Amos is still ranting against the idle rich who are unaware of the oncoming disaster. He carries on about their fancy food, their silly songs, and their wine and perfume, calling ‘wake up, guys, the party’s over!’ Yahweh hates them all for their arrogance- how dare they prosper and enjoy themselves while ignoring him!
Amos experiences three visions of Yahweh planning to punish the Israelites, first with a plague of locusts, second with a fire, and lastly with a – wait for it – plumb line. Betcha didn’t guess that one ahead of time. Yup – it’s symbolic of god measuring the people to see if they are straight and true – and of course, they are found wanting.
The last half of the chapter is kind of funny. The locals get upset with Amos’ rants and street preaching. The local priest asks the authorities (i.e. the king) to have Amos removed, because no one wants to listen to his doom and gloom prophesies. So they tell Amos to get lost and quit pestering people. Think about it – isn’t this exactly what would happen if Amos showed up at your local church or city hall??? And whose side would you be on? … Exactly. But Amos gets defensive; he protests that he’s not a professional prophet, just a poor farmer who hears voices. And then he loses it, snapping back at the priest “Your wife will become a prostitute in this city, and your sons and daughters will be killed.” (v 17). What is it with these idiots?
For comparison, here’s a modern fundie rant. How long can you stand to listen to it?
How many more ways can Yahweh rant about sinful people? In how many more chapters will we read of natural phenomena being attributed to god? Famines, eclipses, earthquakes, illnesses – all things that were not understood by the primitive people who wrote the bible.
Amos has a vision of god standing by the altar, vowing to bring down the roof of the temple onto the heads of the people, killing them all. No one will escape, not even if they try to dig down into – where, exactly? (v 2) To hell, in the KJV; to the nether-world, in my Hebrew-English translation; to the depths below, in the NIV; to the place of the dead, in the NLT; to Sheol, in a Jewish bible. Wow! It pays to cross-check translations. I looked up Sheol – in the Hebrew bible it’s the place of darkness to which all the dead go. When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, the word Hades was substituted for Sheol. Aha! Anyway, Yahweh goes on to describe how, no matter how the poor people try to escape, he is “determined to bring disaster upon them and not to help them.” (v 4). Well, that couldn’t be much plainer.
Heads up – the prophesy in v 12 is gonna turn out to be important later on. It’ll be contradicted in the next book, Obediah, who says there will be no survivors in Edom; and then it’ll be quoted later by Luke in the Book of Acts (15:17). But still, at the end of the chapter we get the usual promise of restoration, that peace will return and everyone will live happily ever after. Sorry, Yahweh – I’m sick of hearing about it, go find someone else. And good riddance to your pal Amos, too.