||Chosen no: R-5805 a, from: 0 Year.
|Change lang |
AMOS THE FEARLESS PROPHET
THE SHEPHERD BECOMES AMOS THE PROPHET – DISASTERS TO COME UPON THE
TEN-TRIBE KINGDOM – DIVINE METHOD OF PRESENTING THE PROPHET'S
MESSAGE – ISRAEL GUILTY OF INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION – LESSONS FOR
OUR DAY – ISRAEL'S RECOVERY FORETOLD – FULFILMENT OF THE PROPHECY
OF AMOS NOW DUE.
that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully."--Jeremiah
lesson has to do with the prophecy of Amos, who is noted as being one
of the earliest prophets to write down the message which he
delivered. True, Moses was a prophet; and we have his teachings in
written form. David also was a prophet; and we have his teachings in
the Psalms. But Moses' prophecies were chiefly through the types
which he instituted under Divine direction; and David's prophecies
were in poetic form, but were not discerned to be prophecies until
our Lord and the Apostles so pointed them out. The Prophet Samuel
seems not to have written any of his inspired messages; neither did
Elijah, nor Elisha nor others of their time.
Prophet Amos belongs to a period about a century after the Prophet
Elijah and nearly a century before the Prophet Isaiah, and about two
centuries before the Prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Amos
declared himself to have been of humble birth. His parents were not
illustrious; and he was not educated amongst the sons of the
prophets. Like David he was a sheep tender, a farmer, upon whom the
Lord poured His Spirit with mighty power, sending him to proclaim the
disasters sure to come upon Israel unless a change of course should
turn aside the deserved punishment for transgressions against their
brunt of the Prophet's message fell against the ten-tribe kingdom of
Israel. The Divine method of presenting the matter is noteworthy. The
Prophet's message began with the adjoining nations: (1) Damascus, the
capital of Syria, on the north, is mentioned as being in line with
the Divine retributions; (2) the Philistines, on the west; (3) Tyre,
to the northwest; (4) the Edomites, to the south; (5) the Ammonites,
nearly on the east; (6) the Moabites, also to the south; (7) Judah,
to the south; and lastly, the center of the Prophet's message,
Israel--the ten-tribe kingdom.
can fancy the attention which would be given to the Prophet's message
by the people of Israel as they would hear fall from his lips words
descriptive of the troubles coming upon surrounding nations which
were their enemies. But as the circle grew narrower and narrower, and
as the weight of the Prophet's testimony was found to be especially
against themselves, we may be sure that there was intense
indignation. If at first they shouted, "A true Prophet!"
probably they afterwards gnashed upon him with their teeth.
denunciation of Israel occurs chiefly in chapters 3-6 and in chapter 7:9-17. When the Prophet had gone so far
as to tell openly of the fall of the reigning dynasty, Amaziah, the
priest of Bethel, interfered, bidding Amos to return to his own
country. But under the special power of the Holy Spirit, using him to
deliver a particular message, the Prophet Amos refused to return home
until he had accomplished his errand. He also added to the
retribution of Israel some prophecies respecting the priest's own
In drawing from the
experiences of the Prophet Amos a lesson applicable to ourselves of
today, we must remember that the Lord no longer sends His messages
after this manner. Conditions have changed, circumstances have
changed, and prophecies of the kind inspired by the Lord in early
days are no longer His method. Respecting these prophecies, the
Apostle Peter tells us, "Prophecy came not in olden times by the
will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21.) Again, "Unto whom it
was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister
the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached
the Gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven."--
1 Peter 1:12.
In view of the changed
conditions and the difference of operation of the Divine power, it is
for us to preach [R5805 : page 348] the Word to whomsoever
hath an ear to hear, to call attention to the application of the
prophecies and testimonies of ancient times, and thus to make known
the Divine Plan as it becomes due to be understood by those for whom
it is designed--the Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile. For
any one to undertake at the present time to copy either the Prophet
Elijah or the Prophet Amos or any other of the ancient Prophets of
Israel would indicate a total misapprehension on his part respecting
the Divine will and the Divine message; indeed, it might even be
surmised to indicate a mental unbalance. As the Apostle declares, we
speak the things that we know, and we testify to the things spoken
aforetime for our admonition. (Romans 15:4.) There is a
good lesson for us, nevertheless, in the method which the Lord guided
the Prophet to take in delivering his message.
Lord leaves to us of this Gospel Dispensation considerable latitude
in the choice of means for serving His cause. He exhorts us, however,
to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves; and He promises
us rewards in proportion as we exercise such carefulness in His
service as He can especially bless and use. Those who use wisely the
pounds and talents intrusted to them are to have proportionate
rewards when the Kingdom of God's dear Son shall have been set up.
Let us then, in the exercise of our liberty and in accord with the
Master's injunction to be as wise as serpents, notice that the
Prophet's message respecting unpleasant and direful matters, all of
which were true, began in such a manner as to rivet the attention of
Apostle Paul practised this same wisdom, and mentioned it
subsequently to some whom he had brought to a knowledge of the Lord.
He said, "Being crafty, I caught you with guile." (2
Corinthians 12:16.) That is, he presented the matter to them
in the form that would be most attractive to their hearts. He
presented nothing untrue, however. Truth can be stated in a more or
less palatable or unpalatable form.
ALL THAT SAY LORD, LORD"
lesson in connection with the Prophet Amos' message is that his
opponents rose up from amongst those who were professedly
religious--the priests. And so it was with our Lord and the Apostles.
The priests and the religious teachers of their day were the chief
opponents of the Gospel in its truth and purity; and we must expect
the same in our day. The Truth, in proportion as it has been declared
in its purity, has always roused opposition, and has always found its
chief opposers amongst those who have "a form of godliness"--
but generally amongst those who lack its power.
lesson is a part of the Prophet's pleading with the Israelites that
they return to harmony with God and thus avert the calamities which
must otherwise be expected. The history of that time shows that it
was a very prosperous period, not only for Judah, but also for the
ten-tribe kingdom. The prosperity was of the earthly kind. Riches
were accumulated. But these were in the hands of the great; and the
Prophet proceeds to warn the rich that the poor were being unjustly
dealt with. He intimates that it would be from this source that the
trouble would ultimately come; that the only terms upon which they
could hope to live as a nation would be by seeking the Lord. It would
be in vain for them to seek help at Bethel or in Gilgal or in
Beersheba, the centers of their religious institutions, which were
corrupt. These religious institutions would all go down in the
trouble which the Prophet predicted.
Lord Himself must be sought with an honest heart; else He would cause
destruction to break out like a fire to devour the House of Joseph.
The ten-tribe kingdom is here called the House of Joseph, because the
tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were of preponderating influence in
the nation; and these two tribes had sprung from Joseph. Hence the
fire breaking out in the House of Joseph meant the destruction which
would come upon the ten-tribe kingdom unless they repented.
Prophet proceeds to particularize some of the wrongs on account of
which they were in danger. Justice was not rendered in their courts.
Instead of the sweets of Justice, those who appealed to their courts,
if they were poor, got wormwood--that is, bitterness, disappointment.
The Prophet declares that righteousness was cast down to the earth;
that equity was not a matter of primary consideration. He proceeds to
point out that bribery was rife; that wealth, power and influence
could accomplish almost anything. There must be a turning from this
condition; and relief could come only from turning to the Lord.
Prophet refers to Divine Power in language somewhat similar to that
used by the Patriarch Job. (Job 9:9.) Pointing to the
group Pleiades in the constellation Taurus and to Orion, he would
have his hearers see that the One whose assistance they needed was
the One who was able to create the earth and the heavens also, the
One who was able not only to gather the waters into the seas, but
also to call the waters back from the seas to the clouds and to pour
it down upon the earth again in its seasons. This great God was the
One whom they needed; and all others assisting them would be
powerless against Him.
CARETH FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY
verse 9the Prophet intimates that God's Power would be
with the poor and oppressed for their deliverance; and that this
would mean destruction against the strong and powerful, against those
that hate reproof and abhor the upright, those that are in opposition
to any who reprove unrighteousness.
11 and 12specify and particularize the nature of the
injustice which was practised and which needed to be renounced and
discontinued. Verse 13implies that there were amongst
the Israelites some who did not approve of the general course; but
that these, being helpless and in the minority, kept silence from
prudential reasons--because the time was an evil one, and to have
espoused the cause of the oppressed would have brought trouble upon
them without bringing relief to the oppressed. But the Prophet Amos
was especially commissioned of the Lord to give this very reproof.
Hence he must not keep silence because of prudence or for any other
consideration, but must speak his message with boldness.
it is not the duty of every one of the Lord's people today to take
the place of Amos and become public reprovers of public officials,
etc., even though they may see unrighteousness practised. Prudence,
wisdom, is to be used in connection with whatever we do. Our
commission today is not that of reproving nations, but that of
letting our light so shine that others may see our good works, and
glorify our Father who is in Heaven. Our Lord declares that He will
rebuke the nations; that He will humble their pride; that He will
cast down the mighty from their positions; that He will exalt the
humble--in due time. To His people He says, "Wait ye upon Me,
until the Day that I rise up to the prey."--Zephaniah
lesson closes with an exhortation from the Prophet that his hearers
should make a thorough reformation [R5805 : page 349] --that
they should seek good and not evil, love righteousness and hate sin.
If they would do these things, then indeed they might apply to
themselves the promises of God, as they were already disposed to do,
claiming that they were His people. Such claims would be appropriate
enough if they would conform to the Divine requirements, but not
otherwise. The Lord would be gracious to them as a people if they
would come into line with His regulations and requirements. But
otherwise they must expect the chastisements and punishments already
that the Israelites were a typical people, we properly enough scan
the text and the context to see whether anything connected with the
prophecy of Amos was of larger application than it appeared to him
and the people of his day. From the words of the Apostle Peter
already cited, and from other examples in the prophecies, we are
justified in expecting this. For instance, in David's prophecies how
little the utterer of the words, "Not a bone of Him shall be
broken," understood of the real fulfilment of his declaration!
Again, when he said, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol,
neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption," how
little David or the people of Israel understood the import of those
words --that David was a Prophet, and was unwittingly speaking of
Christ and His resurrection from the dead--from Sheol! So, while
realizing the appropriateness of the Prophet Amos' words, we find
certain items in connection with this prophecy which imply a still
larger fulfilment of his predictions upon Nominal Israel in the end
of this Age.
IN THE EARTH FOREBODE EVIL
is not for us to claim that today Justice is fallen in the streets,
and that Righteousness cannot enter in. It is not for us to claim
that the poor are inordinately taxed or crushed or robbed. On the
contrary, we freely state that there is a great deal of righteousness
meted out in the courts of Christendom. We have sometimes wondered
how natural men have ever brought together so many wise, just and
reasonable laws and regulations. Nevertheless there is a sense in
which injustice, inequity, is now operating, not so much through any
individual evil as through the changed conditions under which we are
living. The blessings of the New Dispensation, coming to us under
social conditions which are based upon individual selfishness, are
tending to make a few very rich, and before very long, we fear, will
be found so to operate as to make many very poor.
appropriating of the advantages of our day, while legally done under
laws that at one time were equitable, is bound to work a great
hardship--putting the power and the financial control of the world
into the hands of comparatively few. True, these few giants are as
yet very moderate in their requirements and dealings; some of them
are even generous. But the Scriptures seem to imply clearly that it
will not be long until the power, willingly or unwillingly, will be
so exercised as to bring great distress upon the mass of humanity,
grinding them as between two millstones.
this standpoint the Prophet's words might well be appropriated by
Christendom. But we may be sure that those in power and position are
not disposed to hearken to Amos or to any one else; and hence we must
expect what the Scriptures everywhere point out--that the overthrow
of Christendom will come suddenly, in "a Time of Trouble such as
was not since there was a nation"; and that in this conflict the
Lord, who made the Pleiades and Orion, will be He that will
strengthen the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled ones
shall rise against the strong in anarchy.--Verse 9.
close of Amos' prophecy tells of the recovery of Israel and of the
blessing of the Lord that will be upon all mankind, including the
Gentiles, at that time. It is this prophecy that the Apostle James
quoted in the Council at Jerusalem, saying, "After this I will
return and will build again the tabernacle of Israel, which is fallen
down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up;
that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the
Gentiles upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all
these things."--Acts 15:16,17.
are living at the time when this prophecy is about to be fulfilled.
The recovery of Natural Israel is about to take place under the
reestablishment of God's Kingdom in the world--the Kingdom which once
was typically represented in King David, but which is to be actually
established in the greater David--the Beloved One. Under that
Kingdom, reestablished under more favorable conditions, a Heavenly
Kingdom, the residue of men will be given an opportunity to seek the
Lord; for the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole