June 27.—Morning. [Or December 21.]
OUR present lesson consists of another portion of the prophecies of Amos.
14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
You boast of his being With you, but if you wish him to be really so, you must seek him and follow his ways. To boast of our religious privileges, as though God was certainly with us because we go to a place of worship is mere vain glory; God dwells only with the contrite in heart.
15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: (where courts of justice were held:) it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. (If men have only a may be, they ought to be earnest in seeking salvation; how much more should we be eager for eternal life when we have sure promises and divine shalls and wills.)
16 Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing. (The husbandman shall be so disappointed in his harvest that he shall lament as those do who bury the dead. Harvest home shall be mournful as a funeral.)
17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the Lord.
In the place where joy was most manifest shall be most sorrow.
18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. (Bitterly will they lament that they said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” They will find the day of which they spoke so jestingly to be overwhelmingly terrible to them.)
19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. (It shall be to the wicked a going from bad to worse, from danger to destruction.)
20 Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? (No gleams of mercy shall light up the day of visitation; justice shall reign alone, and spread unmingled terror through the ranks of the rebellious.)
21 ¶ I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Formal worship where sin is loved is detestable to God; he is insulted by the outward homage of those who love the wages of iniquity.
22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. (Costly offerings and the charms of melody are not the things which God desires: holiness is his music, and a broken heart his chosen sacrifice.)
24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
This he demands, and this he will have; and all short of this is a mockery of him.
25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? (Even at the first they were idolaters: at the outset they could not hold on in the right way for a single generation: idolatry was rooted in them, nothing could wean them from it.)
26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. (Even, Moloch, the most bloody of the idols, they adored; no worship was too vile for them.)
27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts.
Idolatry, injustice, and uncleanness provoke the Lord, and he will not suffer such evils to go unpunished. O Lord God of hosts, wash us in the blood of Jesus; renew us by thy Spirit, and keep us true to thee all our days.
Alone upon the means of grace
Our souls must not depend;
Theirs simply is the handmaid’s place
Of means unto an end.
Nor must we only for a while
Put off the sins we mourn,
To flatter conscience, and beguile
The hours till they return;
But low in penitence must lie,
In deed as well as word;
And then must turn to Calvary,
And trust our bleeding Lord.
June 27.—Evening. [Or December 22.]
“Make full proof of thy ministry.”
AMOS had many visions, and he told them to the people boldly.
1, 2 Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers (or locusts) in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
3 The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord. (A famine was threatened by means of locusts, but the prophet’s intercession turned aside the evil. We cannot set too much store by the earnest prayers of holy men.)
4, 5 Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord God called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
6 The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God. (The fire indicated devouring judgments, but the prophet again pleaded, urging the low estate of Israel, and a second time he prevailed. The prayers of the righteous are the shields of the nation.)
7 Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
8 And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword. (He would judge the nation as a builder tests a wall to see if it is upright, and after that he would break down all that was out of line and unfit to stand. The sinful house of Jehu had now ruled for four generations, there would be but one more king, and then like the dynasty of Ahab, it would be swept away. This prophecy was delivered at Bethel, in the very centre of idolatrous worship.)
10, 11 Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
This was only in part true: Amos had not said that Jeroboam would be slain. We can never hope to have our case fairly stated; our enemies will exaggerate.
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 But prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. (As much as to say, “You are not wanted here. Judah is the place for those of your way of thinking; and besides, your rough manners are not fit for this courtly shrine.” Little did the false priest dream of the rejoinder he would receive.)
14, 15 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. (He spoke not out of any wilful ambition, but by divine commission, and was not therefore at all likely to be silenced by the threats of men.)
16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
17 Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. (In a few years these words came true. Woe unto those who stand up against the Lord and oppose his servants.)
O Lord, thy chosen servants bless,
That they may faithful be;
Thy truth upon the conscience press,
And sinners win to thee!
In holy watchfulness and prayer,
O keep them near thy side;
May they with loving zeal declare,
A Saviour crucified.
Great God! to thee I’ll make
My griefs and sorrows known;
And with a humble hope
Approach thine awful throne;
Though by my sins deserving hell,
I’ll not despair;—for, “Who can tell?”
Vile unbelief, begone;
Ye doubts, fly swift away;
God hath an ear to hear,
While I’ve a heart to pray;
If he be mine, all will be well—
For ever so; and, “Who can tell?”
Then let us not despond,
Inquiring “Who can tell?”
For in the sacred word
The question’s answer’d well:
That all who come to Christ shall be
Saved now, and through eternity.
Since from our faith thou dost withhold
No blessing of thy grace,
Make us in confidence most bold
Thy promise to embrace.
Full many an arrow may we aim
With faith’s most mighty bow,
Strengthened by thine all-conquering name,
Our sins to overthrow.
At twice or thrice let us not stay,
But the full number dare;
Since thou dost not a limit lay,
Why should our hands forbear?
Is there ambition in my heart?
Search, gracious God, and see:
Or do I act a haughty part?
Lord, I appeal to thee.
I charge my thoughts, be humble still,
And all my carriage mild,
Content, my Father, with thy will,
And quiet as a child.
The patient soul, the lowly mind,
Shall have a large reward:
Let saints be humble and resigned;
And ne’er provoke the Lord.
Jehovah hath spoken!
The nations shall hear;
From the east to the west
Shall his glory appear;
With thunders and tempest
To judgment he’ll come;
And all men before him
Shall wait for their doom.
Woe, woe to the sinners!
To what shall they trust?
In the day of God’s vengeance,
The holy and just!
How meet all the terrors
That flame in his path,
When the mountains shall melt
At the glance of his wrath!
O God, ere the day
Of thy mercy be past,
With trembling our souls
On that mercy we cast:
O guide us in wisdom;
For aid we implore;
Till, saved with thy people,
Thy grace we adore.
Long hath the night of sorrow reign’d;
The dawn shall bring us light:
God shall appear, and we shall rise
With gladness in his sight.
Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
Shall know him, and rejoice;
His coming like the morn shall be,
Like morning songs his voice.
So shall his presence bless our souls,
And shed a joyful light;
That hallow’d morn shall chase away
The sorrows of the night.
With broken heart and contrite sigh,
A trembling sinner, Lord, I cry;
Thy pardoning grace is rich and free;
O God! be merciful to me.
I smite upon my troubled breast,
With deep and conscious guilt oppress’d:
Christ and his cross my only plea;
O God! be merciful to me.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 378–380). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.