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.
2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
3 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:
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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?
8 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.
9 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.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
11 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:
12 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.
13 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.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 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.
Public Domain KJV text from Wordproject.org
Amos declares that he saw the Lord standing at the altar but instead of hearing declarations of goodwill, God commands the altar to be torn down with everyone inside. This echoes back to the closing scene of Samson’s life and the drama that played out in the Philistine’s temple. In that time, the Philistines expecting to mock Samson with comedy and games were shocked when Samson turned the tables, mocked them instead, and brought their lives to an untimely demise. In this scene, Amos declares that the God whom the people thought they could mock and manipulate will act contrary to their expectations.
Like the Philistines, the wrath of God would be poured down upon the temple and all its inhabitants. However, unlike Samson, who faced His enemies, God was doing this terrible work of judgment upon His own. This is a strange vision to comprehend, but God, who is the ultimate Judge, shows no favoritism and declares His love and fairness to all nations. God’s Word cannot return to Him void, and His people must know that there is a God who must be honored and revered. How difficult must this chapter have been for a strong God who would rather build up than tear down?
Pastor, Georgia-Cumberland Conference