AMOS - CHAPTER 7 - THE PLUMBLINE Print E-mail

AMOS – CHAPTER 7 – THE PLUMBLINE

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

January 14, 2020

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

 

In this chapter Amos is given three visions of judgment by the LORD, and granted the authority to change God’s mind on two of the judgments, but not the third.

 

The  burden of the visions  is not blessing and salvation, but rather the revelation of God’s wrath and judgment upon His people. 

 

In the first vision Amos is shown a plague of locusts being created and made ready to destroy the land, just as the second crop was coming up (i.e. spring time).  The late planting or latter growth is the last growth of pasture before the long dry season of summer begins.  If it were lost, there would be nothing to carry the people over into the next harvest. 

 

Vision of the Locusts:

Amos 7:1:4: Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust (grasshopper) swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king’s mowing.  And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said:
“O Lord G
OD, forgive, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he is small!”

So the LORD relented concerning this.
“It shall not be,” said the LORD.

 

The king’s mowing or the king’s share indicates the king had the claim to the first cutting of hay to feed the royal chariot-horses.  (This is what the Democratic candidates want to do by taxing the wealthy.)   A plague of locusts devouring these crops would be a disastrous occurrence in a land with an already weakened agricultural economy.  

 

The last destructive plague of locusts in the United States was in 1875.  Locusts are both pestilence and plague. 

 

Here we see the authority of Amos as he appeals to God.  Amos was able to take his case right into the presence of God and there plead his cause.  There could be no greater authentication of the genuineness of his prophetic office than this ability to approach God directly and speak with Him as a man would speak with his friend.  Amos pleads for forgiveness and God hears his prayer.  So the Lord relented and the disaster is averted.

 

God is a personal God, one who feels and displays His emotions, not an abstract and mechanical Deity.  Amos does not think of God as being imprisoned in His own immutability.  God is Lord of history and all that happens is according to His sovereign will, but He is a free agent, not bound by a pre-determined mind set. 

 

The second vision is probably related to the fires of the dry summer season.  Such fires spread with great rapidity destroying everything in their path. 

 

 

Vision of the Fire:

Amos7:4 -6: Thus has the LORD GOD showed me: Behold, the Lord GOD called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory.
“O Lord G
OD, cease, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he
is small!”

So the LORD relented concerning this.
This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.

 

The Great Deep is a phrase in the Bible that has two distinct meanings: oceans and subterranean waters. It is best known in reference to the flood of Noah in Genesis 7:11 where it describes the waters that burst forth as the "springs of the great deep". In this context the great deep describes subterranean waters that flooded the Earth.[1]” (Wikipedia)

While making reference to the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites, in referring to God, Isaiah exclaims:

"Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?"Isaiah 51:10

Clearly the Red sea in this passage is "the waters of the great deep". Since the Red Sea is but a part of the all encompassing great deep, i.e. all the seas and oceans, then here is the Bible definition of great deep.

In the two other places where the phrase is also used the same definition is fully satisfactory.

"This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land."Amos 7:4

In other words, a judgment by fire will evaporate all the oceans and destroy the land.

"Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast."Psalms 36:6

In other words, God’s righteousness is as high as the mountains; His justice is as low as the deepest ocean.

The expression calling for judgment indicates a court room scene in which the LORD GOD is prosecutor, judge and the one who carries out the sentence. 

The intercession of Amos is once again effective in averting the judgment of Adonay Jehovah the LORD GOD.

Vision of the Plumb Line:

Amos 7:7 -9: Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line,  in His hand.

And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said:

Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.

The high places of Isaac shall be desolate,
And the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste.
I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam
.”

 

In this vision Amos does not witness a destructive force about to bring ruin to the nation, but rather the internal state of Israel about to bring about its own collapse. 

 

Before this study, I had wrongly associated the plumb line with the measuring reed (stick) of Ezekiel and John’s visions. 

 

My lack of knowledge of skill-tools explains my ignorance.  Thankfully the Lord arrested me and I did some research on the plumb line.  The plumb line is not horizontal, it is vertical.  It doesn’t measure size and distance,  It determines level and quality of construction.

 

Amos sees the Lord standing on a wall with a plumb line in his hand.  The plumb line is a lead weight attached to a line to ensure walls were perpendicular.  It was not only used in construction, but also to test dilapidated walls to see whether they should be pulled down.  The plumb line is set among my people Israel and reveals the desperate state of the structure of Israel’s society.  The twin pillars of religion and a just social order which should support the nation are so far out of true that they must be pulled down. 

 

Hence the high places and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined and the house of Jeroboam (exemplifying the civil order will be exterminated).

 

Four of God’s judgments were in view before Amos:

  1. Plague
  2. Fire
  3. Sword (war)
  4. Captivity

 

Amos was successful in bringing about a respite from the first two; but against the Sword he did not make a plea. 

 

The visions are interrupted at this point by an accusation by the priest of Bethel, Amaziah.  Amos’ words would be viewed as a conspiracy and a direct threat to the king.

 

Amaziah’s Complaint

Amos 7:10 – 11: Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel 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

 “For thus Amos has said:

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From their own land.’
 ”

Amaziah was an idolatrous priest, but he knew the power of the prophetic words’ affect on the land and the people.  When a prophet is able to get his message across  to this extent, it effects men living in rebellion.  Either the Words of the Prophet will bring repentance and revival or the Word will bring riots.

Jesus’ Words of righteousness caused the rioting of the people to nail Him to the Cross.

Amaziah attempts to throw Amos out of northern Israel, the city and the sanctuary.  When the true plumb line goes deep, like the sword of the Spirit, it separates the bone and the marrow, the spirit and the soul, the true from the false. 

These prophecies were fulfilled (1 Kg. 19:  15-18;  2 Kg. 15:10): 

2Ki 15:9 -10: And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel to sin. Then Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and struck and killed him in front of the people; and he reigned in his place.

Amos 7:12 -13: Then Amaziah said to Amos:

“Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.

But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it
is the king’s sanctuary,
And it
is the royal residence.”

 

The Bethel sanctuary was the King’s sanctuary, but it was never ordained by God.  His only sanctuary was the temple in Jerusalem which was commissioned to David and Solomon. 

 

Amaziah insults Amos by telling him to earn his bread prophesying.  He is humiliating him as a professional prophet.  Amos sets him straight and says He was sent with a message by the LORD.

 

Amos 7:14 -16a: Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:

“I was no prophet,
Nor
was I a son of a prophet,
But I
was a sheep breeder
And a tender of sycamore fruit.

Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock,
And the L
ORD said to me,
Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD:

 

Amos is denying an association with the prophetic schools and emphasizes that he was taught of the LORD.  His calling was not his choice, but the Lord took him and said to him, Go prophesyHe had been taken from his sheep to fulfill the divine mandate.  His status depended on the divine call, not his own choice, and it is clear that the convictions of Amos were very different from those of contemporary prophets. 

 

 

Amos 16b-17: You say,Do not prophesy against Israel,
And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’

 Therefore thus says the LORD:
Your wife shall be a harlot in the city;
Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;
Your land shall be divided by survey line;
You shall die in a defiled land;
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From his own land
.’ ”

 

Amos now declares God’s punishment on Amaziah face to face.  His wife would only be able to find a living as a prostitute in the city.  His family would fall by the sword.  His land would be divided up among the conquerors and he himself would end his days as an exile in a foreign country, a defiled land, that is a land of foreign gods.

 

That Israel will go into captivity is repeated seven (7) times in this book of oracles.

 

Jesus Christ is the righteous divine measure, the criterion by which all men are judged.  Jesus was not welcome among religious Pharisees and Sadducees.  Believers made the righteousness of God in Christ have been apprehended to come to the measure of His fullness.  God places a higher value on justice and righteousness than on temporal materialism, the things that money will buy---Godliness with contentment is great gain.

 

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

www.eastgateministries.com

Scripture from NKJV – I entered into the labors of F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary (J.K. Howard).  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.  

 
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