Amos started the book with prophesies, then sermons or messages. Chapter 7 begins Amos' visions.
Verses 1-3 describe a scene in which locust swarm and eat the second mowing. A Ryrie Study Bible footnote explains that the first mowing went to the King's animals.
Then Amos pleas to the Lord and the Lord changes His mind. I presume that means the locust even did not or would not happen?
This reminds me of Moses pleading on behalf of the people- not to completely wipe them out.
Then Amos see God calling down fire in verses 4-6. First it consumed the source of water and then started in on the farmland.
MacArthur suggests that this means a drought that dries up the water supply and then the crops begin to die.
Once again, Amos pleas with the Lord, claiming that Jacob will not be able to stand because he is small. He used the same language in his plea above regarding the locust. I'm assuming he's making the point that a small nation cannot recover a severe incident such as these.
In the Blue Letter Bible, this is translated in the King James Version and says, basically, "who will arise?" I think that's clearer. This nation is small and this devastating event will leave none able to rise up after it, not even a remnant.
Once again the Lord changed His mind.
Much is made of the verses in which "the Lord changed his mind." people like to use it as evidence of a character flaw or something if they don't accept His unchanging nature. But the phrase means something closer to "relented". What it shows is that God values our interaction with Him and is listening. His will is unchanging, but He is willing to be be influenced by us within that will. It's a relationship.
Furthermore, the two visions given to Amos were agricultural in nature. locust and drought are first felt by the herdsmen and farmers. They seem to be tailored to garner Amos' sympathy. My hypothesis, without trying to speak for God, is that God meant for Amos' to cry out for the people, as the advocate for the remnant.
In verse 7, Amos is shown the Lord standing by a vertical wall holding a plumbline in His hand.
In verse 8 the Lord declares that He will spare them no longer. He says He will put a plumbline in the midst of "My people, Israel."
The plumbline is how the builder knew that his wall was straight. Some one would stand on top and drop a line to check to see if it was straight. Israel, held to the builder's plumbline, would not show well.
In verse 9 the Lord declares that the high places of Isaac will be desolated; the sanctuaries laid waste; and the Lord would rise up against Jeroboam with a sword.
It's worth remembering that the sword was wield by the terrible, evil Assyrians. But God said He would be the One to rise up against Israel. It's easy to forget that God can use anyone for His own purposes. So often non-believers or believers in the midst of doubt want to say God would never... And God is good and perfect and holy. However, the world is fallen and God is also sovereign. His Will will be done, even though it is happening in a fallen world.
The MacArthur Bible Commentary summarizes these three visions as the first two depicting God's commitment to sparing the remnant, with the third showing his commitment to bring judgement to the nation. I thought that was a great perspective.
Amos did not plead for his people this time. The Lord was right. The plumbline showed that the wall was not plumb and couldn't stand. It had to be taken down; but a remnant would be spared.
I'm using my Ryrie Study Bible for my first pass at this scripture and this is the sub-heading for verse 10-17:
An Historical Interlude: Opposition from the Priest of Bethel
It made me chuckle because it was so grand and haughty. But in all fairness, it also seems like an accurate summary, if not a title. (The MacArthur Commentary refers to it as "a historical interlude" as well.)
In verse 10, Amaziah, the priest at Bethel decides he's had enough of Amos and his words. He decides the King should do something about Amos; but he probably knows that the king is not going to act against a prophet of the Lord without some personal skin in the game. So he manufactures, without any evidence, the charge that Amos is conspiring against Israel.
It's very interesting to me that Amaziah uses the warning that, "the land is unable to endure all of his words." So much for "sticks and stones". It's interesting that he would acknowledge that Amos' words have that much power; but is so self-diluted that he only wants to stop the words and not to regard them as a warning and take heed of them.
The same thing occurs today in increasing fashion. Stop the words. It's now called cancel culture. If you don't like words, try to cut the legs out from under the speaker. There's an adage that the cure for bad speech is more speech. If Amaziah thought Amos's words were a conspiracy; then counter them. But instead he lied and tried to Amos killed. It may seem a bit of reach to interchange Amaziah with Twitter, YouTube, CNN, and all of the other mainstream and tech giants, but the energy is the same because they all come against the godly. Hate-filled messages are allowed as long as they are directly at the people of God.
In verse 11, Amaziah goes on to cherry-pick facts in his summary, intended to incite the King Jeroboam. He says Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will go into exile.
Amaziah addresses Amos directly in verse 12, telling Amos, basically, to go back to Judah and do his prophesying there. In verse 13, he bans Amos from prophesying at Bethel. His reasoning is that Bethel is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.
The logic is so backwards to me. He's simultaneously arguing that Amos can bring down the entire nation with his words, but Amaziah can ban him because it's the king's zone. And what makes a sanctuary? It has to be backed by something?
But Amos is not ruffled. He responds in verse. 14 by reiterating that he is not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. I guess if Amaziah is happy playing semantics...Amos is happy to oblige.
Amos goes on in verse 15 to explain that the Lord took him from that profession and told Amos to "Go prophesy to My people Israel."
Wiersbe states that Amos uses Lord God eleven times in the last three chapters. That's Jehovah Adonai. To me, that's significant because Amos saw God not just as the supreme being of the universe, but as a personal master- with Amos as his servant. He wasn't doing this out of some professional standing. He was a blue-collar worker who was chosen by God with a message and he was going to do that job
Verses 16-17 take a dark turn for Amaziah as Amos has a word for him, specifically. Because Amaziah has told Amos not to prophesy, Amaziah's wife will turn prostitute, his children will die by the sword, he will lose his land, and Amaziah will die on unclean land. AND, Israel is still going into exile.
Some self-satisfied part of me wants to say "ha, ha" to Amaziah. The villain gets his comeuppances. But the Lord the Lord warns us to:
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, or the Lord will see it and be displeased.Proverbs 24:17
How many times have I failed to take good counsel? Yes, Amaziah was making his mistakes at a national level, and paid a proportionate and visible consequence for it. However, the Lord is no less pleased with me when He sends me good counsel in order to warn me about sin and I do what I want anyway. Just like with other Bible super-villains, you'd be wise to ask how you're like them, and not just associate yourself with the hero of the story.
Amos shows us how to stand in the face of the counter culture; but Amaziah shows us what happens when we ignore warnings and pursue our own self-interests.
It's also worth remembering that God went to great lengths to establish the priesthood. Not the priesthood in Israel. That was established by the first Jeroboam, who wen to lengths to cut God's Levites out of the process. This is my point. God had established a way to speak to the people and the governmental leadership; but Israel tried to short circuit that with religious leaders who wouldn't uphold justice or righteousness. So God rose up a rancher/farmer who would do what he was told and not back down.
Sometimes you may wonder why you're called to a certain situation or circumstance. Maybe the person who was supposed to be there decided to go their own way. That why our actions must be boiled down to trust and obey. Maybe you're an Amos for a season?