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Two Years Before The Earthquake

Amos 1:1-2
1 The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders 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.
2 And he said:
“The Lord roars from Zion,
And utters His voice from Jerusalem;
The pastures of the shepherds mourn,
And the top of Carmel withers.”

Amos was living in the village of Tekoa. Before becoming a prophet, he was a shepherd and a sycamore fig farmer. All day long, he sat on the hillside watching the sheep, keeping them from going astray.

Amos 7:14-15
14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:
“I was no prophet,
Nor was I a son of a prophet,
But I was a sheepbreeder
And a tender of sycamore fruit.

15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,
And the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

One day, God told Amos about some major events that were going to happen to Israel. This prophecy came to him two years before the earthquake, and at the time when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam was king of Israel.

He prophesied that the Lord roared like a ferocious lion from His Temple on Mount Zion, and the lush pastures of Mount Carmel withered and dried, and all the shepherds mourned.

Amos was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He was active between 760 and 755 BC during the reign of Jeroboam II (786–746 BC).

Though he was from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, he was sent to prophesy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Amos 7:10-13
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.
11 For thus Amos has said:
‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From their own land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos:
“Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.

13 But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it is the king’s sanctuary,
And it is the royal residence.”

Amos prophesied at Bethel where the king's sanctuary and his royal residence were. There Amos announced the fall of the reigning dynasty and the end of the Northern Kingdom. As he was from the Southern Kingdom, his prophetic message was promptly rejected by Amaziah, the chief priest to King Jeroboam II. Amos was expelled from the Northern Kingdom, and deported back to the land of Judah in the South.

This might seem to be the end of his prophetic ministry. But when all the doors were closed, God opened a window. Amos began to write down the prophecies God had given him! If the people of God didn't want to hear His messages, they could at least read them.

Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was among the first of the prophets to write down faithfully the messages from the Lord. His writings were admired for their purity, beauty and poetic style. Nothing adulterated. Nothing added on. And nothing subtracted. Straight from God and to the people.

Amos wrote during a time when both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and peace. They had reached new heights of political, military and financial powers. As they began to indulge in material things, they soon forgot about the laws and commandments of the Lord. Though looking very good and prosperous on their outward appearances, the people of God had decayed and degenerated morally on the inside.

Besides self-indulgence in extravagant and luxurious living, the people of God were also committing idolatry, immorality, corruption, exploitation of the weak and oppression of the poor.

Amos was sent by God to give them a warning. But the people rejected his messages and refused to be corrected. As a result, God eventually let the people of the Northern Kingdom be defeated and exiled as captives to Assyria.

Besides prophesying against Judah and Israel, Amos also wrote prophecies against some other nations such as Aram, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon and Moab.

The prophecy against the Southern Kingdom of Judah was:

Amos 2:4-5
4 Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions 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.
5 But I will send a fire upon Judah,
And it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”

The Lord said, “The people of Judah have sinned again and again, and for this I will certainly punish them. They have despised My teachings, and have not kept My commandments. They have been led astray by the same false gods that their ancestors served. So I will send fire upon Judah and burn down the palaces of Jerusalem.”

The prophecy against the Northern Kingdom of Israel was:

Amos 2:6-16
6 Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for silver,
And the poor for a pair of sandals.
7 They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor,
And pervert the way of the humble.
A man and his father go in to the same girl,
To defile My holy name.
8 They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge,
And drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.

9 “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them,
Whose height was like the height of the cedars,
And he was as strong as the oaks;
Yet I destroyed his fruit above
And his roots beneath.
10 Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
And led you forty years through the wilderness,
To possess the land of the Amorite.
11 I raised up some of your sons as prophets,
And some of your young men as Nazirites.
Is it not so, O you children of Israel?”
Says the Lord.
12 “But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink,
And commanded the prophets saying,
‘Do not prophesy!’

13 “Behold, I am weighed down by you,
As a cart full of sheaves is weighed down.
14 Therefore flight shall perish from the swift,
The strong shall not strengthen his power,
Nor shall the mighty deliver himself;
15 He shall not stand who handles the bow,
The swift of foot shall not escape,
Nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself.
16 The most courageous men of might
Shall flee naked in that day,”
Says the Lord.

The Lord said, “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and for this I will certainly punish them. They sell righteous people, who cannot pay their debts, into slavery. Even for the price of a pair of sandals, the poor, who cannot repay, will become their slaves. They trample down the weak and helpless, pushing the poor into deeper poverty and starvation. A man and his father have sexual relations with the same slave woman, and in doing so, they profane My holy name. At every altar of the temples of their idols and gods, people relax and recline on clothings that they have taken from the poor as collaterals for debts, and they have also drunk wine which they have seized and stolen from those who owe them money."

“And yet, My people, it was for your sake that I totally destroyed the Amorites, who were as tall as cedar trees and as strong as oaks. I brought you out of Egypt, led you through the desert for forty years, and gave you the land of the Amorites to be your own. I chose some of your sons to be prophets and some of your young men to be Nazirites. Isn't this true, people of Israel? I, the Lord, have spoken. But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and ordered the prophets not to speak My messages. And now I will crush you to the ground, and you will groan like a cart loaded with grain. Not even your fast runners will escape. Your strong men will lose their strength. Your soldiers will not be able to save their own lives. Your archers will not stand their ground. Your fast runners will not get away. Your men on horses will not escape death. On that day even your bravest soldiers will drop their weapons and run.” The Lord had spoken.

God had a case against Israel and Judah. The word of God through Amos was directed against His own people who were only interested in pursuing their own interests to enhance their economic and financial success, and also to strengthen their political might. They had no love for their neighbors, selling off the poor and needy as slaves, taking full advantage of them, ill-treating them and even sexually abusing them.

Today, our world is filled with social injustice, resulting in unequal wealth and resource distribution, unfair treatment of the poor and needy, human trafficking and slavery, ethnic cleansing, genocides and race supremacy. There are even legal laws that support segregation and racial discrimination.

The worst thing is that we, Christians, will often turn a blind eye to the sufferings and pains of others around us, opting to pursue for more economic gains and more important endeavors. We even manipulate the Word of God and His Holy Spirit to obtain material blessings and prosperity for ourselves, doing our will instead of seeking to do the will of God.

Amos 3:14-15
14 “That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions,
I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel;

And the horns of the altar shall be cut off
And fall to the ground.
15 I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house;
The houses of ivory shall perish,
And the great houses shall have an end
Says the Lord.

Imagine this. An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or higher is coming in 2 years' time. How will we live? Will we still build our winter houses along with our summer houses, the houses of ivory and the great houses? How will we conduct ourselves before the Lord?

In recent years, we have read, seen and heard international news of catastrophic disasters of greater magnitudes such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and bush fires. They have caused massive losses of life, damaging homes, properties, and infrastructural facilities and systems. Some of these disastrous consequences and damages are long-term, which will require many years to repair.

Our world has been shaped by different ideological and political conflicts. Any global superpower standoff has a potential to bring the related nations to the brink of destruction. We have already 2 World Wars. World War 3 is the next possible worldwide military conflict where nuclear bombs and weapons will be deployed to trigger off unprecedented death and destruction on a global scale.

2 Peter 3:10-18
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Amos was not a prophet of doom and gloom. He concluded his prophecy with five final verses that brought faith, hope, comfort and consolation - Israel would eventually be restored one day.

Amos 9:11-15
11 “On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;

12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing.
13 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.

14 I will bring back the captives 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 fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

I believe God is now disciplining His Church. We are now reaping what we have sown, and things are going to get worse before they get better. God is faithfully and mercifully sending warnings and messages through His servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7
Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

What will we do? Will we heed the word of the Lord or will we disregard and reject it? Will we do His will or will we seek our own interests?

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.

I believe we still have some redeeming time to build on the Rock of our Salvation, our Firm Foundation.

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

John 15:4
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

God has no laws against those who are abiding in Him and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit!

Written on: 07 November 2017