This teaching on Amos chapter 6-7 was given by pastor Barry Forder on 21st November 2021.
Amos, a shepherd and tender of sycamore trees, was happily going about his business one day when the call of God came upon him. Now, at a moment like that you can either choose to run (Jonah style – that didn’t end well!), or you can try and ignore the call (that’s what many do – but then they lose out on an opportunity to serve God, and that moment will be lost forever), or they can choose, like Amos, to obey.
In chapter 6, Amos starts by warning Israel about their complacency. God had given Israel their land, and the two principle cities, Jerusalem and Samaria we’re both situated at high elevations which made them ideal to fortify and defend against attack. In their arrogancy, Israel thought they would never be defeated. However, Amos reminds Israel that great cities like Calneh (near Babylon), Hamath (in Syria) and Gaza (formerly a principle city of the Philistines), had all being defeated. Rhetorically, Amos asks if Israel were really any better than these gentile cities?
Before listing the consequence for their sin and the coming destruction God had decreed, Amos continues to lay out the charge against Israel, listing four ways they had replaced the true worship of Jehovah with idolatry immorality and open rebellion.
Chapter 7 opens with Amos receiving three visions, but it is his response that carries a great lesson for us today. Firstly God warns that He will send a locust plague that would devastate the Land. Rather than just shrug his shoulders and accept it, Amos pleads with God to show mercy, on the basis that Israel would not survive if God did as He had warned. In the New Testament, James tells us that the prayers of one righteous man avails much. On account of Amos’ prayer, God relents of the coming judgment. In his second vision, Amos sees the land being scorched through intense heat so as to dry up all the water and bring about an intense famine. Once again, Amos pleads with God to show mercy, and again He relents concerning this judgment.
The situation is similar to that of Moses in Exodus 32:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people”. Exodus 32:9-14
Peter reminds us that “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
How much do we love our country? How much do we care about our unbelieving friends, neighbours, countrymen? Are we happy to let them carry on down the path to God’s divine wrath? Or are we, like Amos, willing to get on our knees and ‘stand in the gap’ (Ezekiel 22:30)? What would happen if every Christian in this land got on their knees and prayed for God’s mercy on this broken nation? What would happen if every Christian in this land prayed for revival? How many lives might be rescued from eternal wrath if we did?
The end of chapter 7 sees a ‘heated exchange’ between Amaziah (one of the ‘priests’ of Jeroboam at Bethel), and Amos. Amaziah basically tells Amos to ‘shut up and go home!… no one want’s to hear your message of doom’. Amos calmly reminds Amaziah that the message is from God, and it was God, not Amos, that wanted it delivered. Amos simply stepped out in faith – incredible faith it has to be said – and ‘gave up his day job’ to deliver God’s message. Amos had no idea how this was going to work out! He might have been imprisoned, or even killed for delivering his ‘treasonous’ message. But that is where faith comes in; trusting God when we don’t know where it will lead, trusting God when we can see no solution to our current predicament, but simply knowing that God is able to keep us under the waves as easily as He can keep us on top of them!
Whenever God brings His deliverances they are so supernatural that we are staggered with amazement. It is one of the most helpful spiritual exercises to reckon what God has done for us already. When God wanted to make His ancient people realize what manner of God He was, He said, “Remember the crossing of the Red Sea,” and in the New Testament Paul says, “Remember, it is the God who raise Jesus from the dead.” These two things are the unit of measurement of God’s power. If I want to know what God can do, He is the God who made a way through the sea; if it is a question of power for my life, the measurement of that is the resurrection of Jesus. – From ‘The Highest Good’ by Oswald Chambers
May you be blessed, challenged and encouraged by this study.