What does it say?
As already noted, this was a time in both Israel and Judah of relative prosperity, comfort and political stability. Amos 6 points out that affluence and comfortable living tend to produce a false security and isolate people from the real issues of life.
Amos 7 uses the image of a plumb line to say that Israel has fallen far short of God’s standard of truth. Disturbed by Amos’ frank prophecy, the priest Amaziah confronts this upstart lay prophet. Amos is not intimidated by this attack and predicts that Amaziah will die in exile and that the invading army will abuse his wife, kill his children and take his land. Chapter 8 continues this theme of how the abundance of prosperity will be cast down in defeat.
The prophecy of Amos ends with hope, predicting that a remnant will be preserved and return to both the land and the fulfillment of God’s mission. Israel’s sin would be judged as those of any other nation, but God plan of blessing them to be a blessing to the nations, though delayed, will not fail.
What does it mean?
Many of us live in abundance, and Amos’ words of warning directly apply to us as well. Prosperity is a constant temptation to take it easy and forget God’s mission. Other themes from Amos’ prophecy are also applicable. The vision of the plumb line in chapter 7 is a solid definition of sin – falling short of God’s standard (1John 3:4). The prediction of a famine in Amos 8 is also relevant for us. This is not a prediction of a physical famine, nor a shortage of scripture, but a famine of hearing God’s words. Paul’s definition of faith as coming from hearing God’s word applies (Romans 10:17). Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2Timothy 4:3 should also give us pause for thought.
The fact that Amos ends his prophecy with hope is another consistent theme of scripture. As long as we submit to God and his purposes, we have nothing to fear. Suffering may come, but God’s plan will be realized in us with the promise of eternal life and restoration to come.
How will I respond?
How does affluence affect my ability to engage in God’s mission? What step can I take today to renew my commitment to God’s global mission?