Listen to it here (21 minutes), or read it below.
Brief Context Reminder
Please open your Bibles to Amos 7. Tonight, we’ll be briefly studying Amos 7:1-9.
You’ll remember that, after Solomon, Israel divided into two kingdoms.
Amos was a farmer in the southern kingdom, Judah.
The northern kingdom has been independent for about 150 years when God calls Amos to go and prophesy there.
They’re only going to make it about another 50 years before a kingdom called Assyria destroys them.
Looking at our passage tonight, there are three visions that God shows Amos.
The first two are in verses 1-6. The third is in verses 7-9.
We’re going to start by looking at the first two visions God shows Amos, in verses 1-6. Then we’ll move to the third.
My goal as we study both sections is for us to look at God himself.
The First Two Visions: Verses 1-6
Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing.
2And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said,
“Lord GOD, please pardon!
How can Jacob stand,
For he is small?”
3The LORD changed His mind about this.
“It shall not be,” said the LORD.
God shows Amos a vision of the good judgment he’s sending against Israel.
In the vision, God forms an invading army of locusts that swarm through the land and eat all the crops and vegetation.
This is the curse God owes Israel for her breaking covenant, the curse he promised all the way back in Moses’ day.
Amos knows this, but like Abraham for Sodom, he begs for mercy from God.
And God listens to Amos’ intercession. He changes his mind and relents from sending the invasion. “It shall not be,” said the LORD.
4Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, the Lord GOD was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farmland.
5Then I said,
“Lord GOD, please stop!
How can Jacob stand, for he is small?”
6The LORD changed His mind about this.
“This too shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.
Israel is presumptuous.
Instead of taking the kindness and mercy of God as an opportunity to repent, Israel proudly assumes that withheld wrath means things are fine.
àIsrael takes the kindness of God as an opportunity to continue in sin.
So, God shows Amos this second vision—fire sweeping through the land, consuming everything, even the great deep. This again is what Israel is owed for breaking covenant with God.
Again, Amos intercedes for the nation. He begs for mercy.
And, again, God changes his mind. “This too shall not be.”
These are the two visions Amos is shown.
Most importantly, they show us our God.
Look in fear and faith at who he is.
God is faithfulness.
There is not a single promise he makes that he leaves unkept. He promised curses on Israel for breaking the covenant. Now he readies to send them.
God is justice.
He cannot and will not leave sin unpunished, even if the punishment is long in coming.
And his punishments always fit the crime. Israel will not stay in the land if they will not display God’s glory in the land.
God is mercy.
Look at how longsuffering he was with Israel. They have rebelled against him under every single king of their existence. Sin from beginning to now.
And God has put up with them for 150 years, 150 years of not sending the invasion and fire, 150 years for them to turn to him and be saved.
See his mercy in sending them a prophet from Judah, to warn them and intercede for them.
See his mercy in holding back the judgment when Amos begs for mercy.
And see that God is mercy by recognizing how he speaks for our creaturely minds.
In verses 3 and 6, he says that he changes his mind.
But God doesn’t change his mind. God doesn’t change at all, Malachi 3:6.
His words in Amos 7 mercifully help us understand him.
We are always-changing creatures.
And we always experience the unfolding of his judgment and mercy exactly according to God’s unchanging plan…
…that has always been
…and will always be.
He is Yahweh, the unchanging I AM. He is Adonai, sovereign in faithfulness, justice, and mercy.
The Third Vision: Verses 7-9
7Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.
Do you know what a plumb line is?
A plumb line is a tool to measure perfect vertical. It’s a string or rope with a weight tied to the end. Let it hang and it will always be perfectly vertical. Hang it by a wall and you can see if the wall is good.
Vertical wall, good.
Crooked, leaning wall, bad. Crooked, leaning walls are weak and fall over.
8The LORD said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“Behold I am about to put a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel.
I will spare them no longer.
9“The high places of Isaac will be desolated
And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste.
Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
Twice, God has relented from sending his judgment. But it’s “time’s up” for Israel.
They refused to repent. It’s time for the reckoning. God is going to lay waste to all the places where Israel dishonored him with false worship.
He is going to strike down the rulers and the people.
This is the opposite of the Passover in Egypt. They will not be spared.
Again, look at what these verses tell us about our God.
First, God is no chump. He will not be mocked. There is a “time’s up” for everyone who abuses his mercy.
There is a time’s up for every nation that goes toe-to-toe with God.
How long do we think the Lord God will put up with Scotland’s rebellion?
How long will he tolerate the killing of babies in the womb?
How long will he let the celebration of feminism and homosexuality go on?
Every nation stops rebelling against our God eventually.
God either gives revival, and a nation turns back to him in repentance.
Or God crushes the nation.
Where is Israel today? It’s gone. 10 entire tribes. Gone.
There is a time’s up for every man and woman that plays around with God.
It’s called death.
It is appointed for man to die once. Then comes judgment.
Every sinner who treats God like a chump will die and burn forever in hell.
Second, God is righteousness.
He is righteousness. He is goodness. And his commandments, his laws, are the plumb line by which we are measured.
He is the standard. Perfect righteousness. Perfect vertical straightness. No crookedness. No tilt. No fault.
If we will live with him forever we must be holy as he is holy.
His laws show his perfect character to us. They define his requirements of us. They measure us up.
We are all measured. We are all found lacking. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
All of us deserve what Israel got, and worse. We deserve hell because we are sinners, everyone.
This is true universalism, the universal condemnation of man.
This is why there is only salvation by the grace of God alone, only received as a gift through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
God in the flesh.
True God and True Man.
The only Man to ever measure up to the glory of God. He obeyed in all things. Perfect. Righteous.
And he went to the cross in order to die in the place of all his people, every last man, woman, and child who would ever believe in him.
He died in our place. In our place, he died not for his own sin. He didn’t have any. He died for our sin. He took it on himself and paid for it in full.
Where he takes our unrighteousness, he gives us his righteousness.
Our sin isn’t just paid for. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is also given Jesus’ righteousness.
The record of all his perfect obedience is credited to the account of everyone who believes.
And, so, those who run to Jesus for salvation measure up to the plumb line.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the righteous requirement of the law has been fulfilled in us.
And that is good news worth praying about.