BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday April 28, 2013
LET THE VERDICT BE READ
(Where to turn for confidence about the future)
Amos 8:11-12 & 9:8-15
In Amos chapter 8 the prophet Amos is given a fourth vision from the LORD. It is the vision of a basket of ripe fruit, and it symbolized Israel being ripe for judgment from GOD. In effect, it is the vision of “the end” for a rebellious nation who had grown to love themselves and their idols, more than they loved GOD. The meaning of this vision and its attached oracle are of a more solemn nature than any of Amos’ other visions and messages. In fact, it is terrifying, both in its significance, and, in its delivery.
In verses 3-4 we see presented, a heart-wrenching irony of a celebrating church, singing songs of happiness, no doubt, with empty worship and praise, while just outside its doors, the poor and needy beg desperately for its help. Here the joyful songs generally associated with the harvest time are turned into dirges (funeral songs) and wailing, as this prophesy comes to fruition. GOD is no longer willing to delay HIS punishment upon northern Israel.
Because the poor of a nation are socially without power, it is much easier to defraud them than to defraud those who have. Even in today’s society it is very typical to find that food and other needed commodities are priced, comparatively, much higher in the low-income areas of our cities and towns, than they are in the more affluent suburban areas.
Here in verses 5-6 of this passage, the LORD says, that, one of the guilty counts against Israel was that she “profited off of the poor in immoral ways”, such as using “dishonest scales” to obtain false weights and measures. Dishonest merchants would also mix the wheat they sold to the poor, with the chaff that was swept from the threshing floor, and, to add insult to injury, they would enslave those who couldn’t pay their bills, which sometimes only amounted in value to a piece of silver, or even, a pair of sandals.
In verses 7-10 the LORD swears by HIS OWN name, that, “I will never forget the wicked things you have done! The earth will tremble for your deeds, and everyone will mourn. The land will rise up like the Nile at flood time, toss about, and sink again. At that time, says the Sovereign LORD, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth while it is still day. I will turn your celebrations into times of mourning, and your songs of joy will be as if your only son had died. How bitter that day will be!” (NLT).
These metaphorical words depict a devastating scene, of a people, who would soon be thrown into panic and dismay, because of their immoral, ungodly “horizontal relationship” with each other, here on earth, and their absence of a true “vertical relationship” with GOD in Heaven. It was now too late to change, or delay GOD’s judgment which had been fixed by a long history of sin and disobedience to HIM. And to make things worse, GOD says, in verses 11-12, that HE will remove HIS Word from the land. There would be no more reading, teaching, or preaching of HIS Word anywhere, even though some people, through the hunger pains of death, would be searching for it, too late. The implication here is that, in that time, people who procrastinated in earlier times, in favor of doing their own wills, would then be left to die for a lack of the Word of the GOD, WHOM, in former times, they chose to ignore.
In chapter 9, we see a fifth and final vision from GOD to the prophet Amos. It is the vision of GOD at the altar in the sanctuary. This seems to remind us Christians of something that we should already know, and that is, that, GOD’s judgment will always begin inside the Church house, and then, it will radiate out from there.
Here in this vision, GOD is standing by the altar. There HE tells Amos that HE will strike the tops of the temple columns so hard that its foundation will shake, and the roof will crash down on the people who are inside. Those who survived the crash would later be killed in battle, but no one who is guilty would escape punishment.
In verses 8-10, a watchful Sovereign GOD says that HE will uproot and scatter the nation of Israel, but HE will not completely destroy the whole populace. Instead, HE would sift the nation like wheat, and would leave only those that are true to the Faith (True Believers). All defiant sinners (for example, homosexuals who refuse to change their lifestyle), and all those who are indifferent towards GOD, those who say, “Nothing bad will happen to us in the end”, these are people who don’t believe there is a GOD, or satan, or heaven, or hell. They don’t realize that there is only two choices, nor do they understand that, they’ve already unwittingly chosen satan over GOD, by taking the position of being neutral, and I’m sure, to that, satan says thank you.
The often gloomy book of Amos now ends on a somewhat abrupt and cheerful note. In verses 11-15 we see such a remarkable shift in message and tone, that some scholars even question whether or not this passage in authentic, or really belongs here. In fact, it is even seen by some as a postscript from a later period in Jewish history. However, the promise of GOD’s ultimate restoration of HIS people is one that is universally agreed upon throughout all the annals of biblical history, and so it stands to reason that this promise from the LORD also fits perfectly as an end to this prophecy.
In this book of Amos, a verdict has been read, and it has been preserved to warn readers of every generation since, of the dangers of pursuing ungodly paths to prosperity, that ultimately always leads to disaster.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website