A. Judgment brings ruin.
1. (1-4) God’s judgment is inescapable.
I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said:
“Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake,
And break them on the heads of them all.
I will slay the last of them with the sword.
He who flees from them shall not get away,
And he who escapes from them shall not be delivered.
Though they dig into hell,
From there My hand shall take them;
Though they climb up to heaven,
From there I will bring them down;
And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel,
From there I will search and take them;
Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea,
From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them;
Though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I will command the sword,
And it shall slay them.
I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.”
a. I saw the Lord standing by the altar: In this final vision of Amos, he saw the Lord right at the temple, supervising the work of judgment. Amos wanted Israel to know that God wasn’t detached from even His hard work of judgment.
i. “Like the boss of a demolition squad or the commander of an invading enemy, he snaps his orders for the smashing of the temple and takes personal responsibility for seeing that the last offender is brought to justice.” (Hubbard)
b. Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake: Often, the threshold is the structurally strongest part of a house. If the doorposts are broken, it shows that the whole house has fallen in. This is a poetic and powerful way to describe complete destruction.
c. He who flees from them shall not get away: This was God’s way of telling Israel that they could run, but they could not hide from Him and His judgment. Even if they tried to dig into hell or climb up to heaven, they could not escape their responsibility before God. A high mountain (Carmel) or the bottom of the sea could not hide them from judgment.
d. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good: An essential part of the old covenant was the promise of blessing or cursing (Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26) based on Israel’s obedience. If Israel was in chronic, systemic disobedience, they could expect that God’s eye toward them would be for harm and not for good.
i. But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God.… And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. (Deuteronomy 28:15, 63)
ii. And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant. (Leviticus 26:23-25a)
iii. How much better to live under the blessing of the new covenant! The promise of Romans 8:31 stands: If God is for us, who can be against us? We know that because of our standing in grace by faith, God is for us. All the harm we deserve was completely poured out on Jesus Christ.
2. (5-10) Israel sifted among the nations.
The Lord GOD of hosts,
He who touches the earth and it melts,
And all who dwell there mourn;
All of it shall swell like the River,
And subside like the River of Egypt.
He who builds His layers in the sky,
And has founded His strata in the earth;
Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth–
The LORD is His name.
“Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me,
O children of Israel?” says the LORD.
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
The Philistines from Caphtor,
And the Syrians from Kir?
Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
Says the LORD. “For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,
Who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’
a. The Lord GOD of hosts, He who touches the earth and it melts: This wasn’t just a poetic introduction. When Israel remembered who God is – understanding all His might and glory – then they acted in a way that brought Him glory. Constantly, Amos and the other prophets teach us what we should do based on understanding who God is.
i. Amos uses the title Lord GOD again – used 12 times in Amos 7-9 – emphasizing the sovereignty of God. “That sovereignty is symbolized in the name of God that dominates this section – Lord GOD, literally ‘My Master Yahweh.’” (Hubbard)
ii. “What counts is that God’s presence is at home everywhere in the universe from top to bottom, and that presence is utterly dependable and permanently to be reckoned with.” (Hubbard)
b. He who builds layers in the sky, and has founded His strata in the earth: This is a difficult passage to translate, and the New King James does it about as well as any other translation.
i. “It is hard to catch the exact picture of what Yahweh is building in Amos 9:6. The heavenly construction may be a ‘staircase’ or a ‘roof-chamber’.… The earthly component is even more difficult to define precisely.” (Hubbard)
c. Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom: It is striking – and terrible – to hear Israel called the sinful kingdom. God wants all His people to be deeply impressed that they cannot presume upon His mercy or their “chosenness.”
i. Israel thought the Ethiopians were a remote and insignificant people, so God says, “Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me?” God also reminds Israel, “Yes, I brought you up out of Egypt, but I also brought the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir. Don’t think you are so special that you become proud and presumptuous. You are a sinful kingdom.”
d. And will sift the house of Israel among all nations: God will use Israel’s exile among the nations to sift His people – not to destroy them, but to purify them. In it all, not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. God’s sifting only eliminates the chaff, never the grain – not even the smallest grain. It is only all the sinners of My people who shall be guilty under judgment, those who presume too much and never humble themselves.
i. “I think I see you, poor believer, tossed about like that wheat, up and down, right and left, in the sieve, and in the air, never resting. Perhaps it is suggested to you, ‘God is very angry with me.’ No, the farmer is not angry with his wheat when he casts it up and down in the sieve, and neither is God angry with you; this you shall see one day when the light shall show that love ruled in all your griefs.” (Spurgeon)
B. Israel restored to blessing and abundance.
1. (11-12) Restoring the house of David to Israel.
“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the LORD who does this thing.
a. I will raise up the tabernacle of David: Long before the time of Amos, the northern kingdom of Israel rejected the royal house of David. Here God promised to restore David’s royal line – fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is of the tabernacle of David.
i. This is an abrupt change from the strong message of rebuke and judgment. “The transition from Amos 9:10 to Amos 9:11 is the most abrupt and surprising in the entire book. The sword of judgment gives way to the trowel of reconstruction.” (Hubbard)
ii. Without this last passage and change of tone, the book of Amos would be incomplete. “It is now declared that the reason of the divine judgment is not revenge, but the only way in which it is possible to usher in the restored order on which the heart of God is set.” (Morgan)
b. I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old: God promised to take what was ruined and to repair and rebuild it. Sometimes God works in a completely new way, letting the old die and doing a work of new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, Isaiah 43:19). Other times God works to raise up…ruins, and rebuild. Both are glorious works of the LORD!
i. Amos knew that Israel was ruined because he speaks of restoring the tabernacle of David instead of the house of David. A tabernacle is a house, but a humble one. This “Pictures the ‘house’ of David that was becoming a dilapidated shack; in Amos’ time the Davidic dynasty had fallen so low that it could no longer be called a house.” (McComiskey)
c. And all the Gentiles who are called by My name: God announced that even Gentiles who are called by My name would come under the tabernacle of David, a promise fulfilled in Jesus.
i. James, the brother of Jesus, quoted Amos 9:11-12 at the Council of Jerusalem. He used this passage to demonstrate that God promised to reach the Gentiles and to bring them into His kingdom under the Messiah, not under Israel.
ii. Acts 15:17 reads So that the rest of mankind instead of what we have in Amos 9:12 (that they may possess the remnant of Edom). This is because the Septuagint, the ancient translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, translated Edom as “Adam” – “mankind.”
2. (13-15) Restoring abundance to Israel.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the LORD your God.
a. The days are coming: Under God’s inspiration, the prophet Amos ends the book on a note of high hope, looking forward to a day of great prosperity and abundance in Israel. Under the reign of Jeroboam II, they had material abundance, but it was not in the LORD. God promised to restore them to prosperity from Him and in Him.
b. When the plowman shall overtake the reaper: Amos described how miraculous and amazing God’s blessing and restoration would be.
i. When God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes quickly. “Ploughman and reaper laboured separately.… but here they bump into each other, so abundant are the crops and so eager is the land to grow more.” (Hubbard)
ii. When God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes from unexpected places. Normally, grapevines don’t grow well on mountains or high hills, but in the days of Israel’s restoration even the mountains shall drip with sweet wine and all the hills shall flow with it.
iii. When God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes with great quality (drip with sweet wine).
iv. When God releases blessing and restoration, the work is blessed – but it is still work. The plowman, the reaper, the treader of grapes, and him who sows seed still have their work to do. God doesn’t just do it all for them, but under God’s blessing and restoration the work is done with energy and joy. The plowman doesn’t just wait around; he gets busy even if he starts bumping into the reaper! “One sign of a true revival, and indeed an essential part of it is the increased activity of God’s labourers” (Spurgeon)
v. However, even if it is not a time of remarkable blessing and restoration, the work of God still deserves our energy and effort. “The duty of the Church is not to be measured by her success. It is as much the minister’s duty to preach the gospel in adverse times as in propitious seasons. We are not to think, if God withholds the dew, that we are to withhold the plough. We are not to imagine that, if unfruitful seasons come, we are therefore to cease from sowing our seed. Our business is with action, not with result. The Church has to do her duty, even though that duty should bring her no present reward.” (Spurgeon)
c. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land: So many of the warnings from the prophet Amos were about the threat of coming captivity and exile. God promised restoration and looked forward to the day when Israel would never again be pulled up from the land.