Full text of Zac Poonen’s teaching on ‘Book of Amos’ and ‘Book of Obadiah’ which is part of the popular series called Through The Bible.
Listen to the audio version here:
Zac Poonen – Bible Teacher
Let’s turn now to the book of Amos.
Amos chapter 1, verse 1. This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake when Uzziah was king of Judah. Jeroboam II, the son of Joash, was king of Israel.
Now most of these prophets, almost all of these prophetic books, we know exactly when they prophesied except Joel. See, Joel, if you remember the first day when I gave you a list of the dates of all the prophets, if you were observant, you probably discovered Joel was missing. Well, that’s because we don’t know from Joel’s prophecy when he prophesied. Some people say he could have been prophesying the same time as Elisha. I don’t know. It’s difficult to say. We can’t predict.
But all these other people prophesied and they told us the time. Amos was the first of all these prophets who preached to Israel. There are 16 prophetic books starting from Isaiah going up to Malachi. And one of those books, Jonah, he did not preach to Israel. He preached to Nineveh.
And Jonah is not essentially a book of prophecy. It’s a book of history. And Jonah lived immediately after Elisha. But Amos was the first of all these other 15 books of prophecy. And he preached to Israel, the northern kingdom. He was the first of the prophets. All the others came after him.
And he had these great examples like Elijah and Elisha before him. He never knew any of them personally. There was no written prophecy that Elijah and Elisha left behind. So we can say that Amos was the first person to put down a written prophecy. And keep that in mind. And he was not a professional prophet. He was a shepherd. Just like the first apostles were fishermen, tax collectors. Like Elijah was also a farmer — Elisha rather. And Amos was a man who looked after cattle and sheep and grew figs.
Let me just show you a verse in chapter 7, verse 14 to 15. He says, Amos 7:14 and 15, he says, in reply to another priest, he says, to a priest. He says, ‘I’m not one of your professional prophets. I certainly never got any training to be a prophet. I’m just a shepherd. And I take care of fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’
Why did God pick on Amos to be the first person to write down a prophetic message? He must have watched him like He watches all people. To see whether this man who was just an ordinary shepherd. He’s not a scholar. He’s not a priest. But he’s very faithful in his task. He’s God-fearing. He goes to the temple. He seeks to fear God and is kind to the poor people and lives in a good way. And God had His eye on him and encouraged him and spoke to his heart and one day picked him up and said, ‘you’re going to be My servant.’
You know that God watches you. We can get a lot of training and try to serve God like that. But this is different. This is where we are faithful in our daily life, humbling ourselves before God, listening to Him, studying the scriptures, waiting upon Him and faithful, faithful for years. Perhaps Amos was faithful for 25 years. I don’t know.
I know that Jesus was faithful for 30 years in Nazareth before He was called to preach. He was faithful, faithful Amos. And you can be faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful in the little things, wondering if something is going to happen. And one day God picks you up and says, ‘OK, you’re going to be My servant.’
So God calls those who are faithful in their secular work. He did that before Christ came. Jesus Himself called people who were faithful in their secular work to His service. And one phrase that never occurs in the book of Amos is the phrase, ‘the God of Israel,’ ‘the Holy One of Israel.’ These type of phrases never occur in Amos because Amos was so large-hearted. He saw God as the God of all nations, not just the God of Israel, even though he prophesied to Israel.
And you see, in Amos chapter 9 and verse 7, the Lord says. It’s a very interesting verse for the first of the prophets in that time to say. Amos 9, verse 7, ‘Do you Israelites think that you are more important to Me than the Ethiopians?’ Asks the Lord. ‘I brought you out of Egypt. That’s right. But haven’t I done as much for other nations? I brought the Philistines from Crete. And I led the Arameans, the Assyrians, out of Kir. I brought you out of Egypt. What’s the difference between you and them?’ That was Amos’s vision. He was a new covenant man who believed that God would gather the Gentiles as much as the Jews and make them one body.
It’s interesting to see how even though these people were in Israel, they had a large heart for all of God’s people. They were not narrow like the other Israelites who felt, ‘Oh, we are the only people.’ Have you seen some Christians like that? They sit in some denomination and they say, ‘ours is the only denomination that God has accepted. God has not accepted anybody else. If you want to be with God, you got to be with us.’
There were people like that in Israel too. Not the prophets. They had a large heart. And even today, a true servant of God will have a large heart that accepts God’s people in every denomination. Those who love the Lord. He realizes that Babylon is not in a system. Babylon is not this church or that church or the other church.
It’s a world system which can be found in your heart. And you can sit in the best church in the world and be a part of Babylon. That’s possible. I’ve seen that through 25 years. People who sit in the best church in the world and they are 100% a part of Babylon. Because it’s in their spirit. They think that because they come out of a system, they are free from it. No, you’re not.
If you love money, whichever church in the world you sit in, you’re a part of Babylon. If you live according to the flesh, whichever church in the world you sit in, you’re an adulteress. You can glory over those other denominations saying, ‘Oh, I don’t worship Mary or things like that. Maybe you worship your sexual lusts. What is the difference?’
So much of deception in Christendom today. Narrow-minded approach, thinking that God only cares for this little group over here. This is how cults are built. The body of Christ is larger than any denomination. God’s people are not found in any denomination today. God has got His people in the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that. There are born-again people there who love the Lord. I don’t agree with the system. I don’t agree with many things in that system. But I don’t deny the fact that God has His people there.
And there are unbelievers in the separated churches. In the best churches, there are unbelievers sitting there. Particularly in the second and third generation. People who don’t know the Lord.
So we must see something of Amos’s vision. God punishes all nations and He gathers people from all nations. And when you look at Amos’s illustrations, his illustrations throughout the book come from his shepherd life. He talks about a bullock cart full of sheaves of corn. He talks about a shepherd trying to rescue bits of a lamb from a lion’s mouth. He talks about caterpillars, how ploughing the fields and locusts and the stars. Showing that he sat observing the greatness of God.
And God gives him a word where He pronounces judgment on rich people. And especially the rich, the wives of the rich people who lived in such luxury in those days. You see, Amos was living at a time when Jeroboam, like it says here, was ruling over Israel. And they did not have many wars in those days at that particular time. Even though Jeroboam was a man who lived in evil.
And when Israel did not have many enemies, what happened is, it expanded its borders and people engaged in a lot of business. There was not expense on war. The result was people became very, very rich. Some of the things you read in the book of Amos is that there were people who had many houses. The beautiful homes of the wealthy, he says in chapter 3, verse 15. They had winter mansions and summer houses.
Now, only a very rich person can have one house for the summer and another house for the winter. Summer house in the mountains and winter house in the valleys. Rich people, they had very expensive furniture, ivory beds, chapter 6, verse 4. Beds made of ivory. And the same verse, eating the meat of tender lambs and choice calves. They were gluttons. They were drinking, as we read in chapter 4, verse 1.
And along with all this, they were also exploiting poor people. Chapter 2, verse 6. They were selling honest people for silver and selling poor people as slaves, just for a pair of sandals.
So, you see, this is the type of atmosphere in which we can say, communism can breed. You know, for years and years before communism came on the scene. It was exactly like this in many, many countries. The rich people, fantastically rich landlords and exploiting the poor people. You need to get a little picture from all these verses of the type of situation in which Amos lived.
You see, for example, people who were eager, chapter 8, verse 5, for the Sabbath day to be over, so that they could go and do business. Very business minded. Money, money, money. As soon as the Sabbath is over, let me go and continue my business.
They were the wives of the rich people, you read of in chapter 4, verse 1. They are called the fat cows of Samaria. They oppressed the poor and always asking their husbands for another drink. This is the type of situation they lived in.
And what about the rulers among God’s people? The rulers and the leaders, chapter 6, lived in luxury and thinking that they were secure. At the same time, they had a lot of religion. We read, for example, in chapter 4 and verse 4 about their offering sacrifices in Bethel and Gilgal. Of course, they were offering to the idols, but they were offering sacrifices in the morning and they were bringing their tithes every three days and presenting their Thanksgiving offerings and voluntary offerings and all that.
Chapter 4, verse 4 and 5 and many other verses like that, which show that they were a very, very religious people. Chapter 5, verse 21, they had solemn assemblies, special meetings, religious festivals, burnt offerings. Verse 23, hymns of praise. They had praise and worship. The Lord said, ‘it is all a noise in My ears, I will not listen to your music.’ 5:23, ‘no matter how lovely it is, I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.’
So here is a picture of the type of people to whom Amos was preaching. Rich people, enjoying grand houses, upper middle class people, exploiting poor people and not feeling bad about it. And at the same time, very religious. These rich people were board members in their churches and they were given honorable positions by the pastors and the priests and leaders. Very similar to what is happening in a lot of cities in India today.
It is not popular to go and preach to such people and tell them the truth. Amos had a difficult ministry. There were professional priests like we read in chapter 7 of Amaziah, who confronted this Amos. Amaziah versus Amos. Amaziah, the professional priest, hired by the rich establishment and paid a very good salary by all the rich members in the board because he kept preaching things that would make them happy, keep them happy.
And in comes this shepherd, prophet, untrained man, gets into the pulpit and thunders away at all these rich people. And the rich people must have got mad. ‘Get this fellow out of here. He is preaching false doctrine, preaching heresy. Throw him out.’ And Amaziah takes that job on himself to throw out Amos.
So, you find that these Old Testament books are very relevant to our time. When we read all these verses, it’s all in here. If you read it carefully, it’s all in here.
And what does he say? Let’s turn. In chapter 1 and 2, he’s talking about judgment on a number of nations. And then in chapters 3 to 6, he gives Israel the reasons why they are being judged. And then, like all the prophets in the last three chapters, he gives a prophecy of restoration after judgment.
Now, first of all, he preaches in chapter 1 and pronounces judgment on verse 3, on Damascus and on Gaza, verse 6, on Tyre, verse 9, on Edom, and verse 13, Ammon, Moab, chapter 2, verse 1. So, here are six nations against which he prophesies. And I can imagine how the Israelites, when they were listening, Amos thundering away in the pulpit, woe unto Damascus. God is going to judge Gaza. God is going to judge Tyre. God is going to judge Edom. They’re all very happy. They say, ‘Amen. Praise the Lord. It’s going to be like that.’
And then he says, woe unto Judah, woe unto Israel. And then the Amens become silent because now he’s preaching directly to them. We always like to hear a preacher who’s telling us what’s wrong with all the other churches, right? You like to hear a preacher who tells you what’s wrong with all the other churches except yours? That’s how Amos really, he sort of worked them up. He got them to say their Amens and Amens and Amens and Amens . And then he honed it on them. He was a wise man.
He said, ‘you’re no different. You fellows in Judah, chapter 2, verse 4. All of you people in Israel, chapter 2, verse 6.‘ He uses this expression ‘for three transgressions and for four.’ Verse 3 onwards. That means they have sinned again and again. That means God is saying, ‘I ignored three transgressions, but I won’t let you go the fourth time. Not literally the fourth time. That means I let you go a number of times, but now that’s the end. I’m not going to let you go anymore. I’ve forgiven you enough number of times. You’re just taking advantage of My goodness. It’s a word that we need to hear. Are you one of those who take advantage of God’s goodness?”
And what are the things which he condemns? If you, I don’t have time to show it all to you, but you read it in chapter 1 and chapter 2. He condemns them for being cruel to, for the way they treated other human beings. For example, see verse 3, the last part. You beat down My people in Gilead as grain is threshed. That means you took advantage of these poor people and you hammered them.
And verse 5 and verse 6, the other group. Again, it is their treatment of other poor people. You sent My people into exile, verse 6, selling them as slaves. Verse 9, the other sin, again, the treatment of other people. They broke their covenant of brotherhood with Israel and sold whole villages as slaves to Edom.
Verse 11, the sin of Edom is they chased down their relatives, the Israelites. Israelites were their cousins. Chased them down with swords. verse 13, the people of Ammon, they attacked Gilead and ripped open the pregnant women. And Moab, chapter 2, verse 1, was so angry with the king of Edom that by the time they got there, the king of Edom had died. They dug up his grave, pulled out his bones and took revenge on his bones, burned it to ashes. Chapter 2, verse 1.
Now, in all these cases, you find it is their anger against other people. It’s one common thing. They are all angry with other people and want to take revenge on them and be hard on other people.
What is the message to us? For three transgressions and for four. Meaning, okay, you’ve done a lot of wrong things in your life. I’ll let you go for all of them, God says. But when you treat other people like this, I’m really going to come down hard on you.
I told you when we studied Genesis, God never cursed Adam. He sinned and destroyed himself. But when Cain hurt another human being, he was cursed. There are sins that affect us and there are sins that affect other people.
Let me repeat it. When you get drunk, you smoke a cigarette, you hurt yourself. That’s a sin. You’ll be judged. But it’s not as serious as when you sin in a way that will hurt other people. When you gossip, speak evil of others, ruin their reputation. When you hurt others, when you molest a woman, when you violate her purity, those are sins that hurt others. They are very serious.
How would you like it if somebody did that to your daughter or your sister? How would you like it if somebody lusted after your daughter or your sister? Any sin that violates another person’s life is very serious in God’s eyes. I believe that.
But it’s very difficult to find a church where people believe that gossiping is worse than smoking cigarettes. Because we haven’t got prophets to tell us what the God’s word says. See how hard God was on these people.
Now when it comes to Judah and Israel, see what He says to them. Chapter 2 verse 4. You have rejected the laws of the Lord. You have disobeyed God’s word. Those other fellows didn’t have laws. They just treated other people badly. But you — you had God’s laws and therefore I will send fire on Judah. And the people of Israel, verse 6, they have sinned again and again and again. And they have also hurt other people, selling poor people for a pair of sandals. Denied, trampled, helpless people in the dust, verse 7. Denied justice to those who are oppressed, living in adultery at their religious festivals. They lounge around in clothing stolen from their debtors.
And in the house of their God, they present offerings of wine purchased with stolen money. It’s like people who have cheated the income tax and with that money they give it to God’s work. What did God — what did Jesus say? First give to Caesar, to the government, what belongs to the government. And then give to God, what belongs to God. That’s the order.
So he warns all these people and condemns them for their attitude, for selling their people as slaves, etc.
And now we come to chapter 3. One more thing I want to show you here is in chapter 2, verse 12 — verse 11, I chose some of your sons to be prophets and I chose some of your sons to be Nazirites. Nazirites were those people who were set apart to be exclusively for God, like Samson. But you caused the Nazirites to sin by making them drink wine. That means you corrupted the few wholehearted believers there were in your church. There were a few wholehearted believers in your church and you spoiled them by your worldliness and your jesting and your fooling around and your joking and your immoral behavior and all that. Even those few young wholehearted people got corrupted.
This is really true in India, God calls some young man, some young woman here and there to be a prophet or a Nazirite separated to God and they get corrupted by looking at the example of older people who are going in a wrong direction. And the Lord says to those older people, you have destroyed these budding prophets. You have destroyed these Nazirites.
So what is my word to all of you young people? Don’t look at these bad examples you have who are older than you. Follow the examples of Christ-like leaders and ignore all the rest even if their doctrines are correct. Don’t just think because a man’s doctrines are right, he’s a godly man. It’s character, Christ-likeness that makes a man a godly man.
In chapter 3, he says about why Israel is being judged. He says, can two people walk together, verse 3, without agreement? The Lord is saying, how can you and I walk together unless we are in complete fellowship? If there are things in your life with which I cannot agree and you don’t set them right, how can we walk together? You want to walk with Me? Sure. But we must be in agreement. We must be in fellowship. Take My yoke upon you. You got to follow Me. You got to be righteous like Me.
Does a lion ever roar in a thicket without first finding a victim? Does a young lion growl without first catching his prey? He says, if I am roaring in judgment, there is a reason for it. There is sin. When disaster comes to a city, verse 6, when the war trumpet blares, shouldn’t the people be alarmed? When disaster comes to a city, isn’t it because the Lord planned it?
In a few years after Amos preached, Assyria would come and bring disaster upon Israel and Samaria. And the Lord says, don’t think I didn’t plan it. I planned it as a punishment to teach you fellows a lesson. But before I do that, before I bring that nation to punish you, I will always, verse 7, warn you through my prophets. That’s a wonderful word.
Even today, in the church, God warns His people repeatedly through His prophets, saying, turn from sin. If you don’t, this is what’s going to happen. This is what’s going to happen. It won’t happen tomorrow. It happened about a hundred years after Amos prophesied, perhaps. But it came.
Noah preached; a hundred years later the rain came. It will come. But God always warns people through His prophets before the judgment comes.
So, since the lion has roared, verse 8, tremble in fear. The sovereign Lord has spoken. I dare not refuse to proclaim His message. What the Lord is saying here is, supposing there’s a lion in front of you and he roars, you would tremble there. And the Lord says, I’m speaking and you’re not trembling. I’m speaking about your impurity in your thoughts, in your eyes, your unrighteousness in your financial dealings, your worship of other things other than Me. And you’re more afraid of a lion that I created than of Me roaring and speaking in the pulpit?
You say, oh, that’s just Amos. He’s just an untrained shepherd. Well, he may have been an untrained shepherd, but he was a prophet of God. So he says, announce this to all the leaders. Take your seats now and witness what is going to happen to Israel for their crimes. My people have forgotten what it means to do right. Chapter 3, verse 10.
And in chapter 4, he speaks about the women and he calls them, you fat cows. They were so fat because they ate so much. And they drank so much. And they were always asking their husbands for another drink, verse 1. And he says, the time will come when you cows, somebody will put a hook in your nose and drag you away. Verse 2, all of you will be dragged with a hook in your nose, you fat cows.
See, the Lord is pretty strong, sharp, sarcastic when He speaks to wake up these people. Prophets are usually sarcastic because that’s the only way to wake up people. Jesus spoke with sarcasm and with strong language. And these prophets also did that. And He says, you can keep on offering all your sacrifices. I couldn’t care less for any of them.
And then the Lord says, I tried to teach you by various calamities that I was trying to — that I was not happy with your life, but you wouldn’t listen. I brought hunger to a city verse 6 famine to another town, but you wouldn’t return. I stopped the rain from falling in the place where you needed it the most, ruining your crops. I sent rain in one town, verse 7, and withheld it from another. Rain fell in one field and did not fall in the other.
And people staggered from town to town, verse 8, for a drink of water and that wasn’t enough, but you still would not return to Me. Verse 6, you still would not return to me. I struck your farms and vineyards with blight, you still would not return to me. I sent sicknesses and plagues, you still would not return to Me. Verse 10, I destroyed some of your cities. Verse 11, you still would not return to Me.
After all this, if you still don’t return to Me, there is only one solution now. Verse 12, prepare to meet your God. Prepare to meet your God, because He’s tried His best through all the things that’s happened in your life to tell you that He’s not happy with you. You have no fellowship. You’re not building the body of Christ. You’re just wandering. You don’t seem to wake up. Okay? Then prepare to meet your God, because He’s coming in judgment.
Okay, now in chapter 5, he talks about, in verse 5, don’t go to worship in Bethel, Gilgal, Beersheba, and these places. These are places where God worked in the past. In Bethel, God met with Jacob. In Beersheba was another place where he met with Jacob. Gilgal was the place where Joshua circumcised people after coming through Jordan. Places where God met with people in the past and spoke to them. He says, don’t live in the past. Don’t say, “Oh, the man who founded our assembly, our church 200 years ago was a godly man.” Some of these godly people who founded churches 200, 300 years ago, if they came to earth today, they would not join the churches they founded. They would go somewhere else because those churches have backslidden so much from the time.
Those godly men, he says, don’t look back to the past. That’s what he’s saying. But see where God is now. Where is God moving now? That’s what we need to see. But it says in verse 10, “how you hate honest judges. How you despise people who tell you the truth. You trample the poor. You steal what little they have through taxes and through high rents.”
When a believer rents out his house to somebody, particularly if the other person is very poor, do you know that God is very interested to see how much rent he charges for that man? Do you believe that? God is interested to see if one believer is exploiting another believer in little things like this.
And Amos says, “I know you fellas don’t like somebody who tells you the truth, but this is the truth. If you do all this, one day God will punish you and He will take away these good houses that you’re living in. I know the vast number of your sins. You oppress, verse 12, good people by taking bribes and you deprive the poor people of justice in the courts. So this is an evil time.” So he says, “do what is good and run from evil, verse 14, that you may live.”
Now, chapter 6, verse 1, “how terrible it could be for all of you who lounge in luxury and think that you’re secure.” In verses 4 to 6, it speaks about their living in luxury, eating tender food and singing a lot of songs to the sound of the harp. It says, “you fancy that you’re great musicians like King David.” It’s quite sarcastic; the Lord is there. “You fellas think you can play music like King David. He had a good heart. You fellas just have music. You just play the cassettes, that’s all. You drink wine by the bowl full and you got such a lot of perfume and fragrances, and you care nothing that the church is in such a pathetic state. You’re just happy that everything is going well in your home. You got your music and you got your nice house and your good food. But how many of you are concerned about the condition of the nation? In our time, the condition of the church. Joseph’s affliction, that’s what it’s called. You’re not concerned about Joseph’s affliction. Joseph is a word representing Israel. You’re not concerned about that.
And the Lord says, ‘I despise verse 8, the pride and the false glory of Israel. I hate their beautiful homes.’ Do you think God hates beautiful homes? He does hate it if such a person is not concerned that the church should be beautiful. I don’t mean the physical building of the church. I’m talking about the people. If a person is not concerned for holiness in the church, however beautiful a home he may build, God says, ‘I hate your beautiful home.'”
Now we come to visions of judgment and promises of restoration. In chapter 7, there’s a vision of a fire, verse 4, a great fire with which God is going to punish His people. The fire had burned up the depths of the sea and was devouring the entire land. Amos prayed, ‘O sovereign Lord, please don’t do it. If you send a fire like this, nothing will be left.’ And the Lord gave up the plan, verse 6.
See, one man stood in the gap. In Ezekiel 22, verse 30, there’s a verse which says, ‘I sought for a man to stand in the gap, but I didn’t find one. I did not find an intercessor.’ There was one man who stood in the gap. He saw this fire coming, sweeping across, destroying Israel, and he said, ‘Lord, please,’ just like Moses when God wanted to destroy Israel, he pleaded. These prophets were people who prayed.
And though Israel did not value the prophets, it was because of one prophet sometimes that Israel was saved. Israel was saved because of Moses. Israel was saved because of Amos. They didn’t know it.
Then the Lord gave him another vision. And he says, ‘Here is a plumb line. You know the plumb line which masons use when building a building to see if it’s absolutely straight. And he says, ‘I’m going to test people with this plumb line, verse 8. I will not ignore their sins, and I will destroy them.’
And then you see this confrontation between the Babylonian priest and this man who was building Jerusalem, Amos. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, when he heard what Amos was saying, he went to the king and he told a lie. He said, ‘Amos is hatching a plot against you.’
You know, these false preachers and false prophets, they are always ready to spread lies about the true prophets of God, saying that he’s preaching this and he’s preaching that to turn people against the true prophets. It’s happened in Amos’ time. It’s happened in the 2,000 years of church history. He’s preaching this. This will lead to confusion. If you listen to what he’s preaching, it will lead to confusion in your church.
And Amaziah came to Amos, verse 12, and said, ‘Get out of here, you seer. You came from Judah to Israel to preach here. Go back to your country and preach over there. Don’t bother us here in Bethel with your prophecies. We’ve got enough preachers here. We don’t want any of your preaching here.’
But Amos said, ‘Listen, Amaziah, verse 14, I’m not one of your professional prophets. I didn’t get any training to be a prophet. I’m just a shepherd. I’m not a prophet. I’m not a son of a prophet. I take care of fig trees. And I was looking after my flock and the fig trees when God one day came to me and said, ‘Go to the northern kingdom and prophesy to them. That’s why I came. I didn’t come here to make money or any such thing.’
Now the Lord says, ‘Listen to this message, Amaziah. The Lord is saying, ‘You’re telling me to stop prophesying to Israel. You’re telling me to stop preaching. This is what the Lord says, “Because you oppose Me and you refuse to listen, your wife will become a prostitute in this city and your sons and daughters will be killed here. Your land will be divided up and you yourself will die in a foreign land.” It’s a dangerous thing to fight against God’s prophets.
Then the Lord gave him another vision of ripe fruit. He said, ‘What do you see? A basket full of ripe fruit.’ And the Lord said, ‘This fruit means Israel is ripe for punishment.’
And then we see this verse in 11 and 12, ‘There’s going to be a famine of the word of God in the last days. Not a famine of bread and water, Amos 8:11 and 12, but people will go here and there, here and there, looking for the word of the Lord. I believe we are living in such a time today. Not the word of God. The word of God is an expression for the Bible. This is the word of God.
But when it says the word of the Lord, the word of the covenant Jehovah, that means a prophetic word which comes from a prophet’s mouth. That word of the Lord will be rare. The Bible society will make sure that the Bibles are distributed, but the word of the Lord, the prophetic word will still be rare, and people will wander here and there to hear a prophet and they will not find it. They will go from sea to sea. And beautiful girls and fine young women will grow faint and weary, thirsting for the Lord’s word.
So what is the answer? When you get an opportunity to hear such a word, listen to it carefully. Listen to what God is saying to your heart. Take it seriously.
And in chapter 9, the Lord says in verse 11, ‘I’ll restore the fallen kingdom of David. It’s now like a house in ruins, the tabernacle of David. That’s a verse that’s quoted in Acts chapter 15, verse 16 and 17. James quotes this verse to refer to the building of the church. So we know that this is referring to the building of the church.
The tabernacle of David, which is going to be restored. Now it’s like a house in ruins. I will rebuild its walls. And if the church is in a ruined condition in many places, the Lord says, ‘I will rebuild it. And Israel will possess what is left of Edom, a picture of the flesh. And all the nations, I the Lord have spoken it and I will do it.’
And the time will come when the plowman, verse 13, will overtake the reaper. What does that mean? We have sowed many wrong things in the past and we are reaping, reaping, reaping, reaping. But the Lord says the time will come when the plowman will overtake the reaper. That means the new things that you are sowing in your life, after you are converted, after you have decided to be wholehearted, will wipe out the things that you are reaping from your old life. This will overtake that.
The dirty thoughts that plague your mind because you read such a lot of pornographic, filthy literature in the past and which is causing you such a lot of filthy dreams. Gradually the reaping of that will be replaced by what you are going to reap because now you are filling your mind with the word of God. And those dirty dreams will become less and less and less frequent and gradually disappear. Think of that because now you are sowing good seed, not the bad seed like the old days. That’s the end of Amos.
Obadiah is just one chapter, and we can just look at it. Obadiah was a man who preached during the same period as Jeremiah. And have you ever wondered why Obadiah just wrote a small chapter of twenty-one verses, very small, just about twenty-one verses, just about one page? I thought about that and I got this answer.
If you had gone to Obadiah and said, ‘Well Obadiah, why did you write such a small one-page prophecy?’ He would have said, ‘Well brother, Jeremiah is here and he’s been preaching for thirty years and he’s a godly man and he has said so much, I don’t want to speak too much in the presence of such a godly man.’ I see the humility there in Obadiah when you understand that he was preaching at the same time as Jeremiah.
You know, like in a church where there is freedom for ministry and a godly older brother has got up and spoken for a long time, ministry of God’s word, and then you get up and you add just a few sentences because you respect the godliness of this older man. This is Obadiah.
I want you to have a little respect for him so that when you meet him in heaven and he asks you, ‘Did you read my book?’ You’ll be able to say, ‘Yes, I did read it. I never read it till we had those special meetings, but after that, I did read it.’ And that’s one advantage of going through this Bible study. When you meet all these people in heaven and say, ‘Yes, at least we spent a half an hour reading what you had to write about.’ You won’t be embarrassed when you meet these people.
Ok, Obadiah is speaking about the judgment of Edom. Edom is a picture of the flesh and it’s a picture of the destruction of the flesh and it says here about their pride. ‘You are proud, verse 3, because you live in a rock like an eagle in a fortress up there. You see, it’s verse 4, ‘though you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars.’
You see, the flesh tries to exalt itself like an eagle and it thinks it’s got security like the nest of an eagle up there. But God says, ‘I’ll bring it all down.’ It’s a prophecy of the destruction of the flesh and we praise God that the flesh that we have is going to be destroyed completely by the Holy Spirit.
And verse 4 to 9, the Lord says He’s going to use the very things that Edom trusted in to destroy him. If thieves came at night, verse 5, and robbed you, they would not take everything. And even those who harvest grapes will always leave a few for the poor. But your enemies will wipe you out completely. Every nook and cranny of Edom will be searched and looted. Every treasure will be found and taken. Spiritually, the meaning of this is every little corner that is called flesh in our life, every lust of the flesh is going to be destroyed completely and overcome by the power of the Spirit.
All your allies will turn against you. They’ll help to chase you from your land and so on. Now in actual terms, why Edom was punished was because of the violence, verse 10, that they did to their close relatives Israel. Because in the time of Israel’s greatest need, verse 11, when they were being taken captive, you stood aloof and you refused to lift a finger to help them when foreign invaders carried off their wealth. You acted as though you were one of Israel’s enemies. You shouldn’t have done this.
You know there are sins of commission and sins of omission. Sometimes we think only of sins that are committed. Let me ask you, in the story of the good Samaritan, you know the story of the man who was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and was beaten up and he was falling by the wayside. What sin did the priest do who walked by? What sin did the Levite commit who walked by? Did
they go and hammer up that man some more? No. Their sin was they did not lift a finger to help that needy man. How many of you believe that when you don’t lift a finger to help a person whom you can help, that is a sin? You don’t have to slap him. The very fact, like it says here, you just stood aloof, verse 11, you did not lift a finger to help that person. That’s a sin. It’s a sin of omission. And the Lord takes it seriously. You shouldn’t have done this.
And the other is, you gloated. That means when something bad happened to somebody whom you did not like, you felt a little happy. Have you felt a little happy when something bad happened to somebody you did not like? That’s the sin mentioned here. You should not have rejoiced because somebody else is suffering misfortune. You should not have, and they did something more. They fought against these people and cut them down at the crossroads, verse 14. They cooperated with their enemies.
And finally, the Lord says, restoration again. All these prophets speak about restoration. But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape one day, verse 17. It will be a holy place and the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance. At that time, Israel will be a flaming fire for the Lord and Edom a field of dry stubble. And the exiles, verse 20 of Israel, will come back and deliverers will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem to rule over the mountains of Edom and the Lord Himself will be King.
Today God has called us to be those deliverers who go and proclaim to people, behold your king, invite people to come back. I want to show you one more verse before I close and that is, it says here in verse 3 and 4, the pride of your heart has deceived you.
Why is it many believers are deceived? What is the reason for deception? Here is the answer, pride. When we are proud, we open ourselves up to spiritual deception because pride is the very nature of Satan, the deceiver. The moment we become proud of something, maybe you are proud of your good looks, proud of your intelligence, proud of your spirituality, proud of Bible knowledge, proud of anything. The moment you have pride of any sort, immediately the devil holds your hand and says, wonderful, you and I are in fellowship now.
Any type of pride. There is not an atom of pride in Jesus Christ. He was the humblest man that walked on the earth. The moment you humble yourself, you are in fellowship with Jesus and Jesus says, you and I are in fellowship now. It is a very dangerous thing to be proud. I would say pride is more dangerous than adultery because adultery is a sin which is evident and sins which are evident are not as serious as sins which are not evident.
Pride. Obadiah is preaching against pride like an eagle living up in its nest, he says here, you think you are secure, you think you are so great, that is why you are deceived.
Let us learn a lesson from this one page that this man wrote, this brief exhortation and let us go as deliverers, like it says in verse 21, to proclaim that Jesus is King and let us lift our fingers, at least, or our hands to help others who are in need. And if we do that, Obadiah would not have written that one page in vain.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the faithfulness of these prophets who spoke fearlessly, words that come to us 2,500 years later and challenge us today. Help us to live in the light of Your word and to honor You. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- (Through The Bible) – Luke (Pt. 2): Zac Poonen (Transcript)
- (Through The Bible) – Luke (Pt. 1) : Zac Poonen (Transcript)
- (Through The Bible) – Mark: Zac Poonen (Transcript)
- (Through The Bible) – Matthew (Pt. 2): Zac Poonen (Transcript)
- (Through The Bible) – Matthew (Pt. 1): Zac Poonen (Transcript)