Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos, and more specifically, is found in the seventh chapter. This particular chapter is broken up into individual sections—the first section a series of warnings that were given to Amos through visions he received from the Lord, while the second section is accusations which were brought against Amos by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. The first section of this particular chapter is actually astounding when you consider it, for the prophet Amos was forewarned of a series of judgments and calamities the Lord was going to unleash and bring upon Israel and Samaria. When the chapter opens, it opens with the prophet Amos receiving a vision from the Lord concerning the formation of a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. It’s interesting that the prophet Amos didn’t merely see the formation of the locust swarm, but actually saw that the swarm had finished eating the vegetation of the land. The prophet Amos saw a vision of tremendous devastation and destruction that would come upon the land through the crippling of its agricultural means of providing food and sustenance for themselves. The prophet Amos saw a vision of the formation of a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout, but he also saw another vision—the Lord calling to contend with them [Israel and Samaria] by fire, and it consumed the greet deep and began to consume the farm land. In verses one through six of this particular chapter, Amos saw visions of great destruction and devastation coming upon the land—one by a locust swarm which would devour everything in its path, and another by a fire that would consume the farm land among them.
It is very clear when reading this particular section of this chapter that the Lord was warning Amos of an impending judgment and calamity which would sweep through and consume the land. What’s worth noting, is that in each of these warnings, the vision and warning which Amos received was too much for him to bear, and as a result, he poured himself out in intercession on behalf of the land and its inhabitants. When he received the vision of the locust swarm eating the vegetation of the land, Amos cried out before the Lord, saying, “Lord God, please pardon! How can Jacob stand, for he is small?” The pattern that you see in the first three verses is—THE WARNING, THE INTERCESSOR’S CRY, AND THE LORD’S RELENTING. The Lord showed Amos a vision of a locust swarm eating the vegetation—a vision which was too much for Amos to bear, and as a result, caused him to cry out in desperate and passionate intercession for pardon. It is worth considering that Amos’ cry for pardon on behalf of the inhabitants of the land seems to underscore the reality that he knew and understood that the devastation and destruction that was coming upon the land was directly connected to their iniquity, their sin, their rebellion and their wickedness. When Amos saw the devastation of the locust swarm, he immediately cried out to the Lord to pardon His people, for Jacob would not be able to stand because they were small before the Lord. First came the warning, then came the intercessor’s cry , and finally came the Lord’s relenting of that which He had purposed and determined for both His people and the land. When you come to verses four through six, you find this same pattern being present once more, for first came the warning of a consuming fire, then came the passionate cry of intercession from the prophet, and then came the Lord’s relenting of that which He had planned and purposed. This brings me to an absolutely incredible reality when considering this particular passage—the reality of that which the Lord is warning His prophets and seers of in this generation.
I believe with all my heart that the Lord is warning His prophets and seers, and is speaking to them through visions of what is to come, and He is looking for men [and women] who can stand in the gap and intercede on behalf of the land and the inhabitants which dwell within it. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord” (Ezekiel 22:30-31). Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord revealed His desire for a man among the inhabitants of the land who would stand in the gap on behalf of the land in order that He might not destroy it and pour out His wrath. The tragic reality is that the Lord searched for a man who would stand in the gap—one who would stand in the midst of the breach that had been made—in order that He might not destroy His heritage and people, yet He could not find a single one. If only the Lord had one after the heart and spirit of Abraham in that generation—one who would be warned of future judgment and calamity, yet would stand in the gap on behalf of those to whom the judgment is directed, in order that the Lord’s judgment might be averted. If you read the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, you will find the account of Abraham being warned by the Lord concerning the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
“And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in they sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant…And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to sl ay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And He said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall be thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the Lord went His way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place” (Genesis 18).
This passage must be carefully examined and included when reading the passage in the prophetic book of Amos, It is within this passage in the prophetic book of Amos that we find the warning of the Lord, the prophet’s intercession, and the Lord’s relenting of what was in His heart concerning His people and the land. While I do not believe this to be a very specific model or formula, I do believe that it begs some serious consideration—especially in this generation in which we are living. First comes the warning, then comes the intercession, and finally comes the Lord’s relenting of that which was in His heart and mind. What we must recognize and understand, is that it is the prophet’s intercession that brings about the changing of the mind of the Lord. Without and apart from the intercession of the prophet, there would be no relenting, no changing of the mind of the Lord concerning that which He had purposed and planned in the midst of His heritage and people. What we must understand is that Amos’ intercession was only made possible because he received the warning given him by the Lord. Is it safe to say that true and passionate intercession can only take place according to the warning(s) we receive from the Lord? Is it safe to say that had Amos not received these warnings from the Lord, there would have been no intercession on behalf of the people? Is it safe to say that there would have been no plea for pardon if Amos had not first received the warning from the Lord—a warning which he could neither shake nor disregard? It was the warning that gave way to the passionate plea of intercession, and I believe that there is a tremendous amount of truth that is found in this reality. It was through the prophet Jeremiah that this question was presented in his generation—“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary of holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days” (Jeremiah 6:10-11).
The words spoken by Jeremiah go hand in hand with the words which were prophesied by Amos in his generation—“Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:3-8). I believe with all my heart that the question which was asked of Jeremiah is a question which must be asked in this generation—“To whom shall the Lord give warning?” Amos was given warning by the Lord—not just one warning, but two warnings—and it was from that place of warning that Amos gave himself to intercession and crying out before the Lord on behalf of the people and the land. The Lord is asking to whom He shall give warning, for it is from that place of warning that men and women that men and women will truly be able to rise up in passionate intercession for the nation, for their homes, for their marriages, for their children, for their churches, for their relationships, for their work places, for those in leadership, and for the nations of the earth. The Lord found in Abraham one whom He could give warning. The Lord found in Amos one whom He could give warning. The Lord found in Daniel one whom He could give warning. The Lord found in Ezekiel one whom He could give warning. The Lord found in John the apostle one whom He could give warning.
The Lord isn’t just looking for men and women whom He can give warning, but those who will from that place enter into an additional place of intercession. Amos received warnings which came to him in visions, and it was in that place of concern and compassion for the Lord’s people that he rose up in intercession and asked the Lord to pardon. The prophet Daniel actually found himself in a very similar place: “And I set my face unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured out upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him” (Daniel 9:3-11).
Oh, who among us is willing to stand in that place of warning—that place where the Lord can warn them of what lies ahead? Who among us is willing to possess the discernment and understanding concerning that which the Lord has planned for this earth and the inhabitants dwelling within it? There are those among us who are perhaps interested in and desirous of remaining in that place of warning, yet they don’t understand the tremendous burden and responsibility that is associated and connected to it. There are those who want to classify themselves as those to whom the Lord can give warning, yet they aren’t willing to pay the price in intercession before the Lord. The prophet Amos received warning given him by the Lord, and it was from and out of that place that he gave himself to intercession, in order that the Lord might pardon His people. The Lord is asking in this generation to whom He shall give warning, but He is also asking who will stand in the gap and make up the hedge in order that the Lord might not release His judgment upon the nations of the earth. Oh, are you one who is able to hear the warnings given by the Lord? Are you one who is paying attention to the warnings given by the Lord? Oh, to whom is the Lord speaking and giving His warnings in this generation, and who will not merely take those warnings and speak them in the hearing of others, but will stand in the gap—stand in the place of intercession before the Lord on behalf of the nations and inhabitants of the earth? Who are those who will see the locust-swarm and the consuming fire, and will stand in the place of intercession and cry out for pardon?
The Lord is passionately seeking and actively looking for those who can stand in the place of warning, and those who will respond with intercession in order that the lives of many might be spared and offered salvation. If there is one thing you must know and understand about being in this place of warning and intercession, it’s that there will be those who will stand and accuse you in the presence of others. If you are willing to stand in the place of intercession and warning, there will be those who will accuse you of conspiracy, and will seek to accuse you before rulers, before princes, before kings. Amos was accused by Amaziah the priest of Bethel before the king of Israel, and was accused of conspiracy. What’s worth noting about this, is that Amos the prophet was accused by Amaziah the priest—one who was the leading religious figure in the house of God. WHEN THE PROPHET OF GOD IS ACCUSED BY THE PRIEST OF THE HOUSE OF GOD! WHEN THE PROPHET OF GOD IS ACCUSED BEFORE THE RULER(S) OF THE LAND BY THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM. Amos was accused by Amaziah, the priest of Israel, and I can’t help but wonder if this Amaziah was a priest after the order of Levi, or whether he was one of the priests which Jeroboam son of Nebat had set up and established in the city who ministered before the calf of gold he had set up. Regardless of whether he was a priest after the order of Levi, or a priest of the idolatrous worship in the land, he represented the religious establishment accusing Amos before the king because of conspiracy. Oh, if you are willing to stand in that place of intercession and warning, rest assure and know for a certain that you will experience opposition, resistance, accusation, and so much more. I would dare say that the opposition and resistance is actually a tool in the hand of God to drive you further into the place of intercession. That resistance and opposition will drive you further into a place of confidence and boldness that wouldn’t otherwise be found or developed within you. Oh that the Lord would have confident, courageous, bold, brave, and steadfast men and women who are willing to stand in the place of warning and intercession in the land—men and women who will so touch His heart that He pardons those who are in desperate need of it.