Do you know of anyone trying to build a wall ?
Have you heard of notable men fighting like little school girls and pushing aside manners and kindness? Does your heart twist inside your chest when you hear of people being sold into sex trafficking? Are you sick of the government being involved in corruption? Do you wonder if judgement is near because pregnant women are not only being harmed but their babies are being taken? Are you weary of conspiracies? Do you see the poor being oppressed and marginalized?
ALL of these subjects are covered in the book of Amos.
I guess it ends up that Amos was a real prophet because his words came true back then and are still being fulfilled today. It was a tough book to read because about 95% of the book is concerning the people’s dark sins and Gods absolute annihilation and destruction of His people. Those who were sinning in God’s camp were His targets. That is very shocking and quite opposite of what you hear if you turn on contemporary preaching. It doesn’t line up with Amos telling us that God does not accept everyone’ doing whatever they please.
So who was this Amos? He was not a mere shepherd as our English Bibles would present. He was a Bowker (Hebrew) a Herdsman of cattle. Those guys are tough and solid. Helping cows give birth, roping steer, pushing calves through gates is not for light weights. They knew the calculated risks of giving birth and the diminished economic cost when calves died. Contrast that with his disdain for the “cows of Bashan.” Luxury and lounging were antithetical to everything about Amos.
Amos also had a second job – Sycamore fig dressing. That sounds lighter but it’s not. The branches on a sycamore are very woody and the bark is strong. To get to the figs takes a strong hand. Figs were used to fight disease and heal all kinds of ailments. That means desperate oozy, germy people would draw near so there had to be an overseer for the trees to control the crowds and also make sure the figs could be distributed. The commentaries say that only the lowest of society would pick them because it was grueling work and your hands would get cut up from the woody bark. Amos isn’t a fluffy, polished preacher – he’s a rough, gruff, and scarred up LAYMAN. Not the kind that crosses their legs or says “pardon me” when they cough. Certainly not a Harvard grad type. I picture more of a John Wayne character.
Amos confronts the sins of Israel’s neighbors, Israel and Judah. He doesn’t mince words and he doesn’t play favorites. Reading this sounds so much like America today that it was jarring. When he prophesy’s to Israel, things get too close to home. The High Priest (Amaziah) comes to him and instead of saying, “good job young chap, you’ve had no seminary and yet you discern the culture” Amaziah tells him “Get OUT!” We are not sure if Amaziah was concerned about job security, losing an offering, being shown up or what, but he speaks the truth when he tells Amos – this is the “King’s sanctuary”. Indeed –it stopped being God’s Sanctuary when corruption and violence took over. The High Priest sends Amos packing. Layman Amos doesn’t know to politely walk away but lets the religious, trained guy who is the professional know, “This was not my idea but God’s”. He states, “I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet.” Amos has only done what the Lord required him to do. He was there by Divine choice not by the popular vote of the people so he had perseverance and integrity. Good qualities for spiritual leaders. Man’s applause never means favor with God in fact it often blocks it.
This was all taking place while Amos was herding cattle and picking figs. Amos didn’t mess up – God pulled him out of the mess to protect him while the High priest and people would receive God’s judgment for their actions. My guess from getting to know this rough around the edges cowboy is that he didn’t lose any sleep over the dismissal. He saw what was coming for them and got out of the gate while he could. They thought he was part of a conspiracy but he was doing nothing but listening to God and following God’s orders.
The safest place in the world to be is right in the middle of God’s will.
As I read this I wondered how will we escape judgement when our country resembles so much in this book? This morning I read of natural disasters, school shootings and that North Korea is planning to harm America on Christmas day. Our enemies are waiting at the gate as well. It certainly gives reason to pause and consider, to weigh one’s life. Amos told the people of his day “Prepare to meet your God.” Strong wording. After researching this book I sensed the heaviness of God’s heart for sin. He would use whatever means necessary to get His people to wake up and come back home. Even if it meant destruction by a foreign country!
Did you know that Amos interceded twice and God relented? (Amos 7:1-9) God thought so highly of Amos and his prayer that God changes direction and brought mercy. That’s some radical pull with God! Finally a day came when God could no longer look the other way and judgement came. God doesn’t tell Amos natural things were happening by coincidence but emphatically states – “I did this.” Was it God’s preference ? NO! The peoples actions and complete disregard and rejection of God’s law brought it upon them. God is sovereign and He decides when that final day comes. But what if we intercede for our nation? What if ONE person reading this now stops and asks God for His mercy for our country or neighboring countries? Surely God can see mockery, sin and injustice today as He saw it back then. Would God relent again in our day? The Bible says HE NEVER CHANGES which suggests He will still extend mercy IF we ask. Today is a really good day to get in our prayer closets!
God brings Amos to view a plumb and plumbline. It is a measurement tool to build straight walls. You can watch YouTube videos to get a picture of this. The gravity ensures that the line is straight. Straight walls make for strong buildings. The secret to it is looking UP. If you attach it right on top it will hang evenly. Hmm? God planned on making His people straight, plumb. This is where we get the word plumber from –things that are plumb (straight, level and and in working condition).
“You came from Heaven to earth, to show the way. From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave from the grave, to the sky, Lord, I lift Your name on high.” God looked down through the ages using prophetic words to navigate His people and holy temple being built in them.
“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to His servants the prophets (vs.7).”
The whole book of Amos is a call to repent and return to God. God wants His people back and for them to be prepared for that final day. They can’t however just do their own thing – they and we need to be PLUMB with God’s Word. We need to follow His ways and will. He got angry when the religious and government leaders did their own thing and oppressed others. He saw the notable people challenging, oppressing and harming the marginalized. Things happen when a holy God gets ticked off. Just ask Amos. But when one or many turn back to God, when one or many choose God and humble themselves, when one or many prefer others and choose righteousness, when that takes place –social justice will roll like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream (Amos 5:24). It will not cease, it will not stop, it will not be hindered but will accomplish that work that it was set out to do. Glory!
Who will lift up the standard in THIS hour? Who will seek God’s perfect laws and decrees? Who will cry out for mercy and justice and deliverance? Who will share what the Lord sees?
Many years after Amos his prophecies regarding judgement were still coming to pass. That was followed by darkness and silence. Then, a young woman begins to seek God and light is sparked in the darkness. Hope creeps into the night. We see the beginning of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled as Mary recites the Magnificat:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear him (much preferred than living under judgement!)
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent empty away.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
in remembrance of His mercy,
55 as He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”
This same line reaches Zechariah as he carries on the prophetic word:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember His holy covenant,
73 the oath which He swore to our father Abraham, 74 to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve Him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to His people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 through the tender mercy of our God,
when the day shall dawn upon us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of Peace.”
The glimmer of hope in Amos is found being fulfilled in Luke One and beyond. The line was fixed in Heaven and connected through all eternity and will continue until that final day. IF we return, when we return to the Lord –He is willing to take us back, hear our prayers and straighten our lives according to His plumb line, His blood line. Aligning ourselves with our families, jobs, churches, culture, and government just will not do. Our plumb, our standard needs to be firmly fixed in HEAVEN where the Lord is boss and reigns. When we align ourselves with Heaven and the Sovereign God we are given secrets, our prayers are heard, nations are changed and hearts are reestablished.
Dear brother, sister: align yourself with God today. Repent, return and have God’s word and blood (true plumbline) be your standard. Not a political party, preacher or popular hero. Reconnect with God’s covenant and then let Him tell you secrets and let Him hear your requests for deliverance, salvation and strength. The hour is near; the neighboring countries are in position. Who will stand in the gap and ask God to forgive? Who will, like Amos and John prepare the way of the Lord? Who will bring and be the Light in the darkness and shadow of death to guide people to the Way of Peace?
Whatever your occupation, status or calling, the days are dark and light is needed in this hour – God’s Light, God’s plumbline JESUS. Go tell it on the Mountain; go tell it in the Valleys that Jesus Christ is born. To all who receive Him, to all who believe Him – will come restoration, deliverance and strength. Mercy and hope are still possible. Reject all other avenues and ideas and embrace this ONE plumbline God established to build His kingdom.
Aligning with you, praying for mercy,