Today we will investigate the intercession of the prophet Amos. His name means to “lift a burden, to carry.” He was thus a “Burden Bearer.” The Apostle Paul reminds us to be like Amos and so fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

If you recall, Amos was a sheep breeder minding his own business until the Lord moved upon him to prophecy to Israel. Amos concluded, “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy” (Amos 3:6-8)? His soul came alive with these truths and he obeyed the Lord.

Amos grew up in a nation similar to ours. Israel on the outside seemed prosperous, but on the inside greed, corruption, immorality, and injustice flourished. Israel’s flesh prospered and was pampered, but their souls had become lean.

The true devotion to God had become a mere formality. No surprise then when Amos denounced Israel’s worship, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:21-14).

Yes, they were still going through their religious ceremonies and drawing near to God with their lips, songs, and musical instruments, but their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:8).

This produced a false sense of security and nationalistic pride. Israel fell into this delusional mind set, time and again, throughout their stormy history with God. Many times, God used the prophets to remind them that they were not free to “shed innocent blood… steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations” (Jeremiah 7:3-11)?

When God rebuked, called for repentance and the acknowledgement of the truth, Israel relied on sinking sand. They would cry, “The temple of the Lord,” or pulled out the “We are Abraham’s children” card to ignore God’s warnings (Matthew 3:9; John 8:39-44).

Even in our Lord’s time when He dealt with Israel and her religious leaders, He declared, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27, 28).

Israel in Amos’ time had become a basket of rotting fruit that was ripe for God’s judgment. Hypocrisy, spiritual indolence and moral indifference ruled, and Israel would soon rue the day. They were facing famine, drought, plagues, death, and destruction and in their religious pride, they refused to bend their knee and repent. Amos in response to their defiance and refusal to return to the Lord declared, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12)! How many sober-minded Christians think America is prepared for this meeting today?

At first, Amos sets his sights on the pagan nations surrounding Israel. He called out their many transgressions and then pronounced the Lord’s penalty upon them. For those who think that Biblical theocracy, which means “God rules,” was just confined to Israel, how does that square as God warns other nations of His impending judgments?

These were not God’s covenant, chosen people. Yet, God warned them of His divine sanctions? What was the standard for His righteous judgment? It was the same standard by which He judged Israel, His Law/Word! Jesus reaffirmed this standard in the New Testament, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4)

Jesus did not just say Christians are to live by God’s Word. No, all men, the entire human race is to live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). If this is not true, God has no business sending anyone to hell for disobeying His Word (John 12:48).

There is one special denunciation as Amos deals with other tribes and nations, however, that I want to call to your attention. It relates directly to America today. When Amos confronted Ammon, he declared, “For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their territory” (Amos 1:13).

It was the tribes of Ammon and Moab that first introduced to our fallen world the idolatrous practice of child sacrifice and the shedding of innocent blood. Apparently, they were still steeped in their pagan ways and spread it abroad. They tore open women’s bellies and murdered their children in the hopes their territories would be expanded. How many Americans have followed in their pernicious ways and practiced the lie of Moloch, Baal, and Ashtoreth? “Give the child to me and all will be well with you!”

I would also be remiss at this juncture, if I neglected his reprimand against the women of Samaria. He called them, “The cows of Bashan.” They were a part of the feminist movement back in the day. Amos describes these women in this manner, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink” (Amos 4:1).

One could only imagine what Amos would call the feminists in our nation who demand women have the “right” to devour their own offspring, who promote homosexuality, the breakdown of the family, and goddess worship? Somehow, one would think what he said about “the cows” in his day would be considered tame as he witnessed the behavior of the “bulls” of Bashan in our day.

Amos proceeded to deal with Judah and Israel. It was clear God’s people despised His covenant and were content to violate His Word repeatedly. Their unbelief and disobedience determined their godless actions. This led to God showing Amos visions of His looming judgments coming upon Israel. Though Amos was obedient to declare God’s warnings, he also interceding on their behalf.

Twice he prayed. First, “O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small” (Amos 7:2)! Second, “O Lord GOD, cease, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small” (Amos 7:5)! The Lord initially relented and then declared that He would establish a plumb line by which he would judge Israel and desolations were determined (Amos 7:9).

The truth is that same plumb line exists today for all men and nations. Nations can cross serious lines with God, which result in serious consequences coming upon them. One would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to see this Biblical reality coming to pass in our day. Perhaps, it would be wise to cry out to God like Amos and beseech the Lord to remember mercy in the midst of His judgments.

Praise God that the book of Amos ends with a promise of restoration (Amos 9). While that should give some measure of hope, it remains to be seen what will become of our nation in the short term. We certainly deserve severe judgments for the abominations we have committed before a holy God.

No doubt, this Covid-19 has shaken our nation and this world to its core. Thankfully, God’s Word has something to reveal about this phenomenon:

“Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:26-29).

The prophet Haggai taking up this theme in the Old Testament declared the shaking of all things in heaven and on earth is for two godly purposes. It is so all men and nations would finally come to the Desire of all nations and God’s temple will be filled with His glory (Haggai 2:7).

Notice the word “desire” is capitalized. This speaks of Christ, the Messiah, and the Gospel of His Kingdom. The world may not know it now, but one day through tremendous shaking, their desires are going to radically change. They will experience what their hearts truly need and desire, which is salvation of the Lord our God.

Though nobody can determine the immediate fate of America and the world when it comes to Covid-19, we can know long term that God is going somewhere will all of this. He is going to shake this world till all that remains is His Kingdom, which is the Desire of all nations.

Be vigilant and keep pressing on saints to the high call and prize in Jesus’ name!