AMOS Chapter 7: God Often Relents


What is described? 

What literally happened? 

What is revealed about God’s character? 

Amos the Prophet not only had the Word of the Lord as prophecies but also received visions which he relayed to the people of Israel.  Chapter 7 has a few of these visions as well as the reaction of the priest and king in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  Amos is asked to leave and never return.   

Read Amos 7 

Amos 7:1-17 (ESV) “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. 2 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!” 3 The Lord relented concerning this: “It shall not be,” said the Lord. 4 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. 5 Then I said, “O Lord God, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” 6 The Lord relented concerning this: “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God. 7 This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; 9 the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” 10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’” 12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” 14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. “You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ 17 Therefore thus says the Lord: “‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’” 

There are two important truths presented in Amos 7: 

#1 God often relents 

#2 Pray for your people 


Amos shows very clearly in this chapter that God (YHWH) often defers judgment and prefers grace and yet there comes a point at which the measuring line will come and so will judgment.  God does suspend His judgments, but the perversion of human beings will bring consequences.  In a broad sense, we get a sense of Abraham’s bold interaction with God for Sodom and Gomorrah in that God relented at the numbers needed for judgment.  Here, God relents because the judgment would be harsh on the people.  Amos prays and God relents… for a time.  

God is all about life.  God relents and forgives because He gives life.  This is God’s core desire!  Yes, God gives people over to death, but He tries over and over to offer repentance and blessing.   


Amos sees in his visions the calamities that would befall Israel because of their sin and the prophet rightly sees that the only way out or through or around the judgment of God is God Himself.  Amos asks God to “forgive” (verse 2) and to “cease” (verse 5) for the sake of the people who are so “small” (verses 2, 5).  Amos prays on behalf of the people for grace and mercy.  He gets it 2 of 3 times, but also is shown that judgment for sin must come. 

NOTE: Amos is an intercessor in the same way Moses interceded for Israel (Exodus) and in the same way Jesus intercedes for us (Hebrews).  We need a mediator at times because of our sin.  Amos fulfills the role to which he is called.  He prays.  He asks for God to relent and give life.  The mediator side of Amos’ ministry is highlighted in this chapter, and it also sheds light on God’s character. 

The priest Amaziah says something interesting to the king.  He says, “the land is not able to bear all his words” (verse 10).  This can be taken in two ways and may not be exclusive to one another.  First, the people were angry at what Amos was sharing and preaching and they did not want to bear his words.  The people considered Amos a troublemaker because of his words and wanted him gone and didn’t want to listen anymore.  Secondly, the constant warnings of Amos were troubling the people, and some were perhaps questioning their leaders and way of life and they couldn’t bear to listen about the ruin and judgment and fire and exile that would come.  They wanted no more bad news.   

We know from history that eventually the judgment indicated by a built wall with a plumb line (an expertly built wall) would come to pass in 722 BC.  The places that the Northern Kingdom held dear would become desolate.  The sword came to the people of God in the north, and they disappeared into the sands of time and exile.   

SUMMARY & APPLICATION: What is revealed about God’s character? 

God is not an ‘old angry man in Heaven looking down to throw lightning bolts.’  God’s default is not anger.  God’s core being is not sadistic or death-motivated or judgmental.  His default is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, grace, mercy, unity, holiness, and those aspects and not the ‘hell fire and brimstone stuff.’ 

In this passage, we clearly see that God’s desire is to bring forth life.  The core of His being comes through as God relents so He can maintain life.  Even the judgment will shock some and bring them back to the path of life.  He maintains life.  This is hard to swallow, but sometimes life does not mean happiness and wholeness, but grace… grace amid the destruction.  


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