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Amos 6-9

June 10th, 2012 by Vic

Amos 6-9

June 10, 2012

“God punishes nations, but saves the righteous”

 

This week the national news reported on a horrific demonstration of satanic influence.  Some drug called bath salts changes the person to become cannibalistic, super strong and satanic.  In a Lake Oswego neighborhood a man shot his mother and nephew in the face.  The news reporter said he seemed to have no remorse.

 

Satan tries to make sin look pretty, feel good, and without consequences.  But sin is ugly and satan is a liar.  Sin may taste sweet in the mouth, but it is poison in the stomach.  It has no future.  It destroys life.

 

Our nation is failing to honor God and give thanks.  God’s wrath is being revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who ignore, distort, or suppress the truth.

 

6:1-7  “Woe to those who are self-indulgent and self-confident.”  They are at ease and judgment is knocking at the door.  Both Jerusalem (Zion) and Samaria were capital cities and centers of corrupt politics and conspicuous wealth.  Those in government had the power to tax and employ many on public works projects.  Big interests controlled the wealth.  God was not pleased.

Amos says you are ignoring the signs of the times.  Just look at the other countries around you (2).  They are weak and wicked.  You are no better or more powerful than they are.

 

You follow your horoscopes to avoid trouble.  You think the good life is to lounge in luxury and avoid work.  You live like royalty with time on your hands.  You super size your drinks.  Instead of drinking out of cups you drink right from the barrel.  Instead of using common oil to kill your lice, you buy the most expensive perfume to cover your stench.  You are wasteful.  You’ve become a throw-away society.  You have lost all respect and compassion for creation and God’s people.

 

Therefore those who are foremost in luxury will be first to go into captivity.  They think they have gained the whole world, but they will lose their lives.  Everything is going so well.  But their feasting and lounging will soon end.  You must seek the Lord and repent to be saved from the destruction that is coming.

 

6:8-14  You have a false trust in your own might, your high walls and fortresses.  The Sovereign Lord has declared that the cities and towns will be defeated and He will make it happen (11).  He won’t need your help.  After you are defeated the survivors will not want to speak the name of the Lord at the funeral services for the dead.  Survivors will try to avoid God and any mention of His name (10).  Rather than repent and seek His face they will blame God for their problems.

 

It is absurd to think that a horse would run and play on a cliff face or that you would use oxen to plow on a rock ledge.  You have done something more absurd.  You call justice poison and wonder why you are suffering.  You call the healthy food of righteousness junk food and wonder why you are sick and malnourished.  Your behavior is just as absurd.  You have forgotten what God has done for you and failed to give thanks.  You no longer see reality accurately.  Your perspective is distorted because of sin.

 

7:1-8:3  In this next section Amos has 2 visions of punishment that are not carried out and 2 visions of punishment that are certain to come.

 

It was customary that the king received the first cutting of hay and the land owner could keep the second cutting.  Amos saw in this vision that the locust swarm ate all the vegetation after the king got his hay.  In God’s presence Amos could understand God’s plans.  Amos realized that people could not survive without a harvest.  The Lord heard his prayer and changed His plan (3).  When you see that judgment is coming on the nation, what is the cry of your heart?  When you see that your friend or your kids are sinning against God, what is the cry of your heart?  The prayer of a righteous man avails much.

 

Secondly Amos saw a coming judgment by fire that would consume water and soil.  The punishment may have already started.  He cried out to God again.  And God again cut this judgment short (6).  God wants to show mercy.  Prayer can bring God’s grace and mercy to sinners for a short time.  But God will judge sin.

 

The 3rd vision is a certainty.  Amos saw the Lord standing on a tin wall with some tin in His hand.  God asked him what he saw and he said, “tin”.  The word tin sounds exactly like the word “moaning” in Hebrew.  God is about to bring destruction and distress.  God is about to bring moaning.  The next vision in 8:1-3 uses the word for “summer fruit” which sounds exactly like the word “end” in Hebrew.  God is about to bring moaning and an end to His delay of judgment.

 

Traditionally the word ‘tin’ has been translated ‘plumb line’.  Plumb lines could have been made of tin or lead.  When Scripture can have 2 interpretations the writer may intend for us to understand the double meaning.

 

There is one thing that is sure.  Sinners will not escape judgment.  All twin towers will be leveled.  All idol worship will be destroyed.  Those who go into exile will be killed by the sword (9).

 

Amos mentions king Jeroboam and the chief priest of Bethel is offended.  Amaziah sent word to the king that Amos was part of a conspiracy group from Judah and making death threats in Bethel.  It is interesting to note that when there is sin, affluence, and unrest in the nation people in power get very concerned about threats of terrorism.  The prophets must to be politically correct in everything they say especially if they are from that backward nation to the south.

 

The priest is insinuating that Amos preached at Bethel because the charity toward prophets was better there than in Judah (12).  Israel was a much more prosperous nation than Judah.  Amaziah assumed that money was everyone’s motivation.

 

Amos answered (14), “I am a prophet, but not a professional prophet.  I have no academic training.  I am a rancher and cattle breeder.  I also raise figs.  But the Lord interrupted my routines and told me to ‘Go prophecy to My people Israel.’  Now are you telling me to disobey God?”

 

Amaziah was opposing the will of God and became the subject of 4 curses.  His wife would become a prostitute.  His children will die violent deaths.  His land will be taken over by foreigners.  He will die on foreign soil.  It is not smart to deny the word and will of God.  Religion and religious leaders are tempted to place peace and harmony above the truth of God that requires Him to punish sin.  God demands justice and righteousness.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Condoning evil does not please God.  Did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword?

 

The 4th vision is a basket of summer fruit (8:1).  Israel is ripe for judgment.  It is already picked and will soon spoil.  The word for ‘summer fruit’ sounds like the word ‘end’.  Amos sees a basket of the end and God standing on the wall of moaning with moaning in His hands.

 

8:4-14  There is hypocrisy in financial practices, especially among the religious conservatives.  They had ignored the Year of Jubilee and had impoverished the poor by not returning the land to the original family as the Law of Moses required.  Families were to have access to the land to farm it themselves.  Now the few were controlling agricultural production.  They strictly kept the Sabbath but cheated the poor in the grocery store.  The money the poor used to buy food became the money the rich used to buy the poor.  The poor people just became another commodity for the rich (6).  Coins replaced bartering.  The gleaning laws were ignored.

 

It is certain that God will not forget the sinful acts of the rich.  He will be a protector of the poor (7).  Judgment for the sinner is certain.

 

God’s judgment will affect the land.  Throughout the Bible when God’s speaks nature obeys immediately.  The children of Israel saw God control the Nile.  Jonah saw God control the big fish.  God controls the sun for Joshua.  God controls judgment.  The end will be a bitter day with no hope for the sinner (10).

 

God has often spoken through the rain or lack of it and the shortage of food.  This time there will be an famine of hearing God’s word, the bread of life.   God has spoken through nature, the Law and the prophets, but the behavior of sinners will make it impossible for them to see and hear God’s word.  When their children ask them about God they won’t be able to recall God’s word (13).  They swear to the gods of Samaria and Dan.  To swear by a god is to commit oneself to that god as a true being.  God Almighty cannot be worshiped with other gods.  He cannot be seen or heard while worshipping other gods.

 

9:1-10  This is the last vision that Amos sees.  God is beginning His judgment in a sanctuary.  The capital is the top of the pillar and the threshold is the bottom.  From top to bottom, from near to far away, and from hell to heaven there will be punishment for sin (4).

 

The God who controls the tides can accomplish this (6).

 

God will destroy the sinful kingdom of Israel from the face of the earth (8).  Notice the nation will be destroyed for their sin, but a remnant will be saved.  This is the good news.  God is the protector of the poor and righteous.  Judgment will shake the nations through a sieve.  The impurities, rocks, and sinners will be separated from the grain (9).

 

9:11-15  God has a future for His children who did not bow to idols, live for pleasure, or take advantage of the poor.  The prophecy ends with a promise of restoration to a fertile land.  The land is a gift.  Harvests will be more than expected.

 

Covenant restoration promises assume their fulfillment in a new and different age with a redeemed remnant.  In the NT the remnant of Israel becomes the Christian remnant (Rom 9:27; 11:5).  That remnant inherits the gifts and call of God (Rom 11:29).  They are the new Israel of God (Gal 6:16).  God has a future for His children.

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