Come to the Feast
Amos 1:2–9:10 is intended to burn and bury the world of power politics and phony religion as these were known in Amos’s day. Only after the killing message of the Law is the Gospel announced in Amos 9:11–15. Pentateuchal covenant blessings promise a return from exile (e.g., Leviticus 26:44; Deuteronomy 4:31; 30:3; 32:36–43). There will be restoration that will be beyond imagination (cf. Ephesians 3:20). Demolition is penultimate; salvation is ultimate. Amos 9:11–15 proclaims that the night of judgment is over and the eschatological new day is at hand. Salvation will burst forth, and there will be new life throbbing with hope. Yahweh has torn, but He will heal (Hosea 6:1). He has killed, but He will also make alive (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; cf. 2 Kings 5:7). Yahweh has a plan for the entire created order, not just Israel. The “remnant of Edom” will be restored (Amos 9:12), and the mountains and hills will drip with new wine (Amos 9:13). Yahweh will restore His people (Amos 9:14). The curse will be reversed, and the dead will rise again!
Questions and Answers
(Note: Questions only are found in the student section.)
Q1. Old Testament hearers/listeners of Yahweh’s promise in Amos 9:11 began anticipating a new David, and this hope enabled them to begin living in their present context in just and right ways. How is this taken up in the New Testament?
A1. New Testament believers place their trust in the new David, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:27; Romans 1:3). His gift of justice and righteousness for all people (see 2 Samuel 8:15) was one of the defining marks of His ministry. We rejoice in this love, even as we anticipate His final coming again in glory. This hope creates in us the desire to make morally correct choices in life. John puts it this way: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). The now of God’s grace in Christ gives hope for the not yet that purifies us to live in the present moment in just and right ways.
Q2. Why is Edom singled out as representative of the nations?
A2. First, “Edom” is a pun with “Adam” and conveys Yahweh’s dominion over all the nations. Second, of the six non-Israelite nations cited in Amos 1:3–2:3, Edom is listed most often. (In addition to the Edom oracle [1:11–12], the oracles against Gaza and Tyre [1:6, 9] implicate Edom for its trading of slaves, while the oracle against Moab speaks of burning the bones of the king of Edom to/for lime [2:1]). This may be interpreted to mean that Edom is a symbol for all the nations of the world. Both Leviticus 26:36–39 and Deuteronomy 30:7 indicate that after judgment Israel will have dominion over their enemies. The end of Edom, therefore, signifies the end of all opposition and the incorporation of repentant nations into the new Davidic reign. Jesus, David’s greatest son, was born to rule over “all the nations” (Revelation 12:5).
Q3. Who are those “called by My name”? (Amos 9:12)
A3. In this context, those who belong to Yahweh (both Israelites and the nations) are the opposite of “all the sinners of My people” in Amos 9:10. This is the remnant from Joseph (5:15) and from among the nations. It is normally only Israelite entities in the Old Testament that have “Yahweh’s name pronounced upon them,” yet Amos declares that in the coming day(s) all the nations (as symbolized by Edom) who repent and believe will have equal status with Israel (e.g., Galatians 3:28). This is how James interprets the verse at the first apostolic council in Acts 15:17. In reiterating Peter, James states that in the new Christian community God takes “from the Gentiles a people for Himself” (Acts 15:14). Amos 9:11–12 thus refers to Israel and Judah, as well as to the nations referred to in 1:3–2:3. Whereas all come under Yahweh’s judgment, now the respective remnants are restored by means of a new David. Paul puts it this way: “The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
Q4. After promising the re-birth of the Davidic kingdom, which includes the repentant remnant of the nations, this next section portrays the overwhelming abundance of the land yielding bountiful blessings. During the Davidic and Solomonic reign, Yahweh’s blessings were often understood in agricultural terms, e.g., “From Dan to Beersheba, Judah and Israel lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree” (1 Kings 4:25).Covenant blessings (e.g., Leviticus 26:3–5, 42 and Deuteronomy 30:9) indicate that when Yahweh reverses His curses, Israel will experience agricultural bounty (e.g., Isaiah 29:17; 32:15; Jeremiah 31:12–14; Ezekiel 34:26–27; 47:1–12; Hosea 2:23–24; Joel 4:18; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10; 8:12). How is this promise fulfilled in Christ?
A4. Jesus’ first miracle at Cana in Galilee is the announcement that these promises are now present in Him (John 2:1–11). Our Lord served the best wine and offered it to everyone at the wedding feast. His ministry inaugurated the eschatological banquet (e.g., Matthew 22:1–14; Luke 14:7–24; 15:23). The final feast (e.g. Matthew 8:11; 25:1–14; Luke 13:29) includes all believers in a restored creation gathered around His table to enjoy the unending celebration of His redeeming love.
Q5. The phrase “I will restore” (Amos 9:14) means that the remnants of Israel (5:15) and the nations (9:12) will be reconstituted in the land and enjoy Yahweh’s blessings. Only in Job 42:10 is the phrase employed for an individual, where it indicates that the idea is not restricted to a return from captivity but indicates the reversal of a curse. In light of Amos 9:11–15, look at the following verses and see what Yahweh promises to restore: Amos 1:2; 4:6–11; 5:11
A5. The punishment levied on the magistrates earlier in Amos 5:11a was, “you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them.” In the coming days, however, the remnant will rebuild their desolated cities and inhabit them. The second part of the futility curse in Amos 5:11b states, “you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine” (cf. Amos 4:9). But now Yahweh promises that the new Israel will plant vineyards and drink wine. The restored community will live harmoniously with the land so that it no longer withers and mourns (Amos 1:2; 4:6–11). Rather than producing thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17–19), it will produce a harvest of abundance. The enjoyment of labor is a frequent prophetic way to express Yahweh’s blessing (e.g., Isaiah 65:21–22; Jeremiah 29:5, 28; Ezekiel 34:27; Zechariah 8:12).
Q6. Does the “end” (cf. Amos 8:2) mean the cessation of all Israelite life?
A6. No. Earlier Old Testament texts affirm that Yahweh would continue to act on behalf of His people. His promises to Abraham included an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:7). After the golden calf apostasy he listened to Moses’ intercessory prayers and offered Israel a new beginning (Exodus 32:11–14) because He is a gracious and merciful God (34:5–6). The language of the Davidic covenant, moreover, included the expectation that His kingdom would continue forever (2 Samuel 7:13). Though the nation’s final chapter had appeared etched in stone, in Amos 9:11–15 Yahweh again surprises Israel with a new beginning. This divine monergism lies at the heart of Paul’s words, “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).
Q7. Who are the people in God’s restored world?
A7. Amos does not envision the temple and its worship as the foundation for the new future. Nor are there priests in the restored community. Neither are there kings, military commanders, or armies. Gone are the royal officials of Amos 3:8–15, the judges of 5:10–17, the revelers of 4:1–3 and 6:1–7, and the of Amos 2:6–8 and 8:4–6. The only people remaining are the remnant of Joseph (5:15) and “Edom” (9:12), who are envisioned as peasants planting their vineyards and making gardens (9:14). Those who like Amos (1:1; 7:14–15) make their living off the land are the ones who are part of Yahweh’s future. “The meek will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Q8. State what the following texts say about being planted in the land: Exodus 15:17; 2 Samuel 7:10; Jeremiah 1:10.
A8. The foundation for “being planted in the land” begins in Exodus 15:17: “you will bring them in and plant them.” In 2 Samuel 7:10a Yahweh, through the prophet Nathan, promises: “And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed” (cf. Jeremiah 24:6; 32:41). After Israel is uprooted from her land in 721 BC and Judah in 587 BC, prophets promise a new exodus when the nation will be freed and again planted in the land (e.g., Isaiah 60:21; Jeremiah 1:10; 24:6; 32:41; Hosea 2:25). But this pledge does not merely announce a “paradise restored.” The new order will not have the possibility of becoming undone by human sin. The cycle of sin will never again be repeated. Guaranteeing this are the words “they will never again be uprooted” (Amos 9:15). While we wait for our Savior to be revealed in His second advent, Jesus promises us that we will never be plucked from His hand (John 10:28; Romans 8:37–39).
Q9. New life in the Promised Land was initially fulfilled by the remnant who returned from Babylonian captivity led by Sheshbazzar and David’s descendant Zerubbabel (Ezra 1:1–11; 2:1–2; cf. Matthew 1:12–13). Where is our promised land? See 1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 3:13.
A9. Now, those who are “in Christ” (cf. Romans 6:11; 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:13), possess these promises because we have a land inheritance that can “never perish, spoil, or fade” (1 Peter 1:4), which is the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). At His second coming all believers will inherit this kingdom and will reign with Him forever (Revelation 1:5–6) in the heavenly promised land.
The Book of Amos begins with a vision of Yahweh roaring like a lion that withers the shepherd’s pastures in the south and extends to Mount Carmel in the north (Amos 1:2). By the end of the book Yahweh’s voice promises that through the Davidic line He will gather remnant groups from Israel and the nations and plant them in an abundant land where the mountains and hills will drip with sweet wine (Amos 9:13). These promises point to the feast Jesus instituted in Holy Communion in which the baptized are forgiven of all their sins and celebrate that death has been swallowed up in victory (Isaiah 25:5–9; 1 Corinthians 15:54). This is a foretaste of the feast to come when the Church as Christ’s bride will celebrate with her Bridegroom the marriage feast of the Lamb that will have no end (Revelation 19:9).
But there will be no joy without sorrow, no homecoming without exile, no grace without judgment, no joyous victory without the scars of survival. The remnant will have to endure war, splintered relationships, and a broken world before they will live in a land where they will never be uprooted again. Law and Gospel work in Amos in marvelous and powerful ways, with the Gospel having the last word in the book.
Yahweh’s final word to humanity is Jesus (John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:1–2), whose perfect life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and promised second coming guarantee the “glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18) depicted in Amos 9:11–15. In the new heavens and the new earth, the old order of things, the devastation and destruction, the death and mourning, the crying and pain written on every page in the Book of Amos will give way to the one who sits on the throne and says, “I am making everything new” (Revelation 21:5).