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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Amos 7

Verses 1-9



Verses 1-9:

Destruction, The Grasshopper, Fire, Plumbline

Verse 1 begins with Amos’ assertion that what he was prophecying, God has shown, clearly revealed to him. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 constitute visions with explanations to Israel that all might understand the message. Verses 1-9 visualize destruction symbolized by: 1) the grasshopper, 2) the fire, and 3) the plumbline mark for buildings. The king required the first sowing of the hay. The people were to get the latter mowing for use, but the plague of grasshopper-locusts were formed of the Lord, to plague and judge the land. These apparently symbolized devastation of the land under Jeroboam II by Hazael and Benhadad of Syria, 2 Kings 14:25; 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 13:22.

Verse 2 recounts Amos as quoting himself in conversation with the Lord when the devastation of the land was at end by the locusts or grasshoppers. Like Moses, he intercedes for the house of Jacob, Numbers 14:19. The nation of Jacob has been weakened, reduced to smallness, Isaiah 51:19. Amos is anxious that God remember His

covenant with Abraham to preserve them as His people, Psalms 106:23; Psalms 106:45.

Verse 3 asserts that God responded to Amos’ intercession, after the locust-judgment, and Israel’s weakened state, and repented (turned from) further evil judgment, for the time upon her, Zechariah 8:14. The change was not in the mind of God, but in the outward effects, Numbers 23:19; James 1:17. While God is unchangeable, He does what is just, and responds to intercessory prayers that influence His acts of blessings or chastisement toward men, as illustrated James 5:16-18. See also Genesis 18:22-33; 1 Samuel 15:11; Jeremiah 42:10; Jonah 2:10; 2 Kings 15:19-20.

Verse 4 asserts that God had called and shown to Amos that He would contend with rebellious Israel with fire upon the land, accompanying burning drought, Isaiah 66:16; Ezekiel 38:22; Psalms 105:16. "And it did eat up a part or portion." The fire, following the plague of grasshopper-locusts, did eat up or destroy the portion of grass and roots that were left over the land, especially east of the Jordan, 1 Chronicles 5:26; Isaiah 9:16; Revelation 17:15.

Verse 5 announces the response of Amos to God’s call and what he had been shown. Like Moses, who had "stood in the breach," and interceded for Israel, when God was about to destroy her in the wilderness, Amos called upon the Lord to cease or interrupt His judgment upon the small part of Israel not already killed or captured, Psalms 106:23. Even so, Jesus now intercedes for His children, when they err, Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1.

Verse 6 discloses that God repented or "turned from," further destruction that He had purposed upon Israel, in response to the intercession of Amos on their behalf, as He had done in mercy before, Psalms 106:43-46; Judges 2:16; Nehemiah 9:27.

Verse 7 continues to affirm that the Lord stood upon a wall, made by a plumbline (a well constructed, perpendicular wall made with a plumbline) in His hand. Israel was that well constructed building, that wall of strength that God had chosen or built to be a witness for Him, from the called family of Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3. She had the Divine order of worship and service, called "The house that Moses built," Hebrews 3:2-3; Hebrews 3:5.

Verse 8 reports God’s asking Amos what he saw or recognized, to which Amos responded, "a plumbline," an instrument used by architects and carpenters in fixing perpendicular or upright walls, Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8. God then responded that as the plumbline was used for proper, upright building, so was it used to tear down buildings that were not upright; or became off­perpendicular. The plumbline therefore symbolized both righteous

construction and justice in the destruction of the wrong. God had turned back from former total judgment, through the plagues of grasshoppers and fire, but there was no turning back now, because of their persistent sins; So Amos ceases to intercede as Abraham did in the case of Lot, Genesis 18:33. See also 2 Kings 17:3; 2 Kings 17:5-6; 2 Kings 21:13; Proverbs 19:11; Micah 7:18.

Verse 9 warns of three things toward Israel: 1) First, the high places (mountain top idols), like those Isaac built at Beersheba, shall be desolated, because these altars were not built by the plumbline of God’s Word, Genesis 26:23-24; Genesis 46:1; Exodus 20:1-4; Exodus 2) Second, the sanctuaries of Israel (in Jerusalem) shall be torn down, destroyed by enemy invaders and marauders; and, 3) Third, the house of Jeroboam II (the family of Israel’s king), the royal family, would be slaughtered, terminated from ever reigning again, because they had introduced idolatry of the golden calves, 2 Kings 15:8-10.

Verses 10-13

Amaziah, Priest of Bethel, Files Charges Against Amos Before

The King, v. 10-13

Verse 10-13:

Verse 10 recounts a civil conspiracy against Amos. Amaziah, the idolatrous chief priest of calf-gods at Bethel, had listened to the judgment preaching of Amos and became all "shook up", came "unglued," 1 Kings 12:31-32. He went for help, not to the Lord, but to king Jeroboam of Israel, to protest the preaching of Amos. With vehemence he charged Amos with conspiracy against Jeroboam for preaching the word God had given to him. Like Elijah, Jeremiah, and Jesus, Amos was charged with treason or sedition for the calf­gods were cleverly state-designed means of keeping Israel and Judah separated, 1 Kings 18:17; Jeremiah 37:13-14; John 19:12. This wicked priest was really fearful of losing his lucrative business. Paul later encountered the same spirit in Corinth, Acts 17:6-7 and before Felix, Acts 24:5.

Verse 11 recounts how Amaziah, with half-truth, charged that Amos had said, "Thus saith the Lord---the house of Jeroboam," should be destroyed by the sword and Israel should be led away’ captive out of their own land, v. 9. But the king did not "buy" the exaggerated charges.

Verse 12 describes Amaziah’s direct emotional tirade against Amos. He ordered Amos to leave the feast at Bethel, and the altars, and the people, to stop preaching His message to the very people to whom the Lord had sent him, and return to Judah; And down there, eat bread and prophecy down there; He imagined his priestly business would profit more without this prophet of God. Amaziah implied that Amos was only preaching for bread, for what he could get out of it, evidently as he himself was doing, as false prophets do. He did not want his priestly baliwick disturbed, Ezekiel 13:15-16; Ezekiel 13:19.

Verse 13 contains the directive of Amaziah, a false prophet, to Amos, this true prophet of the Lord. Amaziah ordered Amos "prophecy not again any more at Bethel." As well tell the wind to blow no more, command the rain not to fall, or water to run up hill, as to tell a true man of God not to prophecy or witness any more, Amos 2:12; Acts 4:18-20; Acts 5:27-29. Amaziah declared that the Bethel chapel, temple, or sanctuary was the king’s court, but Amos was prophecying for a different and more noble king, the king of glory. In effect Amaziah put on a brazen veneer of piety, in supposed defense of the king, contending that Amos was too crude, as a shepherd from Tekoa, not of sufficient polish to be preaching in the preferred court, the royal area, and place of calf-god worship to the king at Bethel, twelve miles north of Jerusalem. The king preferred this seat of calf-god worship to that of Dan near Samaria, as hallowed by Jacob of old, Genesis 28:16-19; Genesis 35:3; Genesis 35:6-7.

Verses 14-17

The Reply Of Amos To Amaziath, The False Prophet

Verses 14-17:

Verse 14 reports Amos’ disclaimer to Amaziah of any religious or academic polish or training in any school of the prophets, 2 Kings 2:5; 2 Kings 2:7; 2 Kings 2:15-18. He further asserts that he is not the son of a prophet, to parrot what he might have heard a father-prophet prophecy. He simply affirms that his heritage and experience is that of an herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. This replies to Amaziah’s insinuation that he simply prophesied to earn his bread, like so many mercenary prophets in Israel. The fruit he gathered was used by the poor only and was of a poorer quality than from figs. From this humble life came God’s prophet of doom, who spoke with both dignity and authority, 1 Kings 10:27.

Verse 15 recounts Amos’ words "and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me," Thus Amos witnessed that the message he delivered was from and of the Lord, not of his own invention. Thus Amos prophesied under the mandate "Go, prophecy to my people Israel." It was much as David was taken, typical, of Jesus the true shepherd, 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalms 78:70-71; Psalms 23 rd and John ch. 10. God claims Israel as "my people." As He called Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew from busy labors to do His will, bear His message, He still calls men to fields of labor, Matthew 4:15-21.

Verse 16 contains Amos’ direct address, sharp reply to the chief priest of the idol temple who ordered him to prophecy not, but go away, leave them alone, v. 12, 13. In essence Amos said, "Amaziah, God called me to prophecy; my commission and accountability is from Him, not you. For Amaziah had said, don’t drop your load of judgment doom on Israel, Ezekiel 21:2; Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11, my people. The ungodly regard the testimony of God’s servants as a wearisome, burdensome dropping. They rather love to hear pretty things, complimentary things, for which they have itching ears, as expressed 2 Timothy 4:3.

Verse 17 contains a theological outline of judgments and woes that were to fall on Amaziah and Israel as follows:

1. Thy wife shall be violently forced to be an harlot in the city, while you look on, unable to prevent her dishonor, Isaiah 5:11. His "Thus saith the Lord," is much more forceful than Amaziah’s "thou sayest."

2. Your sons and daughters are to fall or be slain by the sword.

3. Your land shall be divided by line, among the invaders.

4. You shall die an exile in a polluted, foreign, or heathen land, 2 Kings 17:6; Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 2:7.

5. Fifth, Israel shall surely, without fail, go into captivity out of and away from her land, to Assyria and Babylon, for her willful idolatry, breach of God’s law, and adamant continuing that way, Exodus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 28:15-62.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Amos 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.