(Part 17 of 21)
AMOS 7-8… In these two chapters God repents and reassesses what He had planned to do. Remember… we are seeing pictures of God at work in the book of Amos and not judgment. Yet judgment is there.
Amos 7:1… “This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me” (NIV). A locust judgment. This judgment was to come after the first crop was harvested. This first crop belonged to the king. The locusts were to eat the second crop, the people’s food. The “best” crop was harvested as evidence of God’s abundance and mercy. God doesn’t judge until after He blesses. Small insects like locusts can destroy an entire harvest. In Joel 2:25, God called the locusts His great army.
V. 2… Amos pleads for God’s grace and mercy. “O God, don’t do it, forgive them.” God listens to praying prophets who are filled with compassion. Even though Amos was giving Israel a serious word, he wasn’t enjoying it. Some prophets enjoy preaching down judgment, doom, and condemnation. Amos was giving a heavy message, yet here he is pleading with God. “Lord, let up, slacken up, or else the people will not be able to survive.” In verse 3, the Lord repents. Amos didn’t receive a pardon for the nation, but he does get a reprieve from the locusts. Israel will have enough food from the harvest. God did not say to Amos, “I will not judge them.” He just wasn’t going to judge them via the locusts. God is willing to hear intercessory prophets and He will grant mercy, if there is reason behind the request.
V. 4… The Lord shows Amos His next judgment, which was “judgment by fire.” This was more severe than judgment via the locusts. This would dry up the water supply and burn their homes. The locust judgment would have dried up their bread. Drought judgment is very severe. When fires devour the land, great devastation is left. In verse 5, Amos intercedes again, “Oh, Lord, no, because they’ll not be able to recover.” In verse 6, God repents again. The nation gets another reprieve. God however, has not changed His mind about judgment. He changed His approach as to what He was going to do. Whatever He does will be right and righteous. One righteous man prayed, and the nation was spared two separate judgments. Abraham’s prayer won a reprieve for Lot. Elijah’s prayer brought needed rain. Our nation needs praying prophets to turn the nation around. God relented of what He was going to do because Amos interceded.
AMOS 7:7-9… The plumb line… Amos had turned God from judgment. He now shows Amos why He must continue with the judgment. In chapter one, the nation had crossed the horizontal line. Three strikes and you are out. Now God shows a vertical line, a perpendicular standard. The plumb line gives a straight line. God was showing the nation that He had built them up straight, and because of sin, they were now off-plumb or off-center. The plumb line in Scripture was also used in tearing down (2 Kings 21:13). If something is off-plumb, it has no reason to exist. Isaiah 28:17, 34:11, and Lamentations 2:8 speak of the plumb line as a part of the destruction of cities, houses, and lands. With God, when a thing does not measure up, it is marked for destruction. The plumb line was used in surveying to decide what goes and what stays. God’s judgments have vertical lines too. The plumb line becomes God’s tool that shows what is not square and that which will be judged. That which is righteous (square), will be spared. God puts His plumb line against a His church as well. The churches that are not square and vertically upright will be judged. God does not build leaning towers of Pisa. God’s standards are upright, square, plumb, and level. God’s government has measures that it abides by. God says to Amos, “Well now, from your viewpoint the locusts and the fire looked bad; now let’s put the plumb line against the nation’s works. Let’s see, Amos, just how far the nation has gotten off-plumb and off-course.” God puts Israel’s system of worship against the plumb line and it clearly shows why He wants to shut it down. A lot of times we too think we are doing right until God puts our works against His plumb line. Our nation needs to put its programs, its actions, its religious practices against God’s plumb line. We must measure all our works by God’s standards of righteousness. However, like the ten tribes of Israel, we rationalize everything we do wrong and make excuses for ourselves. We need to pray, “Lord, bring on the plumb line.” In verse 9, God removed the false religious systems where Baal was worshipped.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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