Amos …for three crimes, even four


Wednesday 02/02/22 

Series: Thru the Bible

Message – Amos …for three crimes, even four

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Amos …for three crimes, even four

The Book of Amos

The intended audience of Amos’ prophecies was the Northern Kingdom

Amos ministered after the time of Obadiah, Joel & Jonah, and just before Hosea, Micah and Isaiah.

Perhaps nothing is harder on the spiritual walk of God’s people than times of prosperity and this was certainly true of the Northern Kingdom at the time of Amos’ ministry. Businesses were booming and their territory was expanding and as is often the case, this economic climate encouraged selfishness, self-righteousness and the mistreatment of the poor.

The Time of Amos

By the time of Amos, it had been nearly 300 years since the time of the judges ended and the time of the kings began. Also it had been over 150 years since the united nation of Israel had divided into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Judah (with Benjamin) to its south.

The book of Amos itself clarifies for us the time in which its contents occurred. It was somewhere between 760-750BC during the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam II king of Israel. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah but his prophetic ministry was to the northern kingdom

Amos mentions an earthquake which was also mentioned over 200 years later by Zephaniah as having occurred during the life and reign of Uzziah.

The Man – Amos

Amos was a self designated sheep raiser. It is speculated that he called himself by this title rather than ‘shepherd’ lest his natural occupation be confused with a spiritual one. He was not a “shepherd” over Israel, but a shepherd of actual sheep, who was also called as a prophet.

Amos lived in a rural section of Judah called Tekoa, which was situated just 12 miles south of Jerusalem. There he bred and tended a particular variety of small sheep which produced wool of the most excellent kind. 

He also grew and tended Sycamore fig trees. Whether he owned the sheep or the fig trees, or simply worked another man’s property we do not know. If the fig trees were his own then he almost certainly liked them, for working with Sycamore fig trees is labor intensive. Since God so often offers subtle hints to us through seemingly unimportant details, it is possible that this was the case with Amos – especially regarding these figs. 

The scriptures often talk of the Lord wounding His people and then healing them. The word used in Amos 7:14 for the job he did with figs, places him with the job of slicing open the individual figs on a tree in order to release a small wasp which matured in and with the fruit. Once released, the fruit would ripen to maturity. In like manner the intention of God in warning His people is to wound their conscience and bring them to a point of repentance, spiritual healing and maturity. 

Amos conducted his ministry in Bethel, which was where the King of Israel resided and was the hub of Israel’s idolatry. A perfect place for the confrontational nature of a prophet’s ministry.

His words or warnings were not welcomed nor heeded.  

Amos 1:1-15, 

“(1) The words of Amos, who was one of the sheep breeders from Tekoa–what he saw regarding Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.  (2)  He said: 

The LORD roars from Zion and raises His voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the summit of Carmel withers.”  

This was very likely a statement indicating their idolatry since Carmel was where Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal (1Kings 18:19-40) during the time of Jezebel and the reign of her husband Ahab.

That site of victory over idolatry was now withering in death, due largely to God’s judgment over their idolatry.

Now as we begin, God has Amos foretell the judgment of 8 peoples due to their “transgressions” which specifically refers to their rebellion against authority.

In each of these pronouncements and predictions of judgment there is a literary phrase of “three-four” used to introduce each one. We see this in Proverbs 30:18-19 & 29-31. You will no doubt recognize the phrase, in Proverbs, the first of which goes like this, There are three things that are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand” 

This pattern is not limited to 3 & 4, but also 6&7, which appear in Exodus 8:26; Prov. 6:16 & Prov. 17:15. The second of which you will also recognize. It goes like this, “There are six things that the Lord hates, even seven are an abomination to Him.”

So it is with these judgments. The surprising thing is that it is not literal in any way. One expects to find in each case a list of four specific violations, but this only happens in the 8th and final judgment pronounced of Israel itself.

It has been speculated that this pattern is used here to emphasis a point. While God is God over the whole earth, His particular interests rest with His Covenant people. So though He says there are 4 things in each case, His haste to get past the strictly judicial issues of the nations of pagans, He hurries through the list of their infractions to get to the center of His attention and concern which is Israel His special people by covenant.

Also of note here is that the other nations are in a type of sinful rebellion, but it is different from that of Israel. The other nations have sinned against the impressions of their own conscience as stirred by the Holy Spirit and the example set forth by Israel – the only light the world had at that time. Israel however, KNEW the commandments of God and so their sins were two fold. They had sinned against God by rebelling against those Laws He had given them, but they had also sinned against their responsibility to be the light and salt of the earth. Through their disobedience they had taken their light and shoved it under a bushel to borrow a phrase from our Lord. They were salt, which had lost its savor!

This first judgment is over Damascus

Damascus was the capital of Aram with Hazael as its king. He ruled over Syria and Israel at the time.

“(3)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Damascus for three crimes, even four, 

because they threshed Gilead with iron sledges.  (4)  Therefore, I will send fire against Hazael’s palace, and it will consume Ben-hadad’s citadels.  (5)  I will break down the gates of Damascus. I will cut off the ruler from the Valley of Aven, and the one who wields the scepter from Beth-eden. The people of Aram will be exiled to Kir. The LORD has spoken.”  

The second judgment is over Gaza

Gaza which was one of the most prominent of the Philistine cities at that time and was situated on the coast to the west of Israel and Judah. In their past they played party to turning Israel over to the Edomites. About 10-20 years following this prophecy, Gaza fell to the Assyrians’ rule under Tiglath-Pilesar III and Sargon II

“(6)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Gaza for three crimes, even four, 

because they exiled a whole community, handing them over to Edom.  (7)  Therefore, I will send fire against the walls of Gaza, and it will consume its citadels.  (8)  I will cut off the ruler from Ashdod, and the one who wields the scepter from Ashkelon. I will also turn My hand against Ekron, and the remainder of the Philistines will perish. The Lord GOD has spoken.”  

The third group was Tyre

Tyre was a city of Phoenicia in which one of the dominate aspects of their economy was slave trade to which this is possibly referring.

The notes of the New English translation says that, ‘In the ancient Near Eastern world familial terms were sometimes used to describe treaty partners. The partners in a treaty between equals referred to themselves as “brothers.” 

The treaty being referenced here could be one of many. That between David and Hiram of Tyre mentioned in 2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15. Or it could be those between Solomon and Hiram mentioned in 1 Kings 5:15, 26 or the marriage of king Ahab to Jezebel, who was the daughter of the king of Tyre as mentioned in 1 Kings 16:31.

“(9)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Tyre for three crimes, even four, 

because they handed over a whole community of exiles to Edom and broke a treaty of brotherhood.  (10)  Therefore, I will send fire against the walls of Tyre, and it will consume its citadels.”  

The fouth group was Edom

I don’t have to remind  you that Edom were the descendants of Esau and they had held onto a bitterness of heart against their sibling nation Israel since the time of their individual forefathers Jacob and Esau. They had also not allowed Israel to travel through their land for safety in their journey to the Promised Land. 

“(11)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Edom for three crimes, even four, 

because he pursued his brother with the sword. He stifled his compassion, his anger tore at them continually, and he harbored his rage incessantly.  (12)  Therefore, I will send fire against Teman, and it will consume the citadels of Bozrah.”  

The fifth group was Amon

These were the descendants of Lot through Benammi the son born through the incest of one of Lot’s daughters.

In those days there was a sick and barbaric practice of a conquering people in which they literally laid open the pregnant women of their newly subjugated land so as to decrease their numbers and in that way, increase their own by comparison. Evidently this brutal practice had been inflicted upon Gilead which belonged to Israel at the time.

“(13)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing the Ammonites for three crimes, even four, 

because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their territory.  (14)  Therefore, I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah, and it will consume its citadels. There will be shouting on the day of battle and a violent wind on the day of the storm.  (15)  Their king and his princes will go into exile together. The LORD has spoken.”

The sixth group was Moab

Like Amon, the Moabites were the descendants Moab, a son of Lot through through the incest of his other daughter.

God is no respecter of persons. Though He is on record as hating Esau and judging his heirs the Edomites due to their mistreatment of Israel, He also punishes those who wrong them.

Moab was a southern neighbor to Judah and is being judged due to their  cruelty to Edom and her king.

Amos 2:1-16, 

“(1) The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Moab for three crimes, even four, 

because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.  (2)  Therefore, I will send fire against Moab, and it will consume the citadels of Kerioth. Moab will die with a tumult, with shouting and the sound of the ram’s horn.  (3)  I will cut off the judge from the land and kill all its officials with him. The LORD has spoken.”  

The seventh group was Judah

As stated earlier their sin was rebelling against the law of the Lord and thereby misrepresenting the God of their Covenant.

“(4)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Judah for three crimes, even four, 

because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept His statutes. The lies that their ancestors followed have led them astray.  (5)  Therefore, I will send fire against Judah, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.”  

The eighth and final group was Israel

Again, as stated earlier their sin was rebelling against the law of the Lord in perhaps one of the most reprehensible of ways and that is by sinning against their own brothers and thereby misrepresenting the God of their Covenant.

‘(6)  The LORD says: I will not relent from punishing Israel for three crimes, even four, 

because they sell a righteous person for silver and a needy person for a pair of sandals.  (7)  They trample the heads of the poor on the dust of the ground and block the path of the needy. A man and his father have sexual relations with the same girl, profaning My holy name.  (8)  They stretch out beside every altar on garments taken as collateral, and they drink in the house of their God wine obtained through fines.”  

“(9)  Yet I destroyed the Amorite as Israel advanced; his height was like the cedars, and he was as sturdy as the oaks; I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.  (10)  And I brought you from the land of Egypt and led you 40 years in the wilderness in order 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 this not the case, Israelites? This is the LORD’s declaration.  

(12)  But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets: Do not prophesy.  

(13)  Look, I am about to crush you in your place as a wagon full of sheaves crushes grain.  

(14)  Escape will fail the swift, the strong one will not prevail by his strength, and the brave will not save his life.  (15)  The archer will not stand his ground, the one who is swift of foot will not save himself, and the one riding a horse will not save his life.  (16)  Even the most courageous of the warriors will flee naked on that day–the LORD’s declaration.”

Amos 3:1-15, 

“(1) Listen to this message that the LORD has spoken against you, Israelites, against the entire clan that I brought from the land of Egypt:  

(2)  I have known only you out of all the clans of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.  

(3)  Can two walk together without agreeing to meet?  

(4)  Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? 

Does a young lion growl from its lair unless it has captured something?  (5)  Does a bird land in a trap on the ground if there is no bait for it? 

Does a trap spring from the ground when it has caught nothing?  

(6)  If a ram’s horn is blown in a city, aren’t people afraid? 

If a disaster occurs in a city, hasn’t the LORD done it?  

(7)  Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing His counsel to His servants the prophets.”  

Two phrases here which stand out. One because its context is misunderstood and the other for understanding how God operates.

The first phrase of “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” This phrase is often used believing it is talking about how you cannot effectively press forward in a joint endeavor unless you are agreed. This is true, and is in fact what this verse is getting at, but it actually reads, “unless they establish an agreed upon meeting place or time”. If you want to have lunch with a person, two things are paramount – time and location. Without these, such a meeting will prove impossible.

The second phrase is “Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing His counsel to His servants the prophets.” This is quite the statement! God is so in favor of unity and agreement and working together with us, that He will not even take action in the earth without revealing His counsel and intentions to His seers.

“(8) A lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who will not prophesy?  

(9)  Proclaim on the citadels in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt: Assemble on the mountains of Samaria and see the great turmoil in the city and the acts of oppression within it.  (10)  The people are incapable of doing right–the LORD’s declaration–those who store up violence and destruction in their citadels.  

(11)  Therefore, the Lord GOD says: An enemy will surround the land; he will destroy your strongholds and plunder your citadels.  

(12)  The LORD says: As the shepherd snatches two legs or a piece of an ear from the lion’s mouth, so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be rescued with only the corner of a bed or the cushion of a couch.  

(13)  Listen and testify against the house of Jacob–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD, the God of Hosts.  

(14)  I will punish the altars of Bethel on the day I punish Israel for its crimes; the horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.  

(15)  I will demolish the winter house and the summer house; the houses inlaid with ivory will be destroyed, and the great houses will come to an end–the LORD’s declaration.”

Amos 4:1-13, 

“(1) Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who are on the hill of Samaria, women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, who say to their husbands, “Bring us something to drink.”  

(2)  The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: Look, the days are coming when you will be taken away with hooks, every last one of you with fishhooks.  

(3)  You will go through breaches in the wall, each woman straight ahead, and you will be driven along toward Harmon. This is the LORD’s declaration.”  

Regarding this portion I figured it had to do with women who lived in luxury and therefore expected everyone – including their own husbands to serve them, effectively reversing the familial roles established by God from the beginning.

Guzik’s comment supports some of this…

“Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy:” It wasn’t that these women were plump and affluent, it was that they gained their wealth and affluence by oppressing and crushing the less fortunate. God saw this and promised to hold them to account.

“These women may not have been directly involved in mistreating the poor. But their incessant demands for luxuries drove their husbands to greater injustices.” (McComiskey)

Regarding the place “Harmon” mentioned in verse 3, it means castle, but may refer to a specific location which is lost to time.

“(4)  Come to Bethel and rebel; rebel even more at Gilgal! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tenths every three days.  (5)  Offer leavened bread as a thank offering, and loudly proclaim your freewill offerings, for that is what you Israelites love to do! This is the LORD’s declaration.  

(6)  I gave you absolutely nothing to eat in all your cities, a shortage of food in all your communities, yet you did not return to Me–the LORD’s declaration.  

(7)  I also withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. I sent rain on one city but no rain on another. One field received rain while a field with no rain withered.  

(8)  Two or three cities staggered to another city to drink water but were not satisfied, yet you did not return to Me–the LORD’s declaration.  

(9)  I struck you with blight and mildew; the locust devoured your many gardens and vineyards, your fig trees and olive trees, yet you did not return to Me–the LORD’s declaration.  

(10)  I sent plagues like those of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I caused the stench of your camp to fill your nostrils, yet you did not return to Me–the LORD’s declaration.  

(11)  I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick snatched from a fire, yet you did not return to Me–the LORD’s declaration.  

12)  Therefore, Israel, that is what I will do to you, and since I will do that to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God!”  

Here is one Old Testament reference to life after physical death, which the Sadducees missed or overlooked.

“(13)  He is here: the One Who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, the One Who makes the dawn out of darkness and strides on the heights of the earth. 

Yahweh, the God of Hosts, is His name.”

Here again, we see God’s desire to commune with mankind. He reveals His thoughts. Think about what sacred ground we tread upon when the thoughts and intentions of God’s Own heart are revealed to us!

Amos 5:1-27, 

“(1) Listen to this message that I am singing for you, a lament, house of Israel:  

(2)  She has fallen; Virgin Israel will never rise again. She lies abandoned on her land, with no one to raise her up.  

(3)  For the Lord GOD says: The city that marches out a thousand strong will have only a hundred left, and the one that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left in the house of Israel.  

(4)  For the LORD says to the house of Israel: Seek Me and live!  

(5)  Do not seek Bethel or go to Gilgal or journey to Beer-sheba, for Gilgal will certainly go into exile, and Bethel will come to nothing.  

(6)  Seek Yahweh and live, or He will spread like fire throughout the house of Joseph; it will consume everything, with no one at Bethel to extinguish it.  

(7)  Those who turn justice into wormwood throw righteousness to the ground.  

(8)  The One who made the Pleiades and Orion, Who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, Who summons the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth–Yahweh is His name.  

(9)  He brings destruction on the strong, and it falls on the stronghold.  

(10)  They hate the one who convicts the guilty at the city gate and despise the one who speaks with integrity.  

(11)  Therefore, because you trample on the poor and exact a grain tax from him, you will never live in the houses of cut stone you have built; you will never drink the wine from the lush vineyards you have planted.  (12)  For I know your crimes are many and your sins innumerable. They oppress the righteous, take a bribe, and deprive the poor of justice at the gates.  

(13)  Therefore, the wise person will keep silent at such a time, for the days are evil.  

(14)  Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the LORD, the God of Hosts, will be with you, as you have claimed.  

(15)  Hate evil and love good; establish justice in the gate. Perhaps the LORD, the God of Hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.  

(16)  Therefore Yahweh, the God of Hosts, the Lord, says: There will be wailing in all the public squares; they will cry out in anguish in all the streets. 

The farmer will be called on to mourn, and professional mourners to wail.  

(17) There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass among you. The LORD has spoken.  

(18)  Woe to you who long for the Day of the LORD! What will the Day of the LORD be for you? It will be darkness and not light.  (19)  It will be like a man who flees from a lion only to have a bear confront him. He goes home and rests his hand against the wall only to have a snake bite him.  

(20)  Won’t the Day of the LORD be darkness rather than light, even gloom without any brightness in it?  

(21)  I hate, I despise your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies.  (22)  Even if you offer Me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.  

(23)  Take away from Me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  

(24)  But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.  

(25)  “House of Israel, was it sacrifices and grain offerings that you presented to Me during the 40 years in the wilderness?  

(26)  But you have taken up Sakkuth your king and Kaiwan your star god, images you have made for yourselves.  

(27)  So I will send you into exile beyond Damascus.” Yahweh, the God of Hosts, is His name. He has spoken.”

God here speaks as would a wounded lover. Who among us would welcome words of devotion and advances of intimacy from a mate who has been repeatedly unfaithful. Their actions would be bitterness to our souls and we would not find any joy in them but rather grief.

Amos 6:1-14, 

“(1) Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure on the hill of Samaria–the notable people in this first of the nations, those the house of Israel comes to.  

(2)  Cross over to Calneh [in Assyria] and see; go from there to great Hamath; then go down to Gath of the Philistines

Are you better than these kingdoms? 

Is their territory larger than yours?  

(3)  You dismiss any thought of the evil day and bring in a reign of violence.  

(4)  They lie on beds inlaid with ivory, sprawled out on their couches, and dine on lambs from the flock and calves from the stall.  (5)  They improvise songs to the sound of the harp and invent their own musical instruments like David.  

(6)  They drink wine by the bowlful and anoint themselves with the finest oils but do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.  

(7)  Therefore, they will now go into exile as the first of the captives, and the feasting of those who sprawl out will come to an end.  

(8)  The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself–the declaration of Yahweh, the God of Hosts: I loathe Jacob’s pride and hate his citadels, so I will hand over the city and everything in it.  (9)  And if there are 10 men left in one house, they will die.  

(10)  A close relative and a burner, will remove his corpse from the house. 

He will call to someone in the inner recesses of the house, “Any more with you?” 

That person will reply, “None.” 

Then he will say, “Silence, because Yahweh’s name must not be invoked.”  

(11)  For the LORD commands: The large house will be smashed to pieces, and the small house to rubble.  

(12)  Do horses run on rock, or does someone plow it with oxen? 

Yet you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood–  (13)  you who rejoice over Lo-debar and say, 

“Didn’t we capture Karnaim for ourselves by our own strength?”  

According to the New English translation’s commentary notes:

Lo-Debar was located across the Jordan River in Gilead, which the Israelite army had conquered. However, there is stinging irony here, for in Hebrew the name Lo-Debar means “nothing.” In reality Israel was happy over nothing of lasting consequence.

 Karnaim was also located across the Jordan River. The name in Hebrew means “double horned.” Since an animal’s horn was a symbol of strength (Deut. 33:17), the Israelites boasted in this victory over a town whose very name symbolized military power.

“(14)  But look, I am raising up a nation against you, house of Israel–this is the declaration of the Lord, the GOD of Hosts–and they will oppress you from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of the Arabah.”

The following is an example of the Lord doing nothing until He first reveals His counsel to His prophets.

This is very reminiscent of Abraham to whom God revealed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, a quote from that passage in Genesis reveals a similar exchange.

Genesis 18:16-26, “(16) When the men got up to leave, they looked out over Sodom. (Now Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.)  (17)  Then the LORD said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?  (18)  After all, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth may receive blessing through him.  (19)  I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Then the LORD will give to Abraham what he promised him.”  (20)  So the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant  (21)  that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. If not, I want to know.”  (22)  The two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the LORD.  (23)  Abraham approached and said, “Will you really sweep away the godly along with the wicked?  (24)  What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it?  (25)  Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?”  (26)  So the LORD replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Amos 7:1-17, 

“(1) The Lord GOD showed me this: He was forming a swarm of locusts at the time the spring crop first began to sprout–after the cutting of the king’s hay.  

(2)  When the locusts finished eating the vegetation of the land, I said, “Lord GOD, please forgive! How will Jacob survive since he is so small?”  

(3)  The LORD relented concerning this. “It will not happen,” He said.  

(4)  The Lord GOD showed me this: The Lord GOD was calling for a judgment by fire. It consumed the great deep and devoured the land.  

(5)  Then I said, “Lord GOD, please stop! How will Jacob survive since he is so small?”  

(6)  The LORD relented concerning this. “This will not happen either,” said the Lord GOD.  

(7)  He showed me this: The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.  

(8)  The LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” 

I replied, “A plumb line.” 

Then the Lord said, “I am setting a plumb line among My people Israel; I will no longer spare them:  (9)  Isaac’s high places will be deserted, and Israel’s sanctuaries will be in ruins; I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.” 

(10)  Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, 

Amos has conspired against you right here in the house of Israel. The land cannot endure all his words,  (11)  for Amos has said this: ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will certainly go into exile from its homeland.'”  

(12)  Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go away, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. Earn your living and give your prophecies there,  (13)  but don’t ever prophesy at Bethel again, for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”  

This is an example of one of the reasons why God was bringing judgment. Earlier in Amos 2:12 it said, “But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets: Do not prophesy.”  

“(14)  So Amos answered Amaziah, “I was not a prophet or the son of a prophet; rather, I was a herdsman, and I took care of sycamore figs.  (15)  But the LORD took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.'”  

(16)  Now hear the word of the LORD. You say: Do not prophesy against Israel; do not preach against the house of Isaac.  

(17)  Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Your wife will be a prostitute in the city, your sons and daughters will fall by the sword, and your land will be divided up with a measuring line. You yourself will die on pagan soil, and Israel will certainly go into exile from its homeland.”

Amos 8:1-14, 

“(1) The Lord GOD showed me this: A basket of summer fruit.  

(2)  He asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” 

I replied, “A basket of summer fruit.” 

The LORD said to me, “The end has come for My people Israel; I will no longer spare them.  

(3)  In that day the temple songs will become wailing”–the Lord GOD’s declaration. 

“Many dead bodies, thrown everywhere! Silence!”  

(4)  Hear this, you who trample on the needy and do away with the poor of the land,  (5)  asking, “When will the New Moon be over so we may sell grain, and the Sabbath, so we may market wheat? We can reduce the measure while increasing the price and cheat with dishonest scales.  

(6)  We can buy the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and even sell the wheat husks!”  

(7)  The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: I will never forget all their deeds.  (8)  Because of this, won’t the land quake and all who dwell in it mourn? All of it will rise like the Nile; it will surge and then subside like the Nile in Egypt.  (9)  And in that day–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–I will make the sun go down at noon; I will darken the land in the daytime.  (10)  I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will cause everyone to wear sackcloth and every head to be shaved. I will make that grief like mourning for an only son and its outcome like a bitter day.  

(11)  Hear this! The days are coming–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  

(12)  People will stagger from sea to sea and roam from north to east, seeking the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.  

(13)  In that day the beautiful young women, the young men also, will faint from thirst.  (14)  Those who swear by the guilt of Samaria and say, “As your god lives, Dan,” or “As the way of Beer-sheba lives”–they will fall, never to rise again.”

This is the worst type of famine imaginable. Without the voice and words of our God, life becomes a desert and our souls a crypt. We have to have His words spoken into our ears…into our hearts to live.

God had already taught Israel this truth early on in their journey with Him. it is found in Deut. 8:3, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” 

This passage always reminds me of a Michael Card song called ‘So many books’. I will provide a link to the song on the website, but I may be able to play it here for you on Zoom.

*** So many books ***

There is a hunger, a longing for bread

And so comes the call for the poor to be fed

More hungry by far are a billion and more

Who wait for the Bread of the Word of the Lord

So many books, so little time, so many hunger, so many blind

Starving for words, they must wait in the night

To open a Bible and move towards the Light

There’ll come a time, the prophets would say

When the joy of mankind will be withered away

A want not for water, but a hunger for more

A famine for hearing the Word of the Lord

So many books, so little time, so many hunger, so many blind

Starving for words, they must wait in the night

To open a Bible and move towards the Light

Open a Bible and move towards the Light

The Word won’t go out, except it return

Full, over flowing and so we must learn

So many books, so little time, so many hunger, so many blind

Starving for words, they must wait in the night

To open a Bible and move towards the Light

Open a Bible and move towards the Light

Open a Bible and move towards the Light

Regarding judgment for God’s people He never makes a complete end of them. He judges them with the might and authority of an arbiter, He chastises them with the strong arm of a Father but only to redeem their hearts from pride and folly that He might be kind to them again.

Nearly every judgment regarding Israel in the Old Testament has foreshadows of the Millennial reign where Israel will dwell in their land in prosperity and safety.

Amos 9:1-15, 

“(1) I saw the LORD standing beside the altar, and He said: 

Strike the capitals of the pillars so that the thresholds shake; knock them down on the heads of all the people. Then I will kill the rest of them with the sword. None of those who flee will get away; none of their fugitives will escape.  

(2)  If they dig down to Sheol, from there My hand will take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down.  (3)  If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will track them down and seize them; if they conceal themselves from My sight on the sea floor, from there I will command the sea serpent to bite them.  (4)  And if they are driven by their enemies into captivity, from there I will command the sword to kill them. 

I will fix My eyes on them for harm and not for good.  

(5)  The Lord, the GOD of Hosts–He touches the earth; it melts, and all who dwell on it mourn; all of it rises like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt.  

(6)  He builds His upper chambers in the heavens and lays the foundation of His vault on the earth. He summons the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth. Yahweh is His name.  

(7)  Israelites, are you not like the Cushites to Me? This is the LORD’s declaration. 

Didn’t I bring Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Arameans from Kir?  

(8)  Look, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth. However, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob–the LORD’s declaration–  (9)  for I am about to give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations, as one shakes a sieve, but not a pebble will fall to the ground.  

(10)  All the sinners among My people, who say: Disaster will never overtake or confront us, will die by the sword.  

(11)  In that day I will restore the fallen booth of David: I will repair its gaps, restore its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old,  (12)  so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that are called by My name–this is the LORD’s declaration–He will do this.  

(13)  Hear this! The days are coming–the LORD’s declaration–when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the one who treads grapes, the sower of seed. The mountains will drip with sweet wine, and all the hills will flow with it.  

(14)  I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel. They will rebuild and occupy ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink their wine, make gardens and eat their produce.  

(15)  I will plant them on their land, and they will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them. Yahweh your God has spoken.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!