Today we will complete the book of Amos. We begin with a vision that God gives Amos. He sees God send a swarm of locusts on Israel (7:1). The latter growth refers to the crops that are harvested in summer (as opposed to spring). Amos prays to God that this would not be because it would devastate Israel (v. 2). And in the vision, God relents (v. 3). Then, Amos sees a great fire that devastates the land (v. 4). Amos prays the same prayer (v. 5), and God again relents (v. 6). Then, Amos sees God standing next to a wall with a plumb line in His hand (v. 7). A plumb line is used to make walls straight. Straightness is used in the Old Testament as a metaphor for uprightness. The vision means that God will measure the “straightness” of Israel, and because they are soo “crooked,” He will destroy them (vv. 8-9).
Note that God will rise against the house of Jeroboam (v. 9). This likely has a double reference. First, it is likely a judgment against the physical family of the king who reigned at the time of this prophesy (Jeroboam II), whose son Zechariah will be assassinated (2 Kings 15:10). More broadly, this is an indictment against the spiritual family of the first Jeroboam, who set up false worship in Israel (1 Kings 12:26-33). We have seen how the “measuring stick” for many of the kings of Israel is whether or not they sinned like Jeroboam (see 2 Kings 10:31, 13:6, 13:11). This would apply to all those who worshiped falsely in Israel – which was almost everyone (save the “remnant” God always kept for Himself – see Amos 3:12). Both of these fulfilments are in view in Amos’s pronouncement in 7:11.
We then have the record of the confrontation between Amos and Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (see again 1 Kings 12:32 about the priests). The priest reveals to the king (Jeroboam II) what Amos has been prophesying (vv. 10-11). So Amaziah tells Amos to go back to his country (vv. 12-13). We get the impression in verse 14 that Amos answered the prophetic call almost reluctantly (see 1:1), but answer it he did (v. 15), so he will obey God and not man (v. 16). And he pronounces the utter destruction and captivity of Israel, including Amaziah’s death in Assyria (v. 17).
Chapter 8 begins with another vision. Amos sees a basket of summer fruit (8:1). This would be from the summer crop that God relented from destroying in 7:1-3. The “summer fruit” in Hebrew would be qai-its (Hebrew קַ֫יִץ), which sounds almost identical to “end” which would be qaits (Herew קֵץ). There is a lot of this type of word association in the prophetic books. God did not end the summer crops, but they represent the complete end of the nation of Israel (v. 2). Note the utter carnage God promises in verse 3. In verse 4-6, God again indicts Israel for their lavish living and lack of justice. This is the “pride of Jacob” (v. 7 – see 6:8).
The reference to the rising and receding of the Nile (an annual event) is a metaphor for the certainty of the coming judgment (v. 8). Then, like in 5:18-20, mixed in to the near coming judgment is a prophesy of future judgment, including the final judgment (much of Old Testament prophecy has multiple fulfillments). The judgment of verse 8 was sure, and so are these other judgments. Israel is a type of the unbelievers who will be judged at the Day of the Lord. The sun going down at noon (v. 9), the sackcloth (v. 10), and the absence of the Word of God (v. 11) are used elsewhere in the Bible to describe the end times. But note that the end times began with Christ’s first coming, as evidenced by the sun going down at noon at His crucifixion (Matt 27:45). The famine of revelation in verses 11-12 also refers to the 400 years of silence before Christ’s first coming.
Verse 14 is another pronouncement of judgment on Israel. The “guilt” of Samaria in Hebrew would sound very similar to the “Asherim” (plural of Asherah, a Canaanite goddess) of Samaria (see 1 Kings 16:32-33 and 2 Kings 13:6). The god of Dan is the same as the god of Bethel from 3:14. Dan is where Jeroboam placed the other Golden Calf (1 Kings 12:29). The reference to the “way” or “road” of Beersheba is likely juxtaposed with Dan, as “from Dan to Beersheba” was an idiom used to refer to the entire Promised Land (see Judges 20:1 and 1 Sam 3:20 as examples). This is likely God judging Israel for believing that the Holy Land belonged to them (see 1:9-10).
Amos 9 begins with another vision. Amos sees God standing beside (literally “on”) the altar (9:1) This may be one of the altars in Bethel or Dan. Or it may be the altar in the Temple. Or (my leaning) it may be that Amos is seeing God in His heavenly dwelling after which the Temple and its furnishings were modeled. Striking the capitols and the thresholds refers to the utter destruction of something, in this case, Israel. This refers to the Assyrian destruction and captivity of Israel. Verses 2-5 again asserts the certainty of the judgment. Verse 6 describes the heavenly Temple as standing upon supports from the earth. This refers to God’s authority over the earth.
In verses 7-8, God speaks against any inherent uniqueness for Israel. They are like the foreign nations. God has rescued other nations from captivity like He did for Israel. And God will destroy all of these sinful nations. And yet He will still preserve a remnant from Israel! He is about to sift Israel through the coming judgment (v. 9), and the sand (evil) will fall while the pebbles (the remnant) will be preserved. It is only the sinners who will die for their sin (v. 10).
God then speaks of the time of restoration (a theme throughout the Old Testament prophets). This restoration is begun in the church, and is completed at the Second Coming of Christ. James (the brother of the Lord) uses this Amos passage (9:11-12) to explain that the Gentile inclusion in the church was God’s plan all along (see Acts 15:15-19); indeed, that the Gentile-included church fulfills these two verses. In verse 13, God describes this time of restoration as an unparalleled time of fruitfulness. The plowman overtaking the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed is describing a time of continually fertile soil. Planting and harvesting will continually take place simultaneously. This is the mission of the church.
Verse 14 is a reversal of the judgment pronounced in Amos 5:11. Justice – ultimate justice – will be done at the time of restoration, and judgment will be removed from His people. Verse 15 speaks to the certainty of the restoration. It is irrevocable. This clearly cannot refer to the restoration of the land after the captivity, since Israel loses it again1. The land that God gives is the New Heaven and New Earth, of which the physical Promised Land was a type.
1 Some will say that this refers to Israel being restored to their land in 1948. I whole-heartedly disagree. Not only does this ignore a host of other Bible passages and the overarching narrative of Scripture as a whole, but even history itself speaks against modern-day Israel being correlated with the nation of Israel that ceased to be in 70 A.D. In addition, there are far more of Jewish descent that live outside of physical Israel today than in it. The people have hardly been “planted on the land.” Also, I would not say that the plight of modern-day Israelis matches up with the description of this passage. Is this the “restoration of their fortunes?”