Amos 9:9-15 | December 10, 2021
Finally, A Word of Hope
by Tom Graves
The prophet Amos appeared about 760 BC in the northern kingdom of Israel, a proud and prosperous nation whose peace and prosperity were seen as a sign of God’s blessing and approval. However, Israel’s religion focused on lavish worship with little thought of contrition and little emphasis on moral responsibility.
The ministry of Amos was brief, but his message had an unmistakable emphasis on harsh judgment. Amos pictured himself as compelled by God to speak a divine word to an unrepentant nation: “Since a lion has roared, who will not be afraid.” The message of Amos speaks of the sovereignty of God and the special relationship God has with the people of Israel. God’s love for Israel is at the center of his thought, yet God’s judgment is certain because Israel broke the divine covenant repeatedly. Because of that God will destroy the nation.
Amos prophesies that Israel will be banished from the land because they disregard justice and righteousness in three fundamental ways. First, the rulers are corrupt refusing to act with justice. Second, the wealthy live in extreme luxury while the needs of the poor are ignored. Third, worship is focused on satisfying people rather than worshiping God. Amos preaches: “You only have I known of all the peoples of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
In verse ten the people say to themselves, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.” Amos refutes their smug self-righteousness by prophesying destruction: “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword.” God’s judgment is pictured as grain being poured through a metal sieve separating the debris from the good grain. For Amos there will be no escape from judgment. Verse 11 proclaims the fall of Jerusalem, David’s city, and the destruction of the temple, which actually occurred 200 years later. Amos paints a frightening picture of Israel’s future.
Finally, in Amos 9:11-15 we hear a word of hope. Apart from these last verses there is no optimistic prophecy to be found coming from the mouth of Amos. In sharp contrast to the gloomy depiction of judgment elsewhere in Amos, the prophet proclaims in these verses a time of restoration, rebuilding, and joy. “On that day… I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit… I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up.”
Joy amid judgment and sorrow. The final word for Amos is not destruction but salvation, not fear but hope, not death but life. That is also the message of Advent: God’s promised hope is fulfilled in the birth of Christ.
Prayer: Dear God, forgive us of our sins and lead us to a world of hope as we seek justice and commit ourselves to the humble service of others.