76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 29 - Amos, first prophet of Israel.
August 21th, 1959
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
Amos is the first of the real prophets of Israel who exercised his ministry during the reign of Jeroboam II. I have already told you that this king was idolatrous and materialistic in his attitude, devoting his rule to enlarging his domain and making it as powerful as he could. No one could have dared predict the destruction of this kingdom within fifty years of the prophet’s warning. Yet Amos did so, and he was correct. He did not base his prophecies on visions, but on knowledge of the workings of the spiritual forces which work upon man’s soul. If a man is evil in his heart, he attracts evil souls from the spirit world, and these help create conditions that will bring the sinful man to disaster. Sometimes material conditions are favorable to the extent that the pressure of the evil forces cannot undermine sufficiently the favorable position of the person in question, and people have thus speculated on the apparent prosperity of evil individuals. And conversely, people there are who, while really striving to live up to moral and ethical standards, cannot seem to prosper or experience material difficulties, causing misgivings as to the power of God to protect His children from evil. You will see that from this eventually evolved the story of Job, which I shall discuss at a later time. But here let me say that adverse material conditions, such as produced by the machinations of evil, selfish associates, or local or national events, may present obstacles to advancement or provoke losses, and man is subject to the material laws that prevail at the time.
The statement, “Thou shalt be subject to the powers that be,” is true, yet so is the one in II Chronicles 25: 8 that “God hath power to help.” Though material, or earth plane, conditions are not subject to spiritual laws, but to material laws, yet God, through His ministering angels, or spirits, seek to protect those who seek Him, and work to overcome unfavorable material conditions for them. Sometimes the effort consumes what to mortal beings is considerable time, measured sometimes even in years, but that is simply a point of view, and it is well to remember that spirit efforts continue ceaselessly and that the time does come when the protecting forces are able to reach through the earth conditions, or when these change bring about an amelioration of the man’s material situations. During this time, the man with faith in God, and who prays to God, may keep contact with the spirit forces who give him courage and strength in his time of adversity and enable him to bear up by giving him an insight into the true proportions of his difficulties, and he sees them, therefore, as they really are: very temporary when compared to his complete life, both mortal and spirit. Furthermore, God, I must tell you, gave man a free will to act, and by that very gift took away from Himself absolute power to force man to act as he wishes. Therefore He cannot, or does not, force man to act contrary to man’s wishes, even though they be for unmitigated evil, and there are also national and universal laws which He created and which He therefore cannot nullify to protect man or life. What He can do, however, is to bring into operation higher laws which if obeyed may neutralize those in effect.
For example, God made available to mankind through me, His highest spiritual Law yet known to mankind, His Divine Love, at a time when the Hebrew people were being torn and afflicted by that cruelest and most brutal of the oppressor nations, Rome. Only the Divine Love and Its possession in abundance could have given Israel the fortitude, courage and faith to endure and overcome the great storm of evil that vented its wrath upon the nation, and enabled it to perceive this yoke as it really was - a storm of great violence, but withal a passing one in the ocean of eternal time, and one from which Israel was to take refuge, and not to face. Human love was not equal to the immense task of coping with the greater human evil that was ancient Rome, and thus Israel adopted the disastrous course of rebellion and destruction. As the Messiah of God, I could have averted this disaster to my people if they had believed my words and prayed to the Father for His Love.
Now, just as many in Judah had, in the day after my coming, sunk down to the level of the heathen to act as he did with force, and to be punished by the sword, so had leaders in the land of Israel sunk down to the lowness of the heathen in turning away from the moral and ethical Statutes of the Father for the nation’s life, and acted as did the neighboring peoples and followed their idolatry, their immorality and the degradation of their behavior. Thus Amos prophesied against the surrounding people, the Syrians, the Philistines in Gaza, Ashdod and Ashkelon, the Edomites to the south of Judah, the Ammonites and the Moabites. He did this to show that God is the God of all peoples, pagan as well as Hebrew, and that the consequences of their evils would be their destruction. And then, as Prophet of Israel, he warned the Israelites of their sins and iniquities and prophesied destruction not only because of their evil ways but because they had despised the Law of God, with whom their fathers had made an everlasting covenant. These evils included idolatry, bribery, betrayal of justice, oppression of the poor, immoral sex practices, profanation of the altar, seducing with wine the Nazarites, who were pledged to refrain from intoxicating drinks, and also oppression of the prophets who warned the people against their evildoings. Yes, Amos raised his voice against the kine of Bashan, the women, who oppressed the poor, crushed the needy and incited their men to indulgences, and he protested against the pagan-type practices at Beth-el, Gilgal and other altars.
He also reminded the people of the punishment God had been meting out without their returning to Him - famine, lack of food, drought, lack of drinking water, plagues and pestilence, warfare and death; these had been visible warnings to return to God and His Statutes, but these had not touched the hard hearts of Israel - and therefore destruction of the land was at hand. Amos pleads with the people to seek the Lord, that a merciful Lord might save a remnant:
“For thus saith the Lord God unto the House of Israel, Seek ye Me, and ye shall live: … Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek Him… . The Lord is His Name.”
(Amos 5: 4, 7 - 8)
“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.”
(Amos 5: 14 - 15)
By this Amos meant that while evil conditions, because of the evils committed, were now so advanced that the disasters to come could no longer be avoided, yet a return to God and His righteousness might halt the full flood of disaster by the reappearance of some favorable forces and thus might avert their complete extermination and enable a remnant of the people to be rescued.
Amos then tells the people that no amount of religious feasting or ceremonies can take away sin. What God wants is righteousness and justice, and not sacrifices:
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”
(Amos 5: 21 - 24)
Amos tells us he pleaded through prayer to God to prevent the coming flood of disaster, and he tells us how he was able to understand the words and the warnings which were delivered to him by God’s messengers: and these were in the form of poetic images or pictures which everyone could interpret. These pictures were the way in which Amos’ brain interpreted the messages he received. They could only be delivered through him in a way familiar to him or to his experiences in life. Thus the war of starvation is one in which grasshoppers devour the grass of the land (Amos 7: 1 - 2), and the warnings of devastation by fire are that of fire devouring part of the sea, (Amos 7: 4), and the warning of the crumbling of walls and destruction is carried out by means of the plumb line, a symbol of judgment executed according to the righteousness of cause. At the end of these warnings Amos was told that God could no longer withhold judgment, and it meant that the evil conditions could no longer be contained and like a devastating flood must burst the retaining wall and overwhelm all in its path.
In connection with these prophecies of doom, Amos had to show his courage. The official priest of Beth-el, Amaziah, informed the King, Jeroboam, that Amos was conspiring against him, raising mistrust in the minds of the people by proclaiming he would die by the sword and Israel led away captive.
The high priest, by his own authority and the King’s approval, ordered Amos to leave and go back to Tekoa whence he came, Beth-el being no welcome place for him and his prophecies. Fearlessly Amos replied he was not a professional prophet - meaning that he would not foretell only those things the king wanted to hear, but that in reality he was a messenger of God, for he was declaring those things which God, through His angels, had ordered him to say. He told the authorities that, indeed, he had been content in his humble work as sheep-master and tree caretaker, but that the Lord had taken him away from tending to the flock and the trees, and had told him, “Go prophesy unto my people Israel.” That prophesy was a dreadful one. Amos also predicted the doom of the priest’s family as well as death in the house of the king. Amos thus showed that courage which true - bearers of tidings of destruction and warnings of disaster - had to display in Israel in order to face the angry rulers and priests and as God’s messengers to calmly repeat the prophesy and repose confidence in the Lord, even if the unpopular prophesy meant physical death to the bearer. Jeroboam did not move against Amos and the ruler did not die a violent death, but later, the next king, Uzziah, did seek to destroy the prophet, and both he and Amaziah had Amos beaten to death by blows on the head with iron bars.
In conclusion, Amos had a persistent feeling that regardless of Israel’s shortcomings, the total destruction of the nation would not take place, despite the certainty he felt of the nation’s punishment:
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”
(Amos 9: 11, 15)
And so, in an appendix, in chapter 9, which some have felt to be of another hand, he experienced the great expectation that a day of redemption would follow when sin would be eliminated from the sinners and they would live in the warmth of the Father’s Love. The very prescience he foretold of coming disaster for Israel gave him the insight that, as the only people who had accepted the Father and had some understanding of His Ways, the entire nation would not be permitted to perish, just as they had not been permitted to die in Egypt, and that there must be some among them who, while silent in the time of corruption, retained a love of justice and mercy, and would keep alive the light of God’s Torah.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens