God’s Word of Justice
Amos 7:1-17: Amos describes three visions (locusts, fire, and a plumb line) that pertain to the destruction of Israel. His preaching is challenged by Amaziah, the head priest of Israel’s temple at Bethel, and Amos responds with a dire warning.
A Vision of Locusts
1I had a vision from the Sovereign Lord. In it I saw him create a swarm of locusts just after the king’s share of the hay had been cut and the grass was starting to grow again. 2In my vision I saw the locusts eat up every green thing in the land, and then I said, “Sovereign Lord, forgive your people! How can they survive? They are so small and weak!”
3The Lord changed his mind and said, “What you saw will not take place.”
A Vision of Fire
4I had another vision from the Sovereign Lord. In it I saw him preparing to punish his people with fire. The fire burned up the great ocean under the earth and started to burn up the land. 5Then I said, “Stop, O Sovereign Lord! How can your people survive? They are so small and weak!”
6The Lord changed his mind again and said, “This will not take place either.”
A Vision of a Plumb Line
7I had another vision from the Lord. In it I saw him standing beside a wall that had been built with the use of a plumb line, and there was a plumb line in his hand. 8He asked me, “Amos, what do you see?”
“A plumb line,” I answered.
Then he said, “I am using it to show that my people are like a wall that is out of line. I will not change my mind again about punishing them. 9The places where Isaac’s descendants worship will be destroyed. The holy places of Israel will be left in ruins. I will bring the dynasty of King Jeroboam to an end.”
Amos and Amaziah
10Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, then sent a report to King Jeroboam of Israel: “Amos is plotting against you among the people. His speeches will destroy the country. 11This is what he says: ‘Jeroboam will die in battle, and the people of Israel will be taken away from their land into exile.’”
12Amaziah then said to Amos, “That’s enough, prophet! Go on back to Judah and do your preaching there. Let them pay you for it. 13Don’t prophesy here at Bethel any more. This is the king’s place of worship, the national temple.”
14Amos answered, “I am not the kind of prophet who prophesies for pay. I am a herdsman, and I take care of fig trees. 15But the Lord took me from my work as a shepherd and ordered me to come and prophesy to his people Israel. 16So now listen to what the Lord says. You tell me to stop prophesying, to stop raving against the people of Israel. 17And so, Amaziah, the Lord says to you, ‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your children will be killed in war. Your land will be divided up and given to others, and you yourself will die in a heathen country. And the people of Israel will certainly be taken away from their own land into exile.’”
Today’s Key Verse: Amos 7:15
[Amos said:] “The LORD took me from my work as a shepherd and ordered me to come and prophesy to his people Israel.”
In the first two visions, the prophet prays on behalf of the people (verses 2, 5). Why does the LORD change his mind? What does the vision of the plumb line indicate (verses 7-9)? According to this vision, what will be the outcome for the people? What does Amaziah tell the king (verses 10-11)? Why does Amaziah challenge Amos? How does Amos respond? Have you ever encountered resistance to what you knew to be the truth? Is hearing the truth hard? Why or why not?
Holy God, keep my heart and mind open to your truth. Fill me with your Spirit, and help me to discern the truth and heed your voice and obey your teachings. Amen.
Amos 8:1-14: The prophet Amos pronounces more doom for Israel.