The Cold Hard Truth
Read Amos 9:11-12 (ESV)
“‘In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,’ declares the LORD who does this.”
How do people tend to respond when their sins are called out? Is preaching against sin a popular message?
It is obvious in our culture today that people do not like to be called out for their sin. In fact, they don’t even want certain choices and lifestyles to be called “sin.” There is often nothing more offensive to people than to have someone tell them that they are in the wrong. And yet, that is the message that the prophet, Amos, was called to preach. It wasn’t a popular message then and it isn’t a popular message now. But it is a necessary message because people’s souls are at stake.
Amos started out a simple shepherd and farmer from Judah but ended up a prophet of the Lord in Israel. He prophesied when King Jeroboam II ruled Israel. It was a time of economic prosperity and military might for the people of Israel. Their enemies weren’t particularly threatening and Israel was thriving. Still, God sent the farmer prophet, Amos, up to Israel to call them out for their sin and warn them of coming judgment. But in their prosperity, they couldn’t even grasp the possibility of their country’s collapse.
Amos probably didn’t relish his task and yet he faithfully carried it out. He boldly preached a harsh but true message to people who didn’t want to hear it. They were not grateful for the warning. They didn’t take heed of his words. And yet, Amos did not relent.
First, we read of how God called Amos to leave Judah to preach judgment on Israel. Amos first preached judgment on Israel’s neighbors and eventually even on Israel herself in eight prophetic oracles. Then, he gave 3 sermons detailing the sins of the people and calling them to repent. Next, he described five visions of the coming punishment that awaited Israel: locusts, fire, a plumb line, summer fruit, and Israel’s unavoidable judgment.
The vision of the plumb line is particularly significant. In Amos 7:7-9, he said, “This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’”
A plumb line is similar to a carpenter’s level. It is basically just a string with a weight on the end, but it provides builders an objective way to ensure that a wall is straight. If a wall is leaning slightly, steps can be taken to fix it. But if it leans too far in either direction, collapse is inevitable. God’s point was that He gave Israel an objective standard by which to measure their lives. His law was the plumb line. He sent numerous warnings that they were crooked and needed to take corrective measures, but they ignored Him. Now, they were on the verge of total collapse.
Even today, our plumb line is the Word of God. Jesus’s own life showed us God’s perfect moral standard in action. When we measure our lives against His standard, it should be obvious that corrective steps need to be taken. But we can’t straighten up on our own because we are too far gone. We need a Cornerstone.
A Scarlet Thread of redemption is found in today’s verses. All throughout the book, Amos spoke the cold, hard truth to Israel. Judgment was inevitable. Israel was going to be utterly destroyed. But in the last five verses, he left them with a positive note. God promised to preserve the line of David, renew creation, and restore and rebuild the people. Amos wrote that God would one day “raise up the booth of David that is fallen.” A booth is a temporary shelter, like a tent. In Acts 15:16-17, James quoted this passage from Amos: “After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”
Friends, Amos preached the cold hard truth but he ended with a message of hope. Through the Messiah, He would rebuild David’s house. But this promise wouldn’t be just for the people of Israel. It was a promise even for the Gentiles, peoples of all nations, who are called by His name. Even though we are crooked, God promises to restore those of us who put our trust in Him.
Lord, I know that without You, I am crooked and too far gone. I don’t measure up and I can’t straighten up on my own. But thanks to Your grace and Your mercy, You’ve made a way for me to be restored. Thank You for the promise of restoration through Jesus, my Messiah. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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