Amos 7 (NIV)
Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line
This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up.
There was an early crop; the king took a share from this crop. (However, we know very little about the circumstances of this.) The harvest from the second crop was for the farmers. So if the locusts ate this second crop, there would be no food left.
Joel 1:4 (NIV)
What the locust swarm has left
the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
other locusts have eaten.
2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”
3 So the Lord relented. “This will not happen,” the Lord said.
James 5:16 (KJV)
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
4 This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land.
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.
5 Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”
6 So the Lord relented. “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said.
Proverbs 15:29 (NLT)
The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayers of the righteous.
7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos? ”
“A plumb line, ” I replied.
Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
9 “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam. ”
Isaiah 40:8 (NLT)
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.
Amos and Amaziah
10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:
“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
and Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land.’”
An idolatrous priest complains to an ungodly king that the preacher is talking about sin, which goes against the grain of the ruling class, and no one wants to hear it. This is closer to us than one might think. I did a Walk Thru the Bible seminar a few years ago at a church in Florida which was searching for a new pastor after a long-term pastor retired. “All we want,” one of the church leaders told me, “is someone who will teach us Bible study. Our former pastor would only do novels.” And a pastor/friend tells of a leader in one of his former churches meeting with him and asking him to stop preaching so much about Jesus, because that meant the cross, which was barbaric, and that meant sin, which was old-fashioned. Just stick to the happy stuff, he was told.
Lord, open our eyes and ears to the truth of your word, so we will be faithful and not disobedient.
12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom. ”
14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,
“‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’
17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land. ’”
(Can’t you picture it? Amos the prophet/farmer, replying to the priest, standing his ground in his high heels!)
“Israel will surely go into exile away from their native land.” This is exactly what Amaziah accused Amos of saying as part of the “conspiracy.” Amos is bold enough to speak for the Lord, and to tell Amaziah and everyone else that Israel’s impending captivity is indeed true. A difficult word in a most difficult circumstance, but Amos was faithful to deliver it.
Amos mentions a plumb line, a tool used to ensure that constructions are vertically straight. Can we be a plumb line, of sorts, for our sphere of influence, showing the true light of Christ by our holy living? Or, in the words of St. Frances, can we be instruments of the Lord’s peace? HERE — Music by John Rutter, sung by the Cambridge Singers.