Can I Get a Witness?
Tom J. Nettles
When we are tempted to think that the ways of God with men
are unjust and disproportionate to either our evil or our strength, Amos 7
should not be far from our minds. This revelation shown Amos seems to be a
separate manifestation, delivered at a distinct time from those that have gone
before, of the judgment to come. Most of the prophecies were probably delivered
I. In the first six verses of this chapter, the Lord shows Amos two judgments, one of locusts and the other of fire. 7:1-6
A. The devastation accomplished by both methods was thorough. Amos saw the intensity and thoroughness of what God was proposing, and though he had seen their idolatry and promised them under divine inspiration that thorough judgment was to come, when God showed him the immensity of the wrath involved, he shrunk from it.
B. The strength
of Jacob was too little to withstand the scheme of judgment. Amos objected, “How can Jacob stand? He is so
small!" This is plea based on the weakness of
C. On the basis of Amos’s plea pointing to Jacob’s weakness, the Lord relented. On the second vision of judgments by fire, and the second objection by Amos, “The LORD relented concerning this: "This also shall not be," said the Lord GOD.
judgments surely were just, but God allowed the appeal on the basis of Amos’s
realization that this judgment would utterly ruin
II. Verses 7-9. God does not begin with a judgment in this vision, but with a plumb line—an unaltering measure of the conformity of an object to the natural absolutes that govern the world. Any builder knows that a wall out of plumb cannot be remedied by changing plumb, but by changing the wall.
A. God has relented twice, and now shows Amos a
plumb line. This plumb line is set in the midst of the people
B. Amos has no retort, for the lesson of the
plumb line is self-evident. When the plumb line was set in the midst of
pronounces a thorough judgment against the house of Jeroboam. “the high places of Isaac shall be made
desolate, and the sanctuaries of
III. Amaziah, a priest at Bethel,
opposed Amos – Verses10-13 – The earlier words of Amos that they people should
seek God and not Bethel (5:5) and that Bethel “shall come to nothing,” and his
proclamation that God would not accept their burnt offerings and their grain
offerings, were now multiplied in intensity by Amos’s newly impressed clarity
on the utter justice and holiness of God. Amaziah is bewildered
and personally feels the verbal blasts of the divine argument against
A. Amaziah was a priest according to the mandate of the king
and had no warrant in the mosaic legislation for his position. He was not a
descendant of Levi, nor did he serve in
B. Amaziah reported Amos and his prophecy to Jeroboam. Amaziah represented Amos’s work as if it were a political
conspiracy against Jeroboam and
C. Amaziah tells Amos to go back to
1. On the basis
of having reported him to the king, Amaziah advises
Amos to “flee away to the
2. Why should he
put himself in danger when in
3. Your work
here, however, is illegitimate and intrusive. The king has established this
place of worship and this sanctuary provides religious unity for the nation.
God do your bothersome pastime in your own land and leave us alone. "O seer, go, flee away to the
IV. Amos answered Amaziah concerning himself– Verses 14, 15
A. Amos is not a
“professional” prophet – He was not there because he had run out of prophetic
work to do in
B. Amos was sent
from God specifically to prophesy against
V. “Amos prophesies against Amaziah – verses 16, 17
A. Amaziah’s word is directly opposed to Yahweh’s instruction
to Amos. God said, “Prophesy to my people
B. Amaziah will experience a peculiarly personal judgment from
God in addition to the judgment already pronounced against
1. His wife would become a prostitute in the city, that is, the city in which Amaziah served as a priest.
2. His children would die by the sword
3. His land, which must have been substantial, would be divided into equal portions for the possession of others
4. He would go
into exile into
5. In spite of Amaziah’s protest that Amos should prophesy elsewhere,
VI. Thought about Application
A. ‘Amos’s shrinking from the judgment that he saw is a type of Christ in the garden exploring a possible way of redemption apart from his enduring of wrath. The reality of divine wrath surely must overwhelm any human consciousness, if even Jesus in his human contemplation looks to the Father for another possibility.
B. The plumb
line as a symbol of the perfect equity, holiness, righteousness, beauty, and
natural inviolability of God’s law stopped all objection
from Amos and should do the same for us. If we considered what a great thing
sin is, we could have no objection to any measure of discipline he sends his
people to give them greater conformity to his character, nor would we find
objections to the biblical doctrine of hell, eternal punishment without any
intermittence of mercy, to be as considerable and rational as sometimes they
seem. God’s judgment on
C. When Amos renewed his courage to prophesy even with the threat of action against him by Jeroboam and against the force of Amaziah’s objection, he is a type of Christ in his unalterable commitment to his Father’s will in shouldering the cross in the epitome of human cruelty and the certainty of the full measure of divine wrath for his sheep. He did not say finally, “O Lord, relent; How can I stand? I am so small.” Instead he said, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Thus for redemption he embraced the fullness of his Father’s just wrath, and believers can sing to Jesus with Toplady.
Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
What’er they people owed..
Nor can his wrath on me take place,
When covered in they righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood.