AMOS 8:4

 

The Bible says in Amos 8:4-8, “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,[5] Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?[6] That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?[7] The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.[8] Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.” This condemnation of Israel was against businessmen: crooked businessmen. Their favorite day was not the Sabbath day because they could not buy nor sell on the Sabbath Day. Once they could sell, they tried to cheat people. That is why it says in Amos 8:5, “falsifying the balances by deceit.” They get richer at the expense of the poor. We see the same sins today. The people who control and manipulate the financial system get richer while the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets smaller. The banks do not like to pay interest on deposits because they do not want to pay. That would be the rich paying the poor, and they are not going to have that. It does not mean that all rich people are evil, but these rich people were. They bought “the needy for a pair of shoes.” The phrase telling us that they “sell the refuse of the wheat” means that these sinful merchants do not mind one bit selling inferior quality. They do not care because it might increase their profits. Why does it displease God so much when sinful rich people profit from the poor in this way? For one thing God wants all human beings to be treated fairly. Look what Jesus did: He died for the sins of everyone, rich and poor. For another thing God wants all human beings to have their needs supplied. And for a third thing God allows people to acquire material possessions and money, so that they will use what God has given them for God. If you waste what God has given to you, why shouldn’t He take it away? God told the Israelites that He was going to take away what they had with war, and death, and destruction.  

 

The Bible says in Amos 8:9-10, “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:[10] And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.” We live in a world of change. Do not take anything for granted. You can lose everything. One of the reasons that things change is that there is a God who judges the whole earth and everyone on it. That is the reason to be afraid of sin and to repent of you sins. Look what happened to Israel because they did not repent. God said, in Amos 8:10, “And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.”

 

The Bible says in Amos 8:11-12, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:[12] And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” A famine refers to not having something that you really need to survive. Usually we are talking about food when we mention a famine, but God is not talking about “a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water.” Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Food and water are sustenance for the body, but they symbolize something far more important: sustenance for the soul. The body lives for a few years on this earth, but the soul lives forever. Therefore, spiritual food is much more important then physical food. The spiritual food is God’s Word. If you take away spiritual food, it will mean death: death of the worse kind, spiritual death. The famine that God would send on the land is a famine “of hearing the words of the LORD.” How blessed you are if you hear the words of the Lord, if you know the words of the Lord, if you have access to the words of the Lord. We are talking about the Bible, and the teachings of the Bible. 

 

The phrase that God used in Amos 8:12 is haunting. It says, “And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” There is an interesting correlation between the phrase, “And they shall wander from sea to sea,” and a song that is used to describe America. Some of the lyrics of the song, America the Beautiful, are:

 

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

There was a time in America when the Word of God was read and used from sea to shining sea. But there has been an onslaught from secularists and atheists to attempt to remove it from wherever they can. They removed the Bible from the public schools. There was a time when the Bible was read whenever a teacher wanted to read from it. There was a time when a New Testament was given to every recruit in the military, but the government stopped that practice. There was a time when it was not uncommon to hear a passage from the Bible read in a Hollywood movie. It was normal to do so because reading the Bible was a normal activity in America, but it is rare to see the Bible used in that way in modern movies. It is strange that secular people would think that there will be a benefit to removing the Word of God from our culture. The opposite is true. The Word of God could not be found in Israel, and as a result the Bible says in Amos 8:13-14, “In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.[14] They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.”

 

The Bible says in Amos 9:1-4, “I saw the LORD standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.[2] Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:[3] And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:[4] And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.” These verses are a reference to God’s omnipresence and omniscience, but in regards to judgment. For a believer in Jesus, the truths of God’s omnipresence and omniscience are a great blessing and a great comfort. Jesus promised to always be with us. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Jesus also used the concept of God’s omniscience to comfort us. The fact that God knows everything about us means that He is going to supply our needs. God certainly knows what our needs are, so He is not going to allow us to be wanting. Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?[32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.[33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” For believers it is a wonderful thing to know that God is always with us and that He sees and knows whatever we do. But it will not be so wonderful for those who are not forgiven. Because God gives them a free will, they might be able to resist God now, but they will not be able to escape God when the time for judgment comes. God says in Amos 9:2, “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” There is an old gospel song that captures this truth also. It is called “You Can Run On For a Long Time,” and was recorded by Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash among others. Some of the lyrics are:

 

Go tell that lonesome liar
Go tell that midnight rider
Tell the gamblin', ramblin' backslider
Tell them God Almighty gonna cut 'em down"

You might run on for a long time
Run on, ducking and dodging
Run on, children, for a long time
Let me tell you God Almighty gonna cut you down



The Bible says in Amos 9:5-10, “And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.[6] It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.[7] Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?[8] Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.[9] For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.[10] All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.” Why were these terrible things going to happen to the nation of Israel? The answer to that is made very clear. God said in Amos 9:8, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth;” What does a nation like this need? It needs repentance from sin and people starting to do the right thing. The best thing to happen to any nation is for more and more people to turn to Jesus and begin following Him. It says in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

 

One of the things that is always good to point out as we look at these prophets of the Old Testament and their message to the children of Israel and the nations around them is the contrast in emphasis between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament emphasizes the law and the judgment that comes from failure to keep the law. The New Testament emphasizes forgiveness and mercy and grace that can be found in Jesus Christ. That is why it says in John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ 

 

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Copyright; 2014 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved