For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

7:1.  “Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers (locusts) in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings.”

This verse records God’s revelation to Amos (possibly in a vision) of a possible judgment with which He might visit rebellious Israel: a plague of locusts. 

In many countries, including Israel, there are two mowings of the grass: one in the Spring, and the other when the grass has grown again.  “... the king’s mowings,” though mentioned nowhere else in Scripture, are generally understood to refer to a practice which required the first mowing to be given to the king to feed his horses, the second being retained by the farmer to feed his own animals.  It was at the beginning of this second growth that God prepared the locusts.

7:2.  “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.”

As Amos beheld the locusts devour the grass, he realized that were this judgment executed Israel would be completely destroyed, and the very thought impelled his plea to God to forgive the iniquity of the people, who, in spite of their own imagined greatness, were in reality poor weak creatures, dependent as are all things, upon the Creator for their very existence.

True prophet that he was, he was not only faithful in fully declaring God’s message, but also in making intercession on behalf of those to whom the message was delivered.

A practical lesson to be learnt from the prophet’s intercession on behalf of sinful Israel, is that we ought to have such concern for men’s souls as will impel us to intercede earnestly with God for their salvation, that intercession being accompanied by unremitting effort to present them with the Gospel.

As to why Israel is here called Jacob, some believe that it may have been the prophet’s way of reminding God of His promises to Jacob when he fled from Esau and saw the vision of the ladder set up between heaven and earth at Bethel, Ge 28.

7:3.  “The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord.”

Repentance implies the idea of being sorry for having thought, said, or done something wrong, and of course God is never under the necessity of repenting since He is incapable of doing wrong.  When therefore we read of God’s repenting we must realize that the language is anthropopathic, that is, it ascribes human passions or feelings to a thing or a being not human, as for example God.  He had shown Amos a judgment He could have employed, but chose not to.

7:4.  “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.”

Next the prophet was shown in a vision another judgment that God might have used to punish rebellious Israel: fire.

“Deep” here is defined by Strong as “an abyss (as a surging mass of water, especially the deep (the main sea or the subterranean water supply)....”  In the vision, Amos saw the Divine fire devour these vast waters, causing him to realize that were God to employ this judgment Israel must also perish utterly.

“... and did eat up a part” that is, it was about to devour the land also.  Some translators render “part” as “the Lord’s heritage,” or “the inheritance,” so that the destruction then would be also of Israel.

Another interpretation adopted by some is that the waters represent the Gentile nations, Isa 57:20; and the land, Israel, so that the picture then is of the destruction of all the nations except Israel, but there is nothing in Scripture to support such a view.

7:5.  “Then said I, O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.”

Again, were God to resort to this judgment, then Israel must perish utterly, leaving without an answer the question, How, then, apart from the preservation of at least a remnant, will God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ever be fulfilled?

7:6.  “The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God.”

The comments on verse three apply here also.

7:7.  “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon (beside) a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.”

7:8.  “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:”

Having shown His servant two terrible judgments that He might have used against apostate Israel, but in His mercy chose not to, God then proceeded to assure the prophet that though that present wicked generation must be destroyed because nothing would induce them to repent, yet He would raise up another generation through whom His promises to the patriarchs would be fulfilled.

The wall is Israel, and the plumbline is the symbol of the perfect standard by which God judges, not only Israel, but all men.  God’s plumbline revealed Israel to be a dangerous bowing wall that must be pulled down.  The danger connected with Israel’s state was that by her evil example others would also be encouraged to sin, and thus incur God’s wrath.

“... I will not again pass by them any more,” declared that while He would not inflict such punishment as would destroy Israel utterly, He must nevertheless execute the sentence of death upon that unrepentant apostate generation.  But how then would He preserve enough of them to produce another generation through whom His promises would be fulfilled?  The answer?  The plumbline of His perfect standard of judgment.

In the midst of the sinful nation there has always been a small believing remnant, for example, the seven thousand in the days of Elijah, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him,” 1 Ki 19:18.  And so was it with the generation to whom Amos had been sent.  In the midst of great wickedness, committed by a people who refused to repent, there was nevertheless a little remnant who had remained faithful to God.  Measured by His “plumbline” they alone were right: they had believing faith; the rest of the nation was as a bowing wall about to collapse.  In the coming destruction, some of the godly would also die, and some of them would also be carried captive into Assyria, but the souls of those who would die would go to paradise to await the resurrection of life, while those of them taken captive would have the same assurance as is given to every believer in the midst of adversity, “... we know that all things work together for good to them that love God...” Ro 8:28, because His will is, “good, and acceptable, and perfect,” Ro 12:2.

That same “plumbline” measures the fitness of men of every generation to escape hell and enter heaven.  It reveals whether they are believers or unbelievers!  But it is used also to measure the degree to which the believer conforms his life to that of Christ, and he is a wise believer who checks his life constantly by God’s plumbline, the Scriptures.

From that godly remnant carried captive into Assyria with the ungodly mass, God would raise up a new generation from which there will come eventually, in a day now very near, the believing remnant that will emerge from the Tribulation, to enjoy in the Millennium, all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Nothing can thwart God’s purposes!

7:9.  “And the high places of Isaac (Israel) shall be desolate (destroyed), and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

The “high places” were the hill tops where they had set up their idolatrous altars, and the sanctuaries were the temples they had erected for the worship of their false gods.  Jehovah was about to destroy all of them, for His “plumbline” revealed that their tilt from His moral perpendicular required their destruction.

Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel (the ten northern tribes), was the one who introduced idolatry in Israel by setting up a golden calf at Bethel, and another at Dan, see 1 Ki 12:28-33, and for that evil God was now about to bring the dynasty to an end.

Israel’s being called Isaac here may be to reveal the sorrow  with which God must execute judgment against His son Israel.  Unlike the release of Isaac from the altar on mount Moriah, there would be no “ram” to take the guilty nation’s place.  She must die because she refused to repent.  The substitutionary ram (Christ) is available only to the repentant.

7:10.  “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.”

Amaziah’s being “the priest of Bethel” means simply that while professing to be the priest of Jehovah - his name incidentally means priest of Jah or Jehovah - he was in reality of the false priesthood set up by Jeroboam 1, see 1 Ki 12:31, and was therefore  a minister of the idolatrous system of which Bethel had become one of the principal centers.  Now hoping no doubt to curry favor with the present king Jeroboam II, and to preserve his own position, he accused Amos of treason, declaring that the country could no longer afford to tolerate his seditious speeches.

It isn’t difficult to see in Amaziah’s charging Amos with treason, a foreshadowing of what occurred when the Lord was arraigned before Pilate, see Jn 19:12, “... the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”  A similar charge was brought against Paul, see Ac 17:6-7; 24:5.

Little has changed since that day.  False religion, including apostate Christendom, is and always has been the enemy of God and of those who belong to Him.

7:11.  “For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.”

Had Amaziah been a true priest of Jehovah he would have known that Amos was God’s prophet fearlessly delivering God’s message; but charlatan that he was, he, like the rest of the nation, refused to believe that the God Whose patience they had exhausted, was about to sweep the idolaters out of the land they had polluted, into slavery in Assyria.

Nor did he hesitate to twist the prophet’s words.  Amos had not said that Jeroboam would die by the sword, but that God had said, “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

Jeroboam did not die by the sword, see 2 Ki 14:29, but his son Zachariah did: he was slain by Shallum, see 2 Ki 15:8-10.

Apostate Christendom is equally ignorant of the storm of judgment about to break, and equally determined to silence those who would proclaim the truth.

7:12.  “Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:”

There is no record of Jeroboam’s having responded to Amaziah’s charge against Amos, what is written concerning the nation making it clear that they in their complacent ignorance ignored all warnings, and if they did give any heed, assigned the fulfillment of the prediction to a far distant future day. 

The false priest, however, while also unbelieving, probably resented the ministry of Amos as an intrusion into a sphere which he Amaziah considered his own exclusively, hence his mockery of God’s prophet.  The scene is reenacted every day in Christendom.

7:13.  “But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.”

“... chapel” is also translated sanctuary or holy place; and “the king’s court” as royal house; temple of the kingdom; national temple; royal palace.  What transformation the years had brought!  What had once been the house of God was now the center of idolatry, and had become endowed with a strange combination of sanctity, royalty, and public ownership as is implied in the name temple of the kingdom.  Jehovah had no part in it.  The system He Himself had ordained for the presentation of His people’s worship, had become an empty ritual virtually indistinguishable from that used by those same people in their worship of the Baalim.  

It bears a striking resemblance to the so-called worship of Christendom.

7:14.  “Then answered Amos, and said unto Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son (disciple); but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit:”

As noted in the introduction to this book, there is much to indicate that Amos was well educated, and at least reasonably well off, but in gracious self-effacement he mentioned none of this, dwelling rather on his being a “herdman, and gatherer of sycamore fruit,” and disclaiming any pretension relative to the prophetic office.  Neither, however, does he deny that he is a prophet.  Note his use of the past tense relative to his former occupation.

His modesty stands in stark contrast with the pretension that marks many of Christendom’s clerics: for example, their titles, degrees, vestments, collars, etc., all of them relics of the iniquitous Babylonian system brought in to the church following the supposed conversion of Constantine, and all of them not only lacking the warrant of Scripture, but being in fact completely contrary to its teaching.

7:15.  “And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.”

Amos had been a “herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit,” but now he was a prophet - by God’s ordination commanded to deliver God’s message to His people Israel.

The church would be in a very different state today had she adhered to the simple order laid down in God’s Word relative to the recognition of those whom He has qualified and called to be her ministers (servants, not lords), see Eph 4:11, for example.  We search the Scriptures in vain for anything even remotely resembling authorization for the order governing Christendom relative to ministry and ministers.  There isn’t a word about theological education, human appointment of ministers, special garb and vestments, etc., or anything else that constitutes the accepted order in Christendom.  That order, in fact, has very much in common with the order that governed the Israel to which Amos was sent with a message of doom!

7:16.  “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.”

The command given Amos by Amaziah was the direct opposite of that given him by God.  The doctrine of Christendom is equally at odds with God’s Word, and will result in similar judgment.

As to why Israel is here called Isaac, see comments on verse nine.

7:17.  “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.”

God fitted the punishment to the crime.  This false priest had caused Israel, the spiritual wife of Jehovah, to become a spiritual harlot loving false gods; and now his own wife was soon to become a literal harlot in the very same city where he had caused God to be robbed of His honor.

His false teaching had brought the sentence of death upon Israel, God’s people, and now he was to see his own children slain by the sword.  That same false teaching was to result in Israel’s losing the land God had given her, and the Divine recompense was that Amaziah’s land would be divided and given to others.  Another result of his evil teaching was that Israel was to be carried captive into a strange land where she would die; but he himself would also be carried to that same land, and there he too would die.

It isn’t difficult to read in this God’s warning relative to false teaching.  It dooms to the second death, Re 20:14, both the teacher and his children, i.e., those who heed him.  And it results in the loss of his land, i.e., loss of the eternal reward which God bestows in recompense of faithful service.

[Amos 8]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough