A series of three prophetic studies outlining Jewish history, as presented by Amos, Daniel, and by the Conference at Jerusalem (Acts, chap. 15).
The Program Of Amos Chapter Nine
[Amos 9:1] I saw the Lord standing beside the altar: and he said, Smite the capitals, that the thresholds may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.
[Amos 9:2] Though they dig into Sheol, thence shall my hand take them; and though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.
[Amos 9:3] And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
[Amos 9:4] And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
[Amos 9:5] For the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, [is] he that toucheth the land and it melteth, and all that dwell therein shall mourn; and it shall rise up wholly like the River, and shall sink again, like the River of Egypt;
[Amos 9:6] [it is] he that buildeth his chambers in the heavens, and hath founded his vault upon the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; Jehovah is his name.
[Amos 9:7] Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith Jehovah. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
[Amos 9:8] Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah.
[Amos 9:9] For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as [grain] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth.
[Amos 9:10] All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us.
[Amos 9:11] 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 its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old;
[Amos 9:12] that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations that are called by my name, saith Jehovah that doeth this.
[Amos 9:13] Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
[Amos 9:14] And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
[Amos 9:15] 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 Jehovah thy God.
AMOS WAS one of the earliest writing prophets, being probably a contemporary of Joel. Their ministry fell within the first half of the eighth century, B.C., according to the Ussher chronology. Of course the psalmists and others who lived before the eighth century did write, by inspiration, their messages, as we find recorded in the earlier books of the Bible. But we usually speak of the "writing prophets" as beginning with Isaiah and ending with Malachi.
In order that we may understand the message of Amos, chapter 9, we must first determine how this prophet used the word Israel.
I. The Use Of The Word Israel In Amos.
In Amos 1:1 we have this language: "The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." The phrase, "concerning Israel," here seems to have its broadest connotation, which includes the twelve tribes. Amos tells us that he saw this vision concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and of Jeroboam, the second king of Israel. Israel, in the latter connection, refers to the kingdom in the north consisting of the ten tribes. Thus we see a twofold use in the first verse of our word. But in 2:6 we have this language: "For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof ..." When we note in verse 4 that Judah is the name given to the southern kingdom and then in verse 6 Israel is pointed out, we know that our term here refers to the kingdom of the ten tribes headed up in Samaria.
The use of Israel in 3:1 includes all the twelve tribes. Listen to the language. "Hear this word that Jehovah hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities" (Amos 3:1,2). Here the prophet speaks of the children of Israel, the whole family which the Lord brought up out of the land of Egypt. Israel in this instance includes all twelve tribes.
But when we see the expression, "O ye children of Israel," in 4:5, we know from the context that in this instance it refers to the northern kingdom. This fact becomes evident when we notice that in verse 1 the elite women of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, are compared to the "kine of Bashan," mere cattle. In verse 4 the prophet called upon the people to go to Beth-el and to Gilgal and continue their idolatrous worship, because they were delighted in doing so. After our expression we see that the prophet spoke of various calamities which the lord had brought upon the northern kingdom as chastisement for the sins of the people. Since they had passed the judgments of God unheeded and had not recognized in them the stroke of wrath of the Almighty, the prophet called upon the nation, the northern kingdom, to get ready to meet God; for since they had fought against Him thus far, they were urged to get ready for a more terrific stroke. When our eye drops down to 5:1, we see that the prophet still had the northern kingdom in mind when he called to the people saying, "Hear ye this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel." He then spoke of those whom he addressed as the "virgin of Israel" saying, "The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise; she is cast down upon her land; there is none to raise her up." A nation that had not been conquered by another was frequently addressed as a virgin. For example, Babylon was spoken of as the virgin daughter of Babylon (Isa. 47:1). Positive proof that Amos, in 5:1,2, was speaking of the northern kingdom is seen in the prediction, "... she shall no more rise: she is cast down upon her land; there is none to raise her up." This forecast shows that those addressed would as a kingdom go down, never to rise again. This fact is positive proof that in this instance the prophet had the northern kingdom in view.
But the situation is entirely different in Amos 6:1-6. In verse 1 of this chapter the prophet declared, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!" Here Amos looked at the leaders of the people in Jerusalem, and then to those in Samaria and spoke of them as the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!" The "house of Israel," according to this verse, went to the leaders both in Zion and also in Samaria. Thus it is very clear that in this passage the word Israel embraces the whole nation.
In the third vision, found in 7:7-17, Israel refers the ten northern tribes concerning whom the Lord declared, "I will not again pass by them any more." By this statement Jehovah meant that He would not wink at, or pass by without notice, their sins. On the contrary, He declared that He would utterly, completely destroy this kingdom: "Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more; and the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Again, in chapter 8, Israel of verse 2 is the northern kingdom concerning whom God again says: "I will not again pass by them any more." According to the facts of the context Israel here refers to the ten tribes constituting the northern kingdom.
II. An Analysis And An Exposition Of Chapter Nine.
Having seen in the foregoing discussion that Amos used the term Israel with the two connotations, and that one must look at all the facts of the immediate context to determine which meaning was in the prophet's mind, we must continue this investigation in the ninth chapter in order that we might see the message that the prophet had for us here, an unfolding of the truth of God which is vital to the proper comprehension of the prophetic word.
An examination of this chapter yields the following analysis:
- The altar and the Temple (vss. 1-4).
- The Lord of the universe (vss. 5,6).
- God's control of the nations (vs. 7).
- The cessation of the kingdom of Israel (vs. 8).
- Israel scattered among the nations (vs. 9).
- The sinners purged from the nation (vs. 10).
- The restoration of the Davidic house and the attendant blessing (vss. 11-15).
When we look at this chapter, we immediately ask, What altar and what temple is referred to in verse 1? When we realize that the entire chapter is one sermon--a literary unit--that Israel of verse 7 refers to the twelve tribes, and that God recognized only the Temple at Jerusalem, we come to the conclusion that this altar and Temple are the ones which Solomon built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. (I am thoroughly aware that some scholars take a different view of this verse; but, in my judgment, they do so because they have not studied Amos' use of the word Israel throughout the book and do not realize that chapter 9 is a literary unit.) This chapter recounts the fifth and last vision of the series found in chapters 7, 8, and 9. The trend and teaching of the entire chapter is centered upon the twelve tribes as the Chosen People and Jerusalem and the Davidic throne as the place and the rightful rulers, under God, over His people.
In the first verse we have a prediction that God would utterly destroy the altar and Temple at which He himself was worshipped by His Chosen People. When we glance at Jewish history we see that this prediction was literally fulfilled by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. We also know, from Josephus and other historians, that the Temple which Zerubbabel built after the Babylonian captivity was likewise destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. It is quite probable that Amos, looking out into the future, saw these two great calamities that would overtake the nation.
The prophet asserts in verses 2-4 that though there should be those who escaped--the evil wicked ones of the nation--and though they should dig down into Sheol or go up into the top of Mount Carmel, or go to the very bottom of the sea, they would not disappear from His sight or from the reach of His judgment. On the contrary, His hand would reach out and would bring just retribution upon such. Though they should go into captivity and escape the destruction that is wrought at the time of the collapse of the nation, the sword should follow them and wreak its vengeance upon them.
That these predictions would be literally carried out, thus declared the prophet, was guaranteed by the fact that Jehovah of hosts whose dwelling place is in the heavens was still looking on and His hand was still dealing with men and women here upon the earth. He is not an absentee sovereign, but is ever present in the universe and is cognizant of all that men do and say. He is the sovereign in the material sphere as well as in the moral and spiritual realm.
In verse 7 we see that Jehovah of hosts is the one who is controlling the movements of the nations: "Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith Jehovah. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?" In order that we might see the biblical teaching concerning God's allotting to the nations their inheritance, we should note Deuteronomy 32:8,9:
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
When he separated the children of men,
He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
For Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. (Deut. 32:8,9).
The invisible guiding hand of the Almighty is overruling and directing the affairs of nations and peoples. He has done that from the beginning and throughout the centuries. Not for one moment has He relinquished His position of authority and control to anyone.
In the verse which we have just noted, we also see that Jehovah is the one who brought Israel out of the land of Egypt, as well as the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir. Israel in this connection, as we have already noted, embraces the twelve tribes whom God brought out of Egypt. This statement goes back to the time of the Exodus when Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, brought the people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the Plains of Moab from whence they entered the land under Joshua, his successor.
From verse 8 we learn that the Lord foretold the destruction and cessation of the sinful kingdom: "Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah." Since in the preceding verse the prophet is speaking of the twelve tribes of Israel, since he has spoken of them as a nation, and since there is no negative evidence, we must conclude that the sinful kingdom of which he is speaking in verse 8 is none other than that which consisted of the twelve tribes. In the historical portions of the Scriptures we see that the twelve tribes were governed by Saul, David, and Solomon. Upon the death of the last of these the ten tribes revolted and established a kingdom in the north. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah remained loyal to God and to the Davidic house. The two kingdoms,--Judah and Israel--ran parallel for 264 years. In the sixth year of King Hezekiah of Judah the northern kingdom collapsed under the sledge-hammer blows of the Assyrian monarch. Thus there disappeared from history the northern kingdom. It has never been revived. Neither shall it ever come back to life--according to prophetic predictions. Also from the historical portions of the Old Testament we see that there was a general drift on the part of the great masses of the people of the land--of the northern kingdom--toward the southern kingdom and to the acknowledgment of Jehovah as their God. The fact is very evident to one who studies carefully the annals of the latter days of the monarchy of Israel. (Only the leaders of the northern kingdom were taken off into Assyrian captivity whereas the great masses of the population remained in the land. When the Babylonians overran the land and finally overthrew the kingdom of Judah, the sinful kingdom ceased for a period of seventy years, according to the prediction of Jeremiah (chap. 25). At the conclusion of the captivity those exiles who wished to return to the land of their fathers were permitted to do so by Cyrus, the king of the Medo-Persian Empire. The kingdom in a limited and circumscribed manner was re-established in Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, a prince of the house of David, as governor. Of course, he owed allegiance to the Persian authorities. When the Greeks under Alexander conquered the country, they still maintained a quasi-independence. At the time of the Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Syrian rulers, Judah gained back her independence for a short while. Finally, the torch of her independence flickered out when the Romans under Pompey got a grip on the land and subjected the Jews to the Roman authorities. The sinful kingdom was brought to a sudden end by the overthrow of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. under Titus, the Roman general. By that event the prophecy of verse 8 was completely fulfilled.
According to the verse under consideration, the Lord declared, "I will destroy it [the sinful kingdom of the Jews] from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah." In the last phrase of verse 8 the Lord promised to save the remnant of the nation. When we study this doctrine further in the light of Isaiah's predictions, we see that the remnant which will yet be saved will come out of Israel that is scattered among the nations.
This world-wide dispersion of the Jews after the fall of the sinful kingdom is foretold in verse 9, which reads as follows: "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth." Here the word Israel refers to the twelve tribes that are scattered among the nations of the world. This was literally begun when Jerusalem fell and when the Jews who survived that national catastrophe of 70 A.D. were shipped to the slave markets of the world and were sold into bondage. From that day until this the Jews have been sifted among the nations of the world. But the Lord guarantees that not one good grain or kernel shall be lost. Here He pledges His word that not a single honest, conscientious Jew throughout the entire Christian Dispensation shall be lost. He sees that the truth of God's Word and the message of salvation reaches every truth seeking Jew. They cannot believe on Him of whom they have not heard, and they cannot hear without a preacher, according to Romans, chapter 10. God therefore pledges His honor to the faithful in Israel that He will get His truth to them.
Thus, in verse 9, we see the entire Christian Dispensation, or the period of time beginning with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and extending to the time of the Tribulation--this period during which the nation of Israel is scattered among all the nations following the complete over-throw of the Jewish kingdom. That the Christian Dispensation was clearly revealed in the Old Testament is evident to every careful student of prophecy. For instance, in Psalm 110:1,2, we see the first coming of the Messiah, the period of time during which He, being rejected, is seated at the right hand of the throne of God; and at the end of this time, He returns to establish His kingdom upon earth. These facts are shown in these verses, which read as follows:
Jehovah saith unto my Lord,
Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies (Ps. 110:1,2).
Isaiah, in 61:1-3, foretold the first coming of Messiah and His proclaiming the "year of Jehovah's favor [Christian Dispensation], and the day of vengeance of our God [the Tribulation Period]." Other passages in the Old Testament clearly foretell our present age during which Messiah, after having been rejected at His first coming, is seated at the right hand of God, awaiting the time for Israel to acknowledge her national sin and to accept Him, at which time He will return and establish His kingdom upon the earth. His return following the Tribulation.
In Amos 9:10 we see the Tribulation. The language is as follows: "All the sinners of my people [the Jewish people] shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us." When I read this verse in the light of related passages, I know that in this verse the prophet was speaking about the Tribulation; for in it the Lord will destroy all the sinners from among the Jews, and only the faithful remnant will survive that ordeal. In the light of these facts it is clear that Amos 9:10 is a prediction of the Tribulation, which follows the Christian Dispensation. But during the present age Israel is scattered among the nations.
When the Lord destroys all the sinners from among the Jews in the Tribulation, He will then come and raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. Hear the prophet. "In that day [the day when He shall have finished purging all the wicked from Israel] will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old ..." When we notice the development of the thought, it is very clear that Amos is chronological in his unfolding of the great truth pertaining to the Jewish people throughout the centuries. He therefore placed the raising up of the tabernacle of David and the re-establishment of the Davidic throne in Jerusalem at the conclusion of the Tribulation.
From these facts it is clear that the prophet did not promise that God would raise up the throne of David at Messiah's first coming; but, on the contrary, at
When the Lord thus re-establishes the throne of David in Jerusalem, He will lift the curse, and all nature will be vibrant with life. Edenic conditions will prevail from that time on--so long as sun, moon, and stars endure (Ps. 89:33-37). When we compare this passage with related ones, we see that at the conclusion of the Millennial Age the present heavens and earth will pass away completely. After that God will create the eternal order--the eternal heavens, the eternal earth, and the new Jerusalem that comes down out of the eternal heavens upon the eternal earth.
WE SEE from Amos, chapter 9, the entire history of Israel from the Exodus to the close of the Millennial Age, which consists of Israel's entering Palestine and the establishment of the kingdom. Finally, on account of her sinful condition, this kingdom ceases. When this occurs, the people are scattered among the nations of the world. This period began, as we have already seen, in 70 A.D., and continues throughout the centuries to the Tribulation. Then, according to 9:10, Israel is purged of all evil, wicked sinners. When that is done--"in that day"--God raises up the tabernacle that has been thrown down and re-establishes the Davidic throne, which will continue through the Millennial Age.
This study will be continued with an investigation of Daniel, chapter 9, and an examination of Acts 15.
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