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CRITICAL NOTES.] Showed] three visions in this ch. Locusts (Amos 7:1-3) the first; “all inward tuitions produced by the Spirit of God, which set forth the primitive judgments of God” [Keil]. Begin.] Time defined, as the springing up of a second crop, and this crop after the king’s mowings. Some take Jehovah as King, the mowing the judgments executed upon Israel. The period is most unfavourable. One crop had been taken and the second threatened. But this danger averted by intercession.
Amos 7:2. Small] Reduced in number and strength, poor in means and hope, unable to stand. Amos 7:4-6—The devouring fire. Contend] with Israel by war, of which fire is a symbol (Ezekiel 38:22); represented as drying up waters (many people, Revelation 17:15) and devouring on dry land (Isaiah 9:1).
Amos 7:6. For this] as well as threatenings of vision first. Amos 7:7-9—The third vision. Plumb.] applied expressly to Israel. Pass by] i.e. forgive them any more (Proverbs 19:11; Micah 7:18). God’s patience is exhausted. The prophet intercedes no more.
Amos 7:9. Places] of idol-worship; the royal family and the monarchy to be overthrown.
THE SCOURGING LOCUSTS.—Amos 7:1-3
The second half of Amos begins with visions; not mere warnings, but solemn predictions, adapted to the moral condition of the people. The impenitence of Israel is confirmed, their doom is fixed, and the sentence is irrevocable.
I. The judgment prepared. “He formed grasshoppers.”
1. Divine in its origin. God prepared the affliction. The prophet is most emphatic on this point. “Evil in the city” is from the Lord. “He maketh the day dark with night.” But such is our stupidity and ignorance, that we have need continually to be told. We require sensible evidence to show God’s hand in our lot. Affliction comes not from the dust, nor trouble from the ground (Job 5:6).
2. Specific in its character. Locusts are the creatures of God, and perfectly under his commands. Creatures magnificent and minute display his power and execute his design (Joel 1:4).
3. Special in its design. God formed grasshoppers. There was not only power in the act, wisdom in the shape, but purpose in the end for which they were sent. God is said to frame evil against a sinful people (Jeremiah 18:11). These creatures were prepared and specially sent to eat up the grass. In his moral government, Jehovah prepares instruments, specially forms judgments for the correction of his people.
(1) On account of disobedience.
(2) With a design to restore. “Therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.”
II. The judgment timed. “In the beginning of the shooting,” &c. It might have been sent earlier and been more severe. The former might have been devoured with the latter growth. There was mercy as well as fitness in the time of affliction. “To everything there is a season,” a fixed time, and a determined purpose. “As exactly and exquisitely suited to your case and mine,” writes one, “every instant, as if it had been appointed and contrived only for that single case and that single moment.” Every dispensation is most fitly chosen. To common observers it may appear untimely, for men see not the judgments prepared. In Israel there might be signs of abundant crops, and some who ridiculed the calamity threatened. Men watch the rising corn, but forget the blight that may blast the harvests. Business may flourish, youth may bloom in beauty and strength, but God may consume the fresh and verdant scene. The messengers may be formed, and only waiting the command of their Creator to destroy the fruit of hand and mind. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
III. The judgment arrested. “It shall not be, saith the Lord.”
1. By the intercession of the prophet. “Then said I, O Lord God, cease.” The prophet saw God in “the affliction of Joseph,” and, unlike his countrymen, was grieved and interceded with God. How few that are smitten are concerned in the judgments of God! Amos is a type in spirit and practice of all the godly who pray for their kindred and country in public calamity. Our best friends, our true patriots, are those who feel deeply and pray earnestly under Divine chastisement. “And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.”
2. By the mercy of God. “The Lord repented for this;” in mercy heard the prayer and warded off the danger. Whatever be the conduct of men in public distress God alone can take distress away. But if we confess our sins, humble ourselves in petition before him, he will be gracious. If we stand in the breach, the ruin shall not happen. Prayer has often preserved nations, averted judgments, and changed the course of events. God has not only formed calamities, but fitted a place for prayer. He repents of the evil and takes it away. “For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left.”
GOD CONTENDING WITH FIRE.—Amos 7:4
If we take this fire literally or metaphorically it indicates the anger of God against his people and the judgments which should consume them.
I. God’s action against men. Man has challenged God, denied his authority and broken his law. Sin begets contention, creates a controversy between God and man (Hosea 4:1). God enters into judgment with him; pleads by insignificant creatures and terrible calamities, and executes fierce anger upon all workers of iniquity. Famine, fire, and sword, devour rich and poor, money and health, and consume everything before them (Ezekiel 38:22). “The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh” (Isaiah 66:13; Isaiah 66:16).
II. Men’s obstinacy before God. We do not law or contend with men until we have tried other means. War and law should be the last resource. Judgment is God’s strange work. But when all means have failed to win a people, then he contends with them in severest measures. He will vindicate his cause and character. To strive against him is—
2. Guilty, and
3. Vain. Terrible will be the consequence of resistance. “Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree … And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched” (Ezekiel 20:47-48).
THE MEASURING PLUMBLINE.—Amos 7:7-9
In this vision we have the third stage of Divine judgments; God, the builder of the nation, tests and finds it degenerate. He will no longer spare nor seek to reform it Retribution is neither removed nor mitigated by prayer. The day of decision has come, and the kingdom, except a remnant, must be destroyed. In the vision we have the trial and the verdict.
I. The trial presented. “Thus he showed me.” The judgment is pictured and then explained.
1. The nation is Divinely tested. “Behold, I will set a plumbline” God himself stands upon the wall, plumbline in hand, fixed in purpose and exact in procedure. He had built them up, blessed them with holy laws and good rulers, and formed them for his praise and glory. But they were examined, found irregular, and judged fit to be pulled down. The hand which builds our families and estates can destroy them, if we deviate from rectitude. “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.”
2. The nation universally tested. “In the midst,” in the very centre of the kingdom. Inwardly as distinguished from outward judgment; wholly as distinguished from any part. In its religious and civil capacity, in its priesthood and government, God measures a nation. Our worship and conduct are weighed in the balance and found wanting. He condemns in proportion to our guilt. “He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness” (Isaiah 34:11).
3. The nation justly condemned. “I will not again pass by them.” God had exercised great care and kindness towards Israel, had been their bulwark and salvation: but since neither mercy nor judgment will mend them he will forbear no longer. He built them up in mercy and will ruin them in justice. The works and ways of men are tested by the word and providence of God; if discovered unequal, bending to the right or left, if they can no more be set upright, they will be demolished. All sin is transgression of law. The clearer the law and the greater the grace of the lawgiver, the more severe the punishment of guilt. God is justified when he speaks and clear when he judges (Psalms 51:4).
II. The verdict given. “The punishment is specified in its two chief effects—the overthrow of their idolatrous sanctuaries and the extinction of the dynasty of Jeroboam, which was in effect the overthrow of the kingdom. In other words, their whole polity, ecclesiastical and civil, was to be subverted.”
1. The destruction of the idolatrous sanctuaries. The centre and sanctuaries of a nation are its life and worth. If these be rotten or diseased the people will be corrupt. The great names of Isaac and Israel could not protect the high places and temples of the land. The altars at Bethel, Dan, and Gilgal were to be laid waste. If men obey not Jehovah, but sacrifice on their own hills and altars, they must expect the overthrow of their high places. Specious imitations of godly progenitors in Christian worship will not justify, but hasten the punishment of idolatry.
2. The extinction of the royal dynasty. Jeroboam II. died in peace. “The house of Jeroboam” is threatened in its prosperity and splendour. The kings of Israel were idolaters and drew the people from God. The court exerted an evil influence upon the sanctuary and corrupted the people. Its guilt was the greater and its judgment more certain. Princes and people had sinned and must be punished together. The prediction of Samuel came to pass. “If ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.”
3. The dissolution of the whole kingdom. The destruction of the ruling family was the prelude to the ruin of the entire kingdom. The stroke fell upon the family of Jeroboam (2 Kings 15:8-10); after that the kingdom decayed daily and speedily came to ruin. All kind of idolatry provokes God, destroys its votaries, and ruins the land in which it is practised (Psalms 106:29; Amos 2:4-5.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Amos 7:8. The vision seen and explained. I. It is our duty to attend to what God has revealed.
1. It is worthy of attention—Behold.
2. We have need to be quickened in our attention, even when the message most concerns us and the people. What seest thou? II. In all our attention we have need of Divine aid to explain the revelation. We may see the vision, give an account of it, but cannot understand until God interprets it to our hearts and minds.
Amos 7:7. The plumbline.
1. Applied to the body, which must be kept healthy and erect. It is the work of God, and should be the temple of the Holy Ghost
2. Applied to the soul, which God made upright and should not fall into sin.
3. Applied to the life, which should be regulated by the law of God, the standard of right.
This is an emblem of God’s mercy and justice, who is the Master-builder of the Church. 1. It denotes his mercy, in that he made this Church right and firm like a perpendicular wall, made exactly by line and rule, he had curiously built it, and as carefully defended it.
2. It is an emblem of his justice. He stands upon the wall of his Church, continually trying and examining whether it continue right or not, bearing with its defects, until, like a wall quite bending and belching out, he resolves to throw down all (Isaiah 30:13. [Hall]. The wall of Israel had been built by God with a plumbline, and now it would be destroyed with a plumbline (cf. 2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 35:2; Lamentations 2:8); that is, there was, so to speak, an architectural design and plan in God’s work of destroying Israel, no less than in his former favour to Israel in building him up. God does everything according to measure, number, and weight (Wis. 11:20). As one said of old, “The Deity is a perfect Geometrician,” and the plumbline of destruction was to be co-extensive with the plumbline of construction—it was to be total [Wordsworth].
THE FIRST THREE VISIONS.—Amos 7:1-9
These visions are closely related and mutually dependent one upon another. They may be classified under three heads. We shall compare them.
I. They are corrective in their design. God chastens whom he loves. Judgments and mercies are sent to discipline our hearts. Some have more judgments than mercies, and others more mercies than judgments. Both are mixed in life and regulated by infinite wisdom and human conduct.
II. They are graduated according to moral condition. Progressive in their series, they display God’s justice in the successive stages of sin. The underlying idea of the first is external visitation; of the second, inward decay by removal of Divine blessings and restraint; of the third, consummation of sin which lays the nation prostrate. Declension in communities and individuals is first punished with outward chastisements. If these fail heavier judgments follow. If judgments and mercies are unheeded, and declension merges into apostasy, nothing remains but destruction. When repeated acts of sin have produced confirmed habits of wickedness, God says, “I will not again pass by them any more.”
III. They are conditional in their issue. In the first and second, judgment is arrested by prayer. The prophet was encouraged in duty and the nation reprieved in sorrow. If we saw sin as rebellion against God, and productive of impending danger, we should be more earnest in prayer that God would forgive and pass by. But “reprieves are not pardons.” Many are spared, but not reclaimed; reduced to straits, but never return to God. They neglect advantages, sin away the day of grace, until prayer does not avail. Total destruction will come upon impenitent sinners. “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight and let them go forth.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Amos 7:1-3. Locusts. God hath armies of insects and little contemptible creatures wherewith to punish disobedient people. He needs not men to destroy us, he hath frogs and flies, lice and locusts, and these shall do it (Exodus 10:14; 2 Chronicles 7:13; Psalms 78:46). Much of God’s might is seen in these little armies, they all fulfil the word of God’s commands. Let none, then, murmur at second causes, but still look up to the first, lest by fretting at our troubles we double them [Hall].
Amos 7:4-6. Fire. The power of this fire showed it to be a fire of God; it was a precursor of the great conflagration which will consume the world—even the sea itself—at the Great Day (2 Peter 3:10). Compare Jeremiah 51:32, where the fire of God burning Babylon is described as burning its lakes and moats [Wordsworth].
“On Prague’s proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below.” [Campbell.]
By whom? The time is come when men will ask this question in relation to the Church. How can it stand? The numbers are decreasing viewed in relation to the growth of the population. By whom shall it arise? Not by statesmen, scientists, ritualists, and priests. A new order of men are required to enable the Church to stand. Heaven raise them up [Dr Thomas]!
“More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of” [Tennyson].
Amos 7:7-9. Judgments. They are all exactly framed as it were by line and measure (Daniel 5:27). Justice is essential to God; he may as soon cease to be God, as cease to be just; hence he is called the righteous judge (Genesis 18:25), and the just Lord, who will do no iniquity (Zephaniah 3:5). He is just in and of himself, and just in his laws, just in his decrees, just in the execution of those decrees, just in the government of the world, just in his rewards, and just in his judgments; he is not only righteous in some, but in all his ways (Psalms 145:17) [Hall].
Amos 7:10.] The prophet opposed at Bethel on account of these predictions. Conspired] Heb. banded, implying that others joined. There is a charge of conspiracy and sedition; insinuates that Amos prophesies for bread (Amos 7:10-11), and in pretended courtesy advises him to remove. Say nothing against the king, let us alone in our customs, or we will suppress you by force.
Amos 7:14. Said] Indignantly repudiated the charge against himself. He was no scholar; as a herdsman he was content with a little, did not seek a mere livelihood, but as the messenger of God he spoke with dignity and authority.
Amos 7:17. Therefore] in return for this opposition Amaziah must bear his own doom. Wife] will be violently taken by the enemy. The city] publicly and openly: she would be dishonoured at the storming of the city. Land] possessed or assigned to others. Sons] Children slain by the foe; he himself would die in exile among the heathen, and the whole nation would be carried away into captivity.
THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN PRIEST AND PROPHET.—Amos 7:10-17
These verses contain an interesting episode, and present the prophet of God undaunted in danger. We see the issue of his preaching and the requital for his pains. Amaziah, the idolatrous priest of Bethel, is greatly incensed, resolves by force and fraud to get rid of Amos.
I. The conduct of the priest. Amaziah must be viewed as representative of the system of which he was no doubt the ecclesiastical head.
1. He seeks to silence the prophet by civil power. He seems to have been intimate with the king, pretends great kindness to him, when really he consulted his own interests. If Amos prevailed, his gods would starve, and Jerusalem would have all the custom. False teachers prove most cruel persecutors. Their authority is based on the patronage of the great and the support of the state. They are uncharitable in feeling and impotent in power. Flattery may find friends, but truth alone will stand.
2. He brings false charges against the prophet’s conduct. Every word has weight, like so many daggers, to stab the prophet.
(1) He makes false accusation against the character of the prophet. He was the proud pompous hierarch of a popular religion, a system upheld by prestige and patronage. Amos in his estimation was a needy vagrant, a contemptuous “seer.”
(2) He makes false accusation against the motives of the prophet. He insinuates Amos to be a mean, self-interested person, plying his vocation to “eat bread.” Self-interested persons, worldly priests, measure others by their own motives. Those who make godliness a gain, and are governed by hopes of preferment and wealth, understand not the aims of God’s servants, and think to rule others by inducements which influence them.
(3) He makes false accusation against the conduct of the prophet. He charges him with conspiracy. “Amos hath conspired against thee.” This was a most dangerous accusation, in the unsettled condition of the kingdom. This spirit has characterized a false priesthood in every age. Prophets and apostles, martyrs and reformers, and Christ himself, were all subject to the same persecution—the same artful and malicious design to excite the temporal power against them.
3. He brings false charges against the prophet’s preaching. In whatever spirit Amaziah reports the words of the prophet, he keeps back or perverts the truth. He artfully frames the language to establish his charge. He makes a base slander. The prophet had uttered the downfall of the house of Jeroboam, but not in a spirit of rebellion and treason. “Amos hath conspired against thee.” This was done openly at Bethel—think of that! “In the midst of thy people Israel.” “Commotions of the people are dangerous, O king! The people resent this. If thou dost not act they will”. “The land is not able to bear all his words.” God’s people have often been represented as enemies to the state and disloyal to princes. The true power of Christian character has been felt and hated. But “unable to resist the wisdom and the spirit” with which servants of God have spoken, recourse has been had to illegal methods, and men have not dared to appeal to reason and the word of God (Acts 6:10). “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
4. He advises the prophet to consult his own safety. “Flee thee away.” As a seeming friend he requests him to flee away from danger.
(1) He urges him in the language of terror. It is not safe to prophesy here against the king. This is Bethel, the centre of worship and the seat of government. He could expect no encouragement or sanction in the court. He was too blunt, too faithful, to be heard. Go to Judah.
(2) He urges him in the language of threats. As a haughty prelate he assumes authority. “Prophesy not again any more,” in my parish and jurisdiction. We have enough of schism and sedition. I am resolved to suspend and silence thee. Prohibition from man will not destroy the authority of God. Peter and John were forbidden to preach, Luther and Knox were threatened, but they could not but speak. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
II. The behaviour of the prophet. Amos was too deeply impressed with a sense of duty to be swayed by arguments like these.
1. He repudiates the personal charge. “I was no prophet,” &c. He was a humble shepherd, neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet by profession. Content to cultivate and gather figs, he would never have thrust himself into office. He was a labouring man, neither ashamed of his origin nor employ. Others may boast of rank and authority, but God chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise and mighty.
2. He asserts his Divine commission. “The Lord took me.” What the priest forbade, God commanded. “Go, prophesy.” Amaziah was in direct rebellion against God, Amos was acting in obedience to God. God often calls men from flocks and herds to stand before priests and princes. They may not be recognized by the learned scribe, the proud prelate, and the king’s court: but they are conscious of a Divine mission, and are determined to fulfil it.
3. He refuses to leave the path of duty. Amaziah might be influenced by the fear of man, Jonah may escape from Nineveh, but Amos fears not the wrath of a king. God sent him to Israel, not to Judah, and from Israel he would not go. If we are conscious of God’s sanction we shall be supported in trial and courageous in danger. This made Amos resolute against Amaziah; Nathan free with David; Elijah bold with Ahab; John faithful with Herod; and the apostles confident before the world. One prophet sent by God shall overcome the hosts of Baal, though backed by the power of king and queen. “Should such a man as I flee?”
4. He repeats his solemn message. He is not terrified by priest or king. Though forbidden to prophesy, he desists not, but denounces God’s words and bids the priest attend to the awful sentence.
(1) His wife would be dishonoured. She would be openly and publicly insulted at the storming of the city.
(2) His children would be slain by the sword. He had trained them up, and God would cut them off, in idolatry.
(3) His lands would be taken by the enemy. They would be allotted to others by line (Deuteronomy 32:9; 2 Samuel 8:2; Psalms 16:6). Thus he would lose his heirs and his inheritance also.
(4) He would die a captive in a foreign land. He who now gloried in priesthood and position should become an exile and die in a land polluted by idols. The greatest misery that could happen to one expecting a grave in the land of promise.
(5) The kingdom itself would be destroyed. “And Israel shall surely go into captivity.” The prediction is in the very words of the priest himself (Amos 7:11), and a warning to all who oppose the servants and abuse the gifts of God. If we pollute the people of God, we shall be dishonoured ourselves. Wicked parents and ungodly ministers reap what they sow and bring a curse upon posterity. Sinners and seducers can never make void the threatening of God. The most haughty and powerful cannot defy judgments which offend them. Opposition may provoke God to contend with them as individuals, and bring ruin upon their families and estates, upon body and soul, for time and eternity.
A POLITICAL PRIEST AND A TRUE PROPHET
Let us view the transactions of this high priest, and we shall find a complete character of a false prophet, or the perfect picture of a politician.
1. They use to flatter and delude great ones, making them to believe that none are their friends but such as say as they say, do whatever they would have them do, and humour them in their sins;—that they are their foes that, like Amos, deal faithfully and plainly with them; and this is no small part of great men’s misery, that they have few about them that dare or will deal faithfully with them. They may use the Litany (in this sense) with that alteration which the poor curate used, when he saw his lord come into the Church, O God the Father of Heaven, have mercy upon us Right Honourable sinners. Their state is worse (in this respect) than that of inferior persons, who are plainly and truly told of their sins, when these are soothed up to their destruction.
2. They calumniate and belie the true prophets. They observe the rule of Machiavel—Lie lustily, somewhat will stick though it be never so false.
3. They labour with might and main to suppress and silence the true prophets. They know that their kingdom cannot long stand, if once the faithful ministers of Christ be countenanced; light and darkness, the ark and Dagon, Christ and Belial, can never subsist together. This made Amaziah use both force and fraud to rid the land of Amos
4. They labour to suppress good men before they can be heard. They must not speak nor dispute the case. Thus Amaziah clandestinely accuseth Amos to the king, when he could make no defence for himself.
5. They usually mingle some truth with their lies. As fowlers do mix some wheat with their chaff, to catch the birds the sooner; so did Amaziah mix some truth with his lies. Amos hath said Jeroboam shall die by the sword (that was false), and Israel shall surely go into captivity (that was true) [Hall].
Let us now view the true prophet of God. He is the very opposite of a timeserving, conventional priest.
1. He is Divinely called to his work. He is no mere professional servant. He does not assume office for his own interests, nor does he run before he is sent. He does not always belong to the regular order of prophets, nor is he always qualified by human learning, but God has appeared to him and uttered the word, “Go prophesy to my people.”
2. He is often persecuted and opposed in his work. He predicts judgments which some cannot bear. He is called an enthusiast and “a mover of sedition,” denounced, reproached, and hindered in his work. If open violence does not answer, secret fraud is devised (Jeremiah 11:19; Jeremiah 12:6). Hence men display their personal spite and vile ingratitude. But they will find it perilous to fight against God and persecute his servants.
3. He is always faithful in doing his work. Truthful men are valiant. Cowards fear and creep behind. God’s servants stand their ground and are faithful to their trust. They are not deterred by false friends nor threatening foes. Fidelity to conscience and God often costs them their life. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
The sins of Amaziah.
1. Contradicting God’s command. “Prophesy not against Israel”
2. Slanderous report of God’s servant. “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
3. Frustrating God’s purpose. (a.) In seeking to crush the truth, (b.) In tempting the messenger to flee from duty. The prophet’s defence proved the nature of the charge. Amaziah hears his doom, like Peter telling Ananias, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”
Amos 7:10. Not able to bear all his words. Truth often an offence—always a power in the land. The world is compelled to confess their impotence against it.
Amos 7:12. Worldly advice to God’s servants. “Flee,” &c. This given by Pharisees to Christ (Luke 13:31). It is folly to declare alarming truths before the great; impiety to oppose established customs and eminent dignitaries; and insolent to preach the gospel in king’s chapels. Smooth things and popular heresies must pass current with some, and royalty must pass undisturbed to destruction.
This was fit advice for the priest of Bethel. Carnal men do not rise above carnal motives; but true prophets consult not flesh and blood, have higher motives than safety, bread, &c. Apostles, Reformers, and Missionaries took no counsel with advisers like Amaziah. Duty before temporal interests. Pray for help to discharge it. This advice proves—
2. Timidity, and
Amos 7:13. Observe, this priest of Bethel claims honour for it, not because it is the Lord’s sanctuary, but because it is the king’s sanctuary, and not because it is the house of God, but the house of Jeroboam. All claims of reverence for a Church simply and merely as a national establishment, independently of Divine institution, are no better than these assertions of Amaziah. The first royal propounder of what is now called Erastianism, as far as we know, was Jeroboam I.; the first priestly advocate of it, as far as we know, was Amaziah [Wordsworth].
Amos 7:14. Herdman. One of that class to which Abraham, and Moses, and David had belonged; but not rich in fields and herds, in men-servants and maid-servants, like the first; nor learned in the wisdom of the Egyptians, like the second; nor with any, the most distant, intimations that he might one day be the shepherd of a people, like the third [F. D. Maurice].
1. God loves to appear to men diligent in their calling. Moses keeping sheep, David following the ewes, and Saul seeking the asses, &c.
2. When God calls we must be ready to forsake all. Amos leaves his herds, disciples their nets, and Abraham his country. Grace makes men able to do and willing to suffer what God commands.
3. The sphere must be left with God to appoint. Whatever the lot may be, we must be satisfied. Other places may seem better, but God knows best.
4. When once the place is fixed we must not quit it without Divine guidance. Nothing warrants unlawful fear in the performance of duty or neglect of it. Providence must never be construed to sanction flight or withdraw us from our work. We may apparently do little good, be permitted to prophesy in another place and be more successful. But we must abide in our calling, never give way to corrupt principles, and shun not to declare the whole counsel of God.
Amos 7:17. Opposers of God’s word examples of his justice and indignation. Amaziah led God’s people into idolatry, and his wife is an harlot in the city. He destroyed the souls of the people, and his own family fall by the sword. Given to the world, he was the chief cause why Israel was despoiled of their inheritance, and his land is divided among the conquerors. He was the chief cause of Israel’s exile, and would not let them believe it, the threatening was verified upon himself, and without recovery died in a polluted land [Hutcheson].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Amos 7:10-11. Latimer spoke his mind before Henry VIII. and was complained of by his enemies. One of them kneeled before the king and accused him of seditious doctrines. Latimer turned first to his accuser and asked, “What form of preaching would you appoint me to preach before a king?” No answer was given to this and several other questions. Then he turned to the king, confessed his unworthiness to preach, declared that he was called to it, but would give way to his betters. “But if your Grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire your Grace to discharge my conscience, give me leave to frame my discourse according to mine audience.” The king was pleased with Latimer’s words, who was congratulated by his friends, and told with tears in their eyes that they looked for nothing but confinement in the Tower for him [Whitecross].
Amos 7:14. Herdman. In Palestine at the present day none but the very poor consent to be herdmen, and only such gather sycamore fruit or use it [The Land and Book].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Amos 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27