Amos 8 – The Vision of Israel’s Ruin & Prophets in the Bible and Pagan Nations

Just Standing e1539012764245I can see why Amos didn’t want to be called a prophet, or at least not a prophet for You.  It appears that people have never really liked You, and that I just can’t understand.

I understand that bad people don’t like good people, especially good people like You, but I used to be bad, I had an evil, but not a mean heart, but once I hooked up with Jesus things changed. 1 Jesus

To be totally honest with You, I do not really understand why I changed.  It wasn’t because I didn’t like being evil and I wasn’t scared of You, I changed before I got scared.  I never feared You until I got to know You, and I tell You, You are one scary guy.

Maybe that’s why people continue to be stupid, they don’t take the time to get to know You.  I thought it was really cool when we first talked and the more I get to know You the better life becomes.  And I know that my life with Jesus will only continue to get better.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Since we’re talking about stupid people, that would be those that don’t believe in Jesus, let’s look at another one of Ancient Man’s ridiculous beliefs, let’s look at…

Amos 8
The Vision of Israel’s Ruin

2 Mari in Syria
Mari, in Syria, was one of the great cities of Mesopotamia. It was a trading center on the Euphrates River and was founded some 7,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have discovered the giant palace of a Sumerian ruler, a temple to Ishtar, and a huge library with more than 25,000 clay tablets written in Akkadian cuneiform.

1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.

2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them anymore.

3 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.

4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,

5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?

7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.

3 Mari ancient Sumerian Amorite city
Mari, ancient Sumerian & Amorite city

8 Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

“As by the flood of Egypt” – because of the heavy seasonal rains in Ethiopia, the Nile in Egypt annually rose by as much as 25 feet, flooding the whole valley except for the towns and villages standing above it.  Its waters carried a large amount of rich soil, which was deposited on the land, perhaps referred to by the words “cast out.”

9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

4 Statue of Ebih Il
Statue of Ebih-Il, superintendent of Mari, found in the Temple of Ishtar, Archaic Dynasties (ca. 2400 B.C.).

“Darken the earth” – as elsewhere, the “day of the LORD” is describe as one in which the cosmic (world) order is disrupted and light is turned to darkness.

10 And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.

11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

“Famine…of hearing the words of the LORD” – in times of great distress Israel turned to the Lord for a prophetic word of hope or guidance, but in the coming judgment the Lord will answer all such appeals with silence – the awful silence of God.

12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.

Prophets in the Bible
and Pagan Nations

Prophecy was a common feature in the world of the Old Testament.  Men and women who were called by God to speak on His behalf were known by a variety of Hebrew terms that may be variously translated as:

5 The Septuagint
The Septuagint, from the Latin word septuaginta, is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek

Man of God

Since there was no substantial difference among these terms, the Septuagint often translates “prophet,” “seer,” and “visionary” with the single Greek word for “prophet.”

Early prophets in Israel seem to have been connected to a prophetic group (e.g., “the company of the prophets” who followed Elisha (2 Kgs 2:3) while later prophets appear to have been more independent.

Archaeological confirmation of prophetic activity in Israel is seen in the Lachish ostracon that speaks of a certain person called the “prophet.”

Yet prophecy was not a phenomenon unique to Israel, as the Bible itself attests (cf. “prophets of Baal” and “prophets of Asherah” in 1 Kgs 18:19). Ancient texts have yielded numerous examples of pagan prophets:

The archive from the city of Mari on the Middle Euphrates, dated to the mid-18th    century B.C., speaks a number of men and women who addressed the king on behalf of the gods.

Like the Biblical terms for prophets, multiple titles were given to these individuals at Mari, including on one occasion the term nabu, the Akkadian equivalent of the Hebrew navi (“prophet”).

6 The discovery of the Lachish Letters
The discovery of the Lachish Letters in 1935 of eighteen ostraca (clay tablets with writing in ink) written in an ancient Hebrew script, from the 7th century BC reveal important information concerning the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah.

They were discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of an ancient guard room just outside the Lachish city gate.

While some of the Mari prophets were connected to religious sites as priests or servants of a temple, many appear to have been ordinary people from various walks of life. Ecstatic behavior, seen among Biblical prophets in Samuel’s day (Isa 19:24) and later in Ezekiel’s (Eze 4:4), was also evident at Mari.

An ecstatic seer called a “man of god” is attested in the 14th century B.C. Hittite Prayer of Mursilis.

The 11th century B.C. Egyptian story of Wen Amon tells of a page in the court of the king of Byblos who was seemingly possessed by a god during an offertory ritual, as evidenced by his ecstatic behavior.

An inscription from the 8th century B.C. Syrian state of Hamath recounts the story of a man named Zakir praying to Baal for his besieged city and subsequently receiving assurance of divine assistance through seers and other inspired people.

Late 8th century B.C. plaster texts from Deir Allah speak of a certain Balaam, who is said to be “a seer of the gods” and who, later in the story, sees a vision from the god El.

As God’s spokesman in 7:14, Amos eschewed any prophetic title, perhaps because of unwanted associations with the term in his day. As seen in so many other parts of Scripture, the words of Amos enforce the reality that God uses everyday people to carry out his will.


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