In our study of Amos chapter nine, we look at the fact that there is no escape from God's judgment but blessing comes from surrender to Him. In chapter 8, we saw that judgment was proclaimed on the northern kingdom but now we will see that there is and was hope for those who surrendered.
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I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: 'Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape.'
Amos saw the coming destruction on the pagan temples of the northern kingdom. He saw that it was God who was bringing them down on all who took part in the idolatry. Those that were not killed by the collapsing structures would be killed by the swords of the invading army.
'Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down.'
This verse speaks to the fact that they could not even escape God's judgment by dying. Many people want to believe that they can do anything they want because, after this life, there is nothing else and nobody to answer to. Here, God says that that is not true.
'Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them.'
Here, we see that there is no place on the earth where man can hide from God. At the top of Carmel there are caves and men have tried to hide there but God knows where they are and they are still under His control. The same thing (hiding in caves) will be attempted by those who face the Great Tribulation and the result is the same (see Revelation 6:15).
'Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there I will command the sword to slay them. I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.'
Some people view their time on earth as being like hell on earth but the trials of this life do not compare to the torture of hell. We are reminded here that it is God who will punish them and it is much worse than anything on this earth.
The Lord, the Lord Almighty - he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt; he builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth; he calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land - the Lord is his name.
Israel is reminded that it is God who controls everything even the rains that cause the Nile to overflow its banks. His place is higher than all the earth and He knows what is best.
'Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?' declares the Lord. 'Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?'
God's people are reminded that they are like the other nations in the fact that they, too, will be judged. There was the attitude that, because they were His chosen people, He would never judge them with His wrath. The same thing happens today in the church as there are many that trust in their membership at a place of worship instead of their relationship with Jesus Christ.
'Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,' declares the Lord.
We see that God promised to keep a remnant but remove the kingdom from the earth. This was fulfilled as the northern kingdom was destroyed but some of the people (a remnant) was preserved. When they returned to the land it was not as the "northern kingdom" of Israel but as the unified Israel once again.
'For I will give the command, and I will shake the people of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground.'
God has preserved a remnant of His people from the very beginning. A sieve is used to separate rocks and debris that was picked up with the grain from the ground. As the sieve is shaken back and forth, the grain which is smaller passes through the sieve but the rocks and other things will not. That is a picture of God setting apart a people to call His own. We notice that it is the humble (smaller) things that pass through the trials (sieve). The proud (rocks) cannot make themselves smaller to sneak into the kingdom and the humble (grain) do not cling to the world (sieve). They have faith (trust) in God to catch them and preserve them for all time.
'All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, "Disaster will not overtake or meet us."'
The "sinners" among God's people refers to those that do not trust God and the truth of His word. There were false prophets that were telling the people that everything was gonna be alright. The same type of thing is happening today as many people that are "in the church" do not believe in the Word of God. When the time comes, they will be sifted out and will perish.
'In that day I will restore David's fallen shelter - I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins - and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,' declares the Lord, who will do these things.
This remnant will rule and reign with Jesus Christ. David's fallen shelter refers to Jerusalem and we are reminded of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21. Edom was the brother of Jacob and an enemy of Israel but all nations will finally be at peace with Israel. This peace will only come through Jesus Christ and people in submission to His leadership.
'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when the reapers will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills,'
In the new earth and new Jerusalem, the effects of sin are removed. The land will be like it was in the Garden of Eden and will produce a bounty like the world has never seen. This is a sharp contrast to the things that were described earlier concerning the judgment.
'and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.'
God's people are called out of the nations as a remnant and inhabit this new earth. On this new earth, we will be caretakers of what God has created just as it was designed to be in Genesis. We will work but it will not be a curse like it is today.
'I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,' says the Lord your God.
This new earth is eternal and there will be no strife between the people that live there. All will be in order as God is universally accepted as the ruler of all men.