Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Amos’ Calling

Amos 7:1-15

“Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.  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.” (Amos 7:1-2)

The Lord showed Amos a natural event to help him understand what God was doing.  Those who produce hay usually get two or more cuttings a year.  If the first cutting is good, it pays the taxes and part of the expenses.  Any profits come from those later cuttings.  In this vision, the first cutting was taken by the government for taxes.  After they had collected the taxes, swarms of grasshoppers devoured the new growth before it got a chance to mature, destroying the crop and leaving the farmers destitute. 

Amos was horrified that it would be that way and begged God to forgive them because Israel was small and would have nowhere to turn for help. 

 “The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.

Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part.   Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.” (Amos 7:3-5)

God heard Amos’ prayer, and promised not to completely destroy everything.  Instead he would send a fire into the crops.  While a fire burns everything that is ripe, the roots of many plants may survive and begin to grow again.  It is not like the insects that keep coming back.  While they would not have much there would be a little for the people.    Again Amos prayed that God would not let it be that bad.   

“The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.   Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. Am 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: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” (Amos 7:6-9)

Again God answered Amos’ prayer.  He then used the illustration of a plumb line or level being used to align a wall being built.  Anything that stuck out or wasn’t properly aligned would be cut away, and that section of wall considered finished.  They won’t be given any more chances.  Even the places where Isaac had worshipped God would be deserted.   Their temples and altars destroyed, And God would cause Jeroboam II and his family to be killed. 

“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.  For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.” (Amos 7:10-11)

Amaziah the priest, one of the mainstream religious leaders accused Amos of conspiring against the king and teaching things that were contrary to the good of the country because he said Jeroboam would be killed and the people be taken captive because of the sin.  It was very much like the mainstream religious groups today who accuse those who oppose same sex marriage or who call for restrictions on immigration of prejudice or hate. 

“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, 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.” (Amos 7:12-13)

Amaziah told Amos to leave the land because it was the government’s (king’s ) land and they had the right to make their own rules.  If he didn’t like their rules he should go to Judah where they believed like he did, but he could not prophesy in the official churches anymore. 

“Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15)

Amos pointed out that unlike Amaziah, he had not become a prophet because he chose to or because that is what his father or other family did.   Instead, he had been a cowboy or sheepherder, working as migrant worker when the sycamore fruit was ripe.   God had called him from that way of life to go and tell the people of Israel what God said.  To Amos, prophecy was not a career choice or family tradition, it was a calling from God and he was obligated to tell people what God said.   Those who don’t have that awareness of being called of God can focus on other things.    

“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.” (Amos 7:16-17)

Amaziah needed to hear God’s word just as much as the other people, though he thought he already knew.  He was commanding Amos not to warn the people of Israel about the consequences of their sin or try to convince Isaac’s family they were doing wrong.  As a result Amaziah would receive special judgment.  His own wife would be forced into prostitution, and his children would be killed.  The land would be divided up by people who would ignore the ancient boundaries and practices God had established.  Amaziah would die in a land which did not serve God at all, and Israel would be carried out of the land as captives.   

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