Lesson #4

"You Shall Die In A Polluted Land"

Text: Amos 7:1-7

The Setting

     Amos has been called by the Lord to come and preach
his word at Bethel, the religious seat of the northern
kingdom during the divided kingdom period, about 760
B.C.  It has been a time of prosperity and luxury for both
Israel and Judah and a time of political corruption and
social injustice.

     Amos chapters 1 and 2 contain the introductory
message of Amos that got the attention of the people and
announced God's coming judgment upon the nations that
surrounded Israel.  But then the message also included
God's displeasure with Judah and Israel for the sins they
were committing.

     In this study of Amos, we note in particular how the
sins of that day were so parallel to our own time, Human
nature has not changed!  Men who are given to live
according to the flesh are sensual, greedy, cruel, and
irreligious.  The very same sins of Amos' day are those
prevalent today.

Book Divisions

We have notice that one accommodative outline of the
book is:
     1.   The oracles against foreign nations, chs. 1 - 2.
     2.   Three sermons against Israel, chs. 3- 6.
     3.   The visions of God's judgment on Israel,  chs. 7-9.

Our lesson text today begins the series of Amos' visions.

                 The Vision of the Locust -- 7:1-3

     The Lord proposes to send a plague of locust like that
that devoured the land of Egypt in Exodus 10.  It would
attack the vegetation and devastate the land just as the
second crop was coming in and serve as God's
punishment on Israel for her idolatry.  The king and the
government took the first crop of the year because of the
demands of big government.  Thus the people would be
left without food.  Amos prayed that God would spare the
people from this plague and He did.
     [Q-1] Do you think God sometimes uses "nature" to
work his purpose?
     {Q-2] Can God summon any or all of his "creatures" to
do his will?

     The Vision of the Devouring Fire -- 7:4-6             

     The second dramatic vision of God's judgment
involved the threat of an all consuming fire, lapping up the
sea and land.  Whether this was something like a forest
fire engulfing land, cities, fields, etc., or more likely the
figure for a terrible scorching draught I'm not sure.

     Against Amos intercedes and the first two visions
symbolized judgments averted by the prophet's
intercession.  They were not announcements of coming
disaster, but announcements of what they had missed so

     [Q-3] Do you think prayer can work to change God's
planned activity?
     [Q-4] Is Gods basic nature a merciful God, or a hurtful
     [Q-5] What was Amos' attitude and concern for Israel?

               Vision of the Plumbline -- 7:7-9

     In the third vision Amos sees the Lord "standing" or
stationing himself in such a posture of firmness and
determination that he would not relent of the action He
planned next.  The Lord is seen standing beside a wall
with a plumbline in his hand.  A plumb line is a standard
by which a wall's vertical trueness is tested.  So the Lord
was going to test the people by His standard.  (The same
figure is used also in 2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 28:17; 34:11;
and Lamentation 2:8.)

     But the plumbline is also a symbol of destruction.  The
large "wrecking ball" is also a kind of a plumbline.  The
"wall" that doesn't measure up to God's standard will be
knocked down, destroyed.

     God says to Amos He is setting this plumbline in the
midst of his people.  He is going to "measure," and
destroy their "high places," that is, their places of idolatry
and the golden-calf sanctuaries in Israel (vs. 9).

     There is no mention of Amos now praying.  There is
no need to pray for something that is against God's will.
     [Q-6] What is the standard of God's plumbline in
measuring people today?
     [Q-7] Do you think there will come a time when God
will no longer pass by rendering a judgment upon
wickedness and religious corruption?
     [Q-8] How might He come in judgment? All of his
temporal judgments are a forecast and an assurance of

     Jehovah's Prophet and Jeroboam's Priest --

     As we might expect, in prophesying against the idol
shrines Amos met some opposition from those priests who
served the idol altars.  Read verses 10-17.

     Amaziah reports to the king.  Vss. 10-11.  "The land
cannot bear his preaching!"  It appears also that Amaziah
may have misrepresented Amos' threat to the "house of
Jeroboam" to apply personally to Jeroboam himself.

     Amaziah confronts Amos.  Vss. 12-13.  We're not
sure if Amaziah is taking matters into his own hands or if
he has the king's approval for this rebuke.  He urges Amos
to leave Bethel and return to his own home and make a
living there preaching. Judah ought to be happy to hear
him preach about the north's destruction.

     Apparently with soldiers or others backing him
Amaziah runs Amos out of the king's sanctuary, but Amos
gets in the last word from the Lord.  (Notice however,
how right Amaziah is about describing the shrine there as
"the king's sanctuary" for it certainly was not the Lord's!)

     Amos' Answer to Amaziah.  Vss. 14-17.  Amos
assures the Bethel priest that he is not a professional
prophet nor from a family of professional prophets.  The
Lord called him from following the sheep and from
dressing the sycamore-fig tree to come and preach at
Bethel.  He was a prophet by virtue of God's call.

     On the part of the faithful prophet we see that Amos
was:  1) humble-- he confesses his lowly origin;  2) loyal-- 
he kept the divine commission given to him;  3) zealous-- 
"the land could not bear his words";  4) bold-- look at
his reply to Amaziah.

     Amos has a word from the Lord for the unfaithful
priests:  1) his family will be dishonored;  2)
impoverished;  3) exterminated;  4) Amaziah will die in a
polluted land; and 5) all Israel will be led away captive
out of their land.

      Death in a Polluted Land

     One of the personal tragedies that Amaziah himself
would face was "death in a polluted land."  At the time of
Amos' confrontation Israel was wealthy and powerful
militarily.  But within about thirty years the Assyrians
would become dominant in the area and subjugate Israel.

     Among the ancient empires Assyria was the most
brutal and inhumane to their captors.  They bragged about
their terrible treatment of prisoners, and carvings left
behind on their palace walls verify everything that is said
about them.  Their land was everything opposite of what
God wants his people to be. Indeed, Amaziah and all the
Israelites led there would die in a polluted land!

     The pollution we're talking about is not oil spills,
chemical spills, or toxic waste.  It's not acid rain or
nuclear contamination.  It's the garbage heap of moral
failures, situation ethics, and irreverence for God and the
Bible that pollutes a nation.  A land given to sensuous
living and material greed must grieve the Lord greatly. 
Will you and I die in a polluted land?

     What can we do to curb the breakdown of homes, the
murder of thousands of innocent babies each year, a
disregard for God's plan for sexual behavior; and
insatiable appetite for "things"?  Is this not what it's all
about?  Is this not the great task God has given Christian
today?  Change our world, or die in a polluted land!
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