Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: Amos

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of Amos

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Book of Amos - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, yea, for four.
Amos 1:3

Amos was a man of Judah, who was sent by God to prophesy in Israel. In this book we have the notes of his ministry. No prophet, in the technical sense of the word; nor the son of a prophet, that is he had no training in the schools of the prophets, he nevertheless was a veritable prophet of God. His outlook upon the Divine government was of the widest. He saw God judging, not Judah and Israel only, but all the nations. The first section of the book contains eight oracles concerning the nations, setting forth this fact. Each one of them is introduced by these words, "For three transgressions ... yea, for four." The language is patently figurative, rather than mechanical. The truth thus emphasized with reference to all the nations is that of the Divine patience, and justice. Upon all these nations the wrath of God was to fall, but not until their persistence in wickedness was such as to leave no room for any other method of dealing with them. The "three transgressions" represent fullness of iniquity; but when that becomes "four," then the iniquity has passed beyond the bounds of the Divine patience. This is ever the law of Gods dealings with nations. The stroke of His judgment never falls until sin has become so complete that there is no room for the exercise of mercy. When that is so, His judgments inevitably come, and that in the interest of humanity as a whole. A careful reading of these declamations will show that the national sins against which God proceeds, are ever those of wrong done to other nations.

Chapter 2

Ye gave the Nazirites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
Amos 2:12

It is noticeable that Amos included Judah and Israel among the nations. This method in itself must have been an arresting one to the people of that Northern Kingdom. Both Judah and Israel had come to think of themselves as separated in some privileged way from surrounding nations. In some senses they were right, but they had failed to understand that their privileges created yet greater responsibilities. This is what Amos desired to enforce, and he did so first by stressing the fact that God was ruling over all the nations, and doing so upon the same principles. The greater the light, therefore, the graver the responsibility. The last of these oracles concerned Israel, and he was careful to show the nature of her sin. He charged the nation with injustice, avarice, oppression, immorality, profanity, blasphemy, and sacrilege. In the words we have quoted, we have the statement of the uttermost and basest element in their sin. In the preceding sentences the prophet declared that Jehovah had raised up prophets for them, and had given them Nazirites, men who by the purity of their lives testified against their corruption. So determined had they become in their courses of evil that they had seduced the Nazirites from loyalty, and had silenced the voices of their prophets. Beyond this it is impossible to go in evil. When men deliberately set themselves to corrupt the pure, and to silence the prophets, they are indeed beyond the hope of recovery by mercy. Then the pressure of the Divine wrath is inevitable.

Chapter 3

You only have, I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities.
Amos 3:2

Having uttered his oracles concerning God's government of all the nations, and having included Judah and Israel among them, Amos proceeded to deliver his special message to Israel. This he did in three discourses, each beginning with the formula, "Hear this word" (3:1; 4:1; 5:1). The first of these is contained in this chapter, it deals with Jehovah's verdict and sentence. The words I have quoted are the opening words of Jehovah's indictment. They explicitly state the principle to which we referred in our last note, namely, that in the Divine government privilege creates responsibility. The word which must have startled those who heard this message into attention was the word therefore. Observe what effect it had upon the whole. The first part was a declaration of privilege superlatively made: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." That was true. In no other people had God made Himself known in the same way. Of them we may use the words of one of the greatest of their sons, Paul: "Whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers." This being so, said the Lord by His servant, "Therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities." The false deduction which is too often made is that if we are the privileged people of God, therefore we may look for His mercy, He will not punish us. That is not so. The measure of our privilege, in the Divine economy, is the measure of our responsibility. Therefore if we fail to fulfil that responsibility He will not pass over our sins, but rather will visit upon us all our iniquities. It is well that those nations who boast of the Divine favour, should lay this lesson to heart.

Chapter 4

Proclaim freewill offerings and publish them.
Amos 4:5

This chapter contains the second message introduced by the words "Hear this word." Its burden was that of the summons of Jehovah, found in verse 12: "Prepare to meet thy God O Israel." That was not a call to repentance, and to such attitudes as would prevent punishment, although many preachers have used the text in that way. It was a summons to judgment, and that as punishment, because there had been no repentance. Everything in the message led up to that summons. The words we have emphasized occur in a passage vibrant with sarcasm, in which the prophet mocked at the futility of the religious observances of the polluted people. This was the last phase to which he referred. Freewill offerings were not obligatory; they were spontaneous. Special reference had been made to them by Moses (see Deut. 12). They were supposed to result from the devotion of the heart to Jehovah. This was their distinctive value. Here, then, is seen the sting of Amos' word. These people were making such offerings, but they were publishing them, announcing them, making them known to others. The motive, then, was not the love of Jehovah, but the desire to appear as lovers of Jehovah to other men. Such a motive vitiates the gift. This was the disqualifying element in the religion of the scribes and Pharisees in the days of our Lord (see Matt. 23:5). The light from such a word is a very searching one. What effect has it, as it shines on our names in modern subscription lists? If our gift was to the Lord, the fact that our names are published does not rob it of value. If we gave to have our names in the list, the Lord rejects the gift.

Chapter 5

Woe unto you that desire the Day of the Lord.
Amos 5:18

The last of the great proclamations of Amos introduced by the formula, "Hear this word," occupies this and the next chapter. It opened with a lamentation followed by an explanation of the reason of the sorrows of the people. This prepared the way for the uttering of two great denunciations, each beginning with the word "Woe." These denunciations reveal two classes of people, both wrong in their attitude. Perhaps this first woe is the more startling. There were people who were evidently in some measure conscious of the evil times in which they were living; they were desirous of the day of Jehovah, because they expected it would bring better times to them; they maintained therefore all the external observances of religion. These were thus denounced. The reason of their desire was wrong, and their interpretation of the Day of Jehovah was false. The prophet warned them that the Day of Jehovah would be a day of darkness and not of light; a day in which they would not be able to escape His wrath. Their hypocrisies were denounced in tremendous words, the words of Jehovah: "I hate ... I despise ... I take no delight ... I will not accept ... I will not regard will not hear ..." Let us lay to heart the teaching. To desire the Day of Jehovah, if the life be out of harmony with its principles of righteousness and judgment is folly, and more, it is wickedness. The one glorious hope of humanity may become a curse and a blight if it is wrongly interpreted, and so fails to produce the character which is in accord with that hope.

Chapter 6

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria.
Amos 6:1

This is the second of the denunciatory "Woes." Here another attitude of mind is revealed. Its secret is declared in the words, "Ye that put far away the evil day." This is entirely different from desiring the Day of Jehovah. These were people who perhaps recognized the fact that the Day of Jehovah would be a day of judgment and of wrath; but they did not believe it was near. They did not expect to be involved in its calamities, so they cared nothing for its principles. Therefore, they gave themselves up to the life of sensuality which the prophet described in graphic fashion. They stretched themselves on divans, gave full satisfaction to their appetites, amused themselves with music, sought exhilaration in drink, and banished all concern as to the true condition of the nation, "the affliction of Joseph." This „is the more common attitude of the human heart toward the whole subject of a coming Day of God. When in regard to these things men become "mockers," they are always found "walking after their own ungodly lusts" (Jude 18). It is noticeable that the prophet flung back this word of warning to Judah also, as he spoke of those "at ease in Zion," as well as of those that were "secure in the mountain of Samaria." And verily the principle is of abiding application. To be "at ease in Zion," or "secure in the mountain of Samaria," or content in the things which minister to carnal appetites, while the laws of God are being broken and the ways of life corrupted because the Divine judgment is conceived of as distant, is of the very essense of evil. Against all such attitudes and activities the word of God utters its "Woe!"

Chapter 7

And the Lord took me ... and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy.
Amos 7:15

In the last three chapters we have the third phase in the ministry of Amos. It consisted of five visions of the process of the Divine judgment against Israel. The first four are introduced by words in which the prophet claimed that the visions were given to him by God; the first, the second, and the fourth, "Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me"; and the third, "Thus He shewed me." The fifth was a vision of Jehovah, and opens with the words, "I saw the Lord." The first two, those of the locusts and the fire, revealed judgment threatened and restrained. The third, that of the plumb-line, revealed the hopeless failure of the nation, and the consequent inevitability of punishment. When Amos uttered that note, Amaziah interfered. He reported Amos to Jeroboam, and charged the prophet to return to Judah. The words we have selected are those in which Amos declared to Amaziah the authority for his mission. This herdman from Tekoa was what in the speech of today would be called an "irregular" because technically an untrained man. This is what he meant when he said, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son." But he had the only prophetic qualification; he was called and sent by God. When this is so, the technicalities of regularity are of no moment; and when it is not so, they are of no value. Let a man know himself called and sent by God, then there will be no hesitancy or fear in his heart. Only, let him be indeed sure of this, or in spite of all "training" he will lack authority and power.

Chapter 8

I will send a famine ... of hearing the words of the Lord.
Amos 8:11

After the encounter with Amaziah, Amos proclaimed the fact that judgment was nigh at hand, as he described the vision of "a basket of summer fruit." The figure revealed the ripeness of the hour, as to the fullness of Israel's sin, and as to the harvest of Divine wrath. In an impassioned address he denounced the money-makers for their greed and cruelty; and described the terror of the Divine judgment. Then, in one of the most striking passages in prophetic literature, he described the curse which follows courses of wilful wickedness, such as the nation had been guilty of. They would experience a famine - not, let it be observed, of the words of Jehovah, but "of hearing the words of Jehovah." The condition described is that of being deaf to the words of Jehovah, not able to hear them. It is that of the death of spiritual sensibility. It is not a case of God withholding His revelation; but of people being in such a state that they do not see it, do not hear the words. When this is so, the soul does not cease to need what that word only can supply; and so men hunt for it, search for it, but to no avail. The issue is that of the failing of strength, even in the strongest; "the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst." Here we have an explanation of the feverishness, the restlessness of human life. Men wander and travel, and seek for any and every new sensation to satisfy the craving of their deepest life. But all to no purpose. Only the words of Jehovah can meet the need, and when there is a famine of hearing them, the end is destruction.

Chapter 9

... Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
Amos 9:9

In this chapter we have the last of the prophet's visions of judgment. It is contained in the first ten Verses. It is one of the most awe-inspiring visions in the Bible. Jehovah was revealed to Amos, standing by the altar; and the stroke of His judgment was seen to be irresistible. But it was reasonable and discriminative, and the fact is declared with great force in these words. The house of Israel was to be sifted "among all the nations like as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth." This is ever so. The judgments of God never involve the righteous with the wicked in punishment and destruction. In the process of that judgment, the righteous do suffer with and for the guilty; but such suffering is never destructive. It is often healing and constructive, and becomes the way in which the righteous have highest and fullest communion with God Himself. The ultimate purpose of judgment is set forth in the last message of Amos which immediately follows, and with which the book closes. It is a message of restoration. The opening phrase of it, "In that day," connects it with all that has preceded it, and so interprets for us the purpose of God in His activity in wrath. Thus the final word is vibrant with the hope which is born of the certainty of the ultimate triumph of love; and this declaration that "not the least kernel shall fall upon the earth" assures us that in all the terrible and fiery processes made inevitable by human sin, nothing of real worth will be destroyed. When He thoroughly cleanses His threshing floor, "He will gather His wheat into the garner;" it is "the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire."