In our study of Amos chapter seven, we look at the judgment that was to come on the northern kingdom because of their pride. Even in this judgment, we see that God demonstrates His mercy to His people.
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This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king's share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up.
God begins to show the prophet what He is going to do to the northern kingdom. Here, we see that God was preparing to destroy the crops of the land. We see that there was usually two crops on the land with the first part going to the king for taxes. He was going to strike the second crop which was the part that fed the animals until the dry season came. The people would survive for a time but, without the food for the animals, the animals would die and the people would then starve.
When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, 'Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!' So the Lord relented. 'This will not happen,' the Lord said.
We remember that Amos was a simple shepherd and he knew what this would do to the people. He prayed and God listened. God displayed His mercy in the fact that He agreed to not do this even though they deserved it and even more under the law.
This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land.
Now, the prophet sees that God is preparing to judge them with fire. This fire is so big and so hot that it dries up the Mediterranean Sea and consumes all the plants on the land.
Then I cried out, 'Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!' So the Lord relented. 'This will not happen either,' the Sovereign Lord said.
Once again the prophet prays for mercy and God granted his request. We notice that he did not appeal to God based on their relationship as His people but simply based on His mercy.
This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.
Now, the prophet sees a wall that has been properly built and the Lord standing by it holding a plumb line. The plumb line is a tool that is used during construction to make sure that something is straight up and down. It usually consists of a weight that is attached to a string. The string is tied to the top of something and gravity acting on the weight stretches the line out perfectly straight.
And the Lord asked me, 'What do you see, Amos?' 'A plumb line,' I replied. Then the Lord said, 'Look I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.'
The Lord told Amos that the plumb line was going to be used to judge His people. They were like the wall that had been built straight but are now going to be checked to see if it is leaning.
'The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.'
Israel was clearly not straight with God and so judgment is proclaimed. As we see, here, the judgment begins with the leadership which was king Jeroboam.
Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: 'Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: "Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land."'
Amaziah was a hired preacher and usually said what the king wanted to hear. He was not of God and he lied about what Amos was saying. He was simply calling the leaders of Israel to turn away from their golden calf and turn back to the ways of God. It is much the same way today as many "churches" have strayed far from the ways of God. Many "pastors" will simply say what the congregation wants to hear instead of what God wants them to hear. When a man of God calls them to turn back to the ways of Jesus, their leaders will lie and act in the same manner as Amaziah.
Then Amaziah said to Amos, 'Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.'
Amaziah not only told the king what he wanted to hear but, now, he tries to stop Amos from speaking the truth. He accuses Amos of being a hired preacher and basically tells him to get out of Amaziah's territory. A similar type of thing happens in many churches as the pastor only shares "feel good" messages and anyone that tries to share the truth is run out of the meetings.
Amos answered Amaziah, 'I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel."'
Amos' answer to Amaziah points to his humility and reminds us that it is the humble people that God uses and not the proud. He tells Amaziah that God called him from being a lowly shepherd and tending the sycamore fig trees. This would have been a stark contrast as Amaziah was called by the king while Amos was called by the King of Kings.
Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.' Therefore this is what the Lord says: '"Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land."'
Now, Amos tells Amaziah of how his family is going to be made an example to the people of Israel. His wife was going to become a prostitute which speaks of the idolatry that was going on in Israel. His children were going to be killed speaking of the death that is coming on the people due to their idolatry. Amaziah's land and possessions were going to be taken just as Israel was going to be conquered. The false prophet was going to be taken captive and die in the foreign land just as Israel was going to be removed from the land. For us, as Christians, this shows the danger of sharing only the "feel good" message with people. This "feel good" message can deceive many into thinking that they are saved even though they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Then, on the day of judgment, they will be removed from the presence of God as Jesus says that he never knew them.