Amos brings a final vision to the people in this final chapter of the book.
This final vision begins with the Lord standing beside the altar.
Both the Ryrie footnote and the MacArthur commentary agree that this is the altar in Bethel, in Israel; and not the alter in the real temple in Judah. This makes sense since the whole book is about Israel, but I was looking for clues to be sure- since this is a vision.
But assuming that's true, and I think it is, God commands to smite the main building supports of the temple and then the building will shake and fall on those worshiping idols.
Then he declares that He will slay the rest of them with the sword (same instrument as in Revelation, held by Jesus). He declares that there will be no refugees or any who will escape.
That's all in verse 1!
In verse 2, He goes on to emphasize that they can't dig to Sheol or fly to the Heavens. He'll be there and grab them.
No. One. Escapes. God's. Judgement.
No, not one.
In verse 3, this description continues as He declares that the highest mountain and lowest sea won't provide a hiding place from Him. He points out that He can command a serpent (or anything He has created) to intervene.
Yikes. In verse 4, He goes on to say that even those that go into captivity aren't escaping from Him. He is sovereign, even over the sword of the enemy. And He will command the enemy's sword to slay them.
This verse ends with a chilling promise from the Lord:
...and I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good.Amos 9:4b
The Creator of heaven and earth set His eyes against them.
I challenge you to meditate on that.
In Numbers, The Lord told Moses to have Aaron bless His people. Here's that blessing:
The Lord bless you and keep you;Numbers 6: 24-26, ESV
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
That's the God I have a relationship with. That's the God who is for me; not against me. That in Whom my faith lies. He is my Hope. For His name's sake.
However, it is worth meditating on the fact that in this point in history, and in another point in the future to come, He will set His eyes against some for evil and not for good.
He delineates between those rooted in the rock and those will be destroyed. Wheat from the chaffe. And many other illustrations of there coming a time when He will be done with the shepherding and people will no longer be able to choose Him.
When we think of the great commission and spreading the good news...what makes it good is that believers aren't in this category. For some hard-hearted, it might be worth mentioning the bad news too. This is absolutely terrifying, if you think about it. THIS is why people crawl into rocks and beg the rocks to fall on them in the Book of Revelations. The Creator who made them and made the rocks and made everything else, is set against them and there is nowhere to hide or escape. Judgement is coming; keep your heart tender to the Lord.
In verses 5-6 the Lord reminds the reader Who He is. It reminds me of similar passages in Job and Jonah. It is so important to understand and be reminded how complex and holy He is:
- He starts off with the name, Lord God of Hosts.
- Adonai (Lord and Master)
- Jehovah (God)
- Saba (Lord of the heavenly armies.)
- the land melts at His touch
- and those that dwell within the land mourn
- the land rises and falls like the Nile
- He made a home in the heavens and founded a vaulted dome over the earth
- who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them over heaven
- Jehovah is His name.
One side note- I don't know when we, as a people, understood that there was an atmosphere over the earth; but this sounds like it would have pre-dated that knowledge. Which is always a cool thing to find in the Word.
In verse 7, the Lord seems to be telling Israel that He is the Lord of all people. And Israel is just one of those people. I think this is addressing their confidence that their God is greater and somehow only for His people. There's a big difference between God's chosen people and being God's only people. They seemed to have lost that distinction.
In verse 8, God unequivocally declares the His eyes are on the sinful kingdom. And He will destroy them from the face of the earth. From the time of Jeroboam there has been a second kingdom in existence, apart from Judah. Sadly, it includes most of the tribes; but they were led astray by Jeroboam and all of the bad kings to follow. They led the people astray. God emphasizes that with each bad leader. This has created a whole kingdom that has reached a point passed redemption and He is going to end it. No more attempts to turn things around.
However, in the last part of the verse, the God who saves declares that He will not completely destroy the House of Jacob. There are some who were not completely corrupted by the Jeroboam I kingdom.
Verse 9 is God's plan to spare this group. He will shake the house of Israel like a sieve and the kernels will be spread among the nations of the earth, but will not be lost.
How beautiful and hopeful. This is definitely, to me, end time prophesy. The 10 "lost" Tribes of Israel aren't lost at all. They are preserved by God among the nations and they will be recalled when the time is right. If I remember correctly, these are the 144,000 that preach to the lost in the Tribulation.
In verse 10, the Lord returns to the primary message, "The sinners will die." How to know if you're in that category? He gives a litmus test, "Those who say, ' The calamity will not overtake or confront us.'" If you think you're bigger than God. Smarter than God. A better planner or survivor than God...You're on the list.
Beginning in verse 12, the vision transitions to the hopeful future for those who don't perish in the judgement.
- He will rise up the booth (tent) of David (with whom He has made covenant for these people)
- He will shore up the breaches in the wall from their invasion
- raise up the ruin
- rebuild it as in the days of old (beautiful promise to stand on)
- They will posses the remnant of Edom. (very interesting)
- They will possess all of the nations "who are called by My name, declares the Lord"
That's us, people. I don't know what the U.S. will look like in the end times. I keep hearing we are no where in the prophesies. But I know this. I am call by my Lord. And so is the rest of the body of Christ. This is us. Maybe we'll have already flown away in the rapture. But we belong to Him who called us, and that's all I need to know.
In this future, the plowman will overtake the reaper; and the treader of grapes- him who sows seeds. The MacArthur Bible Commentary brings this illustration into focus as prosperity. There will be so much growth and prosperity that growing seasons will begin to overlap. They will barely be able to keep up with the harvest.
Also the people will be restored from captivity. They will rebuild cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine. Plant gardens and eat the fruit. To me, this shows freedom. And ownership (skin in the game). People are participating as designed, as opposed to following the enemy into sin against the Plan.
Finally, He promises to plant them on the land, and they will not be rooted from it. This seems to be a promise of ultimate security and permanence.
What's fascinating to me about this last passage is that it directly contrasts with what the Lord told them heading into the Promise Land. He told them that they would live in houses they didn't build and eat and drink from vines and gardens they didn't plant. And He foretold of their coming failure to live by His law. Now they are assured that they will be part of the building and planting and this time they will have been planted on the land by the Lord- this time it will stand. (Deuteronomy 6:11; Joshua 24:13)
I'm not sure what to make of it; but it stood out to me as such a direct contrast, that I have to believe that it is important. I can see this as an end times promise even more than a promise to the remnant after the captivity; because it is permanent.
It also just made me think of what the modern day people of Israel have accomplished. They took a near dead patch of land and built a thriving breadbasket.
Amos in Conclusion
As far as personal understanding, I feel like Amos has given me the cleanest picture of God in the end times. I definitely see the same themes as from Revelations, Isaiah, and others, but this little book brings a different clarity for me. I assume that it is because he was a rancher and a farmer, vocations with which I can relate. He understood the world through practical lessons, as opposed to theological training many priests brought to prophesy.
Increased understanding helped me to "like" it better; although end times reality isn't a popularity contest. 🙂
However, it also makes the warning more stark and the coming destruction more concrete.
Ultimately, it makes His promises simple and clear. Both the promise of destruction for those who do not choose Him and promise for prosperity, freedom, and security for those who root themselves in the rock of Jesus Christ.