Four Transgressions Are Enough [Part 1]
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom, my name is Joseph Shulam, and together in partnership with Brad TV, we are now studying the prophets. I started with the minor prophets, with an introduction to prophecy in general, and we did Hosea, the prophet.
Now we are going to start Amos. I don’t know if it’s going to be one lesson or two lessons or three lessons about Amos, but Amos is one of my favorite prophets. If you are watching this, you might ask me why am I not wearing a tie and a jacket and a suit but wearing a leather jacket and a kind of wool shirt? Well, the reason is this; Amos starts his prophecy with the following word. “The words of Amos who was among the sheep breeders of Tekoa “which he saw concerning Israel “in the days of Uzziah, the king of Judah, “and in the days of Jeroboam “the son of Joash King of Israel, “two years before the earthquake.”
An interesting opening, very unusual opening. Isaiah starts, “This is the vision of Isaiah the prophet.” Amos starts in a totally different way, unique among all the prophets. There are two things in his opening statement that are unique. First, right off the bat he says, “I am a farmer, I’m a sheep breeder. “Don’t take me as a prophet. “I’m a sheep breeder, A simple farmer from Tekoa.” Tekoa is South of Jerusalem, South of Bethlehem.
I have to confess that I have something to do with the rebuilding and the resettlement of Tekoa, because in the 1970s when I was in the Orthodox yeshiva, our yeshiva, the Mount Yeshiva, initiated first in prayer and then practically, the restoration and the rebuilding and the establishment of a Jewish town back in Tekoa, and it was an amazing experience.
I had a Volkswagen model 411, a little larger than the beetle, loaded up with students from the Yeshiva and we drove in a caravan to Tekoa. There was nothing in Tekoa. A barren hill. How did we know that It was Tekoa? Because we had old maps that pointed out Tekoa, and we had old books like George Adam Smith “The Historical Geography of the Holy Land,” that described where Tekoa is. Now, we just walked on the barren hill and we kind of mapped it out in our own idea and our own imagination of where it’s going to be.
As we were walking, I saw a huge rock laying on its side, but it was shaped by men, it was not natural. It was an octagonal rock and it was a Byzantine baptism placed to put the water in. And it was probably a part of a church, a Byzantine church. And at that moment, I knew that it was God’s will for Jews, after more than 2000 years, to come and rebuild this desolate city of the prophet Amos. So I didn’t wear a tie and a suit today on purpose. I wore a leather jacket, like a sheep breeder, like a farmer.
As we read, Amos prophesied in the days of the kings Uzziah King of Judah and Joash, King of Israel eighth century BC, about the same time as Hosea and Isaiah and some of the other prophets.
But he was probably one of the first prophets who wrote down his prophecy and recorded it in writing. He’s also one of the first prophets to prophesy not only to the Jews and to Israel, but he also prophesied to the nations around us.. And this for me is very important point.
Why is it important? Because when people think about the prophets, they think about Israel, they think about Israel’s problems and challenges and God’s revelation through the prophets to the nation of Israel. But actually, the God of Israel is the God of the whole world, and He cares about the other nations, which were created by His command in Genesis 11 when God divided the human race into nations.
So Amos is a prophet. The first one that has specific prophecies, judgments and calls to repentance for other nations. For me, that is very touching, very important. And I think that all Christians all over the world and all people should know that God has never lost interest in the world, in the other nations.
He cares about Korea and China; He cares about Vietnam and Japan and United States and Europe and Asia and Africa. This is His world, and He cares, and He blesses, and he judges all the nations as needed, as provided for their good relationship with the Almighty God.
Amos starts his prophecy with the following word, verse two of chapter one, “The Lord roars from Zion “and utters His voice from Jerusalem, “the pastures of the shepherds mourn “and the top of Carmel withers.” Simple proclamation, but the important thing that we need to pay attention to is the opening of this statement, “The Lord roars from Zion.”
The word “roars” in Hebrew and in English is attributed to who? To lions. The lions roar, the Lion of Judah. Judah’s symbol is already from the blessings of Jacob in the book of Genesis. Judah is a lion and he roars from Zion, and he did roar from Zion more than one time. But the time that he roared from Zion more effectively than any other time, was the time when the Prince, the Son of David, the Messiah, Yeshua, walked on the streets of Jerusalem, taught, healed, blessed and was crucified in Jerusalem.
That roar reached to the big and small islands in the ocean. It reached to the ends of the earth. Yeshua is the Jew that spread the knowledge of one God and the knowledge of the Bible from Genesis, not from Matthew, but from Genesis to Revelation, to the whole world.
So this picture that Amos draws here “The Lord roars from Zion, “and speaks His voice from Jerusalem.” The result of this statement is that Isaiah takes the same statement and interprets it as, “For out of Zion shall come forth the Torah “and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And the Torah came and the word of the Lord came from Jerusalem and reached Patagonia in the southern tip of the South American continent, and reached the North Pole and reached the South Pole, Africa, Asia the Aborigines in Australia, the Indians in the States. It reached the Indians in India, and to the smallest corners of the world. The roar of that Lion of Judah, through Yeshua, reached everywhere.
That is what Amos is telling us. “Into the pastures of the shepherds, and “in the top of Carmel”. He’s not talking about Mount Carmel. He’s talking about Carmel in Judea, which is not very far from Tekoa. The story of Carmel in Judea, is about Nabal and his wife Abigail, who were in Carmel, a rich agricultural land in the territory of Judea between Jerusalem and Hebron on the East side overlooking the Jordan Valley.
Then in chapter one, verse three, Amos starts his prophecies to the nations. The first nation is Syria. He’s talking about the capital of Syria that is the capital until this very day, Damascus; one of the ancient cities of the world, and also about as old as Jerusalem; about 4,000 years old.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not turn away its punishment because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron, but I will send fire into the house of Hazael which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad, and I will break the gate bar of the Damascus and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven. And one who hold the scepter for Beth Eden. The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,’ says the Lord.”
Damascus and Syria are still our enemy, very much so. They’re trying to house Iranian forces, they’re loaded with Russian arms, airports, air force, artillery, rockets and everything. And they’re protecting Assad, who killed literally millions of people of his own nation, destroyed and deleted villages of Christians that exist from the time before Jesus.
Maaloula, a village that still spoke the same Aramaic language and dialect as people spoke in the Middle East in the days of Jesus.The Syria in present day, has been devoured. The Assad Family destroyed it, flattened it out. 80,000 Christians that lived in that area had to flee, spread all over the world, especially North to Turkey.
So here you have God... and my point is this; God didn’t only take Israel to exile, didn’t only apply the laws of sin and repentance and punishment for sin to Israel. He applied it to the Gentiles as well, to Syria. And we have it here. The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir. Exactly where is Kir? I don’t know, but it’s not close.
“Thus said the Lord, ‘for three transgressions of Gaza and four, I will not turn away it’s punishment because they took captive the whole captivity delivered them up to Edom. And I will send fire upon the walls of Gaza.’”
Again, you’ve got Amos before he touches Jerusalem, Israel, in the sins of Israel, he is enumerating and prophesying about our neighbors, our bad neighbors. And they’ve always been bad neighbors, they’ve never been good neighbors. We have never had a good neighbor.
And I ask myself, “why did God choose to send Abraham to this piece of land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea?” He could have sent us to Switzerland. Ah, that would’ve been nice. At least we would’ve had better neighbors in Switzerland than we have here.
These neighbors that Amos is talking about are still our neighbors. Gaza is still there, and it’s a land of Hamas, inspired, armed, financed partially by Iran, against us, against the people of Israel, same as Syria.
And notice the formula, “For three transgressions of Gaza and for four.” For three transgressions of Damascus and for four. What have we learned from these dear brothers and sisters? God is not out there looking for our sins and our transgressions.
The first transgression He winked pass by. Maybe they’ll repent, maybe they’ll change, maybe they’ll wake up. Second time again He said, “Maybe, give them another chance.” But after four times the nations and including Israel, later were going to Israel.
Most of the book of Amos is not about the nations, it’s about us, about Israel, about the Jewish nation in the eighth century BC, in which Hosea prophesied, and Isaiah prophesied, and Jeremiah prophesied, more or less about the same time.
So this formula for three and four transgressions God says, “Okay, it’s enough.” Why? The number four and all of its multiplications four, 40, 400, is a number of judgments, of testing. That’s why Yeshua was 40 days in the wilderness. Not 48 days, not 38 days, not 14 days, it was four, 40 days, like the children of Israel 40 years in the wilderness.
Like the prophet Elijah was 40 days in the Sinai in a cave. It’s a time of testing, it’s a time of examination, it’s a time of giving us a chance. And after four transgressions, after four turns of transgressions, God says, “Okay it’s time to pull out my belt and teach you a lesson.”
Yep, so after that, we have the same idea. It’s interesting that when he talks about Gaza he includes Ashdod, that was North of Gaza and Ashkelon, that was between Gaza and Ashdod, and Ekron. These are all Philistine cities in the Old Testament and all of them were enemies of Israel.
Verse nine of chapter one, he goes from the South of Israel to the North of Israel to Tyra. Tyra is Lebanon today. Yes, Tyra is today South of Beirut, and the ancient name is Tyra, but then the Greek name of Tyra and Tyra’s suburbs is Biblos.
That’s where we get the name Bible. We get the name Bible from Biblos. Biblos means a book. Biblos doesn’t mean the holy book of God’s revelation, it means a book. That was the original meaning of the word Bible, a book, the book.
So here he goes to Tyra and he says to Tyra the same formula, “For three transgressions of Tyra and for four, I will not turn away its punishment because they have delivered up their whole captivity to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood, and will send upon the wall of Tyra which shall devour its palaces...”
“Thus, the Lord, three transgressions of Edom...” East of us on the other side of the Jordan. Thus, the Lord, the punishment that will be... Everybody will see what God is going to do there, is going to pity them, because it’s going to be very harsh.
And from Edom he goes south to Teman and to Bozrah. Then I want to finish chapter one, to Amon, Jordan of today. Rabat Amon is the capital of Jordan until today and the king is living there. And there, fire on its walls, devouring its palaces, its temples. The king himself will go to captivity.
Everything that he says about the nations around us, in the end, we also had the same punishments folks. God is not partial. Whatever He did to our neighbors, He did to us. And still not over. Praise God, we’re in the process of repair now.
Amon, Moab, all our neighbors, all around us, the same thing. Until we get to chapter two verse four and that’s going to be in our next lesson, “Thus says the Lord, ‘For three transgression of Judah and for four I will not turn away its punishment because they have despised the law of the Lord and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. But I will send fire upon Judah and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.’”
It happened. You can visit Jerusalem and see the results of the fire in the Jewish quarter, in the Wohl Museum, you could see the beams that held the roofs of the fanciest, the richest houses in Jerusalem during the time of the apostles and Yeshua. You see the beam charred on the floor, beautiful floor with beautiful mosaics from the time of Yeshua.
Yes, God kept His word and kept His promises. May God help us folks not to repeat the mistakes that our forefathers did. May God help us that when we sin, we repent quickly and not wait till the third and the fourth turn, where God loses His patient and says “I will no longer be patient with these people. After the fourth sin, after the fourth turn of sinning I have to punish them.”
Yes folks, it’s important for us to study the prophets. They’re applicable to us all every day. May God have mercy on us, on his children all over the world. And may we continue studying the prophets and be inspired by what the prophets 2,800 years ago, said. It’s applicable for us today also. Shalom from Jerusalem.
God is Looking for a Relationship With You [Part 2]
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom. My name is Joseph Shulam, and in partnership with Brad TV, we are studying the prophets. We are now in the second lesson about Amos.
In the first lesson, I didn’t wear a jacket and a tie, on purpose. I wore a leather jacket because Amos says that he is not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but he is a farmer, a shepherd. So I didn’t feel like I should start teaching Amos with a shirt and tie.
But now we are in the second lesson of Amos. In the first lesson, the major point was that the God of Israel is not only the God of the Jewish people, the God of the nation of Israel, he’s the God of the whole world. And almost all the prophets, except of Obadiah, prophesy about all of our neighbors, about the whole Middle East, about Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Babylon, Tyra. God is the God of the whole world, and this is an aspect that people forget.
Especially, we Jewish people, forget that God is not in our pocket and that we don’t own him, and that he cares as much for us as he does for all the nations. And the nations around us also happen to be our enemies. Not new enemies, old enemies, the same enemies that were bothering Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Moabites, and the Midianites. They’re all still here, just by different names.
So in this second lesson, I am going to chapter four of the book of Amos that deals with the worship, the cults, the sociology and the relationship between us and God in our obligation to praise and worship and serve. Amos is very clear.
He prophesied in the eighth century BC, or BCE, the way scientifically it’s listed, about the same time, similar time to Hosea, to Jeremiah, to Isaiah. He prophesied in a time in which there was a big upsurge, I would say inflation of religion. Jeroboam built a temple in Bethel and in Dan in the northern of Israel. And there was another temple in Samaria.
And the kings of Israel that were semi-pagan were very religious. They were Israelites, but they were very religious, but the wrong kind of religion. And Amos concentrates on that. And sometimes he uses very, very strong language, and I can’t help it. I really can’t help it that he uses strong language. I have to repeat that language and I hope nobody’s offended.
But if you’re offended, get offended at Amos, not at Joseph Shulam. I am starting with verse one of chapter four. That starts this diatribe about the relationship of God, the people of Israel, and worship, service, to God and to people.
Okay, here we go. Amos is on the podium.
“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountains of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, bring wine, let us drink. The Lord God has sworn by his holiness, Behold, the day shall come upon you when he will take you away with fishhooks, carry you out like that, like trout out of a river, and your posterity with fishhooks. And taken out of the city, each one through the hole in the wall of the city, straight ahead, and flung on the refuge heap, on the garbage heap.”
The word in Hebrew is very complicated; it’s translated in different ways in English, but it means the surge of the garbage heap. “Thus declares the Lord.”
That’s the opening statement of Amos in chapter four, where he’s going to start dealing with the way people worship and with the way they relate to God. But this phrase, “cows of Bashan,” is an interesting phrase, because Isaiah also talks about the same topic. He doesn’t call the women of Bashan cows, but he does say that when they walk in the streets of Jerusalem, they play the drum with their behinds.
What can I do? That’s the language of our prophets. But it’s the right language, in my opinion. Because what are we hearing here in the relationship between God and Israel? We hearing that the women are in control of the spiritual atmosphere in the home, but not only in the home, in society.
Look, I am 76 years old, very soon, 77 years old. I’ve been around the world many, many times. I have taught the gospel in more than 50 countries. And in most of the world, including in Jerusalem, in the Orthodox Jewish community, the women take the lead on spirituality, on the, how should I say, the religious atmosphere in the home.
It’s not bad, it’s just bad when they do it in the wrong way, with the wrong motives. It’s just bad when they don’t respect either the laws nor the community.
And especially, not in this case of Amos, in his day in the eighth century; the poor, the needy, the people that are not on the same class of society as the spiritual religious leadership of the rabbis and the deacons and the servants in the synagogues and in the churches. That’s a fact, folks.
Amos is addressing these issues. And he’s addressing it with very sharp language, and essentially says, “If you guys continue that, the city will fall and you will not march out of the gate of the city, you’ll be taken out with fishhooks through a hole in the wall that was breached by the enemy, to exile, of course.” That’s what happened. They ended up going to Babylon to exile.
I’m continuing to read from chapter four. “Says the Lord, Come to Bethel, and transgress, and Gilgal, multiply your transgression. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days. Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven. Proclaim and announce the freewill offering. For this is your love. You children of Israel, says the Lord God.”
“That’s what you like to do. You like to go to these high places, to Bethel, to the Gilgal.”
Of course, remember what was in Gilgal. Gilgal is when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, left Moses on the other side of the Jordan with Joshua and the elders of Israel. They crossed the Jordan River. At Gilgal they dedicated themself publicly. The men got circumcised in Gilgal, because they haven’t been circumcised for 40 years.
And they made it a high place. They made a center of worship when they crowned the first king of Israel officially in front of all the tribes. King Saul, the son of Kish. They did it at Gilgal the third time, which was the most important time; which was official, not just between Samuel, the prophet and Saul, and his servant, but in front of all the tribes of Israel.
So Gilgal is a big center of worship on the edge of the Jordan River in the middle of the country. Bethel, where Jacob experienced a dream where the angels of God were going up the ladder and down the ladder, and God stood over him and said, “I will guide you. I will lead you. I will protect you. I will serve you.”
So in these places there were famous, I’m going to say kind of a western term, there were famous churches there, with famous pastors there, fancy, beautiful, decorated, big, popular centers of worship. And these people from Samaria, from the Galilee, from the sea coast, wanted to go and worship in these fancy churches, in these fancy places of worship.
That was the popular place to go. You had to dress up nice. They made it “a social event.” That’s what Amos is talking about. They made their faith into a social event. Ignoring the poor, ignoring the needy, ignoring the society around them, they became the spiritual elite of Israel.
Amos says, “Folks, that isn’t going to work. God is going to take you, going to throw you out of the land with fishhooks, and he is going to send you to exile,” which was promised already in the book of Leviticus chapter 26 and 27. It’s not a new thing.
Exile is not a new thing that happened just by the whim of God. No, it was planned ahead of time, before the children of Israel entered the land of Israel. In the book of Leviticus, exile was already a part of the promise of God, that if we don’t live right and we don’t do right, we’re going to be kicked out of the land, the land is going to vomit us. That’s the language of Leviticus; and it has.
When I’m thinking about the society in Israel, most of society in Israel, even today, were not born in Israel. They were born all over the world. We have immigrants from India. We have immigrants from China, Chinese Jews. We have immigrants from Siberia, from Russia, recently from Ukraine. We have immigrants from South America, from every continent, from the Philippines, from all over. We’re a country of immigrants.
Why are we a country of immigrants? Because God threw us out, threw us out on our ear, because we didn’t listen to people like Amos, Hosea, Zechariah, Micah, Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. We didn’t listen to the prophets. We didn’t listen to Moses. That’s why we’re in exile.
And now, in fulfillment of God’s promises, he’s bringing us back. But he wants us to learn from the past so that we don’t repeat the same mistake that our forefathers did, that caused them to be thrown out of the land.
Amos’ statement is that the people can go to a place of worship, offer sacrifices, bring money, donations, sing and praise and worship, and still be displeasing to God. Why? Because God doesn’t look at the decoration of the building and at the musical band playing.
He looks into the people’s hearts, into their hands, that they be clean and not guilty of bloodshed, of abuse of the poor. God is looking not for grilled meat on the altar. He is looking not for a donation inside an envelope that people come to the front and put in a box or in a plate that passes between the aisles.
Yes, what God is looking for is into our hearts. And if we worship without the right intention, without the right motives, without the heart for social reasons, like the Pharisees are accused of doing in Matthew 23, Yeshua says, “They do it to be seen by men,” then our worship becomes an abomination. Paul said it in Mars Hill.
A summary, short summary of what is said in Mars Hill, is here expanded by, thousands of years, no, many hundreds of years after Amos. Yes, in Greece, in Athens, on Mars Hill, Paul gives his speech and says, “God is not in need of houses made by men, of temples.
He doesn’t need your gift, He’s the owner of the whole world. What He needs is that you seek Him, have a relationship with Him. Because He appointed a day in which he will judge all flesh by a man whom He has appointed and raised Him from the dead.” Of course, he’s talking about Yeshua, about Jesus.
So the same paradigm that Amos is presenting here over two or three chapters, is presented by one speech of Paul in Athens at the Aeropagus, at the Supreme Court of the Athenians. Yes, but Isaiah said it already in chapter one of the book of Isaiah.
Jeremiah said it in chapter seven of the book of Jeremiah. This is not Paul’s invention and it’s also not Amos’s invention. And Amos essentially laments, cries out about Israel in the next chapter, chapter five. I’m going to read you a little bit of chapter five, verse four to ten, of Amos’s lament for the people of Israel.
“For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, ‘Seek me and live, but do not seek Bethel nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over Beersheba. For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity and Bethel shall come to nothing.’” I’m going to stop with the reading and tell you.
When I was... right after the Yom Kippur war in 1973, they called me back to the army. They called a lot of people my age back to the army, to rebuild the army. Where did I serve? In a base, military base, right on Bethel. I mean, we walked from the center of the base in between the ruins of ancient Bethel. We could have gone every day there to the ruins of ancient Bethel, to the place where Jacob saw the dream of the latter coming from heaven.
So it says, “Bethel shall come to nothing.” It’s nothing now. It’s not even a mosque there, there is nothing. It’s a barren hill with a little bit of archaeological remains. That’s all of the ancient Bethel. There is a big Israeli army base there, near there.
But the words of the prophet came through. “Seek the Lord and live, lest he breaks out like fire in the house of Joseph and devours it with no one to quench it in Bethel. You turn justice into wormwood and lay righteousness to the rest of the earth. He made the Pleiades and Orion.”
These two great groups of stars in the Milky Way. “He turned the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark at night. He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth.”
We know what a tsunami is. We have seen great tsunamis in my lifetime, in Japan, in South India, the Pacific Ocean.
“He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth. The Lord is his name. He reigns ruin upon the strong so that fury comes upon the fortress. They hate the one who rebukes in the gate and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.” That means the prophet himself.
They hate the prophets. They persecute the prophets. We have seen that in the life of Jeremiah more than the other prophets. But we have seen it today as well. But we have got the same paradigm, my dear brothers and sisters, in the New Testament.
We’ve got the same teaching in the New Testament. Yeshua in the gospel of Matthew has that whole scene of the judgment, that whole scene of the judgment, that in the end he says to those that say, “We have worshiped you, we have praised you. We’ve cast out demons in your name,” “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I don’t even know you,” because of the same thing that Amos spoke 800 years earlier, where religion becomes putrid, it becomes fancier.
The buildings become fancier. The worship becomes fancier. But without the heart, without the social interest of taking care of the poor and the needy, our religion is worthless. For as much, Yeshua says, “For as much as you’ve done to one of the least of these, the poorest, the meanest,” mean from the not mean, “meanness,” but mean from the point of view of “insignificant,” “you have done it unto me.”
Yes, that’s the message of Amos, one of the most interesting prophets of the eighth century BC. May the Lord bless us all, inspire us, and please read the prophets. Read the book of Amos. It doesn’t take too long. It’s only nine chapters. It’s easy to read. In less than an hour you’ll read it twice.
God bless all of you. Shalom from Jerusalem.
Amos: The Bridging Prophet [Part 3]
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom, my name is Joseph Shulam, and in partnership with Brad TV, I am continuing to teach the prophets, the Old Testament prophets. And this is the third lesson for the Prophet Amos. My plan is to teach three lessons on each one of the minor prophets.
We’re in the Prophet Amos right now, and I am going to start in chapter seven, from verse 10: then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus, Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away into captivity from their own land.’”
And Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer! Flee the land of Judah.” In other words, “Go to Judah, Amos. You don’t belong here in Israel. And eat bread there. And there, prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is royal residence.”
And Amos answered and said to Amaziah the priest, “I was no prophet,” or in Hebrew, “I am not a prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheep breeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. The Lord spoke to me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord, you say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not spout against the house of Isaac.’”
“Therefore, thus said the Lord, ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city. Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword. Your land shall be divided by survey line. You shall die in a defiled land. And Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.’”
Now, these are some, as they say down in the USA, in South Georgia, these are some fighting words. And of course, Amaziah the priest didn’t like it. And he goes to the king and tells him this guy Amos is a troublemaker. Now, I need to do a little bit of introductory teaching over here.
The Bible has two major kinds of prophets. One is called the popular prophets. And these are professional prophets that prophesy only when people came to ask them questions, to ask for information, and they charge; you had to pay them something. And they essentially served the people. They learned in the school of prophets how to do this with ecstasy, with music, with dancing, with falling on the ground as King Saul, before he was anointed as king.
A famous one of these popular prophets was Samuel. Samuel was a prophet, a professional. And we’re reading 1 Samuel chapter eight and chapter nine about kings. Before he was a king, when the young boy Saul and his servant went to look for the donkeys of his father and they couldn’t find them. And evening time was coming, and they came to a place where there is a spring of water, to look for the donkeys. Maybe the donkeys, toward the evening, went to drink water.
And the servant of Saul says to him, “There is a man of God up there, a seer, Samuel, in Rama, not far from where we are. Let’s go there and ask him where the donkeys are.” And Saul says, “Well, we don’t have anything to give him. We don’t have any money to pay him.” So the servant says, “I have a coin. We could do that.” And of course, he goes looking for the donkeys and finds the crown, in that case.
Another famous popular prophet was Nathan, who in chapter 12 of 2 Samuel faces King David with a parable of the poor man’s lamb. And with that parable of the poor man’s lamb, he announces to David that David took the poor man’s lamb, Bathsheba, who was the wife of Uriah the Hittite; one of the generals of Israel.
That in itself is interesting that he was a Hittite. David had several generals who were Philistines, some were Canaanites, and some were Hittites. And the majority of course were Israelites.
But the popular prophet didn’t write books. We don’t have a Book of Nathan or the Book of Samuel. We have the Book of Samuel, but Samuel obviously didn’t write it, because it was written long after Samuel died. And the story of Samuel’s death is in the first Book of Samuel.
So these are the popular prophets. They had to be paid, they were professional prophets, and people went to them. They didn’t volunteer their information. They gave service to people who had questions, who had interests, and wanted to know something about their situation, about where their donkeys are, or what happened to their children, or things like that.
Nathan was the royal prophet. He was the prophet of the house of David. And he had to go correct David for the sin with Bathsheba. But we don’t have the Book of Nathan. He didn’t write anything.
But Amos is a kind of a bridging prophet. On the one hand, we read from chapter seven that he says, “I’m not a prophet or a son of a prophet,” but yet he prophesied in a classical way. And we have a book under the name of Amos.
So Amos, Elijah, and Huldah, the prophetess, and a few others like Gad, and the prophet from Judah, who went to Bethel to prophesy against the king of Israel, and his hand withered; then he delivered him, and then the lion ate him, because he didn’t obey God’s instructions. All these were popular prophets.
But Amos is really a classical prophet. He prophesied without getting paid for it, getting persecuted for it, but not paid for it. And he prophesied some very harsh things about the king and about Israel. And one of the things that I want to stress about Amos is this that we read from chapter seven. And that is that he denies to be a prophet.
He says, “I’m a farmer. I’m a sheep herder. I’m a tender of sycamore fruit, of sycamore trees.” And that makes him a very interesting prophet. He’s not prophesying for pay. So, he’s not fully a popular prophet. He is a classical prophet. Because we have the Book of Amos, a collection of his prophecies, where he tells the king, the priest, and the people, things that they don’t want to hear. That’s why he writes them down. He records his prophecies.
So I want to go on with Amos and deal with a part of Amos that is fascinating, and it has eschatological overtones. I’m going to go on from chapter seven to chapter nine. And in chapter nine, I’ll start from verse one of chapter nine in order to give a little bit of a background of what’s going on.
Here is another interesting thing that’s connected with the classical prophets. They see visions, the vision of Isaiah. Jeremiah starts with a vision. God says, “What do you see?” He says, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” And then there’s a play of words between the almond in Hebrew and God’s relationship and attitude toward Israel in the days of Jeremiah.
So chapter nine of Amos starts with a vision. “I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said, ‘Strike the doorposts, the threshold may shake, and break them on the head of them all. I will slay the last of them with the sword. He who flees from them shall not get away, and he who escapes from them shall be delivered. Though they dig into hell, and from there my hand shall take them. Though they climb up to heaven, and from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of the Carmel, from there I will search and take them. Though they hide from my side at the bottom of the sea, from there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them. Though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword, and they shall slay them. I will set my eyes on them for harm and not for good.’”
I’m stopping in verse four. A horrible, difficult, harsh prophecy of Amos. As he says it was a vision. He saw the Lord standing next to the altar and got this revelation. Look, he’s prophesying to the 10 northern tribes.
Today we’re in the state of Israel. Jews are returning from all over the world. But mainly Jews that went to exile from Judah, from Jerusalem, the 10 northern tribes are still not returning. I know that there is news of the tribe of Dan from Ethiopia and the tribe of Manasseh from India.
There is zero scientific or historical proof that these people that are coming are really from one of those tribes. But for political reasons, they’re given that title, that information, the tribe of Dan from Ethiopia and the tribe of Menashe from northeast India. Could be, but the scientists have not found any proof that this is so.
These are harsh words of Amos in the last chapter of the book of Amos, very, very difficult. God says, “If you go to the bottom of the sea, I will have the serpent come and bite you there. If you climb up the mountain, I’ll bring you down from there. I will command the sword, and it shall slay them. I will set my eyes on them for harm and not for good.”
That’s the God that revealed Himself to Moses as Adonai, Adonai, Lord, Lord, long-suffering and full of grace. Full of grace and truth, who has forgiveness, who has grace, who has mercy on the thousands. That’s the same God. Israel made God so angry, so upset that Amos the prophet writes these things as a revelation from God about Israel.
I’m going to continue reading from verse five of Amos 9: “The Lord God of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell there mourn. And of it shall well like the river, and subside like the river of Egypt. He who builds his layers in the skies, and has founded his strata in the earth. Who calls for the water of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth. The Lord is his name.”
You know, up to verse six, it’s an introduction, telling us who God is and what are his powers, limitless powers on the earth, on the sea, and on the nations, and on the peoples. Now, verse seven, you, talking to Israel, “‘Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to me, O children of Israel?’ says the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, Crete, and the Syrians from Kir? Behold the eyes of the Lord are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ says the Lord. ‘For surely, I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve. Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.’”
Oh, that comforts me, this last phrase. “Not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” To the last Israelite that is thrown into the diaspora, lost in the diaspora among the nations, God knows them all, and none of them will be lost. As Paul says in Romans 11:25-26 to the Gentiles, “I’m not going to keep it a secret from you, dear brothers and sisters, for in the fullness of the time of the Gentiles, all Israel shall be saved.”
This corresponds with this promise, and there are another 12 or 13 places in the prophets that correspond with Romans 11:25-26. “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’”
Verse 11 now: “Oh, on that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David,” or the fallen tabernacle of David, “and repair its damages. And I will raise up its ruins.” He’s talking about the restoration of Israel now. The fallen tabernacle of David. God says, “‘I will raise it up again. I will repair its damages. I will rebuild their ruins as it was in the days of old. And they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations, the gentiles who are called by my name,’ says the Lord who does this thing. ‘Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord. ‘When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the tender of the grapes him who sows the seed. The mountain shall dip with sweet wine, drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captive of my people Israel. They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens and eat the fruit from them. I will plant them in their own land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord God.” The end of the Book of Amos.
What do we have here? We have here a very interesting situation. The harsh things that the prophet has said about Israel, about the people are reversed. In the end, everything will be restored.
In the end, God is going to bring back the captives of Israel. They will rebuild the city. They will rebuild the land. The land will overflow with milk and honey, with wine, with prosperity. And the most important part, the fallen tabernacle of David will be restored.
Now, we have in the Book of Acts the conference that was held in Jerusalem by the apostles and by Paul, and, and the apostles decided that our Gentile brothers and sisters, Gentiles means from the nations, our Gentile brothers and sisters don’t have to be circumcised.
They don’t have to convert to Judaism. What they have to do is keep the commandment that God commanded the generation of Noah after the flood in Genesis 9. The first command is get married and multiply. The second command is not to shed blood. The third command is not to eat blood.
From these commands that are in Genesis 9, the Jewish rabbis designed originally three commands. And then by the time of the New Testament, four commands. Then after the New Testament and the destruction of the temple, seven commands.
So Gentiles that want to be saved, they don’t have to become Jews. They don’t have to become converted to Judaism and be circumcised. All they have to do is keep these commandments that God gave to Noah and his generation after the flood.
So the apostles have this discussion in Acts 15, and they argue, and then Yakov, James in English, arguing with Peter, agree that the Gentiles don’t have to convert on the basis of this text of Amos 9 verse 11 forward. Why? Listen to the text. I’m going to read it now the same text from Amos 9 verse 11 forward from the Book of Acts 15 from verse 16. “After this I will return, and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord who does all these things.”
Now, if you compare the text from Amos and the text from Acts chapter 15:16-17, you see that there is one difference. In Amos, he says, “I will, so that the rest of Edom may seek the Lord.” In Acts 15:17, he said the rest of mankind may seek the Lord.
Now, Edom is one nation situated on the other side of the Dead Sea. The Edomites that gave a hard time to Moses. The rest of mankind is Adam. Edom, Adam, in Hebrew, that is written without vowels, is the same.
What’s more correct, the text as it is in the Hebrew text, or in the New Testament? It’s in the New Testament. He’s talking about restoring the tabernacle of David in Jerusalem for the rest of mankind, not only for one nation, the Edomite, that don’t exist anymore, but for mankind.
And it depends how you read the text. They read it one way in the 10th century, the rabbis, and they read it different in the first century. More correct, because the vowel signs are not in the text. The vowel signs were put between the seventh and ninth century AD into the Hebrew text.
So without vowels, you could read it Edom, you could read it Adam, it’s the same. Adam is more correct from the general context of Amos, who’s talking about the nations.
I’m going to read a couple more verses. Verse 18: “Known to God from eternity are all his works.” Means all the people, all the nations. “Therefore, I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but what we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from porneia, sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has been taught many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every sabbath.”
So we have here a recommendation, a type of recommendation, that these gentiles don’t need to convert to Judaism to be brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. But they can go to the synagogue on sabbath and hear the word of God read, because they didn’t have iPads and iPhones, and they didn’t know how to find out the story of the Bible from Genesis all the way to the end of the Old Testament, and of course, after the New Testament was written, to the Book of Revelation.
May God bless us all, and bless all those from among the Gentiles who have accepted the God of Israel as their God and the Messiah of Israel as their savior. In Yeshua’s name, shalom. We’ll be studying other prophets next week.