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                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                       Amos - The Country Prophet
                     (Part III Chapters 7, 8 and 9)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the first two studies on the book of Amos, we briefly surveyed...
   a. The "Oracles" of Amos, concerning sin and judgment of eight
      nations (ch. 1-2)
   b. The "Sermons" of Amos, concerning the sin and judgment of Israel
      (ch. 3-6)

2. In this third and final lesson on Amos, we will...
   a. Focus our attention on the last three chapters which contain...
      1) Five "Visions" of Amos
      2) An "interlude" in which Amos defends his prophetic role
      3) A closing glimpse of a brighter future
   b. Offer a summary of lessons gleaned from the book of Amos

[Let's begin, then by noting...]

I. THE "VISIONS" OF AMOS (Amos 7:1 to 9:15)

   A. THE VISION OF THE LOCUSTS (Amos 7:1-3)
      1. The vision and the Lord's response to Amos' prayer...
         a. The Lord shows Amos a swarm of locusts devastating the
            crops
         b. Amos cries out in behalf of Jacob (Israel)
         c. The Lord hears, and relents so that the locust plague will
            not happen
      2. The meaning of the vision...
         a. Some take the locust plague to be a figurative symbol of an
            invading army
         b. Whether literal or figurative, the judgment it represented
            is averted by the pleading of the prophet
         c. It is reminiscent of what we saw in Joel, how the nation's
            repentance averted the reoccurrence of the "locust
            invasion" - cf. Joel 2:1-24 

   B. THE VISION OF THE FIRE (Amos 7:4-6)
      1. The vision and the Lord's response to Amos' prayer...
         a. The Lord shows Amos a fire consuming the "great deep" and
            the territory
         b. Once again Amos cries out in behalf of Jacob (Israel)
         c. The Lord again hears, and relents from bringing the
            conflagration upon Israel
      2. The meaning of the vision...
         a. Clearly figurative, for the "great deep" is likely the
            Mediterranean Sea
         b. Whatever judgment it represents it is also averted by the
            prayer of Amos
         c. These first two visions appear to illustrate God's
            longsuffering due to the prayers of the righteous

   C. THE VISION OF THE PLUMB LINE (Amos 7:7-9)
      1. The vision and the Lord's explanation...
         a. The Lord is standing on a wall with a plumb line in hand
         b. The Lord explains He is setting a plumb line in the midst
            of Israel, and will now bring destruction upon:
            1) The places of idolatrous worship ("high places" and
               "sanctuaries")
            2) The house of Jeroboam (the ruling king of Israel, cf.
               Amos 1:1 )
      2. The meaning of the vision...
         a. A plumb line is used to measure the correctness of any
            construction
         b. God has so measured Israel, and found her so defective that
            He cannot overlook her anymore
         c. The judgment will involve destruction of her religious and
            political leaders

   D. AN INTERLUDE:  AMAZIAH'S COMPLAINT AGAINST AMOS (Amos 7:10-17)
      1. Amaziah, priest of Bethel (center of idolatrous worship),
         accuses Amos of conspiracy against Jeroboam king of Israel
         - Amos 7:10-11 
      2. Amaziah tells Amos to leave Bethel and go back to his own
         country of Judah - Amos 7:12-13 
      3. Amos defends his prophetic mission - Amos 7:14-15 
      4. Amos then prophesies against Amaziah and Israel - Amos 7:16-17 

   E. THE VISION OF THE SUMMER FRUIT (Amos 8:1-14)
      1. The vision and the Lord's explanation - Amos 8:1-3 
         a. Amos is shown a basket of summer fruit (evidently quite
            ripened)
         b. The Lord reveals that Israel's end is near, and is ripe for
            judgment
      2. Once again, the nature of Israel's sin is described - Amos 8:4-6 
         a. Oppression of the poor and needy - cf. Amos 2:6-7 
         b. Disdain for religious observances, because they hinder
            economic enterprise
         c. Dishonest economic practices, to further abuse the poor and
            needy
      3. The nature of Israel's judgment is described - Amos 8:7-14 
         a. A day of mourning is coming - Amos 8:7-10 
         b. A day of famine for the word of God is coming - Amos 8:11-12 
         c. Those who trust in idolatry will fall and never rise again
            - Amos 8:13-14 

   F. THE VISION OF THE LORD BY THE ALTAR (Amos 9:1-10)
      1. Is this the altar of Jerusalem, or Bethel? (I suspect the
         latter)
      2. The altar shall be destroyed, and none shall escape - Amos 9:1-4 
      3. The One who shall accomplish this is described - Amos 9:5-6 
      4. Israel has become little different than the heathen nations
         - Amos 9:7 
      5. The careful, discriminate, nature of the Lord's judgment
         - Amos 9:8-10 
         a. The "kingdom" will be utterly destroyed
         b. But the "house of Jacob" will not
         c. What little is good will be spared, as grain sifted in a
            sieve
         d. But the sinners shall not escape, despite their claims to
            the contrary

   G. A GLIMPSE OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE - Amos 9:11-15 
      1. The restoration of the tabernacle of David is foretold, in
         which even the remnant of Edom and Gentiles who are called by
         His name are possessed - Amos 9:11-12 
      2. The restoration described in terms of agricultural abundance
         - Amos 9:13-15 
      3. James applied the fulfillment of this prophecy to the church
         and the inclusion of the Gentiles by the gospel - cf. Acts 15:13-17
      4. So the prophecy is figurative...
         a. Given in terms especially comforting to those of Amos' day
         b. Yet actually referring to spiritual blessings found in
            Christ today!

[Visions in the Bible often are designed to impact more the heart of
man rather than his mind.  So it is with these visions of Amos:
depicting God's longsuffering, His judgment upon the nation of Israel,
and His promise of future blessings for Israel and the nations (the
last fulfilled with the coming of Christ).

Before we close, let's review...]

II. A SUMMARY OF LESSONS GLEANED FROM AMOS

   A. CONCERNING GOD...
      1. He rules the nations and holds them accountable - Amos Chs. 1,2
      2. His omnipotence may be seen in:
         a. His acts of creation - Amos 4:3; Amos 5:8
         b. His control over the forces of nature - Amos 4:6-11 
         c. His supremacy over the nations - Amos Chs. 1,2
      3. His omnipresence is plainly taught (Amos 9:2-4), also His
         omniscience (Amos 4:13)
      4. The righteousness of God is constantly emphasized by Amos
         - e.g., Amos 5:24 

   B. CONCERNING ISRAEL...
      1. They were the people of God, having a special relationship
         with God - Amos 3:1-2 
      2. They should have reflected the glory of God - cf. Amos 5:14-15
      3. They failed, and so judgment would follow; but a remnant would
         be spared that would later bless the Gentiles - Amos 9:11-12

   C. MISCELLANEOUS LESSONS...
      1. Justice between man and man is one of the divine foundations
         of society
      2. Privilege implies responsibility
         a. Israel had enjoyed special privileges
         b. Therefore she had been give special responsibilities
      3. Failure to recognize and accept responsibility is sure to
         bring God's judgment
      4. The most elaborate worship is but an insult to God when
         offered by those who have no mind to conform to His commands
      -- These lessons were offered by Homer Hailey in his book,
         "A Commentary On The Minor Prophets" (Baker Book House)

CONCLUSION

1. Many other lessons can likely be gleaned from a book like Amos; the
   "Disciples' Study Bible" offers these:
   a. Merely observing proper forms of worship is not sufficient for a
      right relation with God (pure religion takes into consideration
      one's treatment of the poor and needy - cf. Ja 1:27 )
   b. Being a part of God's people does not guarantee exemption from
      judgment (Israel and Judah certainly weren't exempt)
   c. Not all judgment seeks to penalize and hurt (many were designed
      to restore man back to God, Amos 4:6-11 )

2. Can we not see the value of studying the Old Testament prophets?
   a. They are truly "written for our admonition" - 1 Co 10:11 
   b. They are truly "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
      correction, for instruction in righteousness," - 2 Ti 3:16 

In Amos 8:11-12, we read of a famine for the Word of the Lord that
would befall Israel, which occurred when they were taken into Assyrian
captivity.  Let's be sure that we do not experience a self-imposed
famine of the Word by neglecting to study and glean from such prophets
like Amos!
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