Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Amos 9 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Some scholars have gone so far as to argue that the final five verses of Amos’ prophetic message are so far out of character that they were probably a later addition to the original manuscript. And these verses can feel like a sudden change of tone. After a bleak eight and a half chapters of warnings, judgments, doom, disaster, and death, a brief “happily-ever-after” ending might seem a little contrived.
Unless, of course, this was where it was heading all along. Maybe the repentance and restoration of Israel—or at least a remnant of the people—was exactly the point and purpose of Amos’ urgent entreaties.
One way in which this epilogue is not an afterthought but a culmination is in the strength of its language and the hyperbole of its descriptions. It speaks of repairing, rebuilding, restoration, and renewal—but even more than that. As harsh as the words of judgment and warning have been, the promises of renewal are equally vivid. The crops grow faster than they can be harvested and the vineyards simply exude sweet wine (see Verse 13). As surely as the destruction of Israel had been promised, the restoration and re-establishment of the people was also guaranteed: “They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them” (Amos 9:15, NLT).
Walter Brueggemann argues that these concluding verses should be understood as the center of Amos’ message: “the fidelity of Yahweh is affirmed and therefore the future of Israel is secured.” It seems Ellen White would agree. Commenting on the prophetic ministry of Amos and his successor Hosea to the people of Israel, she concluded, “In their hour of deepest apostasy and greatest need, God’s message to them was one of forgiveness and hope” (Prophets and Kings, p. 283).
It might not look this way on a first reading through our foreign eyes, but the best reading of the book of Amos is not focused on the wrongdoing of the people, as terrible as it might have been, or the dire warnings and judgment from God. Instead, it is about the abundant mercy of God and His far greater willingness to redeem and restore.
Recalibrate: Have you struggled to read the book of Amos as a message of “forgiveness and hope”? Have you made progress toward this view through this series?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, thank you for the forgiveness and hope you offer, even in our bleakest circumstances and darkest times.”
Research: Read the article by Walter Brueggeman: “Amos’ Intercessory Formula,” Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 19, No 4, 1969, pp. 385–399.
Remember: “I will bring my people Israel back from captivity. They will build the ruined cities again. And they will live in them” (Amos 9:14, ICB).
Nathan Brown is a writer and book editor at Signs Publishing Company, near Melbourne, Australia. Nathan is author/editor of 16 books, including two this year—Of Falafels and Following Jesus and For the Least of These.
Try building a tower with your child. You could use blocks or books or boxes or whatever you like. The purpose of this activity is to build resilience. Encourage your little one to focus on building even when things crash around them. Know that God is building a good thing in you and around you.
Do you have a favorite candy? I really like gummy bears, but not all gummy bears. I only like the red ones because I think the other ones taste funny. So I will eat the red ones and then give the others away. If you have a packet of candy and share it with some friends, is there one type that is always left at the end? Sometimes we treat people the same way we treat candies and we choose our favorite type first and just leave the other flavors in the packet. We need to remember that Jesus wants us to love everyone the same, just like He loves everyone the same.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.