets. (The same word signifies "secret" and "secret counsel with a friend.") "God revealed to Noah that time would bring the deluge, and to Abraham and Lot, that He would destroy the cities of the plain, and to Joseph the 7 years' famine in Egypt, and to Moses its plagues, and to Moses and Joshua all the chastisements of His people, and to Jonah the destruction of Nineveh, that they who heard of the coming punishment, might either avoid it by repentance, or, if they should despise it, might be more justly punished. And so now the Lord is about to reveal through Amos, His servant and prophet, what He wills to do to the 10 tribes, that forsaking their idols and turning to Him, they might be freed from the impending peril; which is of the great mercy of God. He foretells evil to come, that He may not be compelled to inflict it. For He who forewarns, wills not to punish sinners."
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
(This passage requires discernment of spirits because many prophetic words are being given today.)

4. Amos 4:1-2
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor,
Who crush the needy,
Who say to your husbands, "Bring wine, let us drink!"
The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness:
"Behold, the days shall come upon you."

(Amos called the luxuriantly appareled ladies, "Cows of Bashan." Bashan cows were noted for their heavy bodies. Their concupiscence was enjoined by their husbands. God addressed them through the eyes of Holiness. I wonder what characterization Amos would have for this generation?)

5. Amos 4:6 "Yet you have not returned to Me."
(This was a much repeated theme, which acted as a pinion for the truths circling it. In other words, "No matter what I do, the results are the same." "If blessing you would make you return, I would do it. If cursing you would cause you to come to your senses, I would do it." This is a question for the modern church as well. It is a question of national portent today.)

6. Amos 4:11
"I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
(S&G are ancient examples of God's displeasure with a citizenry. Whenever they are referenced in the Bible, it is always viewed as a place of God's displeasure and His judgment. Many spiritual people describe their country in these terms today. What is God's reaction to the immorality of like manner?)

7. Amos 4:12
Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"
(This follows the above verse and was for years a major highway sign. It says in simple terms the real, living God is coming on the scene.)

8. Amos 5:4 "Seek Me and live; Amos 5:6 Seek the LORD and live,
(Over and again, the Lord laid out this simple formula for the world to respond to, but alas, the populace refused to hear then and now.)

9. Amos 5:7 "You who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth!"
(The underlined portion refers to saying the "last rites" over righteousness. It appears dead and the folk are holding its funeral. Are we there yet?)

10. Amos 5:21-24
21 "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them,
          Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream."
(I love this passage. Verse 23 is my opinion on much of what passes as "modern worship" music. I'd much rather emphasize verse 24, which should ring loudly in the hallowed halls of church-yes, louder than the jangle we hear.)

11. Amos 6:1 "Woe to you who are at ease in Zion."
(This should be printed on the cover of every church bulletin.)

12. Amos 7:8 "Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel."
(I used this passage once as a guest speaker. After preaching, I was asked to leave and not return. It is one of my favorite passages.)

13. Amos 8:11-12
"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."
(Many judge we are currently there, by judging the media and the churches.)

14. Amos 9:10
"All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,
Who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.'"
(Does this sound familiar during these chaotic days? Just remember from whose mouths it comes. It is from MY PEOPLE!)

15. Amos 9:11
"On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down."
(One of the great passages of hope is in this verse. It promises an approachable God and a seeking people. Opportunity to by-pass the barriers of religion and simply come into His presence is a pleasant reprieve, a place where one may stay as long as one cares. Haste the Day!)

16. Amos 9:13-15 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.
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,
(Some say it is happening now, while others see another day---nonetheless, it is the promise of God.)

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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