The Observations.net Weblog
Amos was the blue collar prophet; a shepherd and sycamore fig farmer from the southern village of Tekoa. Near the end of each summer he would herd his flocks to places such as western Judah where the sycamore figs grew. To pay the local landowners for grazing rights, Amos would pierce holes in the sycamore figs. The sycamore fig was smaller than the common fig and holes had to be made in the skin to allow the fruit to ripen. It was boring, tedious work.
Amos lived during the second golden age of Judah and Israel. It was the 8th century BC. Jeroboam II was king in the north and Uzziah was king in the south. The two countries had gained a level of wealth and prominence not seen since the days of Solomon.
But although Israel was rich, not all was well. It was guilty of abandoning the Covenant with God, idol worship was commonplace, the rich abused the poor, and political corruption abounded. Therefore, God sent the sycamore fig farmer out of his country Judah, north into Israel to announce that God‘s patience was exhausted. The end had come. (Amos 8:2)
We are told in chapters seven and eight that Amos received four visions of God‘s wrath. The first vision was a vision of locusts. The locusts would come and destroy the crops in the fields. Amos was frightened by the vision.
In the summer of 2003 I traveled to north central Kansas for my job. They told me that last year‘s crop had been hurt by the locusts. But they said that the locusts of last year were nothing compared to locust invasions of the past. If the modern farmer with his pesticides fears the locust, how much more did the farmer of the eighth century B.C.?
The locusts seen by Amos would come at the beginning of the late crop and eat everything. And the people would starve. So Amos prayed. He said the people were weak. “Please hold back Your anger O Lord. Please forgive.“ And as God had relented at the pleadings of Moses, so God honored the plea of Amos.
If the first vision was frightening, the second was absolutely terrifying. A great fire would come. The fire of God‘s wrath would be so great it would dry up the oceans and the subterranean waters. Surely, nothing would remain alive. Everyone and everything would be burned up. So once again, Amos pleaded desperately with God. And once again, God relented.
But, then, God gave Amos a third vision. And here the visions change. In this vision, the Lord held out a plumb line. As the builder of a wall uses a plumb line to make sure that his wall is straight, God was going to measure the people to see if they were straight. The idolatry and social injustice of Israel would come into clear view against the straight line of God‘s law. Therefore, God would send the sword. This time, God afforded Amos no opportunity to plead for the people, and Amos knew not to try any longer.
Soon after, one of Israel‘s high priests, Amaziah, told Amos to leave and never come back.
“O thou seer,
go, flee thee away into the land of Judah,
and there eat bread,
and prophesy there:
But prophesy not again any more at Bethel:
for it [is] the king‘s chapel,
and it [is] the king‘s court.“
But Amos responded:
“I [was] no prophet,
neither [was] I a prophet‘s son;
but I [was] an herdman,
and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
And the LORD took me as I followed the flock,
and the LORD said unto me,
Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
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.“
“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.“
Unfortunately, the high priest was speaking the sentiments of all Israel for all the north had openly spurned the Law of God. So God gave Amos a fourth vision. He showed Amos a basket of ripe fruit. For the people of Israel were ripe for judgment. And judgment was coming.
Only a few years later, God would send the Assyrians against Israel. The Assyrians would destroy the country and carry the people off into captivity.
So what is the meaning of the message of Amos for us today? The message is this: God will not be mocked. America is mocking God with its murder of the unborn, its embrace of the homosexual agenda, its removal of the Ten Commandments from public places, its apostasy.
America must repent or judgment will come.
* posted by Robert on Sun 09/21/03