The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, is from the book of the Minor Prophets. The text is Amos 7:7-15 and is from the section of Amos frequently referred to as, “The Five Visions.” The first part of this pericope is the third vision, which is the vision of the plumb-line.
Contextually, it is important to remember Amos is from the Southern Kingdom of Judah (Tekoa) where he is a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fig trees. However, the LORD sent Amos to the Northern Kingdom to prophesy against both the religious leaders as well as King Jeroboam. Thus, when Amos has this vision of the plumb-line and delivers its message of destruction, the priest of Bethel, Amaziah, sends a message to Jeroboam about Amos’ lack of support for the king’s position. This was in hope that Amos would be frightened and return home to the Southern Kingdom to prophesy there.
The timeframe for the prophesy is about four decades before the Northern Kingdom is conquered and taken into exile by the Assyrians. In other words, what Amos says does come to pass. Bethel is one of the two sites set aside by Jeroboam for the Northerners to worship and offer sacrifices. The purpose is to keep them from returning to the Jerusalem Temple for worship, which would lead to a weakening of the political status of Jeroboam and perhaps lead to his overthrow.
A special note of thanks to Reed Lessing and his commentary on Amos in the Concordia Commentary Series.
What Amos says does come to pass.
7:7 נִצָּב (nitz-Tzav) root: נצב (naw-tsab) Niphal, Participle: “to station oneself; take one’s stand” Note the reflexive use of the Niphal.
אֲנָךְ (a-Nach) “lead; plumb-line” A wall built with a plumb-line would be straight and not vary. This is how it was when the LORD chose and established His people, but now they have gone astray—out of plumb.
7:8 רֹאֶה (ro-Eh) root: ראה (raw-aw) Qal, Participle: “to see,” “...are you seeing”
אוֹסִיף (o-Sif) root: יָסַף (yaw-saf) Hiphil: “to do again” followed by the Infinitive עֲבוֹר (a-Vor) Literally: “I will not continue to pass over for him.” Also translated, “I will never again forgive (for) him.” See also 8:2. Notice how in spite of the many issues of unfaithfulness, etc. the LORD still refers to them as, “My people Israel,” pointing to the Covenantal promise.
7:9 וְנָשַׁמּוּ (ve-na-Sham-mu) root: שׁמם (shaw-mame) Niphal: “to be desolated; be destroyed; become deserted”
וּמִפְדְּשֵׁי (u-mik-de-Shei) “holy place; sacred place; sanctuary”
יֶחֱרָבוּ (ye-che-Ra-vu) root:חרב (khaw-rab) Qal: “to be in ruins; desolate”
Note the similarities to the covenantal curses in Leviticus 26:30-33.
7:10 כֹּהֵן בֵּית־אֵל (ko-Hen beit-El) “the priest of Bethel” A unique name as the priest is identified with his location rather than with the one true God or a false deity (Lessing, 469). Faithful priests are never designated by their location.
לְהָכִיל (le-ha-Chil) root: כול (kool) Hiphil: “to endure; sustain; bear”
7:11 גָּלֹה יִגְלֶה (ga-Lof yig-Leh) root: גלה (gaw-law) Qal, Infinitive Absolute with preceding Imperfect form; “surely/certainly go into exile...”
7:12 חֹזֶה (cho-Zeh) “seer”
בְּרַח (be-rach) Qal: “to flee; runaway” The phrase is literally: “Go, flee for yourself.” Translated: “Flee quickly; flee immediately.”
“...eat bread there...” Either the idea to work in that place, or to carry out your job as prophet in that place.
7:13 לְהִנָּבֵא (le-hin-na-Ve) root: נבא (naw-baw) Niphal, Infinitive Construct: “to prophecy more/again”
“The house of the kingdom and the temple of the kingdom,” indicates the worship center in Bethel is “state supported and sanctioned.”
7:14 Amos denies he is a prophet or a son of a prophet. Perhaps he is saying he has had no training, but the LORD plucked him out of his vocation as herdsman and sycamore fig tree dresser to carry out the work of prophet. He seems to think he really is still a “farmer” and only a temporary “prophet.” Therefore, when he finishes his prophetic work, he will return to his previous occupation.
בוֹקֵר (vo-Ker) “herdsman”
וּבוֹלֵס (u-vo-les) root: בלס (baw-las) Qal: “to handle/dress the sycamore fig” Only usage in the Old Testament. Perhaps it is related to Arabic, Ethiopian, and/or Egyptian words.
שִׁקְמִים (shik-Mim) “sycamore; sycamore fig tree”
7:15 Amos describes his own “call narrative” or his “sending.” The LORD took him and sent him.
לֵךְ (lech) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, Imperative: “to go”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Amos 7:7-15.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Amos 7:7-15.