Today: [Amos 7] Three Visions of Devastation to Come. In this chapter Amos gives 3 visions, the first to of which did not come to pass. Does that make Amos a false prophet? Amos gives a vision of locusts and a vision of fire that he admits did not come to pass as he saw them. By today’s standards that would constitute Amos being branded a false prophet by the self-appointed “authorities” of our day. Yet Amos was used by God and his 3rd vision in the chapter does ultimately come to pass, whereby we can learn something for ourselves regarding how to respond to the prophetic ministries in our midst.
[Amo 7:1-17 KJV] 1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, [it was] the latter growth after the king’s mowings. 2 And it came to pass, [that] when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he [is] small. 3 The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD. 4 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. 5 Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he [is] small. 6 The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD. 7 Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall [made] by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. 8 And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more: 9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword. 10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. 12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: 13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it [is] the king’s chapel, and it [is] the king’s court. 14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I [was] no prophet, neither [was] I a prophet’s son; but I [was] an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. 16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not [thy word] against the house of Isaac. 17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
In this chapter, we see three visions of Amos regarding the future of the people of God in his generation. One is of locusts devouring the land, which is stopped by the intercession of the prophet. Next the prophet sees a firestorm that comes that likewise is forestalled by intercession by Amos. The final vision in the chapter is of a plumbline of measurement that denotes the utter destruction that is coming. In verse 1 the scene opens with grasshoppers devastating the crops of the peoples and the crops of the king. These are spoken of as the “latter crop” which was very important because the early crop was heavily taxed by the king and this planting was needed to feed the flocks and support the people during the dry season.
Amos sees this devastation and in verse 2-3 cries out to God that it not come to pass. God hears his cry and repented of what was coming. What can we learn from this. Remember in Genesis when Sodom was to be destroyed. Abraham negotiated with God to spare the city if the righteous were found there. In Amos the same process is taking place. Amos sees prophetically what is coming and cries out to God that it not come to pass and God heard His cry. Now by today’s standard Amos would be branded a charlatan for prophesying something that did not happen. His alleged prayer would be seen as a ploy to hide the fact that Amos allegedly saw something that didn’t come to pass. Many today have such an erroneous idea of the prophetic that they are expected to be more like psychics and clairevoyants than true prophets of God.
In verse 4 Amos sees the second dream revealed in the chapter of fire coming to devour. Again in v. 5 Amos cries out to God to relent and the fire did not come. It is important again to realize that the entire context of the book of Amos is in the looming shadow of what ch. 1 identifies as a massive earthquake that came 2 years later. In reference to what is coming v. 7 speaks of a measuring line judging the people, revealing that God will not pass them by any longer and that a worse calamity is coming. The polluted sanctuaries at the alternative altar at Bethel will be desolated and destroyed.
In v. 10 the false priest of the altar at Bethel reports to king Jeroboam of Samaria all that Amos is predicting to come. He insists that the land cannot bear the words of Amos, setting Amos up in to take the blame for the earthquake that is coming – as having been caused by the troublesome words of the prophet. You can see by this that difficult people will not believe the prophets whether their words come to pass or not. The priest is positioning himself to remain in power and have influence with the king whether or not Amos’ predictions come true. Amos is then commanded not to prophesy at Bethel any longer but to return to the southern kingdom to exercise his ministry. How many times have prophets and people who prophesy been told in churches today not to prophesy in the services? They are told they are out of order. They are told they aren’t welcome. They are told they can do what they want just so they don’t speak their words in the local congregation. These objections to the prophetic arise from the false hearts of self-serving leaders who are so full of their own self-importance that they will not recognize any calling other than their own. They are no different than Amaziah the false priest at Bethel.
In v. 14 Amos objects to the protestations of Amaziah, insisting that his calling originally was to be a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, but (v. 15) God commanded him to go and prophesy to the people. Because Amaziah has commanded Amos to take his prophesying elsewhere, Amos declares that the priest’s wife will become a harlot in the city, and his sons and daughters shall fall by the sword when the nation of Israel goes into captivity. In our own day we can look at the radical departure of our youth from the ranks of the church, and the dwindling numbers of people in our country who have any interest in attending church, and wonder if it is not a like judgment of Amaziah by the words of Amos, because today as in Amos’ day immature, insecure leaders are rejecting the ministry of the prophets that God has sent into their midst.
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