Three Visions of National Calamities.

THE VISIONS OF THE GRASSHOPPERS, OF THE FIRE, AND OF THE PLUMB-LINE. V. 1. Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me, in visions and pictures shown by the Spirit of God, and, behold, He formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth, of the second crop of the season; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings, the first crop, apparently, belonging to the king as a part of the nation's revenue. The time of the grasshoppers' coming, therefore, was very unfortunate, since the first crop had been delivered as the law required, and the second crop was bound to be ruined. V. 2. And it came to pass that, "when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, all the plants which came up at that time, in the rest of the season, then I said, O Lord God, forgive, I beseech Thee; by whom shall Jacob, the northern kingdom, arise? maintain his ground, not be annihilated altogether. For he is small, even now reduced in numbers and strength. V. 3. The Lord repented for this. It shall not be, saith the Lord, He was willing to spare the people and the land upon the intercession of the' prophet. V. 4. Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me, in a second vision; and, behold, the Lord God called to contend by fire, that is, He directed that the punishment was to be made by fire, and it devoured the great deep, the great ocean itself, and did eat up a part, the heritage of Jehovah, which is Israel. It was a picture of the Lord's devouring anger directed against His own people. V. 5. Then said I, O Lord God, cease, I beseech Thee; by whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small, the prophet thus once more interceding in behalf of his sinful nation. V. 6. The Lord repented for this. This also shall not be, saith the Lord God, as little as the punishment of the first vision. V. 7. Thus He showed me, in a third vision; and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumb-line, one which was built upright and according to all the rules of the craft, with a plumb-line in His hand. V. 8. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? the purpose of the question being to impress the importance of the vision upon the prophet's mind. And I said, A plumb-line. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of My people Israel, the object, in this case, like in 2 Kings 21, 13; Is. 34, 11, being to tear down a building. I will not again pass by them any more, He was determined not to show lenience any longer; v. 9. and the high places of Isaac, in this case used of the northern kingdom, shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel, the various places devoted to idolatrous purposes, shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam, in this instance representing the entire kingdom and royal family, with the sword. Thus the destruction of the kingdom, the dissolution of the nation, was definitely foretold, and the prophet did not dare to intercede any more in behalf of his people.

THE PROPHET AT BETHEL. V. 10. Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, the high priest in charge of the sanctuary of idolatry at Bethel, sent to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel, in its religious center, namely, by announcing the coming punishment of the Lord without fear or favor; the land is not able to bear all his words. This is a common charge against the teachers of truth to this day, that their preaching creates a disturbance in the land. V. 11. For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, for this was actually included in the statement of verse 9, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. Amaziah purposely stated the threat of the Lord in its severer form in order to provoke the king's wrath. V. 12. Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah and there eat bread, earning some sort of a livelihood, and prophesy there, v. 13. but prophesy not again any more at Bethel, where his words naturally made it very uncomfortable for Amaziah; for it is the king's chapel, a sanctuary established by the king, and it is the king's court, the chief place for the cult ordained by the king for his entire kingdom. His argument was that for this reason it was altogether improper for Amos to continue his threatening sayings. V. 14. Then answered Amos and said to Amaziah, in defending himself against the high priest's insinuations, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son, that is, he was not born to that honor nor did he attend any school of the prophets, but I was an herdman, a shepherd of humble position, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, that is, of the sycamore-fig-tree; v. 15. and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, giving him a direct call, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto My people Israel. V. 16. Now, therefore, bear thou the word of the Lord, Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel and drop not thy word, cp. Ezek. 21, 2. 7; Micah 2, 6. 11, against the house of Isaac. V. 17. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, dishonored by the enemies at the storming of the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, in the slaughter of the same attack, and thy land, his own landed possession, shall be divided by line, allotted to the invaders, and thou shalt die in a polluted land, as a prisoner among the heathen; and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. With people who are unwittingly caught in the meshes of a false religion one may have patience, but the leaders of false religions must be rebuked with all severity, for it is their leadership which results in the loss of souls, and the leaders are rightly held responsible.