The Words of Amos

Chapter 7

The judgments of the swarm of locusts, 1-3, and of the fire are diverted by the prayer of Amos, 4-6. By the wall of a plumb-line is signified the rejection of Israel, 7-9. Amaziah complains of Amos, 10-13. Amos shows his calling, 14, 15; and Amaziah's judgment, 16, 17.

1 Thus the Lord GOD has shown to me, and behold, he formed a swarm of locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.

2 And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, "O Lord GOD, forgive, I implore you. By whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small."

3 The LORD repented for this. "It shall not be," says the LORD.

4 Thus the Lord GOD has shown to me, and behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep and ate up a part.

5 Then I said, "O Lord GOD, cease, I implore you. By whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small."

6 The LORD repented for this. "This also shall not be," says the Lord GOD.

7 Thus he showed me, and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumb-line with a plumb-line in his hand.

8 And the LORD said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A plumb-line." Then the Lord said, "Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel. I will not again pass by them anymore.

9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste. And I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos says: 'Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.'" 12 Also Amaziah said to Amos, "O seer, go flee away into the land of Judah, eat bread there, and prophesy there. 13 But do not prophesy again anymore at Beth-el, for it is the king's chapel and it is the king's court."

14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD. You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not drop your word against the house of Isaac.' 17 Therefore, thus says the LORD: 'Your wife shall be a harlot in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword. Your land shall be divided by line, and you shall die in a polluted land. And Israel shall surely go from his land into captivity.'"

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Amos, Chapter 7

Notes

John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this and the two following chapters are the visions of Amos, in number five; three of which are contained in this chapter, and with which it begins. The first is of the swarm of locusts eating up the latter grass of the land, which are stopped at the intercession of the prophet (verses 1-3); the second is of fire the Lord called for to contend by, whose devouring flames are made to cease by the same interposition (verses 4-6); and the other is of the plumb-line, signifying the utter destruction of the people of Israel, according to the righteous judgment of God (verses 7-9); upon the delivery of which prophecies and visions, the priest of Beth-el forms a charge against the prophet to the king; and advises Amos to flee into Judea, and prophesy there, and not at Beth-el, being willing to be rid of him at any rate (verses 10-13); next follows the prophet's vindication of himself showing his divine call to the prophetic office, and his mission and express order he had from the Lord to prophesy to Israel (verses 14-15); and concludes with a denunciation of divine judgments on the priest's family, and upon the whole land of Israel (verses 16-17).

[v.3] - "repented" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Now as to the word repent, as applied to God, let us know... that God does not change his purpose so as to retract what he has once determined. He indeed knew what he would do before he showed the vision to his Prophet Amos: but he accommodates himself to the measure of men's understanding, when he mentions such changes."

[v.6] - "repented" - See the note for verse 3.

[v.7] - "plumb-line" - John Calvin and John Gill both think that the plumb-line could refer to God's law.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-9:

Almighty God, since you so suspend your hand in chastising us, that unless we are wholly blind and obtuse, we must acknowledge that we are spared in order that we may willingly return to you, and that being allured by the gentleness of your forbearance, we may submit ourselves to you in willing obedience,— O grant, that we may not harden our hearts, nor be slow, nor slothful, nor even backward to repent, when you defer extreme punishment, but strive to anticipate your final vengeance, and so submit ourselves to you, that we may be pardoned while it is time, and so hasten to offer our hearts whole and sincere to you, and so repent, while urged by extreme danger, that there may not remain any hidden hypocrisy in our hearts, but that we may in such a way search every faculty of our soul, that you may become to us a real and faithful witness of that integrity which you require of all who return to you to obtain pardon through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[v.10-13] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "But it must be noticed in this place, that we must be watchful, not only against the open violence and cruelty of enemies, but also against their intrigues; for as Satan is a murderer, and has been so from the beginning, so he is also the father of lies. Whoever then wishes strenuously and constantly to spend his labors for the Church and for God, must prepare himself for a contest with both: he must resist all fears and all intrigues." Amaziah accused Amos of conspiring against the king, Jeroboam, which would have been a death sentence. But, for some reason, the king didn't see the need to kill Amos. Then Amaziah, the priest of Beth-el, tries to persuade Amos back to Judea, likely in fear that Amos would, by the preaching of God's word, open certain eyes to his abuse of the office of priest and cause him to lose all his comforts therein.

[v.14-15] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet Amos first pleads for himself, that he was not at liberty to obey the counsel of Amaziah, because he could not renounce a calling to which he was appointed. As then he had been sent by God, he [then] proves that he was bound by necessity to prophesy in the land of Israel."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 10-15:

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as you permit reins so loose to Satan, that he attempts, in all manner of ways, to subvert your servants,— O grant, that those who have been sent and moved by you, and at the same time furnished with the invincible strength of your Spirit, may go on perseveringly to the last in the discharge of their office: and whether their adversaries assail them by crafts, or oppose them by open violence, may they not desist from their course, but devote themselves wholly to you, with prudence as well as with courage, that they may thus persevere in continual obedience: and [may] thou also dissipate all the mists and all the crafts which Satan spreads to deceive the inexperienced, until at length the truth emerges, which is the conqueror of the devil and of the whole world, and until your Son, the Sun of Righteousness, appears, that he may gather the whole world, that in your rest we may enjoy the victory, which is to be daily obtained by us in our constant struggles with the enemies of the same, your only Son. Amen.

[v.16-17a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Amos, having shown that he must obey God, who had committed to him the office of teaching, now turns his discourse to Amaziah, and points out what he would gain by his insolence in daring to forbid a Prophet, an ambassador of the God of heaven, to proclaim what he had in command."

[v.16-17b] - Calvin's prayer for these verses is included with the first five verses of the next chapter. Therefore, the prayer is in the next chapter.

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