Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: 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. — Amos 9:2-3
In my role as a school bus driver, my first priority is to safely transport the students to and from school. Also important, however, is the enforcement of some level of law and order on the bus. I need to ensure that students do not harass one another, that they do not endanger their own or someone else’s safety, that they do not damage the vehicle, and finally, that they do not litter the bus excessively.
The catch is that with my back turned toward them, it is hard to monitor the behavior of more than fifty lively students. They know, of course, that I can see some of what goes on through the inside mirror. But the more-experienced riders also know that I will not be looking in the mirror when making turns or when driving on narrow, curvy sections of rural roads.
When they think the coast is clear, they have been known to unleash barrages of various types of missiles. For example, at the end of one run, I picked up over 110 paper balls. Another time we retrieved some $1.50 worth of pennies. Then there was the day when little plastic beads from cheap necklaces in the school colors were found everywhere. Sometimes I cannot identify the instigator, so there is nothing I can do to initiate a discipline process.
Many people act as if God were no more perceptive or knowledgeable than a bus driver. They could not, however, be further from the truth. As we see in the focus verse, no matter how “hidden” a person might seem to be, God knows his or her whereabouts — and that is just talking about the physical. God also sees what is going on inside the hearts and minds of every individual.
Before I was saved, I thought that serving a God who is aware of everything we do and why we do it would be a life of bondage. Then I discovered the wonderful secret that when we are forgiven of our sins, we have begun a life not of bondage, but of glorious freedom! No longer do we have to worry if someone sees what we are doing, because we are not doing anything for which to feel guilty. No longer do we have to remember our exact words, because we have told nothing but the truth. No longer do we have to behave better at certain times than at others, because we are committed to living for God every hour of every day.
As a familiar song points out, “There’s no hiding place down here.” That is a scary thought to those who are guilty in God’s sight. To those who are living for Him, however, it is a great consolation. We know that God knows all about us, and nothing will ever happen to us but what He allows. Even if we go through some times of testing down here, in the end, He will bring us through victoriously.
Bible scholars are divided over whether the altar mentioned in verse 1 of this chapter is the one at Bethel or the one in the Temple at Jerusalem. It is clear, however, that although God hates all sin, He especially hates the sin and hypocrisy of those who think that being “religious” will somehow make up for their misdeeds.
Amos saw that God Himself would destroy the Temple. Verse 1 said, “Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake.” His blow would cause the building to collapse and those inside would be killed. Any who escaped would be killed with the sword.
Verses 2-4 let the people of Israel know that God knew where they were all the time. Although they might try to hide, their efforts would be futile. Places such as Mount Carmel (which had caverns where people hid, dense forests, and rough terrain), or even the bottom of the sea would offer no protection.
God’s omnipotence was mentioned in verses 5-6. He controls all of creation, while man is finite.
Verses 7-10 restated the judgments that God would pour out upon the people of Israel for their sin. Despite the fact that they were His chosen people, they would be punished for their sins as severely as the heathen nations of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Caphtor (Crete). Nevertheless, God offered them a ray of hope. Although He would judge them severely, He would not totally erase them from the face of the earth. God said, “Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth,” indicating that He would keep track of each person.
The last part of the chapter referred to happenings in the distant future. James, one of the leaders of the early Christian church, quoted Amos 9:11-12 (Acts 15:16-17). He showed that this passage was a prophecy of the coming of Jesus, whose death and resurrection would make a way for not only Jews, but also Gentiles, to find peace with God.
Verses 13-15 spoke of the last days. Some of this prophecy has already been fulfilled; Israel has been restored as a nation and has become fruitful and productive for example. But the complete fulfillment of this prophecy will occur when the Jews finally accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The visions of judgment upon Israel
F. The vision of the Lord beside the altar (9:1-10)
1. The certainty of judgment (9:1-4)
2. The character of the judge (9:5-6)
3. The selectivity of the judgment (9:7-10)
V. The promise of the restoration of Israel (9:11-15)
A. The nation restored (9:11)
B. The possessions restored (9:12)
C. The land restored (9:13)
D. The people restored (9:14-15)
It is vitally important that we live in a godly manner in all aspects of our lives. Some people use this self-test for their actions: Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” before making decisions. A related test would be to ask yourself, “Would I do what I am doing if Jesus were right here with me?”