Amos Chapter Nine
The ruin of Israel. (1-10) The restoration of the Jews and the gospel blessing. (11-15)
Commentary on Amos 9:1-10
The prophet, in vision, saw the Lord standing upon the idolatrous altar at Bethel. Wherever sinners flee from God's justice, it will overtake them. Those whom God brings to heaven by his grace, shall never be cast down; but those who seek to climb thither by vain confidence in themselves, will be cast down and filled with shame. That which makes escape impossible and ruin sure, is, that God will set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good. Wretched must those be on whom the Lord looks for evil, and not for good. The Lord would scatter the Jews, and visit them with calamities, as the corn is shaken in a sieve; but he would save some from among them. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, seems here foretold. If professors make themselves like the world, God will level them with the world. The sinners who thus flatter themselves, shall find that their profession will not protect them.
Commentary on Amos 9:11-15
Christ died to gather together the children of God that were scattered abroad, here said to be those who were called by his name. The Lord saith this, who doeth this, who can do it, who has determined to do it, the power of whose grace is engaged for doing it. Verses 13-15 may refer to the early times of Christianity, but will receive a more glorious fulfilment in the events which all the prophets more or less foretold, and may be understood of the happy state when the fulness both of the Jews and the Gentiles come into the church. Let us continue earnest in prayer for the fulfilment of these prophecies, in the peace, purity, and the beauty of the church. God marvellously preserves his elect amidst the most fearful confusions and miseries. When all seems desperate, he wonderfully revives his church, and blesses her with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And great shall be the glory of that period, in which not one good thing promised shall remain unfulfilled.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Amos》
 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.
The altar — Of burnt-offering before the temple at Jerusalem, this altar and temple Israel had forsaken, and set up others against it; and here God in his jealousy appears prepared to take vengeance. Possibly it may intimate his future departure from Judah too. There Ezekiel, Ezekiel 9:2, saw the slaughter-men stand.
The door — The door of the gate that led into the priests court.
And cut them — Wound deep, the people who were visionally represented as standing in the court of the temple.
 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
Hell — The center of the earth, or the depth of hell.
 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:
The serpent — The crocodile or shark.
 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
Set my eyes — I will perpetually watch over them.
 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.
Toucheth — He needs not take great pains therein, a touch of his finger will do this.
Shall melt — As snow before the sun.
 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.
His stories — The celestial orbs one over another, as so many stories in an high and stately palace. And he hath founded his troop in the earth: all the creatures, which are one army, one body; so closely are they connected, and so harmoniously do they all act for the accomplishing of their creator's purposes.
Calleth for the waters — Either in judgment to drown, or in mercy to give rain.
 Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
The Arabians — A wild, thievish, and servile nation.
Have not I brought — And whereas you boast my kindness to you, bringing you out of Egypt, and thereupon conclude, God cannot leave you whom he hath so redeemed; you argue amiss, for this aggravates your sin.
From Kir — Conquered by some potent enemies, and sent away to Kir, a country of Media, yet at last delivered. Should these nations, argue themselves to be out of danger of divine justice, because I had done this for them.
 Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.
The sinful kingdom — Every sinful kingdom.
 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
The least grain — Though tumbled and tossed with the great violence, yet the smallest, good grain, shall not be lost or destroyed.
 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
All the sinners — The great, notorious sinners.
The evil — Is far off, we shall die first, and be safe in the grave.
 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
In that day — In the set time which I have fixt.
Raise up — Bring back out of captivity, and re-establish in their own land, the house of David, and those that adhere to his family.
Fallen — By the revolt of the ten tribes.
The breaches — Which are in it by that long division.
 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
They — Literally the Jews.
Possess — Both the lands of Edom, and some of the posterity of Edom; these as servants, the other as their propriety.
The remnant — Left by Nebuchadnezzar.
All the heathen — That is, round about.
That doth this — But this is also a prophecy of setting up the kingdom of the Messiah, and bringing in the Gentiles.
 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
Behold the days come — Here is another promise literally of abundant plenty to the returned captives, and mystically of abundant grace poured forth in gospel-days.
The plowman — Who breaks up the ground, and prepares it for sowing, shall be ready to tread on the heels of the reaper who shall have a harvest so large, that before he can gather it all in, it shall be time to plow the ground again.
The treader of grapes — So great shall their vintage be that e'er the treaders of grapes can have finished their work, the seeds-man shall be sowing his seed against the next season.
Shall drop — The vineyards shall be so fruitful, and new wine so plentiful as if it ran down from the mountains.
Shall melt — Or, as if whole hills were melted into such liquors. If any object, it never was so: I answer, the sins of the returned captives prevented these blessings, which are promised under a tacit condition.
 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
Pulled up — On condition that they seek the Lord. This was on God's part with admirable constancy performed through six hundred years, perhaps the longest time of freedom from captivity they ever knew.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Amos》
09 Chapter 9
I saw the Lord standing upon the altar.
The Lord arising to judgment in His Church
God will no longer tolerate sin, nor allow sinners to trifle with His majesty.
I. Dwelling-place of The Most High--His Church.
2. High privilege to have Him so nigh (Deuteronomy 4:7).
3. Continuous realisation of His presence by Israel (Exodus 40:38).
4. Peculiar abiding-place in Holy of Holies (Exodus 25:20-22).
5. And afterwards incarnate in the Holy One (John 1:14).
6. Future tabernacling (Revelation 21:3).
But in text God is still in temple.
II. His presence in the church realised.
1. Always by a spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14).
III. The Lord come out of his abiding-place. No longer “dwelling between the cherubim” (Psalms 80:1), but “ standing upon the altar “ (unusual place), near the worshippers, ready to depart.
IV. The Lord uttering his judgments against sin.
1. Spared not His own Son, “made sin” (Zechariah 13:7).
3. Note remarkable parallelisms.
4. Observe the many “I wills” of judgment and power.
5. Yet “remembering His mercy.” A remnant to be saved.
1. Ministerial duty.
2. If the Lord be among us, is His presence honoured?
3. Our acknowledgments. (W. W. Tyler.)
Great sins, great calamities, great efforts
“This chapter commences with an account of the fifth and last vision of the prophet, in which the final ruin of the kingdom of Israel is represented. This ruin was to be complete and irreparable; and no quarter to which “the inhabitants might flee for refuge would afford them any shelter from the wrath of the Omnipresent and Almighty Jehovah.” The prophet in vision sees the Almighty standing upon the altar, and hears Him give the command to smite the lintel of the temple door, that the posts may shake; in other words, to destroy the temple.
I. That under the righteous government of God great sin exposes to great calamity. How terrible the calamities here referred to! The Israelites, when threatened by the Assyrians, would flock in crowds to Bethel and implore protection from the golden calf. But the very place where they sought protection would prove their ruin. Jehovah says, “Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword,” etc. The sin of these Israelites in their idolatrous worship was great. They were the descendants of Abraham the friend of God. Yet they gave themselves up to idolatry. Hence these terrible calamities. The greater the sin the greater the punishment “Unto whom much is given, much will be required.”
II. The consciousness of approaching calamities will stimulate to great efforts for escape. “Though they dig into hell, thence shall Mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” There are here supposed attempts at escape. There is the supposed attempt to get into hell--Sheol, the dark realm of shadows, where they could conceal themselves. There is an attempt to climb Mount Carmel, 1200 feet in height, there to conceal themselves under the shadows, intricacies, and the crowded forests of oaks, pines, laurels, etc., and also in the deep caves running down to the sea. Men in view of great dangers always seek refuge. On the great day of retribution sinners are represented as crying to the rocks and mountains to fall on them.
III. The greatest efforts to escape must prove utterly futile when God has given the sinner up. “Though they dig into hell, thence shall Mine hand take them.” Whatever the efforts of the sinner in the prospect of approaching danger, there is no escape for him. God is everywhere, and everywhere all-seeing, all just, and almighty. Conclusion. The only way to escape utter ruin is to renounce your sin and commit yourself unto the safe keeping of Him who is the Redeemer of mankind. (Homilist.)
Though they dig into hell, thence shall Mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.
The danger of impenitence
In this passage God manifests His determination to arrest and punish the worker of iniquity. The prophet shows that when God came forth in judgment, none would be able to stand before Him, or escape from His vengeance. This subject is enlarged upon, as a warning to those who profane the ordinances and violate the laws of the Most High, to stand in awe, lest the Divine indignation be poured out upon them. These things have, however, very little influence on us. Many seem to believe, because sentence against their evil deeds has not been executed speedily, that it will never be executed.
I. Some of the reasons why many entertain this belief.
1. Their success upon former occasions. When sinners first deviate into the paths of error, they experience many uneasy feelings. But when the lusts of the flesh have prevailed over other considerations, they try to persuade themselves that their former fears were in great measure imaginary. Sometimes men are checked at the very outset. They are detected and exposed. There is interposition of providence in their favour. When enticed to the commission of sin, the recollection of the check he formerly received will occur fresh to his memory, and deter him from the paths wherein destroyers go.
2. The successful example of other men. Frequently we see men rising to opulence and power by the most unjustifiable means. We see the wicked living in triumph, and dying in apparent Peace. When such is frequently the prosperity of the wicked, others are enticed to follow their example. They are induced to forsake the path of duty, and engage in pursuits that are dangerous to happiness. Could we discern the thoughts of wicked men when their conscience condemned them for their wickedness, we should perceive them frequently endeavouring to stifle their convictions and banish their fears, by appealing to Persons who had succeeded, or were at that time successful, in the same evil courses as those upon which they had entered.
3. They think they can repent whenever they see danger approaching. So great is the propensity of men to sin, that no motives, no considerations can prevent them from going on in their wicked practices. But at the same time they have such an aversion to suffering, that when they sin, they always wish to do so with security and with safety. And they generally contrive to persuade themselves that, in their case at least, this object may be attained. Among the many false reasonings which they employ for this purpose, there is none more successful than that which is founded on an after repentance. Many think that, after having drunk the cup of sinful pleasures to the dregs, all they have to do is to profess themselves sorry, and cast themselves upon the mercy of God. This, they think, whatever their present conduct may be, will set all things right at last. Repentance is not such an easy work as many people imagine. We cannot repent at whatever moment we may wish to do so. Alas! many, relying upon future repentance, neglect and abuse their present mercies.
II. It is impossible for wicked men to escape the just judgments of God. This world is not a state of complete retribution, yet the Most High does rule among the children of men. He has connected with holiness a portion of happiness, and with sin a portion of misery. Whatever happiness wicked men may pretend to, still happiness is a state of mind to which they can have no claim. They cannot possibly be really happy. Wicked men may evade the vigilance of human laws, but they are still amenable to their own consciences. And sometimes wicked men are punished more immediately by the hand of God Himself; as were Ananias and Sapphira. Then there is death, which is not the extinction of being. After death there is a judgment to come, which will seal the doom of every human being. (John Mamsay, M. A.)
No escape for the sinner
Though they dig into hell, or though they undermine our kingdom with vaults and cellarage, their impious labour shall come to nothing but to their own utter shame.
1. Here is the negotiation of the wicked, that they dig: there wants no pains, there wants no secrecy.
2. Here is the object of their employment, and that is hell.
3. There is a twofold end implied, why they undertake such a business, either for their own refuge, or to undermine others.
4. Here is the defeating and frustrating of their work. To what toil iniquity puts men to. They dig and labour. To what secrecy, to what dread of conscience. They dig into hell. How unprofitable is the event. For when all is done, they are apprehended by the hand of God. (Bishop Hackett.)
The impossibility of the sinner’s escape
If we consider man in reference to God, we see in him a strange compound of hardihood and cowardice. When Divine judgments are remote, he not only deems himself secure, but bids defiance to Omnipotence itself. But when they actually come, he trembles like a leaf shaken by the wind.
I. The means by which men seek to hide themselves from God. Some of the expressions used indicate fear; others, presumption. Men will try and persuade themselves that God is too great to notice the insignificant doings of creatures like ourselves. Another subterfuge is, that as sinners they have numbers on their side. But if numbers do anything, it is only to enhance the doom. Men have great confidence in their own virtues, however little conformity there may be in their conduct to the Spirit of God and the commands of God.
II. The vanity of all attempts of sinners to hide themselves from God. Who can flee from the presence of such a Being? Where is the region which His all-penetrating gaze does not pervade? None has ever hardened himself against God and prospered; sin has ever had the seed of punishment along with it, and given beforehand some earnest of its bitter wages. Be assured nothing can screen you from the wrath of heaven, nothing give you composure in this world of afflictions and trials, but “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Stephen Bridge, A.M.)
The Lord God is He that toucheth the land, and it shall melt.
God as the administrator of justice
I. He does it with the greatest ease. The Almighty has no difficulty. Never can there be any miscarriage of justice with God. He bears it right home in every case.
II. He does it with all the powers of nature at His command. His throne is on high, above all the forms and forces of the universe, and all are at His call.
III. He does it disregardful of mere religious profession. Jehovah here repels the idea which the Israelites were so prone to entertain, that because He had brought them out of Egypt and given them the land of Canaan they were peculiarly the objects of His regard, and could never be subdued or destroyed. He now regarded and would treat them as the Cushites, who had been transplanted from their primal location in Arabia into the midst of the barbarous nations of Africa. The Almighty, in administering justice, is not influenced by the plea of profession. A corrupt Israelite to Him was as bad as an Ethiopian, though he calls Abraham his father.
IV. He does it with a thorough discrimination of character. “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord.” There were some good people amongst the Israelites, men of genuine goodness; the Great Judge would not destroy them. “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve,” etc. He would burn up the chaff but save the wheat. (Homilist.)
Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto Me, O children of Israel?
Sin dissolving the union between God and His people
1. These verses strike at the root of all Israel’s fancied security. They were the people of God, whom He had brought from Egypt and planted in Canaan, whose whole life had been passed under His peculiar guardian care. They thought that God would never execute final judgment on them, because He had so often spared them and blessed them. But sin dissolved this union at last.
2. The reason why this union was dissolved is given in the following verse. They are the “sinful kingdom.” God’s purpose had failed. No union between God and man can stand in the presence of sin--repeated and unrepented sin.
3. The effect of this separation between God and His people. They were destroyed off the face of the earth; every sinner perished by the sword.
And the Syrians from Kir.
Migrations from Kir
The most competent authorities teach us to conceive of successive waves of population issuing from the mountainous country near the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris, to which the narrative of Genesis points as the cradle of the human race, and to which the Mosaic accounts of the Deluge bring us back as the centre from which the children of Noah went forth again to people the earth. Of all the migrations from the land of Kir, to the regions that lay south-west of it, that which is of the greatest importance in the history of man, is undoubtedly the one which the Bible connects with the name of Terah. But this was so far from being the first of the movements in this direction, that it is much more likely to have been the last. The anthropomorphic language Of the Mosaic record is certainly not intended to hinder us from the quest of second causes for the change of abode, which it ascribes to the direct command of Deity. It was probably partly in consequence of the barrenness of the upper valley of the Euphrates, that rendered it little fitted for the home of a pastoral tribe; partly from the establishment of a powerful non-Semitic empire upon the banks of the Tigris, leading, according to an old tradition, which may be accepted in its general meaning, even if its details bear the stamp of later invention, to the persecution of those who clung to the purer faith, that the family of Abraham found its way into the more fertile and peaceful land of Canaan. But the same causes which had urged him on we may believe to have been powerful with kindred tribes. All evidence that we have confirms the supposition that, long before the days of Abraham, Semitic tribes had pressed along the path by which the Divine guidance was to lead him, to the land that should afterwards be possessed by his descendants, as the sand that is by the seashore for multitude. (A. S. Wilkins, M. A.)
I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall net the least grain fall upon the earth.
The winnowing of corn was effected in various ways. Sometimes by the mere operation of the wind blowing through the barns where it was thrashed,--when the worthless chaff was separated and dispersed. Which similitude well expressed the character and condition of the ungodly, who are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. As the action of the wind is very uncertain, the shovel was early used by agriculturists. The sieve and fan were, however, very soon invented and brought into use. Now, machines save much manual toil, and speedily and more effectually, answer the end proposed. The security of the true grain, amidst the winnowings to which in Divine wisdom it is exposed, is affirmed in our text.
I. They that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. Never can we be sufficiently grateful for the quiet and toleration we enjoy in this favoured island. Yet a degree of persecution winnows the Church at the present day. The finger of reproach is still pointed against the youthful convert, etc.
II. Severe temptations winnow characters. Temptations are as various as our circumstances, ages, or peculiar situations in life. It may be some time before the particular trial, well adapted to reach our case, may occur. Poverty has proved a snare to many; prosperity to more. There are temptations which chiefly affect the mind.
III. Adverse occurrences may be considered as the sieve by which Israel is sifted. Personal adversity tries the character. Relative afflictions winnow our families. The Church has her winnowing times. At the period of death, the last and greatest extremity, the character is sifted as corn is sifted in a sieve. But the Lord commands His loving-kindness in the day of our trial, and in the night is our song to the God of our life. In conclusion, take a retrospect of all the way which the Lord our God has lcd us these many years in the wilderness. Various haw, been the sifting occurrences of our lives. Anticipate the period when we shall be finally sifted, and separated alike from the husks of our own imperfections and frailties, and the chaff of all carnal and ungodly associations. (W. Clayton.)
I will sift the house of Israel.
I. It is a Divine sifting. The Oriental mode of sifting illustrates the Divine method.
1. The primary reference is to the Jews.
2. Then to the Church of God as a whole.
3. Also to individual members of the Church.
II. The manner of sifting. “As corn is sifted.”
1. The sifting suggests a mixed condition of character and condition. The mixed condition of things in the Church of God necessitates a sifting process. And the mixed experience of individuals necessitates various Divine siftings. Happy would a Church, family, or individual be, if it could be said to be altogether wholesome grain and pure.
2. The sifting of corn must be done prudently and patiently. Some grains require a finer sieve than others.
3. Sifting discriminates between chaff and corn. It does not create either chaff or corn, but makes each manifest. So all deceits and mere appearances are exposed by God’s siftings. There is no such thing as permanent concealment of character in the moral world.
4. The sifting is thorough. There is an individual discrimination as well as a Church sifting. Each grain is severely subjected to this sifting.
III. The means whereby the divine sifter sifts the house of Israel.
1. By the manifold changeful experiences of life.
2. A faithful ministry is a Divine sieve by which the great Husbandman sifts the grain.
3. Temptations of the devil.
IV. The design of the divine siftings of life. There is then a call to submission, gratitude, patience, hopefulness, and searching inquiry. (Anon.)
This prophecy is originally applicable to the long-afflicted seed of Israel. And how terribly has it been fulfilled. Apply to the spiritual Israel. Two things to remember--the sifting and the saving.
I. the sifting. God has ordained that this side Jordan there shall be no rest for His people as to their outward circumstances. As long as the wheat lies on the threshing-floor the flail must be kept in motion. The Church of God since its institution has never been perfectly pure. The Church has shared in the imperfection of everything else that is human. Then, wheresoever and whensoever God has a Church, it is sure to be in the sieve. Take this fact in reference to the Church at large. Illustrate from the history of the persecutions of the Christian Church. Other sieves besides persecution have been used. There is the sieve of heresy. The uprising of new infidelities acts as a test to the Church. At divers times the public mind exhibits a strong tendency towards unbelief. One wave rolls up black with superstition, and the next is pale with infidelity. The mind of man oscillates like a pendulum between believing a lie and believing nothing. Another sieve is that of providential examination by public opinion and sense of justice. You must never expect that any professing Church of God will be for a long time flourishing if it abide exactly in the same state. Whenever our Churches run for years in the same rut, little good is done. We must expect often to hear that the ship of Christ’s Church is in a storm. Purification will be the result of agitation. Certain sieves in which you and I shall be.
1. The preaching of the Word. Wherever the Gospel is faithfully preached, it acts as a discerner of spirits.
2. Temptation. The daily temptations of the shop, the house, the field, the street, yea, even the Church of God, are the discoverers of sincerity, the detectives of delusion, the exposers of hypocrisy, and the beacons of wisdom.
3. The trials of life. There are temptations in prosperity. That is a sieve which few men can pass. Few men can endure long-continued, undisturbed prosperity. Capuau holidays ruined Hannibal’s troops. Adversity acts in the same sifting manner.
4. Inward conflicts. There are times with us when everything in us is salted with fire.
5. The hour of death has often served as a touchstone by which formality has been revealed.
6. And what a test the day of judgment will be!
II. The saving. A few comfortable words. Sifting is not a pleasant experience. The farmer sifts his wheat because it is precious. And our trials, changes, catastrophes, and afflictions are no proof of want of affection on the part of the Most High, but the very contrary. The farmer does not mean to destroy the grain when he puts it into the sieve. God will chasten, but He will not destroy. The promise of the text is, “There shall not the least grain fall to the ground.” He who holds the sieve watches with an observant eye, and acts with an unlimited power. The least corn of wheat He keeps His eye upon. Much sifted, but not lost; much tempest-tossed, but not shipwrecked; much put into the fire, but never consumed. Blessed be God for all that. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
When the Lord sends a soul- stirring message through His servant Amos, He avails Himself of an agricultural figure. I will sift the house of Israel.
I. It is a divine sifting. The Oriental method of sifting illustrates the Divine method.
1. The primary reference is to the Jews.
2. To the Church of God as a whole.
3. To individual members of the Church.
II. The manner of sifting. “As corn is sifted.”
1. The sifting suggests a mixed condition. The mixed experience of individuals necessitates various Divine siftings.
2. The sifting of corn must be done prudently and patiently. Some grains require a finer sieve than others. And often one sifting is not sufficient.
3. Sifting discriminates between chaff and corn. It does not create either chaff or corn, but makes each manifest. There is no such thing as permanent concealment of character in the moral world.
4. The sifting is thorough. Every grain is sifted. There is an individual discrimination as well as a Church sifting. Each grain is severely subjected to this sifting.
III. The means whereby the divine sifter sifts the house of Israel.
1. By the manifold changeful experiences of life.
2. A faithful ministry is a Divine sieve. Such was the ministry of Amos.
3. Temptations of the devil are sieves through which the enemy desires to destroy good grain.
IV. The design of the divine siftings of life. To purify unto Himself a peculiarly holy people. Whatever the manner and means of sifting this is the design. If these things are so there is a call to--
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.
The tabernacle of David ruined by man, and reared up by the mighty God
Things to take notice of.
1. The designation that the prophet Amos, by God’s commission, gives unto the kingdom of Israel. A “sinful kingdom” (verse 8).
2. An advertisement that the prophet Amos gives unto this sinful kingdom. He says, “The eyes of the Lord are upon it.”
3. God’s purpose and resolution with reference to the sinful kingdom. “I will destroy it from off the face of the earth.”
4. The limitation of the awful sentence. “Saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.”
5. An account of God’s management with respect to that remnant. “Yet shall not the least grain fall to the earth.”
6. We are told what will become of the chaff. “Shall die by the sword.” Now follows another scene: a scene of mercy is opened up in verse 11. Notice--
1. That He may be avenged on the persecutors and enemies of His Church and people.
2. That He may remove the abounding offences in the visible Church, and roll away the impediments that hinder her reformation.
3. And there is something godlike, greatlike, and majestic in this manner of procedure. There is something admirable in this way of working in respect of God Himself; in respect of religion itself. In respect of the people of God, and the effect that this way of working has upon them. Doctrine. That God has His own time and way of rebuilding or reforming His Church, when she is brought to a very low and ruinous condition.
I. Why the Church of Christ is represented under the name and notion of the “Tabernacle of David.” There is evident allusion to the tabernacle which, by God’s special command unto Moses, was reared in the wilderness.
1. The tabernacle was God’s lodging and habitation in the camp of Israel, a symbol of God’s gracious presence among them.
2. The Divine oracles, the law and the testimony, were preserved and kept in the tabernacle, and from thence they were given out for the use of Israel. So to the Church pertain the oracles of God; His revealed mind and will in the Scriptures of truth is committed to her trust.
3. The tabernacle was the place of worship. So the Church of Christ is the place where He will be worshipped and sanctified of all that are about Him.
4. The pattern of the tabernacle was given by God unto Moses in the mount. So the model of the Church, with a perfect system of laws, by which she is to be governed, is given of God in the mount of revelation.
5. No man was to intrude himself into the service of the tabernacle. So, in the New Testament Church, no man is to intrude himself into the sacred offices of the Church, without he is qualified and called of God unto that work.
6. The greatest and most sacred thing in the tabernacle was the ark and mercy-seat. And it is the great business of ministers of the Gospel, now under the New Testament, to disclose or open the ark of the covenant of grace, to preach Christ.
7. The ark was a portable or movable kind of tent. In like manner the Church of God, while in this world, is not fixed to any particular nation.
II. When may the Tabernacle of David be said to be fallen, broken, and ruinous?
1. When the God of the tabernacle is departed.
2. When the oracles of God are not carefully kept and purely dispensed.
3. When the God of the tabernacle is not worshipped according to His appointment.
4. When it is not kept according to the pattern in the mount.
5. When men are entered upon tabernacle service, without being called, qualified, and sanctified for such service.
III. How is it that God raises up his tabernacle when it is fallen?
1. In a time of defection He raises up witnesses to bear testimony against the corruptions and mismanagements of men about His tabernacle.
2. The Lord puts it in the hearts of His people and ministers to take pleasure in the stones and rubbish of His fallen tabernacle, and to mourn and lament over their own sins and the tokens of the Lord’s anger that have gone out against them.
3. The Lord polishes and prepares some for tabernacle work and service, as He did Bezaleel and Aholiab.
4. His tabernacle is raised up by a plentiful downpouring of the Spirit.
5. Sometimes He inspires great men, kings, and nobles, to espouse the cause of His fallen tabernacle.
6. Sometimes He rears up His fallen tabernacle in the very blood and sufferings of His witnesses.
IV. Offer some thoughts anent the time or day of the Lord’s building up the tabernacle of David.
1. It is a time which God hath kept in His own power, and therefore we should beware of diving with too much curiosity into it.
2. When men think the time at hand, and their expectations are big, things frequently take another turn, and defeat all their hopes for that season.
3. God’s time of building up His tabernacle is commonly when things axe brought to the last extremity.
4. God’s time is a day of vengeance and vexation unto the wicked and ungodly world.
5. Yet is it a day of joy and gladness to all Zion’s friends and well-wishers.
In order to the successful building of the broken and fallen tabernacle of David.
1. It is necessary that every one of us prepare a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob in our hearts.
2. That we be well acquainted with the pattern showed in the mount, particularly of the New Testament revelation.
3. That, like Elijah, we be “very zealous for the Lord God of hosts.”
4. We need to count the cost; to reckon what tabernacle work may cost.
5. Sympathise with and help all ministers or Christians who are endeavouring honestly, in their spheres, to build up the tabernacle of God. (E. Erksine.)
The restoration of the true moral theocracy
The old Hebrew world was for ages governed by a theocracy. God was their King. He had under Him, and by His appointment, human rulers and other functionaries; but they were simply His instruments and He was their King. That form of government has passed away, but it was symbolical. It was the emblem of a higher theocracy. Of which we note--
I. It rose from the humblest condition. “In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.” Its founder was a poor Jewish peasant. Its first apostles, who were they? In its origin, indeed, its symbols are the little stone, the grain of mustard seed, and the few particles of leaven.
II. Heathens are subject to its authority. “That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by My name, saith the Lord that doeth this.” The old theocracy was confined to the Jews; this one, this moral theocracy, is to extend to the heathen. Even Edom--the old and inveterate foe of the theocratic people, who may be regarded as the representative of the whole heathen world--is to be subjected to it. It shall “ inherit the Gentiles.” It is to have the heathen for its inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for its possession.
III. Abundant material provisions will attend it. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” “The metaphorical language here employed is at once in the highest degree bold and pleasing. The Hebrews were accustomed to construct terraces on the sides of the mountains and other elevations, on which they planted vines. Of this fact the prophet avails himself, and represents the immense abundance of the produce to be such that the eminences themselves would appear to be converted into the juice of the grape.” Just as this moral theocracy extends, pauperism will vanish. With the kingdom of God and His righteousness all necessary material good comes. Godliness is profitable unto all things.
IV. Lost privileges are restored as it advances. Three blessings, which man has lost through depravity, are here indicated.
1. Freedom. “I will bring again the captivity,” or rather, I will reverse the captivity, give them liberty. Man in a state of depravity is a slave, a slave to lust, worldliness etc. etc. This moral theocracy ensures freedom to all its subjects. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
2. Prosperity. “Shall build the desolate cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof.” One of the sad evils connected with man’s fallen depravity is, that he does not reap the reward of his labours. He builds cities and plants vineyards and makes gardens for others. Through the reign of social injustice he is prevented from enjoying the produce of his honest labours. Under this theocracy it will not be so. What a man produces he will hold and enjoy as his own.
3. Settledness. “I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” Unregenerate man has ever been restless, homeless, unsettled. He stands not on a rock, but rather on planks floating on surging waters; he is never at rest. All the subjects of the true theocracy are established. “God is their refuge and strength.” Let us have faith in this predicted future of the world. (Homilist.)
Behold, The days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper.
A revival sermon
God’s promises are not exhausted when they are fulfilled, for when once performed they stand just as good as they did before, and we may await a second accomplishment of them.
I. Explain the text as a promise of revival.
1. Notice a promise of surprising ingathering.
2. The idea of amazing rapidity.
3. Notice the activity of labour which is mentioned in the text. One sign of a true revival is the increased activity of God’s labourers.
4. A time of revival shall be followed by very extraordinary conversion.
II. What is taught us by a revival? That God is absolute monarch of the hearts of men. God does not say here if men are willing, but He gives an absolute promise of a Messing. If it were net for this doctrine I wonder where the ministry would be. Adam Old is too strong for young Melanchthons.
III. The text should be a stimulus for further exertion. The duty of the Church is not to be measured by its success. It is as much the minister’s duty to preach the Gospel in adverse times as in propitious seasons. Recollect that even when this revival comes an instrumentality will still be wanted. The ploughman is wanted even after the harvest. The ploughman shall never be so much esteemed as when he follows after the reaper, and the Sower of seed never so much valued as when he comes at the heels of those that tread the grapes. The glory which God puts upon instrumentality should encourage you to use it.
IV. A word of warning to those who know not Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》