Today: [Amos 9] Folks, God’s in a Killing Mood! In this final chapter of Amos, the prophet describes the sword of God seeking out sin wherever it is found and destroying it utterly. What about in your life? Does God overlook minor sin or sins committed in weakness because you are a Christian? What is God’s tolerance for things in our lives inconsistent with His character? Christianity teaches that God is lenient and allows a margin for things in our lives that fall short of His pattern for us? Is this true? In this chapter we see that God’s only solution for sin is death, yet in that death is the seed promise of life and blessing beyond anything we could image both in eternity and in this life as well.
[Amo 9:1-15 KJV] 1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. 2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: 3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: 4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good. 5 And the Lord GOD of hosts [is] he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as [by] the flood of Egypt. 6 [It is] he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name. 7 [Are] ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? 8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD [are] upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD. 9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. 10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. 11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. 13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
In this final chapter of Amos the prophet speaks of the universality of God’s judgments and the inescapable consequences of sin. In v. 1 the scene opens with a vision of God standing upon the brazen altar and calling for Amos to strike the lintel of the door of the temple till the door posts themselves shake and reverberate. What is the significance of this? The brazen altar is where the offerings for sin were offered up in behalf of those who gave worship at the temple. This is the temple that the northern kingdom despised in favor of an alternative altar at Bethel. It was the altar (where in Amos’ days) king Uzziah attempted to serve and was struck with leprosy for his presumption. From this altar the Lord (in Amos’ vision) instructs that the door of the temple be smitten. The door is the door leading from the outer court to the city of Jerusalem. This door represents Christ Himself. This is the door Jesus is referring to in John 10:7,9 when He declares “I am the Door”. For the door to be smitten speaks of the crucifixion of Christ.
The door is smitten with the declaration that God will cut all the enemies of His people in the head and slay the last of them with the sword. Outside of a new birth experience, who is man’s head? Jesus said in Matt. 6:25 that no man can serve two masters. In Christ, Jesus is the head. Outside of Christ the enemy is the head. To smite the head refers to the prophecy of the Father over Eve, that the serpent who beguiled her would be smitten in his head. This is God’s solution for sin. Not just resurrection, but complete destruction of the old man being brought to the death of the Cross. If the death of the Cross does not work in you then the life of the resurrection will not be found in you:
[Col 3:3 KJV] 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
In verse 2 the Lord declares regarding the disobedience of His people that though they dig into hell itself, there will be no escape from His judgments. John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost “better to rule in hell than serve in heaven…” This is the character of fallen man, and God will inexorably and inescapably bring every man, woman and child to the judgment seat of divine justice. There is no commutation. There is no sentence but death. Death is the only solution for the sin condition. Even the Christian does not escape the crucifixion of the old man of sin that the life of the new creation may come to the fore.
Verse 3 says though men hide themselves in Carmel, God will search them out and bring them to their end in His courts. It wasn’t that many years before Amos wrote this that Elijah contested with the 400 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Carmel represents idolatry and pagan practices. Men create false gods and false dependencies that they might hide themselves in deception, convincing themselves that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does not exist and that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. Just because they believe this does not make it true. Even from the ranks of Islam, Buddhism, and every other religious system God will pluck every man, woman and child and bring them to the judgment bar of heaven. In v. 4 the Lord declares even though they go into captivity, even there He will send His sword to slay them. What is the sword? The sword is the word of God. In your life, if you are hidden in Christ you must be slain by the sword of the word before you can be raised to walk in newness of life. If the sword does not do its work in bringing the old man of sin in you to death then you cannot experience newness of life in Christ. Paul put it thusly:
[Rom 6:5-8, 11 KJV] 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: … 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God c through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God has no other remedy for sin but death. The question is will you be immersed by New Birth in the death of the Cross, or will you face the naked consequences of rejecting Jesus suffering endless death in hell in eternity. These are the stark choices before us and there will be no mitigating circumstances or alternative outcomes for a single man, woman or child born upon the earth. In verse 8 we see that the eyes of the Lord God are upon what is called the “sinful kingdom”. This is what the New Testament identifies as the domain of darkness, the realm of everything outside the covering of the shed blood of Christ. The Father declares that He will destroy this kingdom from off the face of the earth – yet He will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob. What is the house of Jacob? It is more than someone born of Jewish extraction. Paul makes this exactingly clear:
[Rom 2:28-29 KJV] 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
Notice v. 8 doesn’t say He won’t destroy the house of Jacob at all. He says He will not UTTERLY destroy it. What does this mean? It means that He will destroy the man of sin, even within the hearts of His own people, even in the lives of those who are walking in covenant with Him and have accepted the only begotten Son whom He has sent. Accepting Jesus does not cause God to overlook sin in your life. God hates sin with a perfect hatred and even in your life sin will be utterly and completely destroyed and recompensed. The question is whether you are so emotionally invested in sinful choices and aspects of your life inconsistent with His character that you will mourn the death of those things contrary to His kingdom when He breathes the blast of His judgments upon them?
V. 10 affirms this saying that “all the sinners of My people will die”. How will they die? By the sword. What sword? The sword of His word. Even those who say, “the evil shall not overtake us…” Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Even when God’s own covenant people sin – the sword of His word will pursue that sin and utterly destroy it; and if you have immersed your sense of self in that sinful choice and character then there you will suffer – completely unnecessarily for God has provided Jesus as the one to die in your place if you will embrace His lordship even in areas where you have been reluctant to surrender. This is the error of Christian culture and teaching today – that God somehow ignores sin and winks at sin although in Acts 17:30 Paul stated clearly that the New Birth does not put you in a place where God will ever wink at transgression but rather imposes upon the believe a heavier accountability that we are empowered to respond to only by the indwelling grace of God.
At this point, some who may listen to these words will suggest that I have misapplied these passages and done violence to the message of the mercy and grace of God in the gospel. My reply is that I stand alongside of the apostle Paul in Acts 15:16 when he quoted the next verse (v. 11) by which the entire chapter is understood then to speak not just about the captivity of the people of God in the 6th century before Christ but of the whole of God’s universal plan to deal with sin and raise up a people who will serve him in truth and in righteousness.
[Act 15:15-17 KJV] 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
If v. 11 of Amos applies to the message of the gospel as revealed in Acts 15 by Paul, then the entire chapter then is a declaration of the heart of God to ultimately and finally bring all men to the death of the cross, put to death by the sword of His word, either physically in hell for eternity because they reject the gospel, or inwardly by virtue of the work of the cross because men have accepted the message of the gospel. This is the mystery of which Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians:
[2Co 4:11-12 KJV] 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
Why would God bring the death of the cross to its fulfillment in us? Verse 13 reveals the reason. Verse 13 speaks of a day when the law of sowing and reaping will be unleashed in unparalleled magnitude in the earth. The verse describes a day that the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him that sows seed. Ask the question, are there things planted in your life that you are ready to come to harvest? Or, could you be honest, that there are things in your life that you desperately would NOT want to see come to fruition because they originate in sin and disobedience and ungodliness. Modern Christianity allows for sin to continue unchecked in the life of a believer, with the suggestion that God simply extends His clemency, overlooking even ongoing transgressions of allegedly lesser magnitude, because of grace. That is a lie. Amos 9 declares plaintively against this false doctrine of God’s permissiveness toward ongoing venal sin in the life of the believer. Wherever sin exists there is no escape. Where sin resides the sword of the Lord will come. Why? Because God is so unkind? No, but because He is so loving. He so wants to bring you into the place of unmitigated blessing described by the plowman overtaking the reaper that He wants to assure that when that comes there is no seed of disobedience to produce the bitter fruits of unrighteousness in your life.
When the sword of the Lord has worked its work and destroy all sin from our lives and ultimately all obstinate sinners from humanity – then the waste cities will be built and inhabited. Then vineyards shall be built and gardens planted that we shall eat the fruit thereof. This is not only something that happens in eternity or in the 1000 year reign, but something we can experience now as we allow the death of the cross to work in us and the sword of the Lord to accomplish its full purpose that we might walk in the blessing NOW and in the life to come.
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