Amos 9… In this chapter, we see the last picture of God in the book of Amos… the Lord restoring. God’s main message with the ten tribes was over; judgment was looming, but so were God’s mercy, long-suffering, and grace. In the previous chapter, we see a spiritual famine, a famine of the Word of God. Not hearing from God is a disaster. When God wanted to send a famine of bread, Amos said “no,” and God relented on the judgment. God showed Amos the plumb line and let Amos see that the nation was not measuring up. God was going to remove His word from them. When we try to trade with God, we always try to save the natural, the flesh (temporal), at the expense of the spiritual. God always wants to leave us with the Word and the Spirit, but alas… our flesh most often rules our lives.
People pray, “Lord, don’t hurt our flesh; we will suffer.” So He puts the plumb line against us to see how far we are off course, hoping we will change. When we fail to repent and change, God withholds the spiritual from us. Many preachers say that famine and poverty are always of the devil, but they can’t see that the principles of God may be at work for the purpose of getting people to change. God wants to correct spiritual problems. A lot of preachers today deny that a God of love, mercy, and grace would send pestilence, earthquakes, floods, and drought in order to try to save a nation. They want to keep the natural at the expense of the spiritual. There were many prophets in the ten-tribe nation at the time of Amos, but they were rejected, lied about, and persecuted. In those days, the Word of God came from the prophets. Amos said that the famine of the Word would cause people to travel far and wide seeking a Word, but they would not find it. Every Christian needs to learn that spiritual famine is far worse than natural famine.
Amos 9:1… “I saw the LORD standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered” (KJV). This was heaven’s altar. Heaven’s altar reminds us of the finished work of the cross. Here in our text, God was standing ready to smash the altar at Bethel and Gilgal. It was here that the ten-tribe nation built their false altars. A thought-provoking question could be asked here… Was this God giving us a picture of judgment from the place of worship? Think on this for a while. In Psalm 68:1, we see how praise and worship can bring out an action of God that scatters enemies. The first thing God judged was religion, not politics. God will focus His interest in what’s happening in our churches before He shifts His interest to what’s happening in Congress. In our nation, people are interested in what’s happening with scandals and political shenanigans. But God is looking at churches and calling for repentance. Judgment comes from religious wrongdoing. People are replacing the living God with false altars. If your church has a false altar, that’s where God is going to show up. He will stand and point His finger at it and smash it. The Bible teaches that “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17-18).
Standing indicates that action is imminent. Jesus stood when Stephen was martyred. That may have been the spark that brought the judgment that destroyed the temple and the city of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 AD. In Revelation 3:19-20, Jesus was standing outside of the Laodicean church with judgment in mind, if the church didn’t open up and let Him in to feast with them. In Amos 9:1, God’s anger was ready to be released. Psalm 7:11 says that God is “angry with the wicked every day” (KJV). In Romans 11:22 we are exhorted to behold both the “goodness and severity of God.” Hebrews 10:30-31 teaches that vengeance belongs to God, and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Anger follows grace. God never releases anger until His grace and mercy have an opportunity to turn the heart towards God and towards repentance. When grace is removed, where can you go? Notice Amos 9:2-5… God says, “I will search and take them out thence . . . I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good” (see also Psalm 139:7-12). When God gets mad, it’s bad. God was mad when Korah rebelled against Moses (Numbers 16). God was mad when Uzzah touched the ark (2 Samuel 6). God was angry at the men who looked in the ark (1 Samuel 6:19-20). What about today? Have you touched the Lord’s anointed? God’s anger in the Old Testament wiped out whole nations.
Pastor George Belobaba
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