AMOS 5:1 – 9:15 and REVELATION 14:1–20
The Lord speaks His third “Hear ye the Word of the Lord” to Israel. It is here where the Lord makes clear that Israel will fall and not rise again until the time of the 2nd coming. The Lord has been reiterating this message through other prophets as well. The people are about to be reduced during this coming purge. The ratio given is from 100 down to 10. The exhortation of the Lord is now for people to seek the Lord that they might live. Up to this point the Lord was seeking for Israel to repent that they might be spared the judgements. It’s now too late and the only hope is for them to seek Him to live. What a very sad and lamentable condition Israel is in.
He describes their unrighteousness as wormwood. This speaks of bitterness. The apostle Paul warns the New Testament church of the dangers of carrying bitterness (Heb 12:15). In our lives as believers we will be tested and challenged in this area. It is something that we must never allow to affect our heart. It is a poison that quickly spreads and infects the whole of one’s being. This is what has happened to Israel. They allowed offenses to fester and develop within them. Jeroboam took offense at the dealings of Rehoboam when the kingdom divided resulting in the establishing of altars at Bethel. The fruits of his bitterness have brought Israel to its current condition.
The height of their backslidden condition is noted in verse 10 as they refuse and take issue with those who seek to bring correction. They hated the rebukes of others which is often the case with those who have turned from God. Have you noticed the responses of people when you try to speak of the sin of immorality and now homosexuality? The greatest opposers of Truth are those who do not live by it.
This was a time when the rich in Israel were getting richer while the poor were getting poorer. Does this sound familiar? The middle ground or we can say middle class was eroding away. This is also true regarding ones spirituality; the middle ground is giving way to one of two different streams. We are either in the stream that is leading to righteousness and holiness or the stream that leads to greater uncleanness (Rev 22:11).
In verse 15 there is the clear contrast between hating that which is evil and loving the good. Here again it is either one way or the other. Those who learn to love righteousness in such a way experience a fresh anointing upon their lives. God constantly gave Israel the opportunity to turn from their evil ways and do justice. It did not have to resort to this (Psa 45:7).
The Word of the Lord now comes as a warning to those who desire the day of the Lord (vs 18). It can be akin to those who look forward to the 2nd coming today. Indeed, we all look forward to the coming of the Lord but are we really ready? Are we ready to stand before Him? There were many who did not understand that the day of the Lord was a day of judgement. This is true for the last days. The Lord will restore Israel but not until after great tribulation.
The Lord desires that righteousness run down like a river that touches and affects all phases of life (vs 24). This is the call to the church in our day. The righteousness of God should serve as a standard against the flood of iniquity which now is holding sway. Hopefully the example of Amos will serve as a needed reminder for us today.
This chapter begins with some in Israel and Judah living in a false sense of security. Those in Zion felt a certain immunity because the presence of the Lord once resided there. Jeremiah served notice to the people on many occasions about not putting their trust in experiences of the past. In Israel’s history there was a time when they trusted in the temple at Shiloh. God defended Israel and fought on their behalf. They began to take the presence of the Lord for granted. This is something that is very easy to do. We trust in the Lord’s dealings of the past and feel secure that He will always be there in spite of how we live our life. Today it is reflected in certain false doctrines that are promoted. Two such examples are the redefining of grace and faith. There is a certain presumption that has crept into the church where man can make God what he wants him to be.
In verses 3-6 the affluence of Israel is again cited. In their growing wealth there was growing indifference to the needs of the poor around them. There was also an indifference to the stench of sin that was becoming all the more evident in the nation. The Lord goes on to inform the people that those who live in luxury at the expense of the poor will be the first to go into captivity. Their luxurious living was leaving their souls barren and empty and it’s something the Lord greatly disdains.
The judgements expressed in verses 11-12 speaks of the hardness of the heart amongst the people. This hardness of heart is illustrated by horses running upon rocks. How often the Word of God warns about hardness of heart. The remedy of course is to hear what God is saying today and to respond accordingly (Psa 95:7). The instrument of the Lord’s justice will be the Assyrian army that will come and tread down upon the vanity of Israel. Isaiah the prophet names them in Isaiah 10:5.
We now will see 5 different visions of judgements that will come upon Israel. The first is a swarm of locusts which is covered in verses 1-3. The first vision has Israel cutting the grass with the expectation of a growth to come after the rain. They were looking forward to a bountiful harvest but it went for naught as the locusts came to devour the new growth. There is a sense that this was a sudden event and totally unexpected. This was a devastating judgement for which Amos interceded for. The Lord answered the prayer of Amos and brought relief. What a warning this is for us who have become accustomed to God’s bounty. As mentioned earlier our food supply can be thwarted within mere days. We are so used to eating and drinking that we cannot even imagine what famine and dearth would be like. Once again Amos interceded and God repented of that which He was about to do.
The second vision is that of fire (vs 4-6). This follows the barrenness of famine which makes the spreading of fire an easy thing to do. The locusts parched the land and made it dry which made it easy for the fire to spread.
The third vision is that of the plumb line (vs 7-9). The difference in this vision is that the Lord said He would not pass by them anymore. A plumbline is a tool that determines if a building measures up to the cornerstone. This is also true regarding the church seeing that Christ is the chief Cornerstone. We are called to be “squared” to the Lord and His standards. The problem is we seek to “square” Christ to our ways and methods. This vision of the plumbline is most appropriate for today seeing that God is at work applying it to the church and to our lives. The question is “do we measure up?” God is at work seeking out His people and doing a work of inspection. Do we let Him or do we hide and cover up His attempts to apply His divine plumbline.
In verses 10-17 the words and prophesies of Amos are beginning to stir the wrath of Amaziah who was a prominent priest in Bethel. How is it possible that a simple farmer of meagre means can raise such a ruckus amongst the monarchy and priesthood? This is the power of God upon the life of a faithful servant. Amaziah came to the king and said we must do something about Amos. He wanted Amos to go and prophesy to Judah and not have anything to do with Israel. Amos caused quite a stir because his words challenged the lifestyle and status of the priests. This is what happens when Truth is presented before those who choose to not live by Truth.
The 4th vision is that of the ripe fruit (vs 1-3). This vision of fruit was a picture of Israel whose sin has now become ripe. Israel was now a picture of over ripened fruit that was to be cast out. The horrible scene expressed in verse 3 is a haunting one where there are howling’s and cries in the temple and in the city. There would be dead bodies everywhere due to the destruction of the people by the Assyrians. Their indifference to the poor is again brought up by the Lord in the midst of their being judged. The Book of Amos makes very clear the concern that the Lord has towards the poor. It also makes clear the Lord’s interest in how His people treat the poor. This is why it is vitally important to have outreaches to the needy people of our society. This is reflected in the Gospels in Math 25 where the Lord speaks about how we treat others. Israel was a people who took advantage of the needy (vs 4).
In reading on in chapter 8 it is clear that the rich of Israel were making merchandise of the poor. They were in a position to control prices which brought a measure of servitude upon the poor. The one who has the money can make the rules and this is exactly what was happening here. It does have its parallel today. Have you ever considered how easy it is for people to go into debt today? In fact, debt is induced to those who cannot afford it particularly in the area of purchasing homes or large ticket items such as cars or recreational items. It caters to the leisure and pleasure seeking hunger in man. The problem is being able to pay it back over a period of time. What happens if the economy goes south or people lose their jobs? How will the debts be paid back? The answer is servitude to those who serve as the lenders. This is a modern day version of what was happening in the days of Amos. It is worthy to take note of Nehemiah 5 because it was here where a similar scenario was developing. The rich of the people were exploiting the poor where a similar and all too familiar kind of bondage was coming upon them. Fortunately, there was a man named Nehemiah who feared God. He was in a position to set things right and deal with an issue that would have undermined the restoration work that God was looking to bring to Jerusalem. We need to look to Nehemiah as an example to emulate today.
One of the greatest judgements that God was speaking against Israel is mentioned in verses 11-12. It is a famine the hearing of God’s Word. Why is this a severe warning? The Bible makes clear that it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). The question we then ask is how does faith come to God’s people? It comes by the hearing of God’s Word (Rom 10:17). It is a tragedy when the candlestick of God’s anointing is removed from a church. This was a warning to the church of Ephesus (Rev 2:5).
More than ever there needs to be a renewed emphasis on the study and embracing of the Word of God. There is a danger of getting caught up in programs and church related ministries at the expense of God’s Word. We sing songs today with words like “Let faith arise”. If we do not put a priority upon God’s Word and the teaching of it how then can faith arise? This is how there can be a famine of the hearing of the Word of the Lord in our churches. Amos does speak of a literal famine and there will be such judgements that will occur. The greater tragedy is a famine of faith which results from the hearing of what God is saying. Lord, please put such a love for Truth and your Word in our hearts.
The final vision that Amos has is that of the Lord by an altar. In verse 1, Amos has a similar vision that Isaiah had when he saw the Lord resplendent in His glory and holiness (Isa 6:1-8). One cannot have such a revelation without being so moved. Who can stand before the Holy God? What is Amos seeing? It was clear that the people were not convinced of the words of the prophet. The Lord said if they were able to escape the Assyrians they would not escape out of his hand. The truth is very few would have been able to escape the Assyrian siege but the Lord wanted them to know they could not escape Him. Once again it is not hard to see a modern day application. Our world today is extremely volatile and fragile. There are those who have made provision to escape the coming calamities. They may come to know a temporary reprieve but they cannot escape or hide from God. It goes back to the one of the more poignant verses in Amos. “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12).
There is an awesome portrayal of the sovereignty of God conveyed in verse 6. Here we see God as the one orchestrating the events in heaven. He is in command of the waters as he establishes their boundaries. His angels carry out His will pleasure throughout the heaven and the earth. In all of the judgements that take place it is God who is in control. He allows the viciousness of nations like the Assyrians and Babylonians to execute His judgements upon Israel. This is why one can never flee from God. On the other hand this is encouraging to us as believers knowing that we serve a God who can always be found. He is a God who knows where we are at all times; having the ability to walk with each of us in our respective valleys. God only asks that we seek Him with a full heart. He has been pleading with Israel that they turn back to Him with a whole heart. We serve a great and mighty God.
The judgement that was to come to Israel was going to result in their being sifted throughout the nations of the earth. This has indeed been the case. It is in recent years where you are beginning to see Jews return to their homeland. It is a process that has seemed to go full circle. The day of Israel’s ultimate restoration is soon at hand at the time of the Lord’s 2nd coming. Prior to this though will be a period of great tribulation. This will apply to both the Jews and the Gentile church. We cannot afford to make the same mistake that Israel of old had made. Many of them thought that the evil that God was pronouncing would never reach them. They were wrong and so it will be with many today. The comfort zone mentality coupled with a taking for granted approach in our relationship with the Lord will not hold in the days before us. Israel learned many lessons the hard way and they are still paying for it today. This is a warning sign to the rest of us who have the advantage of their history to learn from. We are accountable.
The final section of the Book of Amos deals with the Restoration of Israel. This was consistent with some of the other prophets who prophesied concerning the nation of Israel. They were consistent in speaking forth the severe judgements to come but they would end their prophetic declarations with promises of Restoration to God’s beloved nation at the time of the second coming. The Apostle James made a statement at the council in Jerusalem regarding the raising up again of the tabernacle of David. James was quoting from Amos 9:11. This is an important truth because it spoke to the future revival of the kingdom of David. This is why it is important to study the life of King David and to understand the truths concerning the message of Zion. It also speaks of what the millennial rule will be like. The Tabernacle of David was a time when David was able to minister before the presence of the Lord (Ark) as both a king and priest. This is the position that the church is called to. The last day church must come to the position of spiritual Mt Zion. There is a picture of an abundant harvest in verse 13. The harvest will be so great that the reapers of the harvest will not be able to keep pace. This is why we must plan for this revival now. It would be a great tragedy in seeing a harvest of souls come into the kingdom and not be able to facilitate it properly. We must prepare our Nets now for the revival that is soon to come.
The Lord speaks of bringing back the captives of Israel. There was a partial fulfilment of this in the Restoration era after their time in Babylon. The greater fulfilment will be at the time of the 2nd coming. We must never underestimate God’s desire and ability to restore. This is His heart and He seeks to cultivate this capacity within His last day church.
Isaiah 58:12 says, “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”
This verse is to be fulfilled concerning the last day church and for Israel at the time of the 2nd coming. The final verse in Amos is very similar to the words of Jeremiah concerning the end of Israel’s captivity. Jeremiah spoke of the Lord planting and establishing those who submitted to the message of Babylon. The promise was that God would plant them in a way that no man could pluck them up. He also gave the promise of having a heart that knows the heart of God (Jer 24:6-7). Amos is conveying the message of a last day restoration. It will be during the millennium where God will plant His people where they would no more be uprooted. God will be pleased to call Israel His own and they in turn pleased to call Him their God. There are many highs and lows in God’s relationship with Israel in the Book of Amos. In the end there is the beautiful promise of Restoration; a picture of a relationship that will be established during the millennium and one that will last throughout eternity.
This chapter contains 7 different visions that John has concerning last day events. It begins with John seeing the Lord Jesus Christ standing upon Mt. Zion. He is accompanied by 144,000 who have the mark of the heavenly Father upon their forehead. This is in contrast to those who bore the mark of the beast as seen in verse 13. This group of 144,000 is not to be confused with the group of 144,000 that was seen in chapter 7. They are a different group. We established this when considering chapter 7. One group refers to the twelve tribes of Israel and the other group relates to the redeemed of the earth. One group was in heaven and the other group upon the earth. There is a powerful voice that comes forth in verse 2. It is likened to the sound of many waters. Many feel that this is the voice of the Lord Himself; a picture of the Lord singing in the midst of the congregation (Psa 22:22). The sound of many waters has the connotation of purity. Have you ever been able to get away into a remote area and hear only the sound of running waters? It is therapeutic and it brings with it a sense of cleansing. This is what the voice of the Lord singing forth in the midst of an assembly can accomplish. His Words are pure and it helps us to appreciate the thought of the washing of water by the Word of God (Eph 5:26).
There is a new song that this group of 144,000 is able to sing that others do not know. It speaks of coming through an experience. David was able to sing a new song after being delivered from a horrible pit (Psa 40:3). There are truths and experiences that are bought that distinguish one set of believers from another. This was true concerning the 10 virgins. At the appointed time of the bridegroom’s arrival there was those who had purchased oil; those who had paid a price. They entered into an experience the others could not know because those others did not prepare ahead of time. Joshua, the high priest was one who was chosen, one who was plucked out of the fire because he paid a price (Zech 3:2). It seems here that there are those who will be given a song to sing with the Lamb of God that others will not have the privilege of. Isaiah also speaks of those who are chosen out of the furnace of affliction (Isa 48:10).
There are further qualifications given concerning this company in verses 4-5. They are sexually pure and have the ability to flow with the Lord in whatever He is doing or saying. In other words they have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. They do not make excuses not to do things but make every excuse to be in alignment with God. It speaks of those who fulfill the beatitude of those who are pure in heart (Math 5:8). It is indicative of a person like David who cried out to the Lord to have a pure heart. (This was after his sin with Bathsheba). God is calling us to a Holy life and it is achievable by his grace. It takes a desire to seek the Lord with purity of heart.
John now is about to see three warnings with the next set of visions that he is about to be shown. In verses 6-7 there is the vision of the everlasting Gospel that will be going forth throughout the whole earth. The last days are to be filled with the preaching of the Gospel worldwide. This is the great commission that the Lord gave to His disciples before ascending from their midst. If it was true in Jesus day then how much more for ours? The last days are upon us and the urgency needs to intensify. The call is that man would come to the place of fearing Him, for the hour of the end time judgments have come. The call is to worship the Lord and give glory to Him. The reality of Math 24:14 must grip each of us as the day of the Lord draws near. As we have seen in the lead up to Israel’s captivity prior to Babylon the Lord was ever seeking to bring His people to repentance and acknowledgement of the Truth. This is also the Lord’s heart today. He desires that all men have opportunity to know the Truth and to choose the Truth.
In verse 8 the declaration is made that Babylon the great has fallen due to intoxicating the nations with its wine and her fornications. We have been speaking of Babylon as a system. It is a system whereby man seeks to replace God. There are nations that are represented by Babylon as well. The message of Babylon is threaded throughout the whole of God’s Word. Its origins are seen soon after the flood of Noah. We learn much concerning Babylon and its system by looking at the life of Nimrod. His attempt to build a tower in Gen 11 is going to be resurrected in the last days. Essentially, it is the fullness of man in rebellion against God. This man will be the beast (antichrist) energized and empowered by Satan. This beast will gather and hunt for men (nations) to challenge God at Armageddon. One of the attractions in drawing men unto himself will be their common angst against Israel. The message of Babylon is a comprehensive one and it has a trail that can be followed from Genesis to Revelation. We will see this further emphasized over the next few chapters.
The warnings are clear in verses 9-12. If anyone chooses to align with the Beast they will suffer under the consequences that will come upon the Beast. This is why there is the call to come out of Babylon my people. What one can observe today is a system at work that is bringing man into conformity, one step at a time. Unless we wake up now we will be drawn into its web and we will be unable to break free when things begin to unwind. In verses 14-16 there is a picture of another harvest. In this first harvest it is the Lord who comes forth to reap the harvest of the elect (Dan 7:13-14). This is the harvest of the elect as also depicted in Math 24:30-31. There is then another harvest as seen in verses 17-20. This is the harvest of the wicked. Its grapes are ripe signifying that the time of the harvest has come. These two harvests seem to take place at the time of the 2nd coming. It appears that the righteous will be harvested first. It could well be that they are spared the final outpouring of judgements that have yet to be poured out (The 7 vial judgements). It could also be that this harvest could align with what Jesus shared in Math 24:40-41 where He mentioned that there are two in the field, one is taken while the other is left. This harvest of the ripe from the wicked takes place right at the time of the 2nd coming. This event is also referenced in Joel 3:12-13. These 7 visions will be revisited as the subsequent judgements begin to be poured out. These 7 visions give us the chronological sequence of events to come. The time has now come for the last 7 plagues or judgements to be poured out.