Amos prophesied ruin and captivity upon Israel, for her sins of idolatry, coveting material gain at the expense of the poor, and holding to a form of godliness while denying its power. Israel celebrated new moons and sabbath days, outwardly, and could not wait for them to be over so they could open their businesses again (Amo 8:5). They mixed elements of the LORD’s worship that they learned from Moses, with the pagan worship of their golden calves that the first Jeroboam established in Bethel and Dan.
When King Jeroboam told Amos to go home to Judah, and prophesy no more at Bethel of the death of the king and the captivity of Israel, the LORD decreed (since the king despised hearing the word of the LORD) that the days were coming, when a famine of hearing the word of the LORD would come upon Israel, and the people would seek for it diligently but not find it (Amo 8:11-12). In fact, this happened, as there was a four hundred year period in between the last Old Testament prophet, Malachi, and the birth of Jesus, the Living Word, where there was no prophet in Israel.
But notice how wonderfully the LORD ended that famine: He came Himself, the Living Word incarnate, in Jesus our Lord!
Now of this captivity that Israel was to go into, even in that judgment the LORD had a wonderful plan:
“For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” Amo 9:9
All nations rebelled against the LORD at Babel, and it is from Babel that the pagan idolatry came. The LORD made a single nation out of Abraham, the only nation on the face of the earth that worshiped the LORD and preserved the true history of the world. The enemy’s plan was to corrupt that single nation also, to destroy the worship and knowledge of YHVH in the earth. So Israel is going away captive because of her sins of forsaking the LORD. She is going to be dispersed among all the nations, sifted among them like wheat is sifted in a sieve.
What part of the plant is the wheat that men sift in a sieve? It is the seed. God sowed the seed of Israel among every nation of the earth. Seeds, when the right conditions are met, sprout and grow, and produce more seeds, which sprout and grow. God promised that He would watch over His seed, that not a single one of them would fall to the ground. He is going to sow His worship, and the knowledge of who He is, among every nation on the earth, and cause it grow, until every nation has returned to a covenant with Him, through His covenant nation of Israel.
But Israel had forsaken the LORD and forgotten Him! Yes, for now. But the chess game between YHVH and Satan is not finished yet, and the indication of the enemy’s foolishness, is that he dares to engage in cosmic chess with the Creator and Ruler of the universe in the first place! In fact, every move the enemy makes, plays right into the great plan of salvation the LORD has established from the foundation of the world!
This is one reason to give praise and thanksgiving to YHVH in every circumstance we face, even the worst circumstances, even when things look like destruction and loss! Because sometimes what looks bad to us might even be a necessary stepping stone toward a glorious future and fulfillment that the LORD has in mind! We can trust our great Good Shepherd, who does not let a single grain of wheat fall to the ground!