Amos – Chapter 7 – Locust and Fire
Do you ever think about what you think about God? Maybe that sentence wasn’t very clear. Let me see if I can ask it another way. We all have an impression or default perspective about God – what He’s like, His nature, His opinion of us, how He will treat us, etc. Have you ever spent time thinking about your impression of God? Have you spent time testing your default perspective of Him against His Holy Word as recorded in the Bible, to see if it is accurate?
A seemingly common perspective of God is, He is a very strict authoritarian with an almost impossible list of dos and don’ts. This divine dictator sits up in Heaven, looking down at man just waiting for him to mess up so He can zap him! Ever thought that way about God?
Another related, but the maybe slightly less harsh, impression of God is that He throws situations down in front of us to judge our reactions – will we pass His tests?
I think both perspectives, common as they may be, are mournfully wrong. To associate those two impressions with God is to Anthropomorphize (ascribe human characteristics to) Him. God is not like man, He is uniquely God.
I think it is important we maintain neither perspective of God as we peer into the first six verses of chapter seven.
7:1 Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king’s mowings.
2 And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said:
“O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he is small!”
3 So the LORD relented concerning this.
“It shall not be,” said the LORD.
4 Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, the Lord GOD called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory.
5 Then I said:
“O Lord GOD, cease, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand,
For he is small!”
6 So the LORD relented concerning this.
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.
In verse one Lord GOD, or Adonai Yahweh shows Amos a vision. Yahweh Himself forms a swarm of locust for the express purpose destroying the “late crop”. In verse two Amos steps in and pleads with Adonai Yahweh to forgive Jacob (the nation Israel) so as to not destroy the crop. In verse three Yahweh relents and promise to not do it.
So what was going on here? Was God testing Amos with this vision? Was God thinking, “I’m not really gonna do it, but I’m going to ACT like I’m going to destroy Israel’s crop to see what Amos does”? No, this was not God testing Amos. Notice the two words “Lord GOD” in both 7:1 and 7:4. His covenant name is being used, and this pending punitive action is a direct result of Israel violating their covenant relationship with Yahweh. The destruction of the crop is imminent. God is showing Amos what is definitely about to happen. But then Amos steps in, intercedes for Israel, pleading with God to forgive Jacob.
We have both Old and New Testament examples of intercessors staying God’s hand of Judgement. In Exodus chapter 32 God is about to destroy Israel and raise up a people from the lineage of Moses. Moses steps in and intercedes, and God’s hand of destruction has been prevented. Did Israel deserve to be destroyed? Absolutely! However, a mediator between God and man stepped in. It’s not because Moses was so skilled at legal arguments that God was dissuaded. Moses here is being demonstrated as a type of Christ.
The greatest example of an intercessor or mediator in the New Testament is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:5
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
We would all be destroyed by the hand of God for our sin, without the mediatorial work of the one and only propitiation (total price paid) for our sin.
Though Amos 7:4-6 has different details, all that we’ve said about 7:1-3 thus far applies to these verses as well.
God is the same God in both the Old and New Testaments. He is righteous, and therefore a God of judgement. However, God is also a God of love, and therefore a God of mercy. How can we bridge the great chasm between Yahweh’s Judgement and His Mercy? How do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory concepts? Only through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lamb of God Christ Jesus is both the Judgement and the Mercy of God fulfilled. Christ was the target of God’s Judgement for our sin and as a result, we are the beneficiaries of God’s Mercy.
God is truly worthy of all our praise and worship!
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.