VISIONS AND CONFLICT
The Lord begins to show Amos visions of his judgments on Israel. The first thing that he saw was the Lord preparing swarms of locusts. These insects can devastate crops within a few minutes. Amos saw the land devastated as all the grass was destroyed in the vision. This would be catastrophic for Israel as the suffered food shortages throughout the land. Amos is greatly distressed by this vision, and he cries out for the Lord to forgive the people. Amos sees how small his nation is and he recognizes that something of this magnitude could mean complete ruin. Amos tenderly pleads for his people and asks God for mercy. The Lord relents and tells Amos that he would not bring the vision to pass in this way.
The second vision that Amos received was a judgment of fire that would dry up the great deep and devour the land. Amos entreats the Lord again, but this time he is even more intense as he pleads. He begs God to stop, citing again the fact that Israel was small and probably would not survive. The Lord graciously answers Amos' prayer and relents. God did not relent because Amos forced him to change his mind; rather, the Lord knew from the beginning what he would do, and he withheld a fully deserved penalty.
The Plumb Line
Next, Amos saw the Lord standing beside a wall built with the plumb line in his hand. Israel was not meeting God's standard, which was the message of Amos from the very beginning. The people of Israel had deviated from God’s law, and now they would suffer for it. God calls Israel his people for the first time in this book, but he has no intention of sparing them. God would leave Israel's high places in ruins. Sanctuaries would be destroyed, and King Jeroboam along with his house would be eradicated.
Opposition From A Religious Leader
Amaziah, a religious leader, spoke out against Amos. He did not talk to Amos, he spoke to the King directly. Amaziah accused Amos of conspiring against the King and Israel. Amaziah twisted the words of Amos to make his point. He implicated Amos instead of explaining that God would be the one to oppose the house of Jeroboam. Amaziah tried to expel Amos by his authority. He urged Amos to leave Israel and return to Judah. Amaziah told him never to prophesy at Bethel again. Amaziah does not even pretend that Bethel is God’s temple. Instead, he tells Amos that it is the king's sanctuary. Amos responds to Amaziah that he did not seek to be a prophet, but God had called him, took him from being a shepherd, and commanded him to prophesy to the people of God in Israel. Amos delivered a word from the Lord to Amaziah. Amaziah would be taken away and die in an unclean country. Amaziah’s wife would become a prostitute in the city, and his children would fall by the sword. God's word would stand regardless of a religious leader who wanted to ignore it and send it away.
Things To Consider:
- Do you plead for God to be merciful to others? Why or why not?
- Are you passionate in your prayers or are they cold and repetitious?
- Why must God's standard be honored?
- Why is idolatry such a serious offense?
- Why should you test the words of religious leaders?
- How do you test the words of religious leaders?
- How do we make worship about us rather than God?
- How does one know when God has called them to something?
- Why must we honor the word of God?