The Prophet Amos lived during
the reign of King Jeroboam II. Jeroboam the reigned
over the Ten Tribes of Israel for a period
of forty years. Under his rule the Northern Kingdom of Israel enjoyed one of
its most happy and prosperous periods. He was able to successfully conquer every
piece of land which had been lost by the past kings. During this period their economy was strong, and their
military was victorious. But despite growing stronger in force and size, their
faith got weaker and weaker. This is the reason why in Amos 9:7, God is upset
with the Israelites about their constant complacency and lack of desire to stay
faithful to Him. Even though He was the one who brought them out of Egypt,
rescued them, took care of their physical and mental needs, provided them with
food and shelter, gave them a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, didn’t
let their sandals be torn during their entire time in the wilderness and helped
them cross the red sea. All these things that God did for them were very
conveniently forgotten by the Israelites. The more materialistic the people of
Israel became, the more their they forgot about spirituality and the
relationship they had with God. Every time God’s people sway from Him, He
doesn’t like it. We know from the Bible that God is a jealous God and is very
possessive of us because He loves us. That is why He would get reasonably upset
with the Israelites because time and again, despite their shortcomings, God
loved them and provided for them. Yet they were ungrateful and turned to other
idols and images. Even though we see God’s anger in verse 8, where He says He
will destroy the sinful nation of Israel from the face of the Earth, He is
still bound to the covenant He made with Jacob and just for their sake, God
spared them. In verse 9, God says He alone gives the command which has the
power to shake Israel and all the nations. Just like when one sifts ingredients
through sieve, the purest materials are the ones that pass through it. Like
a farmer sifting grain in a sieve, God will disperse his people among different
nations to separate the precious and faithful remnant, from the unfaithful. Using that illustration, God tells us that the shaking
that He will cause will result in the death of all but the ones who are
faithful and true to His word. In the next verse, 10, He says that the sinners
will all die because of the coming judgement which they brought upon themselves.
It is the choices of the Israelites to disobey God which makes Him angry and as
a result must punish them for their sins. Even those who think nothing bad will
happen to them will be struck down. The Lord knows our lives inside out. He can
see straight through us. He saw through the hearts of men and women who tried
to excuse themselves from living a righteous life by fashioning excuses and
ideas. They try to excuse themselves from God’s standards and then think that
they are exempt from punishment and judgement. They developed a very laid back
and relaxed attitude that nothing can harm them. Mainly because they started to
see God as someone who is there but doesn’t really care about a lot of things
they do on Earth. We know that the religion during those days, centered in the
city of Bethel. The teachings were more focused on how to be popular rather
than seeking God’s righteousness; and was more concerned about being
politically correct than it was about being true. Verse 11 talks about how God
is gracious and despite our failures, He is the one who restores us into
completion. He promises to restore the lineage of David and repair and rebuild Israel
to it’s former glory. Verse 12 mentions the land that God has in mind for the Israelites.
He says that they will posses the land of Edom. We can see here that it is God
who is moving and creating history. He is the one who is forming nations, raising
them and putting them down. It goes on to show the sovereignty of God’s power
of shaping not just history and the nations, but also shaping our lives. He further
goes on to say in verse 13, about His blessing that will upon the land. This
will cause the crops and grains to grow faster. The land will produce more
because of the fertility of the soil and the vineyards which are full of
produce, will generate good wine. God says that after the scattering of His
people, one day, He will bring them all back and rebuild their ruined cities and
help them live a good life again with grain and wine. The Lord further says in
verse 15 that He will plant them in their land firmly. Never to leave again. When
we look at all this text today, we see the fullness of everything God said. The
scattering of Israelites, the destruction that they faced as well as the
restoration and rebuilding of the land.

If the Israelites heard Amos’ words before leaving Egypt
and entering the wilderness, they would have had greater reverence and fear of
God who clearly warned them about the time that will destroy them because of
their own sinfulness. As a result, if they would have obeyed the Lord and
walked according to His steps, they may not even have been in the wilderness
for 40 years. God tests to see the Heart of men and women. It is amazing to see
God’s grace even through the narrative of this text. Even though God is angry and
talks about the death of those who are sinful, He still gives a promise of
restoration. Because of the covenant He made with His people, He will ensure
that their race not only survives but thrives, which we can see continuing even
today. It is interesting to note that all the verses from 7-15 have the
pronoun ‘I’ in them. In all the verses, God is saying “I will” and “I am”. This
points out the supreme authority that God alone has. Only He has the power to
break or build a nation. Only He has the authority to set free from bondage and
sin.

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The Book of Amos is about God’s expectation of a righteous and
true life that He expects each one of His children to strive to live. His
expectation of righteousness in our individual lives as well as among the people
who know His salvation; and His demand for righteousness and justice in our nations
at large. When we read the Bible, God desires that we really listen to it. His
instructions in the Old and New Testaments are not just historical information.
They reveal the character and nature of the God we worship. The Bible says, God
is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. So, the same God we see in the
text above in Amos 9, is the same God we worship today. Just because of His
grace, we must not take Him and His instruction for granted. We need to make
sure that our relationship with God is not overrun by different jobs and roles
we play to sustain our lives here on Earth. Rather we ought to strive to live a
righteous life, which is holy and acceptable in God’s sight. Amos reminds us that
we must not have presumptions about God. All those who thought that nothing bad
will happen to them were condemned and judged to die by the sword. We must live
our lives in accordance with the standard that God has set. Yes, we may fail
many times, and the grace of God helps us stand back on our feet and try again.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t make any efforts to reciprocate the love that
God showed us on the cross of Calvary. This passage from Amos is a good reminder
to all of us, specially to those who may have started to think that they are at
par with God. The new ideas humans have about themselves is that because they
are created in God’s image they are like ‘mini-Gods’. This is exactly the kind
of idea the Israelites started to believe in which was introduced by the Greek
theology. Which introduced the idea of half God and half Man. Idea corrupted
the minds of the Israelites because of which God became very upset.

Keeping this text in
mind, it is paramount to view God not in His goodness, but in His character. We
like to take the good and joyful and lifegiving part of God and leave the
command that follows it. But God wants us to have a relationship with Him. Despite
being God, He wants us to be able to have access to Him and share in His
kingdom. As selfish sinful people, we often try just to take and grab every
good thing that we are given and keep it for our pleasure. God wants us to be
able to celebrate a life that is beyond materialistic and worldly pleasures. That
is why we are called to be set apart. A chosen race and a people called by His
name. That is why we are called Christians. To show the likeness of Christ to
the world around. Not to show what Jesus can do, rather to show who He can be
to each one of us.