by Francis Foulkes ©


"In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name," says the Lord who does this. "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them," says the Lord your God.' (9:11-15)

After the darkest night there is always the dawn, the brightness of the morning, and the hope that the new day brings. After the fiercest storm the sky becomes clear, the sun shines and the birds begin to sing again. The book of Amos has been full of the denunciations of the people's sin and has had many messages of judgment. But now in the end there is a message of hope. On the other side of judgment is the restoring of the people of God - to God's blessing and to the outworking of God's purpose. In these last five verses of the book there are five great blessings that God promises to His people.

a. The rebuilding of the nation

Verse 11 speaks of the royal house of David as a tent or `booth' such as the people constructed at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (or the 'Feast of Booths' as it was also called). These were simple shelters made of boughs of trees and branches of palm trees to remind them of the way that they lived in the wilderness (see Leviticus 23:34, 39-43). God intended great things for the house of David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-15) but it just became like a 'booth' that had been broken down. After the death of Solomon the kingdom had been divided into two parts and only two of the twelve tribes continued to be ruled by a king of the family of David. Later that southern kingdom of the two tribes fell too. All of this happened because the people turned from God. They could not meet their powerful enemies in their own strength; and so, without God to help them, they were defeated. But God's promise was that He would 'raise up the booth of David' and 'repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old'. After learning the lessons of defeat, they would be restored. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah this happened. In a more wonderful way it happened in the coming of Jesus, as Mary His mother was told, 'He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end' (Luke 1:32-33).

b. Victory over old enemies

We have seen in studying 1:11-12 that the people of Edom were old enemies of Israel, and they took advantage of them whenever they could. This was particularly true after the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah, as the next little book in the Bible, the book of Obadiah, shows. But this message of hope is that they will no longer be possessed by Edom; instead they will 'possess the remnant of Edom'. They will also possess 'all the nations who are called by (God's) name' - all are under His control (compare the meaning of similar words in 2 Samuel 12:28), and will serve the purposes that He has for His people. This was partly fulfilled when the people returned from their exile to be a nation again. But once more the New Testament shows that this promise found its greatest fulfilment in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. His gospel came not only to Israel, but went out to the other nations, and they came to know Him as Saviour and as Lord. So James could use these very words from the book of Amos. He saw that God was not only restoring the people of Israel to know His great salvation, but causing 'the rest of men' to 'seek the Lord' and 'all the Gentiles who are called by (His) name' (see Acts 15:12-18).

c. The fruitfulness of the land

Verse 13 gives us a lovely picture. No longer is there drought and famine, blight and mildew, a locust plague and pestilence, such as 4:6-9 and 7 -.1-6 have spoken of as coming because of the Lord's judgment. When the people return to Him, He will turn back to bless them abundantly. The land will be so fruitful; the prophet says in poetic terms, that the reaping of the harvest begun in April will go on till the time of ploughing in October; and the treading of the grapes, usually finished in October, will take till the time of the sowing of the crops in November. The vineyards will be so fruitful that it will be as if the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it' (compare Psalm 65:9-13 and Joel 3:18). We can often thank God for such blessings on our land, laden fruit trees and the abundant harvests. We know also that God wants us to enjoy an abundance of spiritual blessings. that our lives abiding in Christ may be fruitful in all good works, and in the lovely fruit of the Spirit (see John 15:4-5, 16, Galatians 5:22-23 and Colossians 1:10).

d. work not in vain

The people suffered exile and captivity because they turned from God. But the time would come when the Lord would 'restore the fortunes' of His people. They would return from their captivity and 'rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them'. In God's judgment in the past, as 5:11 says, they built fine houses but did not continue to enjoy them, and they planted lovely vineyards, but were not able to eat the fruit of them. But the time would come when this would no longer be the case. In God's blessing the very opposite would be true. They would 'plant vineyards and drink their wine, . . . make gardens and eat their fruit'. When we have turned away from the Lord and are not doing His will, it often seems that we work and work and all our work is in vain. But when we are right with God, at peace with Him by His forgiveness and our desire to do His will, then we find that the words of the apostle Paul are gloriously true; we 'abound in the work of the Lord', and 'in the Lord (our) labour is not in vain' (1 Corinthians 15:58).

e. A lasting inheritance

The final promise was that the people would be planted again 'upon this land' and 'never again be plucked up out of the land' that the Lord gave to them. What they lost through their sin they would regain by God's grace. That happened, at least to some degree, when the exiles returned in the 6th century B.C. Many people see the return of the Jews from all over the world to their ancient land in this century as a fulfilment of this prophecy also. Perhaps, however, we should see a greater fulfilment of all such promises as the spiritual fulfilment that we have in Jesus Christ. It is not literally a 'land', but it is a great possession and inheritance that we have now. We have the great gift of eternal life with God, and that means an inheritance from which we 'shall never again be plucked up'. And that gives us a hope of what has often been called the 'better land', and what the book of Revelation (21:2) calls the 'new Jerusalem'. That life we have through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it will be a life from which all sin and sorrow,all suffering and pain will be removed.
The very last words of the book are words that have often been repeated throughout the whole, the reminder that these are not simply the words of the shepherd prophet from Tekoa, or any other mere man. 'Says the Lord God' has been repeated again and again. Over the message of hope also that we have in Christ, made plain in the pages of the New Testament, this stands written. It is the word of the Lord. God has not left us in darkness, but has given us light for the present and a sure hope for the future. 'In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.' (Hebrews 1:1-2.)


'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading' (1 Peter 1:3-4)

For further thought and study. 1. With these verses compare the blessings that are promised in Leviticus 26:3-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14, and those for which prayer is made in 1 Kings 8:33-40, on the basis of the repentance and obedience of God's people, and the Lord's own love and forgiveness.

2. Compare also with these verses the messages of hope that come in other prophets after there have been strong words spoken against the sins of the people. See especially Hosea 6:1-3, 14:4-7, Joel 3:17-18, Micah 7:18-20, Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Zechariah 8.

Note. In the case of a few verses earlier on in the chapters of Amos we have noted the fact that some people who have made a careful study of the book have questioned whether they are by Amos, and have given reasons for thinking that they may have been spoken or written by some one who at a later date brought God's word to the people. In the same way some have thought that this message of hope in verses 11-15 was not Amos' message. There are three main reasons why they take this view.

1. They think that the verses show the marks of a time later than Amos. They think this because of some of the words used, but more because they feel that verses 11 and 12 indicate a time when the whole of the house of David has fallen; there are no longer reigning kings of David's line, both Israel and Judah have been defeated, Jerusalem occupied by enemies, and Edom is rejoicing in the fact.

2. They emphasise that in the message of Amos himself, judgment has been spoken of as the 'end' (see especially 7:7-9, 8:1-3 and 9:1-6), and there is no message of hope. Others, however, feel that hope is expressed even where judgment is threatened, at least a hope for some in Israel who turn to the Lord (see, for example, 5:15).

3. They say that if Amos had brought a message of hope of restoration after God's judgment, then it would not have been just the hope of plentiful crops, fruitful vineyards and rebuilt cities, but of the flourishing of justice and righteousness which he desired to see in Israel more than anything else (see especially 5:24). It is possible that the message of a later prophet has been added to the end of the book of Amos. It is possible that, under the guidance of God, another has taken up the message of the earlier prophet and made it applicable to people in his own time. On the other hand, many great scholars have found no reason to compel them to think that these verses were not the message of Amos. But whatever we may think about the human author of these verses, we can see that they have a message from God for us, a great message of hope, which has a deeper meaning and a fuller understanding for us through Jesus Christ than it could have had for anyone in the Old Testament times.