Amos was not a prophet by trade but just a man who God had called to go and speak out against the Children of Israel because they were worshiping other gods along with their worship of Him. The prophet Amos is continuing to plead with the people about God’s judgement that is coming but they were not heading his warnings. While Amos was going around and preaching the truth about God, God gave Amos some visions of the future and we will talk about two of those visions today. These visions were what God was going to do and Amos was able to see with clarity the judgement that was coming upon the people. Each vision was a dialogue between God and His prophet which shows the relational aspect of God with anyone who will seek Him.
Visions were taken seriously because they believed them to be from God or from other gods and visions were given by God to show His intentions for what is going to take place. We have been given visions in the Bible and specifically in the book of Revelation that tells us what God intends to do at some point in the future. We need to take these visions seriously because all the predictions that the Bible has talked about so far have come true. Many of the Bibles prophecies were not generic but specific even naming places and names before they existed which just reaffirms that the visions we have been given in the Bible can be trusted to come true.
Read Amos 7:1-6 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. 2 When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”3 The Lord relented concerning this: “It shall not be,” said the Lord.4 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. 5 Then I said, “O Lord God, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” 6 The Lord relented concerning this: “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.
Amos stood in the gap between the rebellious people and a Holy and righteous God. The people did not know that Amos was doing that on their behalf and as we will find out it did not even change their actions but none the less he stood in the gap pleading with God on their behalf. We need to be people who stand in the gap for others as we pray for them even when they are rebelling against God.
To be people who stand in the gap we have to:
1) Have the vision from God.
The first vision God showed Amos was that a bunch of locust were going to come and destroy the landscape. It was the timing of the locust that made it worse because it would devastate the harvest right before dry season which would mean there would be no grazing or hay for the animals. The King already had his share so this would have devastated the farmer, the little guy, and Amos being a rancher could see the devastation that would take place.
The second vision was of fire. Fire is a symbol of a great drought and the “great deep” is in reference to the subterranean springs. We have been given the vision of the future in God’s word and if we are going to stand in the gap between rebellious people and God then we need to be in the word of God. The people in Amos day were believing lies about God by worshiping several gods while worshiping the true God and many in our nation our mixing many religions together thinking that it is acceptable to God.
To be people who stand in the gap we have to:
2) Heart for the people
To forgive is to pardon (Isaiah 55:7) but there is no confessing of sin among the people only a prophet begging with God to forgive. Some believe here it was more a plea of patience that God would give them more time. Amos says, “I beg you to stop, how can they survive?” because He saw God’s punishment as being so devastating that it would kill them. Israel thought of themselves as an indestructible nation but Amos saw them as the weak and vulnerable nation that they really were.
To stand in the gap means to intervene between parties with a view to reconciling differences; to act as a go between for hostile parties
The problem again is that the people thought they were on good terms with God and that the religious activities they were giving to Him were acceptable. Many people in our world believe that all forms for worship are acceptable but God only accepts worship that comes through Jesus Christ. (John 14:6)
Amos was begging God for mercy even though the people deserved His wrath. Many Christians know the truth but they do not have a love and concern for the people they are to be sharing the truth with. Some people treat rebellious people as if they are begging for God’s judgement to come when we should be begging God to withhold His judgement in the hopes that they repent and turn to God through Jesus. Amos knew that God was merciful (refrain from enforcement) and graceful (undeserved favor) so he was pleading with God not because the people had changed but because of who God is.
Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
What Amos prayed was similar to what Jesus prayed as he prayed for those who were crucifying Him. It is the same prayer we should pray for others as we see them separated from God because of their sins.
Luke 23:33-34 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Some people cannot see that the way they are living is in rebellion to God and they really do not see their actions as being wrong. These are the very people we need to stand in the gap before God for as we beg for His patience and mercy.
2 Corinthians 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
Because of Amos standing in the gap on their behalf God withheld His judgement giving the people more time to repent of their actions. God’s judgment was withheld not because of the people but because a prophet that stood in the gap for them
Does the vision that God has revealed about the future of mankind move you to compassion for them? What is your attitude toward the very people who are crucifying you? Are you standing in the gap for people even though they do not know how much they are hurting you are others? We are called to stand in the gap for people not because they deserve it but because that is what Jesus did for us.
To be people who stand in the gap we have to:
The Lord Relented (He eased up on His judgement). Twice God stopped judgement because of the prayer of His prophet. God changed His plan to destroy Israel’s plant life with Locust and send a drought so devastating lives would be lost because Amos prayed. Hebrew word “Niham with” al” means “to allow oneself a change of heart regarding something. Because Amos stood in the gap the plagues were stopped before they even started. This is a difficult paradox we face when we pray to God because we know that God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and that He is all knowing but He seems to be the one who changes His mind. (Hosea 11:8) In his book “Knowing the Unknowable God” James R. Lucas goes through all the paradoxes in the Bible. A Paradox is just two truths that are equally true but seem to be in conflict with each other. There are many things we will not understand this side of Heaven so we take the truths of God and we trust that with God they all come together.
- Psalm 115:3 says God does what He pleases
- We do believe that God hears our prayers (Psalm 143:1)
- Romans 8:34 says that Jesus is interceding for us.
- Romans 8:26 says the spirit is interceding for us.
Prayer is based on the fact that God wants a relationship with His people and although we may not be able to fully grasp how God can know all things and yet seemingly change His mind we pray in faith trusting Him.
“If Abraham interceded for the few righteous people in the ungodly cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33), if Moses interceded for the sinful Israelites who worshiped the golden calf just a few days after they had seen the glory of God on top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 32), if Amos interceded for the pagan Israelites who worshiped the golden calf at the temple in Bethel (Amos 7:1-6), if Moses interceded for the wicked people of Israel after their rebellion against him (Numbers 14:10-25), if Jesus interceded for the Roman soldiers crucifying Him (Luke 23:34), and if Paul repeatedly interceded for the Jewish people who were not saved (Romans 9:1-5; 10:1) it seems only reasonable to conclude that God expects believers to intercede for his mercy on the wicked today.” (The NIV Application Commentary, By Gary V. Smith, Pg 360)
God takes no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23) Do You? God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9) and wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and our desires should be the same as Gods. Our prayer lives should be less about our wants and needs and about the souls of those who will be separated from God for all eternity if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
We need to be the ones who stand in the gap for people not because they deserve it but because none of us deserve God’s grace and mercy.
Daniel 9:20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God,
When is the last time you went to God for the sins of our nation? If we are going to be people that stand in the gap then we have to take not only our sins but the sins of others to God and plead with Him for mercy and forgiveness. We are called as followers of Christ to stand in the Gap between God and those who are lost without Him. Many people do not see that they are separated from God and therefore they do not see the gap that is uncross able without Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Who do you need to stand in the gap for? Who is in your life that you need to take before God ?