Amos 7

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD God showed me that locusts were being sent when the secondary growth began to sprout after the king finished harvesting. 2When the locusts had eaten all the growth, I said,

“O LORD God, I beg you to forgive!
How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
3And the LORD reconsidered and said,
“This will not take place.”

4Then the LORD God showed me a firestorm of judgment that swept over the great deep and chewed away at the land. 5Again I said, “LORD God, I beg you to please stop this! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” 6The LORD relented, and said, “This won’t happen, either.”

7Then I was shown the LORD standing beside a wall, holding a plumb line,

8and saying to me, “Amos, what do you see?”
“A plumb line,” I answered.

The LORD said, “See, I am holding a plumb line among my people Israel. I will never again overlook them. 9I will wipe away Israel’s hilltop altars, and lay waste their sanctuaries. I will rise against the house of Jeroboam and bring the sword against them.”

10Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to King Jeroboam of Israel. “Amos has plotted against you in the very center of Israel,” he said. “The land can’t bear what he is saying. 11He is saying that Jeroboam will be killed by the sword and Israel will be carried off the land and into exile.”

12Then Amaziah told Amos, “Get out of Israel, you seer! Go to Judah and earn your keep there, 13but don’t ever again prophesy in Bethel. Bethel is the king’s place, and it is the religious center of the kingdom.”

14Amos answered, “I’m not a prophet or even the son of a prophet. I am just a herdsman, and I carve wood from the sycamore trees. 15The LORD took me away from the flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people Israel.’

16“So, hear what the LORD has to say to you because you demand that no prophesy should be made against Israel and that I should not preach against Isaac’s family.

17“This is what the LORD says:
‘Your wife will become a city prostitute.
Your sons and daughters will die by the sword.
Your land will be cut up and parceled out section by section,
and you will die in an unholy land
because Israel will surely go into exile away from here.’”


1-9: Amos sees God approaching the land three times to destroy it. The first destruction is by locusts and the second is by fire. Amos begs God to forgive and to cease, protesting that Jacob (Israel) is too small and weak to withstand such onslaughts. The effect of his plea is to paint God as a bully, and God relents. The third vision, though, simply has God standing with a plumb line as if to measure how “out of plumb” Israel is. This time, though, God only threatens the pagan worship sites and the ruling family, and Amos does not protest.

10-17: Finally, Amos’ pronouncements stir up an official complaint. The priest of Bethel, which is perhaps the primary pagan shrine, complains to the king about Amos’ statements. There was, of course, no constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech, and Amos’ life truly would be threatened by this development. When Amaziah tells him to never prophesy at Bethel again but to flee to Judah it is for the two-fold purpose of getting rid of him and avoiding the risk of making him a martyr to his cause. Amos responds by distancing himself from the priest, reminding him that he, Amos, is not of the priestly caste from which prophets usually come. Then he proceeds to prophesy against Amaziah. His wife will become a prostitute, he says, an all-too-common fate for women in those days who were thrust into the difficult situation of being in a city that has been conquered and being stranded there without her children who were killed and without her husband who has been carried into exile and has died in “an unclean land” where most of her neighbors have also been taken.


Amos was determined to do what God wanted him to do, regardless of threats on his life. What God wants of us, God’s people, may not be the quiet, easy life we want for ourselves.