A Study of Amos 3:7
Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?
The message of verse 1 begins with: “Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken”, and in verse 8 God repeats the importance of His message: “The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” This must be an important message. God’s message in these eight verses focuses on verse 7:
“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
It is certainly of great importance that we understand the meaning of this message. These days we frequently hear on the radio verse 7 quoted out of context. Of course, you cannot understand any verse if it is quoted out of context. For example, I wrote an article and preached a sermon on 1 Peter 4:17, which is also a verse that is frequently on the radio quoted out of context, and I showed that this verse speaks about us as “Partakers of Christ’s Sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13).
Therefore, let us begin to probe the context wherein Amos 3:7 is found. The first thing we see is:
Can Two Walk Together? (Amos 3:3)
In verse 3 God asked the first question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
The answer is NO. Two cannot walk together, except they are in agreement.
Why did God ask that question?
What does the context say?
To whom is God speaking?
God says in the previous verse: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth”. Therefore, we see that God is addressing His congregation, the House of Israel. But God’s words are written for all mankind, and for all times. God is not only speaking to the Jews. These words must also apply to the New Testament congregation, the Church.
Let me take it one step further. When the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 7:23 to some people in the Church: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”, the Lord Jesus indicated that these were people in the Church who never became saved and He never knew them. It does not mean that He never was aware of their existence, but it means that He never was intimate with them, and He never considered them as children of God. Therefore, When God says in Amos 3:2, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth”, God is not addressing the unsaved people in the Old Testament congregation, or the unsaved people in the Church, but God is only addressing the Israel of God. God is only addressing those who truly have become saved in Old Testament Israel as well as in the New Testament Church.
Why is God giving this message to His children?
The tone of verses 1, 2 and 3 speaks about the consequences of sin, and the tone of verses 1, 2 and 3 also speaks about salvation. First God addresses “the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt”. This includes all the descendants of Jacob, saved and unsaved. God refers to the event of the exodus from Egypt, which was a stupendous demonstration of the way God saves people. But in spite of all that God had done, most of those taken out of Egypt died in unbelief. Only a remnant chosen by grace was saved.
Is this not typical of the whole human race?
We all came into this world as rebels against God, and no miracle whatsoever is able to make us worship the only true God. Therefore it will take an act of God to turn the heart of any of these rebels into the heart of a saint. And that is exactly what God does when He makes us born again. God does not save us because we suddenly develop some warm fuzzy feelings for Jesus. God does not save us because we decided to believe in Jesus. God saved us for His own good pleasure. For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.
Therefore God has a bone to pick with the whole house of Israel. That is why God says in verse 1 that He speaks this word “against” them. Therefore, because they bear the name Israel, God says in verse 2 that He will punish them for their iniquities.
How will God do that?
God does that in three steps: First God performs surgery on those parts of the body that are dead. God brings the Assyrians, or the Babylonians, or the false gospels of our time, and God cuts away those in the Church that are unsaved. Secondly, those who truly are His children have to be cleansed from all their sins. God did that by transferring all the sins of those whom God chose to save on the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ paid for all those sins the penalty that was required. Christ suffered the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for us, because we are not able to pay such an enormous penalty. Thirdly, God chastens His children on this earth, to teach us His will for our lives, because we do not become followers of Christ unless our stubborn will is broken, and His will becomes our will. Only then are we ready to walk together with God. Only then can we say with Amos 3:3, “Yes Lord, we two can walk together, because we now agree on those things that You have planned for my life”.
And now, what follows are “Six More Simple Questions”. Look again at Amos 3:4-6. First God gives two examples from the point of view of a predator:
Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey?
The answer is NO. The lion will not roar before he has captured his prey. A roaring lion would drive away his prey.
Will a young lion cry out of his den (lit: give his voice from his den), if he have taken nothing?
The answer is NO. The young lion knows that he should be silent until he has captured something, and the young lion will only growl contently after he has received some food.
Then God gives two examples from the point of view of the prey:
Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin (bait) is for him?
The answer is NO. You cannot catch a bird in a trap if there is no bait in the trap to lure the bird into it.
Shall one take up a snare (lit: Shall a trap spring up) from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?
The answer is NO. A trap does not snap shut unless an animal has taken the bait.
Now God gives an application of the previous examples: The prey hear the warning of the predator’s coming and are afraid. God says:
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
The answer is NO. If the trumpet is blown in the city, then the people are afraid because an enemy is approaching.
I told you these are simple questions, and the answer is always NO. Now the last question:
Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
The answer must be NO. Evil, in this sense, does not mean sin.
God cannot sin, neither does He tempt anyone to sin. In this verse “evil” refers to a calamity or a disaster. This statement is very profound. God declares here His absolute sovereignty, not only in salvation, but also with regard to calamities. Earthquakes, and tornados, and hurricanes and floods are all acts from God. And before we get to verse 7, God wants to nail it down that the God whom we serve is an omnipotent and sovereign God, who carries out His plans according to the good pleasure of His will. God says in Isa 45:5-7,
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
This is the God of the Bible. Before we can be saved we must acknowledge that this is the God whom we worship. God started out this passage speaking about salvation and about retribution for sin. We cannot walk together with God unless we agree that He is the sovereign God who does according to His will. It is in this context that God introduces us to “His Secret”. We read in verse 7,
“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”
What is this secret?
Is this verse perhaps saying that God will not begin to enfold the fascinating events that are preceding the return of Christ and the end of the world?
NO! That is not possible, because the word “secret” in this verse is in the singular, and everywhere in the Bible this Hebrew word is in the singular.
Moreover, to whom is this secret revealed?
To His servants the prophets. That is a clear statement for the Old Testament time. But in the New Testament time all those who have been born again are called servants of the Most High, and they are all called prophets, because they all are declaring the Word of God as they read from the Bible.
This secret is not revealed to one man, who in turn says: “You all, take note, this is what God says, and now follow me”.
Watch out! If you have fallen into that trap, you have fallen into a cult.
God does not reveal His secret to a single man. In the New Testament this secret is revealed to all the prophets. And the word secret is in the singular.
What could this secret be?
What does the word secret mean in the Bible?
A secret is something that has already been written in the Bible, and it can be understood, but God has not revealed it. In fact, the Hebrew word that is used here in Amos 3:7, is actually His “secret counsel”. Amos 3:7 is actually saying:
“Will God do anything without revealing His secret counsel to His servants the prophets?”
Based on the questions preceding verse 7 we must answer:
NO! God will not do anything unless He first reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.
What have we discovered to be the context of this passage?
God spoke about retribution for sin, and about salvation, and about the sovereignty of God. Verse 7 has to fit this context. The answer is: God is speaking about salvation. “Will God save someone without revealing His secret counsel?” NO! God will reveal His secret counsel to all those whom He will save, and those are His servants the prophets. God does not say here that He will reveal His secret plans about the Final Tribulation Period and about the end of the world, but God says that He will reveal His secret counsel, singular.
What is that secret counsel?
It is a secret that will benefit those who become saved. The secret is God’s covenant with those who He has chosen. Look at the context
The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?
Christ, the lion from the tribe of Judah, has roared from Zion. They who have heard Him will fear. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. They that heard Him and fear Him, have the privilege of knowing Christ and knowing His secret counsel. The Lord GOD has spoken, therefore people prophesy when God has revealed to them His secret counsel.
We will now turn to Psalm 25. The reason why we turn to Psalm 25 is because Psalm 25 contains a commentary on Amos 3:7.
Psalm 25 is a Psalm of David, where God moved the hand of David to write the words that we find herein. The New Testament tells us that “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). For example, Psalm 25 are the words which God commanded David to write, and David prayed these words back to God. Presently we want to know:
Who are The Beneficiaries of God’s Secret Counsel?
The beneficiaries of God’s secret counsel are those whom God saves according to the good pleasure of His will. Here in Psalm 25 God discloses 4 ways, which lay out how God reveals His secret counsel unto His servants the prophets. We begin at verse 11.
For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
The first awareness of God’s loving touch is: we get to know that we are sinners from the womb. We are made aware of our sins, and we are made aware that forgiveness comes only by the mercy of God. We cannot work for forgiveness; we cannot first clean up our life, and we cannot clean up our sins in purgatory. All those efforts on our part will only draw us deeper into Hell. The Lord Jesus came for sinners. He did not come for those who think they did only small sins. He came for great sinners, like we read here in Psalm 25:11, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great”. David was not speaking about the sins in his later years. From verse 7 we know that David was speaking about the sins of his youth.
The second way is that God teaches us the way He shall choose. We read in Psalm 25:12,
What man is he that feareth the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.
What is that fear?
It begins with the fear of Hell, which we deserve for all our sins. But then, when we see the work of God in our life, it turns into an awe, and a reverence, and a worship, and a love for Him who created us after His own image, and we want to serve Him forever. That is the fear in Verse 12.
What is the Way that God shall choose?
The Lord Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). This means that Christ is the only way out of our sin problem. Christ is the only one who can take away our sin. He did that by taking our sins upon Himself, and paying for our sins on the cross the penalty that was required. “He who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We read in verse 8 that God teaches us these things while we were yet sinners. But God does not leave it there. When God saves us, He also gives us the assurance of that salvation. That is the third way, which we read in:
His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
That is a promise. The Lord Jesus extended this promise when He said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Once we know that we have been saved we rest our case in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ did all the work. His grace and mercy is beyond human comprehension. We believe what He said. And so, we become His Bride, and He becomes our Bridegroom. And we love to read the Bible, because we love to hear the voice of the Bridegroom. And there we read of the fourth way in which God makes us His children.
He Will Cause Them to Know His Covenant.
We read in Psalm 25:14:
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
Actually the Hebrew tenses are a little different from the translation in the KJV. Literally, Psalm 25:14 reads: The secret counsel of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will cause them to know His covenant. This is where Psalm 25:14 gives us additional insight into Amos 3:7. The Hebrew word for “secret” is the same in both verses, and it means “the secret counsel” of the Lord.
What is this secret counsel?
It is His Covenant!
It is “God’s Covenant of Grace”. God’s Covenant is God’s Last Will and Testament, which He hammered out in the secret counsel of the triune Godhead before the foundation of the world. In His Last Will and Testament God wrote down the beneficiaries of His Testament, and when Christ, the maker of the Will died on the cross at Golgotha, all the terms of the Will became effective. There at Golgotha God’s Covenant was signed in blood. There at Golgotha all those who were in Christ were guaranteed to be saved at some point in their lifetime. This is the reason why there are people who fear God, and believe that Christ died for all their sins, way back on Golgotha. They have become the beneficiaries of God’s Covenant, the Father has drawn them to Jesus, God has given them a heart to fear and worship Him, and God causes them to know His Covenant. God chose them, God called them with an effectual calling, God causes them to hear His Covenant, and God causes them to know that their names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
What Is in that Covenant?
What do we inherit in that Last Will and Testament of God?
God speaks about the Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 42, and God speaks about Christ as His Servant. The Lord Jesus came to earth not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. We read in Isaiah 42:1,
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
God said in Isaiah 42:6, “I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, ………and give Thee for a Covenant of the people.” The Lord Jesus Christ was given to His elect for a Covenant. We inherit the Lord Jesus Christ, which means we inherit God. God said something similar to Abraham. God said: “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward”.
What greater inheritance could we wish for?
There is no greater inheritance than that. If we as the Bride truly love our Bridegroom, then what more can we wish than to receive the Bridegroom as our own. We have no idea how God will work this out, but we have this promise from Him.
Therefore, in Amos 3:7, what is the secret that God will reveal to His servants the prophets?
It is the Covenant; it is the covenant of grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the secret revealed to Abel, and to Noah, and to Abraham, and to Moses, and to David, and so on. This is the one thing God has been revealing throughout time to His servants the prophets. This is the secret that we must proclaim to the heathen, and upon hearing this God will save from among them such as were ordained to eternal life from before the foundation of the world.
To most of the world the covenant of grace is a secret. To most of the world God rewards those who do well, and punishes those who do evil. Little do they know that all they do is evil. That is why God must be a merciful God. If God can save so many sinners, then indeed He is a merciful God.
Therefore, when we read Amos 3:7 we must not speculate what this means, but we must consider the context, and we must diligently compare Scripture with Scripture to arrive at truth. We may use:
Only What God Has Revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29, Proverbs 25:2)
God has not revealed everything. For example, no man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s returning on the clouds of glory. God says in Deuteronomy 29:29,
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
We may not speculate about those things that God has kept secret from us. The secret things belong unto the Lord, and we should leave them there.
But those things that have been revealed we must search out. God says in Proverbs 25:2,
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
God may conceal things in the form of parables. God does that to hide the truth from the reprobate, to whom it is not given to know the secret counsel of the Lord. But those who have become saved are now called kings and priests in the house of God. Therefore, it is the honour of kings to search out a matter. We have the honour to search the Bible. But what we find must harmonize with the rest of the Gospel message in the Bible. If we have arrived at a non-scriptural conclusion, we know that somewhere along the line we have made mistakes.
Why was Amos 3:7 in the past misinterpreted?
It was taken out of context. Any verse taken out of context will be abused to prove anything you want.
How can we be sure that we have the right interpretation?
Firstly, it has to agree with the Gospel.
Secondly, it has to fit the context. It is not good enough to compare Scripture with Scripture. It has to fit the context. God wrote the Bible, and we must honour:
The Wisdom of God
If we take verses out of context, then we make a mockery of the wisdom of God.
We must understand that God, in His wisdom, wrote the Bible in such a manner that the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is lifted up. In 1st Corinthians chapter 1, Christ is called the power of God and the wisdom of God. In chapter 2 God touches on the secret that He will reveal to His servants. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:1,
1 Corinthians 2:1
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:3
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1 Corinthians 2:4
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
What is the power of God?
Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Our faith did not come to us through the cleverness of a Bible teacher, but by the power of God. Continue in verse 6:
1 Corinthians 2:6
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1 Corinthians 2:7
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden (the secret) wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
1 Corinthians 2:8
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
In verse 7, we speak the wisdom of God, which is Christ, in a mystery. We bring the Gospel of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it remains a mystery to those whom God did not intend to save. It is the mystery of the covenant of grace, which was kept secret, but which God revealed to us because God ordained it before the world began unto our glory.
Again we read about The Mystery Which Was Kept Secret in Romans 16.
There we read the last doxology in the Epistle to the Romans:
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Therefore, what is the secret of Amos 3:7?
It is the preaching of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the covenant of grace.
By Alfred J. Chompff