Introduction: Years ago I had a member of my Bible class ask me,
“What is the good of prayer? If God is going to do what is best for
us anyway (whether we want it or not), why pray? My answer then had
to do with prayer changing us and releasing God’s power. However,
this week we explore the idea of something quite different – the
prayer of Amos changes God’s mind! Or, does it? How can changing
God’s mind be consistent with a God who is all wise and all knowing?
Let’s dive into our lesson and see what we can learn about this
aspect of prayer.

  1. Locusts

    1. Read Amos 7:1-3. Notice that Amos describes the Lord as
      the “Sovereign” Lord. What does “sovereign” mean? (“All
      powerful.” The Hebrew here (“Adonay”) gives emphasis to
      the word “Lord.” Amos is emphasizing the power of God.)

      1. Why would Amos decide to emphasize God’s power in the
        context of God changing His mind? (Because Amos wants
        us to see the contrast between the power of God to do
        anything He decides and God’s willingness to listen
        to us. God does not listen to us because He needs our
        help to decide things. God listens to us because of
        His grace.)

      2. We have a new element introduced in this chapter.
        Amos has previously been telling the people what God
        told him. (See, for example, Amos 2:1) But, now Amos
        is “shown” something by God. What does this suggest?
        (That Amos is now having visions.)

      3. What does Amos see in his vision? (He sees locusts
        coming and “strip[ping] the land clean.”)

      4. How serious is the coming locust disaster? (Verse 2:
        The survival of the nation is in doubt.)

        1. What is the “king’s share?” (Income taxes!
          Aren’t you glad God planned to wipe out the
          wealth of the people after they had paid their

          1. Is there significance to the fact that the
            king gets his share while the common
            people face disaster? (Remember last week
            (and before) the thread running through
            Amos that the rich and the rulers are in
            for trouble because they have been
            unjustly treating the poor. Here, the
            disaster seems aimed at the “ordinary
            guy.” This tends to show that the
            disregard of God was widespread and not
            just an “upper-class” thing.)

  2. Changing God?

    1. Amos 7:3 tells us that “the Lord relented.” What causes
      God to relent? (Amos asked God to “forgive” and argued
      that the nation could not survive this.)

      1. How do you explain that an all-knowing, all-wise God
        changes His mind?

      2. Read Numbers 23:19. How can you square this text with
        Amos 7:3?

      3. Read James 1:17. How do you square this text with
        Amos 7:3?

    2. Let’s back away from this difficult question for a few
      moments. What good things do you see from God “relenting?”
      (1. We learn our prayers can make a difference. 2. Our
      future is in the hands of a God who listens and who cares.
      We can have a personal relationship with God that can
      change things. 3. We can (and should) pray for others
      because our prayers can change the future.)

    3. Read Amos 7:4-6. If you were a farmer in Judah, what
      difference might you see between disaster from locusts and
      disaster from fire? (You might pass the locusts off as bad
      luck, a “hiccup” of nature. Fire, on the other hand, is
      clearly Divine judgment. This fire is so hot it “dries up
      the deep.” We are going to look at the “fire” vision in
      more detail next week.)

      1. Again we have God “relenting.” God has now relented
        twice. How do you explain this? (We are back to our
        tough question. I start from the point that we must
        accept all Scripture as truth and look for a “common”
        explanation. Since we learned that God does not
        change His mind, we must reconcile that with this
        text about relenting. Remember that these are
        visions. They have not yet happened. God seems to be
        entering into a “discussion” with Amos about how to
        best get the people to turn back to God. God shows
        Amos what could happen, and Amos responds that this
        is too harsh. So, God agrees. God has not changed His
        mind, He has entered into a dialog with Amos on what
        to do.)

        1. Does God need to discuss these things with Amos?
          Does God need advice?

        2. Some people find the book of Amos troubling.
          What do you think troubles others about this
          book? What troubles you most about the book of
          Amos? (The book of Amos, on the surface, is a
          “gloom and doom and judgment” book. I’ve heard
          about teachers who have all sorts of rules that
          the students think are too harsh. I’ve also
          heard of teachers who have the students make up
          the rules. When the students make the rules,
          they are pretty strict. The difference is that
          the students who make the rules have a better
          attitude about them. This is somewhat like what
          is happening here. This is how God shows His
          love and mercy. He shows Amos what could happen,
          and when Amos says that is too harsh, God says,
          “OK, I’ll do what you agree is better.” This
          seems to be for the benefit of Amos, not God. It
          is Amos’ mind that is being worked on, not God’s

  3. Intercessor

    1. When you think of Amos standing before God in His vision
      saying “forgive” (v.2) and “I beg you stop” (v.5) what
      other Bible figure comes to mind? (In Hebrews 7:22-27
      Jesus is pictured as our “High Priest” who “lives to
      intercede” for us. Because of His intercession He saves us
      if we repent and accept Him.)

    2. Can you think of other “intercessors” in the
      Bible?(Consider Genesis 18:20-33 where we find Abraham
      “negotiating” with God over the number of “righteous
      people” that would save Sodom from destruction.)

    3. Is it possible for God to work with you, just like He did
      with Amos, about the future of others?

      1. Read 1 John 5:16. I do not completely understand this
        verse, but I don’t think we need to today. What does
        this suggest is your authority as an intercessor?
        (This clearly tells us that we should pray for
        others. It suggests that there is an area of sin in
        which God will certainly act on our requests.)

    4. Friend, our study in Amos shows that God is personally,
      intimately involved in our lives. He wants to work with us
      for our salvation and for the salvation of others. He also
      calls on us to have that same attitude towards others. To
      be part of the team that intercedes for the salvation of
      others. Will you be a part of this team?

  4. Next Week: Vision Two – Judgment by Fire