Amos | Lesson 4 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points
Read Amos 8.1-9.15
- This is the fourth and concluding lesson in this current summary/survey of the Book of Amos. Our first lesson was Yahweh roars! Listen to Him! The second lesson was Yahweh calls! Return to Him! The third lesson was Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him! As you study each of these first three lessons, you will find that we have titled each one after key words and expressions that are found in each section of Amos’s prophetic messages from Yahweh.
- This fourth and concluding lesson is ‘Yahweh restores! Hope in Him!’ because after all the indictments and condemnations of their egregious faithlessness toward Him and transgressions against His covenant He had made with them, Yahweh will conclude His messages with a promise of restoration “In that day…” We now know this to be the ‘Day’ of Christ’s coming and His Gospel of Grace. We know this because this very concluding promise in ch 9.11-12 is quoted in Acts 15.12-17 by James, the half-brother of Jesus. He was quoting Amos here as Peter along with Paul and Barnabas were relating their accounts how the Gospel was being preached to the Gentiles, and they were responding by believing it and putting their faith in Christ!
- But we’re getting ahead of the start of this lesson. This lesson will actually pick up where our last lesson left off. Remember: our last lesson was ‘Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him!’ because Amos was relating a series of five visions Yahweh ‘showed’ him: ‘This is what the Lord GOD showed me…” In our last lesson, we introduced the first three of the five ‘shows.’ The first two ‘shows’ were ‘event shows,’ and the events were  swarms of locusts / ch 7.1-3, and  judgment by fire / ch 7.4-6. Both of these events will be thoroughly consuming and destructive, ‘eating up the land.’
- The third ‘show’ was a ‘word-play show’ in which Yahweh uses a metaphor, or a word-picture, to describe His coming judgment. This word-play show was a plumbline. Yahweh’s message was that He was measuring Israel for straightness [or righteousness] and they were sorely out of plumb. And so their kingdom would fall, be destroyed, made desolate, laid waste.
I / ch 8.1-14 / THE FOURTH VISION ‘SHOW’: A BASKET OF SUMMER FRUIT
- v 1 / Like the plumbline vision or ‘show,’ this too is a word-play, or metaphor, show. Yahweh is showing Amos, and Amos will preach to Israel, that they, as a nation, were to Him a basket of summer fruit. Whatever this ‘basket of summer fruit’ means … it means “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them.” In other words, time’s up, the final curtain is about to fall. There will be no more reprieves or stays of judgment. Yahweh’s guilty verdict against their transgressions has been read, the sentence has been pronounced, and the execution has been scheduled. It will be carried out.
- v 2 / We need to take whatever time it takes to understand the significance of ‘a basket of summer fruit’ meant to them in their context.  It certainly meant that their ‘fruit’ of sin had grown fully ‘ripe’ and the time of reaping the consequences had come / Galatians 5.7-8.  But, it means much more than just generic ripe fruit – this basket is full of ‘summer fruit.’ Summer fruit was the very last harvest and produce of their year-long agricultural year. “The summer fruit was the last to come in Israel’s agricultural calendar. It came at the end of the season. Therefore, just as Israel’s agricultural cycle had an end, so will Israel as a nation.” [T. J. Betts, Amos]  Also, the word-play continues in that the Hebrew word for ‘summer fruit’ [qayits] sounds very much like their word for ‘end’ [qeets]. In fact, the way they pronounced it there in the dialect and inflection of the northern kingdom Israel, they may have even shortened the longer word so that it sounded exactly like the shorter word. So, when Amos pronounced ‘basket of summer fruit,’ he may have even sounded it out like ‘basket of the end.’ This was the message Yahweh is delivering to Israel by this ‘show.’
- v 3 / Instead of the joyful songs of harvest they were accustomed to singing to celebrate their harvests, they would be mourning and wailing funeral dirges … and their baskets of ‘harvest’ would be full of bloody, gory, dead bodies…
- vv 4-6 / Yahweh tells them what their ‘basket of summer fruit / the end’ was full of: it was all of their repeated, insistent, rebellious, egregious transgressions against Him and against one another.  They had no compassion toward the needy and poor / v 4;  Their idolatrous religious services were without any worship or heart for Yahweh – their minds were on making more money and profit / v 5a;  Their business practices were corrupt with cheating, under-weighing, and over-pricing / v 5b;  Their dealings with their weaker and poorer neighbors were oppressive, abusive, and full of injustices / v 6.
- vv 7-8 / Yahweh swears by Himself again as He already has twice before [chs 4.2 & 6.8]. Here He ‘has sworn by the pride of Jacob’ meaning that He Himself should have been their pride; but instead of boasting of their pride in Him, they had exchanged Him for pride in themselves, in their own accomplishments of prosperity and military strength, and even pride in the false gods they had chosen to worship [see ch 6.8]. So because of all this faithlessness toward Him, He will bring upon them floods of death and judgments … their land will be ‘flooded,’ and they will swept away with His judgments like the Nile floods and then recedes every year.
- vv 9-10 / When that time comes, their ‘darkness’ of death, destruction, desolation will be like a total eclipse of the sun at noonday. REMEMBER: at the time Amos is delivering these messages, Israel was flush with prosperity and military strength. They were as rich and powerful as they had been since the zenith era of David and Solomon. They couldn’t imagine that such ‘dark’ times would come at any future time. But, the ‘end’ has come … and Yahweh delivers four dark pronouncements of “I will” that He will bring upon them. NOTE: the repetition of ‘mourn,’ ‘mourning,’ ‘lamentation,’ ‘sackcloth,’ ‘baldness’ [another expression of mourning], ‘mourning,’ ‘bitter day.’
- vv 11-12 / The Sovereign Yahweh continues to press upon them how bitter this day will be. There will be not only famine of physical food, but they will desperately seek some word of comfort, some message of salvation and deliverance, some glimmer of hope for rescue from Yahweh’s judgments … but they will not find any. WHY? Because Yahweh has been pleading with them for centuries and generations – repeatedly and persistently sending His prophets to them with His ‘words of Yahweh’ to turn them from their wicked ways. But they have rejected and spurned every word of His pleadings and warnings. When the day of judgment comes, Yahweh will have no further word for them – except for these He is delivering to them in this very message. But all you have to do to assess how they are rebelling against this very word is go back to chapter 7.10-17. They will continue on with this same rebellious rejection of Yahweh’s appeals to them until the ‘end.’
- vv 13-14 / The youngest and strongest among them will faint and die along with the older, weaker, and more infirm among them. They all will die alike. They will continue to swear their allegiance to their false gods, idols, traditions, and religion that got them to where they are now. Yahweh calls it ‘the Guilt of Samaria.’ He is referring here to the golden calf idols that Jeroboam I had set up when they first seceded from Judah [see 1 Kings 12.25-33]. One calf idol was set up in the south at Bethel and the other one in north in Dan [v 29]. These false gods and the whole system of religious observances that was established around it became their ‘guilt,’ their ‘sin,’ their ‘end’ [see also Hosea 8.6 & 10.8].
II / ch 9.1-10 / THE FIFTH VISION ‘SHOW’: THE LORD STANDING BESIDE THE ALTAR
- This is the fifth and final vision ‘show’ that Yahweh gives Amos to deliver to Israel. And again … this vision is one of final destruction that will come upon them because of their sins.
- v 1a / Let’s identify this ‘the altar’ where Amos sees the Lord standing to deliver His judgments against Israel. What altar? Where is it? This altar has a long history:  Likely, this is the same altar that Jeroboam I erected for the worship of the golden calf he had set up in Bethel [see 1 Kings 12.25-33, especially vv 32-33]. Not only that, but at that very time, when Jeroboam I began worshiping at this altar and making sacrifices on it, Yahweh had sent an unnamed prophet to the first King Jeroboam to denounce the idolatrous altar and condemn it to destruction [see 1 Kings 13.1-5]. Yahweh further prophesied: “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you” [v 2]. The altar, even at that earlier time, had been supernaturally ‘rent’ [KJV], split, ‘torn down’ [ESV] and the ashes spilled out on the ground [vv 3-5] as a sign that its future final desecration and destruction would be carried out. THIS first encounter was at the beginning of the altar when it was first built under Jeroboam I. The future Judah King Josiah would be 300 hundred years later … but he did in time to come just as Yahweh had prophesied he would do [see 2 Kings 25.15-20].  ALSO, this ‘the altar’ was likely the place where Amos had the hostile encounter with the priest of Bethel in ch 7.10-17, when Amos pronounced their coming ‘exile away from its land.’  NOW, in Amos 9, this same altar in Bethel comes under judgment again. Amos sees the Lord Himself standing beside the altar as He decries it, denounces it in His displeasure, and decrees its coming destruction and the destruction of Samaria.  ‘The altar’ also had become the focal point and the very symbol and definition of their rebellion and transgressions against Yahweh / see again Amos 8.14; Hosea 8.1-6 & 10.8.  This ‘the altar’ had also become their ‘good luck charm’ and talisman in which they had come to trust – they had deceived and deluded themselves into believing that if they came to this altar, conducted services there, made offerings and sacrifices there, that Yahweh would be obligated to deliver them … even in spite of their continued violations of all His covenant commands and their responsibility to be faithful to Him / see 8.14 again.
- v 1b / Their destruction will be violent and complete. But Yahweh declares that He will completely destroy Samaria along with all their temples, idols, and places of false worship. ‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on heads of all the people.’ The ‘capitals’ were the ornately carved heads and tops of the columns that supported their buildings. Yahweh will send an earthquake [which were common in that region and that day – see ch 1.1]. The earthquake will ‘bring the house down’ killing those who were in the temple. If any escaped from the earthquake, they will be killed by the swords of the invaders.
- vv 2-4 / Their destruction will be inescapable. There will be no place to go to escape the invaders whom Yahweh will send upon them to execute His just and deserved punishments: ‘If they dig into Sheol [the grave, unseen regions of the departed dead]…,’ ‘if they climb up to heaven…,’ ‘If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel [mountainous, heavily-forested regions] …,’ ‘and if they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea…,’ – yes, even if they survive all the desolations that come upon Samaria ‘and if they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them….’
- vv 5-6 / Their destruction will be sovereignly executed by the hand of Yahweh. Yahweh declares again His unquestioned Lordship, power, and control over all the elements of His created universe. ALL of them are at His disposal, and He executes His sovereign purposes in the ways He administers them. He ‘shows’ His Holiness and justice in them: ‘Yahweh is His Name.’
- vv 7-10 / Their destruction will be no different than the destructions He brought upon their pagan neighboring kingdoms. Yahweh is sovereign over ALL the nations. His justice requires that He judge without showing partiality. The Cushites were from Ethiopia to the south in Africa. And yet Yahweh had established them also. Even the Philistines and Syrians had established their national identities under Yahweh’s dominion. They had experienced their own similar ‘exodus’ beginnings under Yahweh’s oversight: “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?” But though Israel had enjoyed immensely special privileges from Yahweh, they had proven to be unfaithful to Him and all of His mercies – and now He will utter destroy them ‘from the surface of the ground…’ / v 8a. All of their self-constructed deceptions and delusions will betray them and fail them in the ‘end’ – “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake us or meet us’” / v 10.
BUT! there is a dramatic turning point in verse 8b: “‘…except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares Yahweh.” Yahweh’s messages through Amos now conclude with a promise of restoration. “In that day…Behold, the days are coming…”
III / vv 11-15 / YAHWEH RESTORES! HOPE IN HIM!
- Build back better! So here’s where we get the title of this lesson. Note the ‘restore’ verbs and promises that Yahweh reveals here as His last vision ‘show’ that takes us all the way to Christ, His Cross, His Gospel, and even to the end of this age in the New Heaven and New Earth! ‘I will raise up… repair … raise up … rebuild … I will restore … they shall rebuild … I will plant…’ In all these promises, Yahweh will prove Himself to be faithful to all the promises He has made to Israel.
- Before we even look at these last ‘restore’ promises, we’re going to fast forward to the New Testament in the Book of Acts 15.12-17. James, the half-brother of our Lord, quotes this passage from Amos to ‘show’ us that what Yahweh promises here was being fulfilled right before their eyes at that time. So, what was God doing in the Book of Acts? He was visiting and saving the Gentiles, “to take from them a people for His Name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,…” and then he goes on to quote this passage from Amos. So, what does God promise to restore?
- vv 11-12 / Yahweh promises to restore the throne of David. This promise goes back to 2 Samuel, chapter 7, when Yahweh promises David that his ‘house,’ or dynasty, ruling family will last forever. That David will never lack one of his sons sitting on the throne of Israel. By this time, the ‘house’ of David had been weakened, and they, too, will be sent off into their own captivity in Babylon. So, their dynasty is called a ‘booth / tent / tabernacle’ rather than a ‘house.’ However, Yahweh is going to send another King, even Jesus, and He will sit on David’s Throne and rebuild the Kingdom. AND He will do so by saving people from “all the nations who are called by My Name, declares Yahweh who does this.” He was doing just this when James quotes this passage in Acts 15. It had just begun in earnest in that NT narrative and is still on-going – and God will continue this re-building of His Kingdom through the Gospel until it has been completed!
- vv 13-14 / Yahweh promises to restore the blessings of His covenant. “Behold, the days are coming, declares Yahweh…” and then He proceeds to describe the physical blessings of fruitfulness and prosperity that will be experienced in the New Heaven and New Earth. These are truly utopian blessings that we will enjoy when the curses of sin have been lifted from the very New Earth we will live in forever. / see 2 Peter 3.13; Romans 8.18-24
- v 15 / Yahweh promises to restore the fullness of our inheritance. “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them, says Yahweh your God.” In that Day, in that New Age, we will be Home with Him. / see Revelation 21-22.