Amos 7–9. Complete, Assured Devastation—and Final Hope.

Key Notes: Five visions: locusts, fire, a plumb line, a basket of rotting fruit, the temple collapsing.The earth melts. Israel will be run through a sieve. Later, Israel will be restored and productive.

In these last three chapters, Amos tells us of five visions the Lord gave him. With two other word-pictures, they give us a full vision of the destruction that lies ahead, still years off. But Israel does not know when the blow will fall, and is being given abundant time to repent and return.

7:1–3 Amos has a vision of locusts that the Lord is forming to destroy the fields during the haying season. (See also Joel.). Amos begs for mercy: How can Jacob stand? He is so small. God relents. The immediate destruction does not happen.

7:4–6 He has a vision of fire, perhaps a grass fire that would burn up the land and perhaps even the Sea of Galilee. Amos pleads against the fire and God relents. The immediate destruction will not happen.

7:7–9 The third vision is a plumb line set to determine the straightness of a building. In Scripture, the plumb line is used as a symbol of construction (Isa.28:16–17; Zech. 4:9–10) but also of destruction. IIK.21:13; Isa.34:11; Lam.2:8.
The plumb-line set against a straight wall probably represents God’s standard—His Kingdom. All other walls will be destroyed when they are shown not to be ”plumb”.

Here Amos prophesies the end of the dynasty of Jeroboam II. Jehu was the scion, the first of four kings. He had been anointed by Elisha to carry out God’s plan of destroying the house of Ahab and Jezebel. (IIK.9:1–10). He wiped out Baal worship in Israel. In spite of continuing in the sins of Jeroboam I, God promised Jehu a dynasty of four kings. (IIK.10:28–31). They were Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jeroboam II, and Zechariah, who was to survive only six months as king over Israel. IIK.15:8–12

7:10–17. Amaziah, priest of the false temple at Bethel, reported to Jeroboam II that Amos had conspired against him. That was false. Amos is repeating the words of the prophets before him, not about Jeroboam II himself, but against his house, his dynasty.

Amaziah told Amos to get out of Bethel—and Israel—and live in Judah. Bethel was the king’s sanctuary and temple—and Amaziah was its priest. Amos said he was not a professional prophet, but a shepherd who also cared for the sycamore-fig tree, a lesser source of edible figs. God gave him a message which Amaziah denounced.
Amos does not mince words. Amaziah the priest will die in an unclean land; his wife will be prostituted by the invaders and his children killed. Israel will go into exile as well.

8:1–3 The fourth vision of a basket of rotting summer fruit raises the question of what other kinds of fruits there might be. By summer fruit, we suppose grapes and apples and pomegranates. These have a short life without refrigeration. (Citrus fruits and apricots came into the land years later) . Other fruit harvested early or late, such as figs and dates, coconuts and olives, can be kept much longer.
So Israel is due to rot soon, like decaying fruit—wailing over dead bodies.

8:4–6 Some of the reasons for God’s judgment are the oppression of the poor, greed and deception in the market-place. Micah also decries “wicked scales” and a “bag of deceitful weights.” Mic.6:11

8:7–8 The land rising and falling like the Nile suggests earthquakes. Amos 9:5 repeats the description.

8:9–14 Israel mourning as for an only son is reminiscent of Zech.12:10 where the prophet says Israel ” shall look on Him whom they have pierced,” and mourn for Him as for an only son. I cannot tell if the meaning in Amos is the same.

In exile, there will a shortage of the word of God for two reasons. During the reign of Josiah, a reformer in Judah, only one copy of the Law was found. (IIK.22:8–10). For 400 years after Malachi there was no prophetic vision until John and Baptist and Jesus came. Scripture would be harder than ever to find. Idols would be substituted.

9:1 The fifth vision was of the temple pillars falling, taking the people down with them.

9:2–4 This prophecy is devastating. There is no hiding from God’s destruction, as there is no hiding from God’s loving pursuit (Psa.139) and His supporting presence. (Rom.8:17–19). Whether they go up to heaven or down to hell, whether they hide on top of Mt. Carmel or go to the bottom of the sea, they will be found and destroyed.

9:5–6 The picture is of the earth melting, heaving like the Nile, and covered with water. It is a picture of volcanic action, earthquake and flood.

9:7- 10 God says Israel according to the flesh is no better than the Ethiopians. God not only brought Israel out of Egypt, but put the Philistines and the Syrians in their respective places as well.

The final word picture is of Israel being sieved among the nations, shaken out with most of the sand falling to the ground. But not a pebble [of the Remnant] will be lost.

9:11—12 The shack (it was once a house) of David will be restored. The house refers to the Kingdom of David—Christ’s Kingdom as prophesied in II Sam. 7:12–13. The shack of David is a metaphor for the surviving godly line of David.
Another metaphor is “a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa.11:1). That is a description of a person—Christ Himself—sprung from the depleted family of David. Christ’s lineage is outlined in Matt.1 and Lk. 4.

They will possess the remnant of Edom and “all the nations that are called by my name”.
This passage is quoted by James in Acts. 15:17. The NT reference reads from the LXX and is somewhat different: "They shall possess the remnant of Edom” becomes “the rest of men shall seek the Lord” in Acts 15. Adam ("man in Hebrew") and Edom have the same consonants. Since the vowels are inferred, either Adam or Edom may be read. Both are probably correct. “...{they shall possess} all the nations that are called by my Name” becomes “all the Gentiles who are called by my name.” in Acts 15:17. The question is whether the nations as nations are called by His name, or whether the more generic term “Gentiles” is meant. For James the Jerusalem elder's purposes, the outcome is the same: Gentiles are turning to God as the prophets had foretold.

9:13–15 The hope of future prosperity and peace will be realized. Cities and vineyards and gardens will be replanted. The people will aalso be replanted, never to be removed again. The reaper overtaking the planter is mentioned in Lev.26:5. The expression describes crops so abundant that the reaper and the planter are in each other's way.


Israel will be eaten 7:1–3
                    burned 7:4–6
                     smashed 7:7–9
                      rotted 8:1–3
                        crumpled 9:1-
                       pursued 9:2–4
                         sieved 9:9–10
Only the middle term is passive. All the others are active destruction. But God’s destruction is not simple retribution, but purifying for the future.

The other question is about “the nations that are called by my name.” Does God deal with nations as nations, or only distinguishing Israelites from all others? Is James telling the whole story when he says "Gentiles” are coming to Christ? Who are the nations that are called by the name of the Lord?

We have already heard in Amos that God placed the Ethiopians, the Syrians and the Philistines in their territories. Paul says God has determined allotted periods and the boundaries of nations. (Acts.17:26). If we read in the prophets about a dozen nations around Israel, a Last Days’ destiny is mentioned for almost all of them.

For example,” In that day the Lord will extend His hand yet a second time to recover the remnant of His people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath and from the coast lands of the sea. “ (Isa.11:10 to the end of the chapter).

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.” Isa.19:23–24

“Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out her hands to God.” Psa.68:31

Who are the nations that are called by the name of the Lord? Are they not also the nations of the Christian West?