TODAY’S READING: AMOS 7- OBADIAH 1
The five visions symbolizing the approaching judgment: the plague of locusts, the devouring fire, the plumbline (Amos 7), the basket of summer fruit (Amos 8), the altar (Amos 9); the abasement of Edom’s pride (Obadiah 1-4); the destruction of Edom (Obadiah 5-16); the restoration of Israel and Judah, and the extinction of Edom (Obadiah 17-21).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we left off in yesterday’s reading, Amos had just concluded the third of three sermons God anointed him to preach to provide the bewildered people of Israel the reason God’s judgment was about to come upon them. They were bewildered because they seemingly had so many “spiritual” things in place. They observed the feast days; they made sacrifices and gave their offerings, and sang songs to the Lord (5:21-25). Like so many people and churches today, they could point to all these outward expressions of so-called “worship,” but God, as always, wasn’t looking at the outward appearance; He was looking at their hearts! Though they had all the correct actions, their problem was their corrupt attitudes (hearts). “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”!
As we move into chapter 7-9 today, Amos continues his prophecy against the nation of Israel. He challenges those who have developed a false sense of security (6:1 – “them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in” everything but God! i.e. the mountain of Samaria – 6:1; their money, their homes, their ivory beds, etc.) to beware of impending judgment. God gives him, three visions in chapter 7 to serve as illustrations of His judgment. The first vision Amos sees is that of locusts (“grasshoppers”) coming and stripping the land of all of its vegetation. Amos intercedes on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord stays the plague of locusts. Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer! God responded in Amos’ day, Elijah’s day (James 4:16-17), and He will respond in our day as well. Is there someone for whom God would have you intercede today?
The second vision Amos receives is almost the same as the first, but rather than locusts destroying the land, this time he sees it being destroyed by fire (7:4-6), after a severe draught. Once again, Amos intercedes on Israel’s behalf, and God chooses to deliver the land.
The third vision is that of a plumbline (7:7-9). Amos sees the Lord holding a plumbline and standing by a wall that was perfectly plumb. The point is that God was inspecting Israel to see if Israel was “out of line,” as we might say, or to see if Israel “measured up.” (As God holds the “plumbline” of His perfect Word next to your life today, how do you measure up? Is there any area of your life that is out of line?) Notice in this vision, Amos offers no intercession, and God offers no backing off of His plan to judge them. Notice in the remainder of chapter 7, that Amaziah, who was the “state priest” as it were, tells Amos “where to go” (Judah – 7:12), and do his little prophesying there. Amos tells him, “Listen pal, I was minding my own business tending sheep and picking fruit when God called me to prophesy on His behalf, and there ain’t anybody including you that’s gonna get me to stop! And while I’m at it, I just happen to have a prophecy for you! Your wife is go!
ing to become a “streetwalker” and your entire family is going to die by the sword because of your sin and compromise!” Go Amos!
In chapter 8, God gives Amos a fourth vision. This time Amos sees “a basket of summer fruit” (8:1-3). Israel, like summer fruit, has ripened for judgment, and the end was near. Amos spends the remainder of chapter 8 identifying the sins for which the judgment was coming.
In chapter 9, Amos receives the fifth and final vision. He sees the Lord Himself standing at the altar (9:1-10). The message is the inescapability of God’s judgment. Regardless of where they go, God says He will find them. The Book of Amos doesn’t end on a negative note, however! In 9:11-5, God promises the future restoration of Israel which will unfold “in that day.” What day? The “day of the Lord;” the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Today’s reading also includes the little Book of Obadiah (only 21 verses!). Obadiah whose name means “servant of the Lord,” prophesied in the time period between 587 B.C and 580 B.C. As with every prophetic Book of the Old Testament, the theme is the second coming of Christ or “the day of the Lord.” This Book is unique in that it is the only Book of the Bible written against a nation of people: the Edomites.
The Edomites are the descendants of Esau, and are a group of people who have consistently caused Israel problems. In I Chronicles 18:14 they become servants to Israel, but later revolt in II Chronicles 21:8-10, only to continue to cause Israel problems. After that, they become a part of an alliance with Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar that led to Israel’s downfall.
The cold hard facts are, God hates the Edomites! Why? Because He said, “I’ll bless them who bless thee, and curse them that curse thee”! The Edomite nation cursed Israel, and thus, God’s cursing upon them.
This little Book will give you great insight into Romans 9:13 (where a lot of good people have lost their head). God says, “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.” Some (hypercalvinists) read that and immediately conclude that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. If you go back to Genesis 25, however, God specifically said that there were two nations in Rebekah’s womb. This is about nations not individuals! The descendants of Esau, the Edomite nation hated Israel, and because of it, God hated them!
Don’t miss realizing that the Edomites are still in existence in the Middle East, we just know them by different names today. But, their game plan is still the same as it ever was: Give Israel problems! Notice also, that Psalm 83:4-6 lists the Edomites with the 10 confederated nations of the Antichrist. That’ll teach you a lot about current events in the Middle East!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the PLUMBLINE – Amos 7:7-8 (The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the perfect standard and He alone is qualified to walk in the midst of His people, measuring good and evil, and true and false – Rev. 2-3).