Summary: If we expect God to use us to do the work of the kingdom, then we will have to be faithful in proclaiming the truth even in the face of opposition and ridicule.
STANDING FIRM FOR TRUTH
Why is it so difficult to face up to the truth when things aren’t going very well and to take action to make things right? We see this problem in every area of life. One particular outworking of this refusal to face up to the truth and to take proper action is in the area of the national debt, deficit spending, governmental programs, and taxes. This subject has been dominating the news of late and it seems that our law makers just can’t face the facts that we can’t go on spending what we don’t have. You can see this same thing with people who are hooked on alcohol. The worst part of trying to help such a person is getting them to face the fact that they really do have a problem. Usually what is needed in such situations is a confrontation to get the government (in the case of bad fiscal policy) or an individual (in the case of bad personal habits) to face up to the reality of what is happening and the consequences of continuing down the same road. Usually the person or group that initiates the confrontation is not very well received and will be subjected to a lot of ridicule and even abuse. Many will not confront others with problems for this very reason. Some who would dare will find themselves backing away and ignoring the problem after being rebuffed. Those who can really help are those that will stand firm for truth.
The nation of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) was heading down the road to ruin and God kept sending messengers to them to confront them with the truth of what was happening. One such messenger was Amos. Amos didn’t even live in the Northern Kingdom, he lived in Judah. He was just an ordinary person with an ordinary occupation from an ordinary village. He lived about the same time as the prophets Hosea and Isaiah. Amos left Judah and went to Israel to proclaim God’s message to them. Amos had been given a series of messages regarding all the neighbors of Israel as well as Judah and Israel. He started out proclaiming the sins and judgement of Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. All those that heard his message agreed with him that those people deserved the punishment they were going to get. Amos did not stop there, he had merely set the stage for the rest of the story. He went on to point out that Israel had done the same things as the other nations and had just as much injustice being practiced.
7 Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. 9 “The high places of Isaac will be desolated And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste. Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” Amos 7:7-9 (NASB95)
Amos began his prophetic messages about 40 years before the fall of the Northern Kingdom at the hand of the Assyrians. Things were going pretty well for the nation at that time and no imminent danger was sensed by the rulers or the people. If people are being threatened and things are going poorly, then people are more likely to heed a message such as Amos was bringing. By the time things get bad enough for people to listen it is usually too late. God sent Amos to Israel in plenty of time for them to repent and to avoid the judgement of God. In the vision that God gave to Amos, Amos saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been properly built and He had a plumb line in His hand. When God had established the nation of Israel, they had started out with good laws and fair practices -- as a wall that was plumb. Over the years they had gone away from what was right and proper and had substituted other practices that were not righteous. After so long a time, God was not going to put up with such practices any longer among His people. Judgement was coming and the basis for judgement was to be the plumb line of God or His righteousness.
The terms "high places" and "sanctuaries" refers to the religious centers of the nation. These would be destroyed and God would no longer overlook the wickedness and injustice of the people and their leaders. This was not the only area where God would deal with the people. The house of Jeroboam represented the civil government that was also rotten to the core and God would destroy both these institutions. You can imagine that Amos’ words were not what the people or their leaders wanted to hear.