AMOS 1:1 – 4:13 and REVELATION 13:11–18
The prophet Amos prophesied during the early years of Hosea’s prophetic ministry. King Uzziah was on the throne in Judah while King Jeroboam the II reigned in Israel. Amos was a farmer and was cited as a gatherer of sycamore fruit. This would have made him a man of meagre means. He came from a very humble background but was gifted with profound insight and revelation. There was the oppression of the poor by the upper class elites of his day and it is something that the Lord is able to address through his prophet. Here is a simple outline for this Book:
1) Judgment upon the nations (1:1-2:16)
2) Specific Messages to Israel (3:1-5:17)
3) Announcement of Exile (5:18-6:14)
4) Five visions of Judgement (7:1-9:10)
5) Restoration of Israel (9:11-15)
Amos’s name means “Burden-Bearer” and it is evident that he is carrying the burden of the Lord as he begins his ministry. It seems that Amos did not even own his own flocks. It was also known that those who gathered sycamore fruit were people who were the poorest of the poor. This should serve as an encouragement to those who may not have the social or economic status of others in how God can use a person. In spite of being poor Amos was a well-educated person as he was able to bring forth excellent illustrations to make clear what God was saying and doing. He also had a good understanding of scripture. The Bible mentions Amos coming on the scene two years before a great earthquake which would have been around 763 BC. This was at the same time when King Uzziah became a leper. There is a reference to this earthquake in Zech 14:5.
Amos was a resident of Judah but he prophesied to the northern kingdom. He prophesied during the peak of an economic boom in Israel. He was a poor farmer speaking a message to affluent elite that was functioning at that time. He begins to speak a series of judgements upon several nations (8) which are as follows: Syria (1:3-5), Philistia (1:6-8), Phoenicia (1:9-10), Edom (1:11-12), Ammon (1:13-15), Moab (2:1-3) Judah (2:4-5) and Israel (2:6-16). The judgments begin with Syria who were known for their extreme cruelty. There was a time when Elisha wept when the Lord showed him what Hazael, who was king of Syria at that time would do to the children of Israel (2 King 8:7-15). Amos goes on to say that God would destroy Damascus which was the capitol city of Syria. The Word of the Lord did come to pass regarding Syria as recorded in 2 Kings 16:9.
The Word of the Lord speaks of a thorough judgment upon Philistia. The modern day version of the Philistines is the Palestinians. The turbulence between the Philistines continues to this very day. It does not matter how many peace initiatives are made between these two groups the Philistines will never accept peace unless it is fully on their terms. This is why it is important to have an understanding of biblical history. It helps to bring clarity to the events that are playing out before us today. The next judgement comes upon Phoenicia. The two principal cities of Phoenicia were Tyre and Sidon. In the early years of the monarchy there was peace between Israel and Hiram, who was king of Tyre. He had a close relationship with both David and Solomon. In subsequent years the agreements that were made between David and Hiram were broken. Phoenicia did not help Israel in the time of their distress; they allowed them to be delivered over to the Edomites. This occurred under the reign of King Jehoram of Judah. A portion of Tyre survived the initial judgment but was later conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.
The sin of Edom is brought forth in verses 11-12. The perpetual hatred Edom has for Israel has never abated tracing back to the days of Esau. This is where the fruit of unforgiveness can take a person and a nation (Please see the study in Daniel 9 for further insight on the power of forgiveness). The final judgment upon Edom is recorded in Isa 63:1-4. Ammon was another nation that was a constant enemy of Israel. There was a time when King David reigned over Ammon but in later years battles ensued between them. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot through an incestual relationship with his daughters. This people were also known for their great cruelty.
The judgments on Moab are pronounced in verses 1-3. Like Ammon they too are descendants of Lot through an incestual relationship with his daughters. In this case it was with his firstborn daughter (Gen 19:37). One of the more comprehensive accounts of the judgement upon Moab is found in Jeremiah 48. They were a people filled with pride (Jer 48:29) which brought them to the place of challenging God on numerous occasions. There are great judgments upon Ammon, Moab and Edom as they comprise the modern day nation of Jordan. The greatest of the judgments will be realized at the time of the 2nd coming. One of the other notable traits concerning Moab is also found in Jeremiah 48. It is instructive for us as believers. They were a people who refused to be poured out from vessel to vessel. It says of them that they were at ease from their youth. This is the danger of our life as a Christian when we begin to take the things of God for granted. A sense of ease prohibits us from hearing and responding to new things that God might speak to us. We become comfortable and settle in our comfort zone which can then make us prey to the enemy and his devices. If we refuse change and cannot flow from strength to strength our old nature and scent will remain. Even though this is a truth spoken to Moab it is an issue that plagues many in the church today. God is doing a new thing; can we not know it or perceive it? The land of Moab fell prey to the wiles of Balaam’s prophetic ministry. It was in the territory of Moab where the 2 ½ tribes of Israel eventually settled on the eastern side of Jordan.
Judah is now addressed in verses 4-5. God indeed was going to judge the nations that came against Israel but Judah was also going to suffer under the consequences of its own sins. We have seen this through many of the other prophets already. One of the primary reasons for Judah coming under judgement was due to their despising of the law of God. The Lord seeks to instil a love for Truth on the inward parts (Psa 51:6). This is one of the reasons why David found such favor with God. The judgements that were to come upon Judah were still many years off yet it did come to pass. The words of Amos further validated the prophetic utterances of the other prophets.
The Lord’s attention now turns to Israel itself in verses 6-16. As mentioned earlier there was great oppression against the poor at this time. This was a flourishing time in their history however they did not utilize the blessing for the benefit of others and the nation. His words further indict Israel for their gross idolatry and immorality (vs 7-8). The Lord then reminds Israel of many of the things He had done on their behalf through the years. He gave them the land of the Amorites, brought them into new lands and provided for their needs. Still, even after all God had done for them they ended up despising God. You talk about an “entitlement” mentality. This truth is coming alive as I write this due to the prevailing sense of entitlement that many have today. There is no sense of gratitude or awareness for all that has been provided for this generation. This is not an indictment meant for young people alone but rather applies to many who have grown into mid-life and beyond. There is also the danger of entitlement in the church where we take the things of the Lord for granted. It’s as if the Lord owes all believers a “king’s standard of life”. You often hear the question that goes something like “What has the Lord done for me lately?” One of the primary downfalls of Israel is something we need to watch out for today ourselves.
The Lord is now about to give three specific messages to Israel. Interestingly, each of these messages begins with the phrase “Hear ye”. These words serve as the beginning for chapters 3, 4 and 5. The reason for God’s judgements upon Israel was their failure to adhere to His laws and commands. The Lord states that “it is you alone that I ever knew.” Israel had a privilege and a responsibility to others for all that God had bestowed upon them. Israel knew better so as a result they are more accountable.
God asks the following question in verse 3. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” This is a question or verse that is often applied to people and it certainly is true. It has a greater meaning in looking at one’s walk with God. There must be alignment between what God is saying and doing with that of man. It is vitally important that we hear what God is saying. This can be very difficult in a world where confusion and many voices proliferate. There is also the problem of that which is within the heart of man. There is a “presumption” that is entering into much of Christianity that is putting God in the position of answering to the whims of man. It can be very subtle but it is nonetheless true. A good example of this is the two different and distinct confessions that two groups were making concerning what the Lord was speaking. God was telling Israel that now was the time to go in and possess the land. The children of Israel said no, that they were unable to go up against the giants that were opposing them (Num 13:31). Caleb aligned his confession with what God was saying. He was agreeing with God and saying “yes we are well able to go in and possess” (Num 13:30). Caleb was fulfilling Amos 3:3 and it is this kind of alignment we need to seek after today as well.
In verses 4-6, the Lord was making clear that He is the one that will be allowing for the future judgments to come upon Israel. Is the Lord the author of evil? Absolutely not but He can allow for it to either test or punish His own. It is helpful to always remember that God is sovereign and in control. He is the one we are to fear, not Satan because it is God who allows Satan his authority.
There is another oft quoted verse in this chapter and it is found in verse 7. The Lord will not do anything major without first revealing it to His prophets. This will be especially true as we draw nearer to the last days. The Lord was intimate with Abraham and made known his plan for Sodom. The Lord Jesus before he died revealed the betrayer to John. God is a God of relationship and He desires to share His heart with those who know His heart. This is not revelation that will be given to just any man. It is to those who walk closely with Him. It is given to those who love Truth and love His Word. It is given to those who put a high premium on His laws and ways. Do we qualify for this level of intimacy?
The Lord speaks further indictments upon Israel as well as other nations like Philistia (vs 8). In verse 11 it is spoken of an enemy that will come down and spoil them. The enemy that is being alluded to is Assyria. Hosea also was prophesying the same thing. In verses 13-14 we see the primary issue of Israel’s sin. It is rooted in the sin of Jeroboam when he established the idolatrous altars at Bethel instead of coming to Jerusalem. It was bad enough that he established these altars but it was made worse when he placed priests that were non-Levites who were base and vile. The time was at hand when God was about to judge Israel in all of their affluence. There were many who had winter and summer houses. They were wealthy, proud and oppressing the less fortunate. The iniquity had now become ripe and God was about to move.
In verses 1-2 we see the level of oppression the rich of the people were exerting on the poor. This is something that the Lord abhors and it counters everything pertaining to His nature. Their judgement would be swift and it would also affect their posterity; the generations to come. The Lord was saying to them to continue to bring their sacrifices to Gilgal and Bethel and see if their offerings would help them. They were going through the motions of church. They provided offerings but it was filled with leaven and mixture. Leaven speaks of sin, hypocrisy and false doctrine. Israel of old learned about the dangers of leaven when they exited from Egypt at the time of their Passover. The problem with leaven is that it grows and ensnares that which is good. This was certainly the case of what was taking place with Israel. The Word comes to them that they would have cleanness of teeth (vs 6). The Lord ordained a famine in His mercy that Israel might turn back to Him but they continued on in their sinful ways. There was the judgement of drought in selected places with no relief while there was rain in others. The Lord will make a distinction in the last days between those who serve and love Him wholeheartedly as opposed to those who are otherwise. There will be some who will be preserved while others will experience the judgements of the Lord. We want to be among those who live righteously and serve under His protective covering (Psa 91:5-7).
The punishment from God kept coming but they still did not return unto Him (vs 8-9). It is reminiscent of the time when God sent plagues to Egypt and yet Pharaoh’s heart continued to harden. It is scary to consider how hard a people can become even when the Lord is seeking to give opportunity to repent. One of the punishments of the last days upon the earth will be drought and famine. It is already being seen in many places in the world. This can be difficult to envision for a people who are constantly surrounded by abundance. It is estimated that the common grocery store shelves have only a 3 day turnover of food items. We are so used to the abundance of food that there is no ability to comprehend what a true famine would entail yet it could happen at any time. Our water resources are also in abundance. Can you imagine the panic and tumult that would result if suddenly our water supply ceased or become contaminated (vs 8)? God is able to prosper and protect those whom are under His covering (Psa 91:5-7).
The Lord continues to send pestilences and other form of judgements and yet He is still pleading for Israel to turn back unto Him. The expression “yet have ye not returned unto me” is mentioned 5 times in chapter 4. Can we not see the heart of the Lord in the midst of judgements? The judgements are now about to become more severe. God has tried to get the attention of Israel through pestilences and famines to no avail. The statement “prepare to meet thy God” is now expressed in verse 12. It is a message of greater judgements that are about to come. Israel was about to be punished in much the same way that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. The prophet makes no mistake in making clear that it will be God who will be bringing these enemy nations upon Israel and later upon Judah. The might of the Assyrians will besiege Israel and later the Babylonians for Judah. It is the sovereign God who will allow for it all to happen.
We are now introduced to the 2nd beast or to the one known as the false prophet. He seeks to mimic and play the role of the Holy Spirit in this unholy Trinity alliance. His primary role is to exalt and force the worship of all men to the first beast (the antichrist). The Holy Spirit seeks to bring people into the worship of the Son of God. He exalts and lifts up the Son seeking to bring glory to His name. He does not force or coerce people to follow Jesus. This is one of the primary distinctions between the false prophet and the Holy Spirit. Can you think of a religion that seeks to bring worldwide conformity to its agenda? A statement that has been often made in these summaries is that God has given man the gift of “choice”. A relationship based on true love must have within it the component of “choosing to love”. If love is forced or compelled it cannot be relational based on love’s true definition. Agape love is a love that is consumed with meeting the needs in another’s life. It is a reciprocal love that chooses to give of self to please another (John 3:16, John 15:13).
The 2nd beast is responsible in bringing about this conformity to worship the antichrist. Do you remember our summary in Daniel 3? The herald (a modern day variant of today’s media) would sound the cornet which would result in everyone having to bow down to the image of the king. Failure to do so would result in death. It is the same scenario that is being set up for the days before us. You can see the modern day system of Babylon working to bring a world order that is global and void of independent sovereign nations. A strong sovereign nation that has Judeo-Christian roots is an absolute roadblock against this Babylonian system. What is playing out today is a continuation of the Babel system that was initiated by Nimrod. Why do you think the USA has been targeted in recent decades with globalist agendas and policies? How is it that America now takes it cues from the United Nations and Council of Foreign Relations as opposed to adhering to its own constitution? This is happening due to MAN replacing GOD as being at the center of world affairs. This can only occur when there is an erosion of God’s moral law which is something that is taking place at heightening speed.
The only way to counter this assault is to stand against it and not take its mark. How is this done and is there any precedent that can be observed to help guide and instruct us? Once again we turn to Daniel 3. It is the testimony and example of Daniel’s three friends that we need to take note of.
Dan 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
Dan 3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
Dan 3:18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
This is the resolve and character that will be needed in the saints of the last days. These three men along with Daniel prepared themselves ahead of time by making a purposeful decision to abstain from the king’s table. They did not allow worldliness to taint or defile their spirit. They recognized the dangers of how easy it would be to be entrapped into the Babylonian system they were subjected too. They had to live in Babylon but they did not have to be like Babylon. They also made the decision to fast and pray in seeking the Lord over a period of 10 days. It was this level of intimacy that helped to cultivate the inner character and resolve of these men that enabled them to be bold and strong when under threat. We see these same qualities in Daniel as well. This is what it means when the Lord continues to cry that we “come out of Babylon” It is a system that has worldwide tentacles and increasing worldwide abilities of bringing forth conformity. The way is being made for the beast (antichrist) and the 2nd beast (false prophet) to come on the scene.
Daniel and his three friends prepared themselves for the days of forced conformity that came upon them. We need to do the same. Will there be some sort of specific mark? I believe the answer is yes by way of some sort of implant that will mark a person as being part of the last day Babylonian system. There are many policies already put into place where man has ceded his individual rights for the so called collective good. Whenever there is a new terrorist event a new freedom is often given up so that man can be controlled by centralized planners. The problem in the church today is that excessive focus is being given to what the mark of the beast will entail while paying little heed to the day by day erosion of freedoms. Unless we wake up and wake up soon the taking of the mark will be a natural assimilation through day to day living in today’s world. The church is conforming more to the worldly system of Babylon as opposed to setting the standard for others. The remedy is to be a Daniel, a Shadrach, a Meshach and an Abednego. This is what will be required in order to stand in that day. Are we fulfilling Daniel 1:8 and 1:12?