AMOS - CHAPTER 7
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2002 James Melough
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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
“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
“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?
“The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God.”
The comments on verse three
apply here also.
“Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon (beside) a wall made by a
plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.”
“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,
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!
“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.
“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
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.
“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
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
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.
“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.
“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.
“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
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.
“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
“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
As to why Israel is here
called Isaac, see comments on verse nine.
“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.