November 24, 2021

November 24, 2021

Author: Pastor Mark Bauer
November 24, 2021

"This is what the Lord GOD showed me; behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, 'O Lord GOD, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!' The LORD relented concerning this: 'It shall not be,' said the LORD. This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, the Lord GOD was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said, 'O Lord GOD, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!' the Lord relented concerning this: 'This also shall not be,' said the Lord GOD."

Amos 7:1-6

We have an example of intercessory prayer.

As we read those verses I am sure you noticed that there was a repeat of a pattern. A pattern in which Amos is given a vision from God; a vision warning of God’s judgment that was coming. After he receives this vision it is followed by Amos’s response. He speaks to God, he prays to God and he pleads to God for forgiveness and that God would cease this judgment. Then we see that after his prayer then God responds to his prayer, God answers Amos’s prayer.

As we look back at these verses in Amos 7:1-6 we see here the warnings of judgment are pictured in two different ways. First we see there is a judgment of locusts. It says he was forming locusts, God was forming locusts; locusts that would swarm across the land; locusts that would destroy all the vegetation and crops in their path. You can imagine for an agricultural society, the coming of locusts that would devour the grass is a severe judgement. It is a judgment that would result in famine and devastation in the country.

While some commentators see this as a warning that God was going to be sending actual locusts, others said this may be a picture of God’s judgment of an invading army that would be coming that would be raised up by God, a nation that would come and an army that would devastate the land. In either case though, Amos is being warned by God of a coming judgment. A judgment upon the nation, a judgment that will be so severe and widespread that it will cause destruction throughout the land.

In a similar way we see a second picture. In verse 4 we read, “The Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire. God will be sending a fire, a fire that will burn up everything in its path; a fire that is so intense that here it is described as even devouring the great deep. Perhaps this is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea; a fire that is so intense, so unstoppable that it will even consume water. Much like the fire from heaven in Elisha’s time which will lift up the water in trenches. This will be no isolated fire. It won’t be contained in just a small area. No, it will be a fire that will spread throughout the land and it will devour, eating up the land.

So Amos is warned of these judgments and we might ask ourselves, “Why is God sending these judgments?” But Amos knows. We are told by God that these judgments are being sent because of sin. In Amos 2:4, 5 we read of the prophecy of the judgment that is to come upon Judah, “Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked. So I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.’”

I think we see in these verses that the reason for God’s judgment is sin; the sin of the nation, the sin of rejecting God’s law, the sin of disobeying God’s command, sin that is resulting in the idolatry of the nation, sin that is leading to oppression of the poor and needy. The people of the nation were doing evil in the sight of God. They were not doing good. They preferred to listen to lies rather than heeding the pleas of God, God’s messengers, His prophets who had come to them warning of this judgment, pleading with the people to repent, to return to God.

We see that the root cause of this judgment of God is the sin of the nation; the people have forsaken God. Having this vision then, how does Amos respond? What does he do? We read again, we see that Amos speaks to God, he prays to God to forgive. He says, “Oh Lord, please forgive.” He prays for God to cease, “Oh Lord, please cease!” And do we not throughout Scripture see examples of intercessory prayer such as this intercessory prayer by Amos. Many of God’s people have been warned of judgment to come upon the nation and God’s people cry out, they pray. They pray for God to forgive the nation of their sin; they pray to God for him to cease the judgment that is going to be sent.

I think back to those that have heard of the coming judgment of God when they respond and they see this. I think one of the motivating factors for them is that they respond and pray to God because they know that God is a god of mercy. They know God’s character. So often in Scripture he is described as the Lord God, a god merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Can we not be thankful to God that he is a god of mercy? Though we are so small and undeserving, yet God is merciful, God answers our prayers, God forgives. When we repent often times God will cease to take that action. He does not carry out the judgment that he has warned will be coming.

We see in verses 3 and 6 of Amos chapter 6 God’s answer to Amos’s prayer. It is described as “The Lord relented concerning this.” The judgment and punishment that God showed to Amos in these two visions, the Lord says, “It shall not be.” What a blessing it is that God hears and answers intercessory prayer. Is this not a mystery for us? How do our prayers work together with God’s sovereign will? I like the way one commentator put it, “The Lord has ordained all of history and works all things according to the counsel of His will.” So God knew that Amos would pray and that he would relent when he gave the visions of the locusts and the fire. He even ordained Amos’s prayers and his relenting in eternity past. But Amos did not know what the Lord had ordained, nor was he expected to. The same is true of us. We are to pray for God to move and believe that he can, all the while remembering his sovereignty over all. I see these verses as an encouragement to pray. Pray knowing that God hears our prayers and he answers our prayers.

C.H. Spurgeon put it this way, “This ought to encourage you, who are the king’s remembrances, to make use of the position in which his grace has placed you. And to cry earnestly to him, to turn away his wrathful hand and to have pity upon sinners. God grant that many of us may have such an intercessory spirit as that of Amos, the herdsman prophet.”

I hope that as we consider these verses that they would be an encouragement for us to pray to God.