Amos Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Nine of Amos

Amos 9:1-5

“I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said:
Strike the doorposts, that thresholds may shake,
And break them on the heads of them all.
I will slay the last of them with the sword.
He who flees from them shall not get away,
And he who escapes from them shall not be delivered.
Though they dig into hell,
From there My hand shall take them;
Though they climb up to heaven,
From there I will bring them down;
And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel,
from there I will search and take them;
Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea,
From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them;
Though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I will command the sword,
And it shall slay them.
I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.
The Lord God of hosts,
He who touches the earth and it melts,
And all who dwell there mourn;
All of it shall swell like the River,
And subside like the River of Egypt.

Passages From the Writings


·        “Concerning the last judgment upon them, and that nowhere, withersoever they shall flee, will there be any escape, vers. 1-5....”

AC 9552[2]

·        “In Amos:-…(ix.1) ‘I saw the Lord standing upon the altar, who said, Smite the pomegranate that the posts may shake; that is, divide them in the head, all of them; I will slay the last of them with the sword.’ where ‘to smite the pomegranate’ denotes to destroy the memory-knowledges of good by means of the falsities of evil; the posts are then said to ‘shake,’ because ‘posts’ denote the truths of the natural (n.7847); ‘to slay the last with the sword’ denotes in this way to destroy the ultimate things; for a ‘sword’ denotes truth fighting against falsity and destroying it: and the converse (n. 2799, 4499, 6353, 7102, 8294).”

AC 9125[2]

·        “...‘to dig through into hell’ denotes to hide themselves there, thus in falsities from evil; for ‘hell’ denotes falsity from evil, because this reigns there. The falsities there are called ‘darkness,’ within which they hide themselves from the light of heaven; for they flee from the light of heaven, which is Divine truth from the Lord.” Amos 9:2 is cited.

TCR 62

·        “ is clear that God is omniscient in hell as well as in heaven, and in like manner with men in the world; thus that He perceives, sees, and is cognizant of the evils and falsities from the good and truth in which He Himself is, and which in their essence are Himself....” Amos 9:2 is cited.

AE 581[7]

·        “The malice and craftiness of infernal spirits...are meant by ‘serpents’ in the following passages.” Amos 9:3 is a verse cited as an example.

AE 811[4]

·        “‘If they have gone into captivity before their adversaries’ signifies, if they have suffered evils to take possession of them; ‘adversaries’ meaning evils, and ‘to go into captivity’ meaning to be possessed by them. ‘Thence do I command the sword that it may slay them’ signifies that falsities will shut them out from the understanding of truths, and will destroy them.” Amos 9:4 is cited.

AC 6693

·        “...the ‘earth’ which shall be ‘shaken’ denotes the church (n. 6649); ‘to be overwhelmed as by the river of Egypt’ denotes to perish by falsities; and because falsities are signified, it is said that ‘the sun shall set at noon,’ and that ‘the earth shall be darkened in the day of light.’.... As the ‘river of Egypt’ signifies falsity, therefore Moses was commanded to smite with his staff upon the waters...they consequently turned into blood, every fish died, and the river stank....” Amos 8:8, 9 and Amos 9:5 are cited in this number.

AR 503

·        There is a vague reference to Amos 9:5 in AR 503. “‘Egypt’ signifies not only intelligence but also insanity in spiritual things....” Such is represented by ‘being drowned by the river of Egypt.’”

AE 654[75]

·        “All this describes how the natural man is vastated, which takes place when he casts away from himself all the truths and goods of the church, and imbibes falsities and evils, until there is no longer any truth or good of the church remaining.” Amos 9:5 is one of the references used to illustrate this teaching.

Derived Doctrine

The Lord Standing by the Altar

·        How beautifully this illustrates the Lord visiting the holy “element” that was provided to worship Him. The customs, the rituals, the songs, the sacrifices. What did these elements do for the quality of worship in the hearts of His people? He knew, but now it was time for them to “see” what they were doing.


·        To “strike” means to bring, or apply, holy truth so that a contrast of judgment may be seen. The Lord’s presence brought innocence and all the holiness of His Love and Wisdom. Of course this would be “striking.” It would be awesome and frightening. The Lord’s striking was going to break away the veneer of Israel’s monotonous (vain) worship services. 


·        A door, or doorposts, signifies that which has the potential to introduce the Lord and His good and truth. The Israelites’ love of falsity had to be exposed so that order might be restored. The Lord would do this by opening the arcana of heavenly truths. As with a mighty wind, the pollution of falsity was about to be cleaned away.

“That thresholds may shake”

·        When winter comes to earth, it provides that many useful things occur to the soil or ground. There is a period of “rest” when vegetation does not draw from the soil’s nutrients. The ground freezes and cracks.  The hardened ground, with frost heaves, cracks open and thus allows for the aeration of the soil. The soil rejuvenates so as to provide for the coming splendor of spring. Shaking the threshold seems something like that. We get in ruts of thinking. We miss the opportunities of new growth. Could this shaking of the threshold be a positive thing the Lord “permits” for our benefit? Is the message here a reminder that it all happens so new spiritual beginnings may replace the states of indifference?

The Lord’s Hand, Sight, Eyes

·        Throughout these first five verses the Lord mentions His hand, His sight, and His eyes. Let’s look at some of their correspondences so we can understand their importance in this prophecy:

·        Hands represent ability, power, communication, and confidence.

·        Seeing means that He knows all and everything from eternity; the Lord’s conscience   spurring man on to regeneration.

·        Eyes represent His great powers of intellection and lucid perception that go beyond human comprehension.

·        These Divine attributes are not listed merely to impress us. They are stated to show that nothing escapes the Lord’s notice. He is the Power, the Wisdom, and the Everlasting Father of all. Hell, in its fantasy world, thinks that it is able to fool or deceive the Lord with its bag of illusions. This prophecy shakes the very threshold of hell and strikes the head of them all.

Leaving the Lord’s Presence

·        It is an illusion to believe one has left the Lord’s presence.  These verses refer to the illusion of leaving His presence by digging into hell, climbing up to heaven, hiding on top of Mount Carmel, or hiding at the bottom of the sea.

  • The attempt to dig into hell has an interesting possibility. To “dig” represents to search for, to investigate, or to apply truths to false ends. (AC 7343)
  • Climbing up to heaven pictures those who think they can force their way into heaven through their intellectual ability to reason apart from receiving good from the Lord. (AC 5497)
  • Hiding themselves on top of Mount Carmel: Here again we have a very interesting contrast. As there is a problem with emphasizing reason apart from the affections, we now see a concerted effort to obtain good through the truths of the church from a natural application of the Word. This goal seems worthy to seek but lacking in discrimination and prudence. The truths of the Word were turned to the convenience of the moment as directed by the natural mind.
  • To hide from the Lord at the bottom of the sea seems to be explained in this number from the Arcana: “...the hells of some deeps and as seas.... From those hells come the evil spirits that devastate... their phantasies...pour in.... That hell is called the ‘deep’ and that the foul emanations therefrom are called ‘rivers’...” (AC 756[2])
  • Through all these conditions, it appears from the literal sense that the Lord is angry and is intent on slaying the Israelites. We know that it is not the Lord who is doing these things. It is the evil within them that is destroying them. The evil, in the Lord’s presence, is in anguish because of the purity of His Love and Wisdom, and it turns on itself and finds how empty and void its choices have been. For a brief moment, evil sees the horror of its insanity.

Putting It All Together

1. Psalm 139 beautifully reminds us that there is no place where we can escape the presence of the Lord. This chapter mentions ascending into heaven, having a bed in hell, taking the wings of the morning, the uttermost parts of the sea, tells us that darkness shall be as light to the Lord, and repeats the phrase, “You [the Lord] are there.” The words of this Psalm are offered in a comforting way. Now contrast that Psalm with this chapter from Amos. Is there a different message or tone? We may claim that we don’t feel Him near us, but the “distance” or absence of the Lord is our choice. If we move away from the Lord, we close ourselves off from His providential leading. However, the bottom line is that we can’t escape Him, and there will be a final judgment for each of us. “He will be there.”

2. The insanity of those who reject the Lord’s Word must be “shaken.” The series of moments to eternity has to be considered more carefully. The choice made in each moment will carry consequences. Prayerfully, we need to ask the Lord to guide our decision-making methods. We need to make corrections as soon as we see our mistakes. But spiritual insanity gets so deeply imbedded in us, with the ill-fated logic of our proprium, that the “door posts” of the mind get log-jammed with falsity. Like a thick cloud, falsity cuts off the light of heaven. The Lord never ceases in His effort to restore us to our rightful mind. Will we allow Him to do that, or will we work in every way to run away from this necessary task?

3. The message of these verses seems to say, “Don’t ignore the way of the Lord. Take care of spiritual things as a priority of the highest order.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:1-5.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      How easy is it for us to imagine we act independently from the Lord? It appears that we do everything alone. The striking, the shaking, the being knocked down may seem like a mean act of the Lord. Being bitten by serpents, slain with swords, made captives, and made to mourn seems hard. Instead of meanness, there really is love. Spiritual reality has to remove evils. We must be shaken and humbled so that our selfish proprium will be put aside and replaced with the Lord’s Proprium. Such things must happen if the New Church is to come to us.

2.      Do you feel comfortable explaining passages like this one to someone who says that God is a hard taskmaster? How would you explain them?

3.      Do you remember the story of the man possessed with demons? (Mark 5:2-14) He lived among the tombs, no chains could hold him, and no man could tame him. He cried in turmoil and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus, he ran to him for help. The Lord took pity on him and cast all of the demons into the swine. Can we see any application of that lesson to our text?

4.      It is hell that does the hurting. Hell enjoys the misfortune of others. The Lord has infinite mercy and He wishes no one harm. It is our imperfect perception that leads us to picture the Lord as a hard taskmaster. What are some ways to correct that misperception?

5.      We would do well to remind ourselves of this truth. Every day in thousands of ways the Lord’s Divine Providence seeks to help us. If we could but see one way fully, we would be amazed at the care and detail He puts into caring for us. Not once does He try to frustrate or punish.

6.      Instead of punishment, the Lord wants order. He wants to imprint His faith and charity in each of our hearts. Not everyone wills to cooperate with this goal, and the Lord seems unreasonable, hard, and cruel to them. They draw this conclusion because He seems to be interfering with their desire to avoid His influence and direction. What conversation might you have with someone who is in this state?  How does it feel when you are in this state?

Amos 9:6

“He who builds His layers in the sky,
And has founded His strata in the earth;
Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth-
The Lord is His name.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...from the Lord, who causes the church to be, ver. 6...”

AC 8945

·        “It is said ‘go up on steps,’ for the reason that elevation to interior things appears in the world of spirits, where celestial and spiritual things are presented in forms like those of the world, as an ascent by steps. This representative it has often been given me to see. For this reason also it was that angels were seen by Jacob in his dream going up to the Lord by steps of a ladder (Gen. xxviii. 12). Therefore also by ‘steps’ in the Word is signified ascent to higher things, that is, to interior things....” Amos 9:6 is quoted as a reference. 

AC 9408[3]

·        “...when mention is made in the Word of ‘the heavens,’ and also of ‘the heavens of heavens,’ in the internal sense are meant the angelic heavens....for in the other life a heaven with stars appears, yet not the heaven that appears to men in the world; but a heaven that appears in accordance with the state of intelligence and wisdom of the spirits and angels. The stars there are knowledges of good and truth; and the clouds which are sometimes seen beneath the heaven are of various signification according to their colors, their translucence, and their movements; the blueness of heaven is truth transparent from good.”  There are many passages cited, one of which is Amos 9:6.

AR 238

·        “It has also been granted me to see the seas which are at the boundaries of the heavens, and to converse with those who were therein, and thus to know the truth of this matter from experience. They seemed to me to be in the sea, but they said that they are not in the sea, but in the atmosphere; from which it was manifest to me, that the sea is an appearance of the Divine proceeding from the Lord in its boundaries....therefore ‘the seas,’ in the Hebrew language, is called ‘the west,’ that is, where the light of the sun declines towards its evening, or truth into obscurity.” Amos 9:6 is one of various other passages cited to illustrate these teachings.

AE 275[10]

·        “‘The steps that Jehovah buildeth in the heavens’ signify interior truths which are called spiritual; ‘the waters of the sea’ signify exterior truths, which are natural because they are in the natural man; ‘to pour them out upon the faces of the earth’ signifies upon the men of the church, for the ‘earth’ is the church.” Amos 9:6 is quoted.

Derived Doctrine

“His strata in the earth…”

·        We are given an explanation of the Lord building His layers in the sky but nothing about the meaning of His “strata in the earth.” A reference in AC 2162 might help us see what this means. This number tells us that the heavens denote celestial and spiritual things “...thus all things which are of internal worship.... But the ‘earth’ is all lower things that correspond to... the lower rational and natural things, whereof also things celestial and spiritual are predicated from correspondence....also those in the church and in external worship, and in the literal sense of the Word; in short, all such things as proceed from things internal and are presented in things external....”

Pouring the Waters of the Sea on the Face of the Earth

·        The order of the Lord is imprinted on everything created. Everything that has being owes its very existence to the finition of His Divine Love and Wisdom.

·        How can we illustrate this from the teachings of the Lord? The Pharisees came to the Lord to ask Him to quiet, or discipline, the people when they shouted, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” (Luke 19:38)

·        The profoundness of the Lord’s answer is awesome when we allow it to touch our hearts. He said, “I tell you that, if these [the disciples] should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:39)

·        Earthly wisdom may seek to silence the beauty of the Lord’s glory.  Spiritually blind eyes may refuse to see the truths that are all about them. But the Lord has poured out His truth over the whole earth so that even the “stones” give evidence of the infinite planning and order of the Lord. The denial of humanity will not quiet the work of the Lord.

·        Speaking of evidence, let’s consider this quote from The Canons of the New Church: “At this day nothing else than the self-evidencing reason of love will reestablish [the church], because they have fallen.” The hope for our internal church is that we will rekindle our love for the Lord so that our eyes will see the self-evidencing proof of God all around us, even in the “stones” of the earth.

·        “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Putting It All Together

1. P&P reminds us that it is the Lord who gives life and vitality to the church. It is not the buildings, not the priesthood, not the people nor the size of the congregation. “The whole of religion is founded upon [having as correct as possible] an idea of God.” If a church errs concerning its idea of God, it will err concerning matters of faith. It will also err concerning charity and will know nothing of eternal life. Thus, the church will be in a thick darkness. (This is a summary of the introduction to The Canons of the New Church.)

2. The meaning of this verse seems so clear now. The Lord has ordered the heavens. He has given us the literal, spiritual, and celestial sense of the Word. He has eternal truths that will keep us in a state of growing forever. The power of His order may be seen in all the things of earth. He pours out His loving benefits to the whole universe. Our “cup runneth over.” Those who choose to miss the benefits of the Lord are like people who starve in the midst of spiritual plenty.

3. Our verse of study asks: “Who has done all of this?” We are given the answer: “The Lord is His name.” This closing sentence of our study verse calls us back to basics. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be all the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)  Let the contrite acknowledge the Lord’s endeavors by saying, “Amen,” for the word “amen” means “so be it.”

In the Doctrine of Faith 6, we read “...the ancients...instead of saying Faith, were accustomed to say Truth. For the same reason truth and faith are one word in the Hebrew language, namely Amuna or Amen.” Let the order of the Lord lead us into the mysteries of faith with understanding so that we may say Amen.

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:6.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      How do you understand the meaning of the phrase “self-evidencing reasons of love”? The Canons indicate it is a necessary element of faith to reestablish the light of the Lord within the church. Have you ever heard a doctrinal class on this subject?

2.      See if you can pick out some examples of how self-evidencing reasons of love make all the difference in understanding the truths of the Lord. Think about your own experience with this.

3.      What “stones” cry out, the truths of the Lord, when skeptics deny His glory and power?

4.      How can we best assist the layers in the sky to be founded in the strata of the earth? Do we do this when we unfold the inner sense of the Word?

5.      If you were to pick the most important elements of your internal church, what would you choose and how would you rank them in importance? How can each of us keep our human “prudence” from over-riding the Lord’s will?

6.      Did you note the difference in the quote of Amos 9:6 in the Writings? Our New King James translation says, “He...builds His layer...”and the Writings have the words “...go up on steps...” Any idea why there is such a difference in translations?

Amos 9:7

“Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me,
O children of Israel?” says the Lord.
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
The Philistines from Caphtor,
And the Syrians from Kir?”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that there were also churches before, which have been laid waste, ver. 7...”

AC 1197 

·        “...all those were called ‘Philistines’ who talked much about faith, and declared that salvation is in faith, and yet had no life of faith.... That the ‘Philistines’ signify in general a mere memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith, and specifically those who make faith and salvation consist in knowledges alone, which they make matters of memory...” Amos 9:7 is offered as one of many references.

AC 9340[6]

·        “...the perversion and destruction of the church after it had been set up is here treated of; ‘the sons of the Ethiopians’ here denote those who are in the knowledges of good and truth, but who apply them to confirm evils and falsities (n. 1163, 1164); ‘the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt’ denote those who have been initiated into spiritual truths and goods by means of memory-truths. (That ‘the sons of Israel’ denote those who are in spiritual truths and good, thus in the abstract sense spiritual truths and goods, see n. 5414, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 5879, 5951, 7957, 8234; and that ‘the land of Egypt’ denotes memory-truth, has been shown above.) The like is signified by ‘the Philistines from Caphtor,’ and by ‘the Syrians from Kir,’ to whom they are therefore likened. ‘The Philistines from Caphtor’ denote those who have been initiated into interior truths by means of exterior, but who have perverted them and applied them to confirm falsities and evils (n. 1197, 1198, 3412, 3413, 3762, 8093, 8096, 8099, 8313); and ‘the Syrians from Kir’ denote those who are in the knowledges of good and truth, which also the have perverted (n. 1232, 1234, 3051, 3249, 3664, 3680, 4112).” This number is in explanation of Amos 9:7.

Derived Doctrine

Children of Israel

  • Is there a reason the Lord addresses them, “O children of Israel....”? Children signify innocence, charity, good, truth, and the remains stored up in a person from infancy.
  • It seems appropriate to assume that the Word uses children to show us how the Lord from our childhood has touched that part of our heart that will listen and want to obey His gentle, wise, caring ways. The Lord is not absent from us for the least of a moment. “O children...” touches remains and tries to soften us to listen.
  • Churches before the Israelites had made serious spiritual mistakes. The Lord wished the Israelites to take heed of them and not follow their folly. It was as if He said, “Do you need examples? If I point out the folly of earlier churches, will you listen and make appropriate changes?” This is what I hear in this verse. How about you?
  • “Look at the Ethiopians! Look at the Philistines! Look at the Syrians! Do you want to be like them?”
    • Ethiopians, in the “bad sense, signify the interior knowledges of the Word applied to confirm false principles.” (AC 1164)
    • Philistines “represent those who conceive false principles and reason thence concerning spiritual things which overflow man.” (AC 705)
    • Syrians, in a “bad” sense represent the abuse and misuse of the knowledge of good. (AC 3762)

A Reminder of the Escape from Egypt

·        The Lord also reminds the Israelites that He brought them out of the land of Egypt. Could the reminder of this fact indicate that the Israelites thought that they had won their own strength and accomplishments? Were they on the brink of ingratitude?

·        Bringing up Israel from the land of Egypt signifies leaving behind memory-knowledges that had no feeling or meaning to them. Put another way, the Lord wanted them to move from historical faith toward a true faith that was drawn from the Word. The Lord wanted them to have a commitment to the things of faith so that they would honestly appreciate them. (See AC 1541, 4735[15], AE 654 for further illustration of these ideas.)

Putting It All Together

1. The words that ring out in my mind about this verse are these: (They) “talked much about faith...and yet had no life of faith.” The Lord, in this verse, reminds us that prior churches talked much about faith. They emphasized the idea that knowing many things would bring about salvation. There were those who talked about how much they knew, but there was no life in what they knew because they twisted the truth to confirm evils and falsities to justify their ends. There was no life in their faith. This is a sad commentary on the former churches. Israel, too, was on the brink of meeting the same end.

The perversion of truth for selfish ends stifles the spiritual life. The corrupt external initiates a series of consequences that layer over the wonderful potential of interior things. The outer lies prevent the inner conatus (endeavor) from manifesting itself in uses for the Lord and the neighbor.

2. The concern of the Lord and His mercy is forever recorded in His words, “O children of Israel.” These words are a loving Divine appeal to the innocence in the souls of all His children. It is a reminder to all that we each have the potential to become an angel of the Lord if we become like “little children.”

3. This verse asks a question of great importance. Will we learn from the mistakes of those who tried to gain salvation from cold and indifferent facts passed on by tradition or lore? Are we in a state to learn these things?

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:7.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      In Amos 9:7, there is a series of nations (churches) mentioned: the Ethiopians, the children of Israel, the Egyptians, the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir. Have you taken notes on the meaning of that series from AC 9340[6]? What downward progression of each church did you note?

2.      To get a glimpse of Ethiopia in its prime, turn to AC 116 and 349 to read about the wonderful things they possessed in the beginning of their church. As a contrast read, AE 780[5] to see what they were like after they turned away from the Lord. Can you get any sense of what went wrong with them?

3.      The Philistines represent those who hold false ideas and then reason about spiritual things from those false ideas. (AC 705) Have you ever done this? How easy is it to do? How may we avoid making the same mistakes?

4.      Syria signifies those of the second Ancient Church in respect to their knowledges of good and truth. (AE 195[8]) The Ancient Word existed in Syria. (Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 102) How did they lose such gifts? With their knowledge of the Ancient Word, it is both sad and perplexing to read that they falsified the Word for selfish reasons. What do you think we must do to keep from repeating the mistakes of the prior churches?

5.      Do we as a church talk about what we know but have no life in our faith? Or do we feel the indescribable power of the Word and Lord to lift us to spiritual heights where we see the dazzling spectrum of the Lord’s beauty and order? Is this a personal or organizational state?

6.      Look up the word “enthusiasm” in a dictionary. Note that we are told the word means: to be inspired; to be possessed by God; transported; to have an ardent zeal or fervor. It seems that we would do well to seek the right kind of enthusiasm for the Lord that would inspire us to invite Him into our lives so that we might be “possessed” by His order. Does this sound like evangelical or “born again” type of thinking? I think the New Church could use some feeling of excitement or enthusiasm. What do you think?          

Amos 9:8-10

“Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
Says the Lord.
“For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among the nations,
As a grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,
Who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that nevertheless the church will not perish, but that those perish who are in the church, vers. 8-10...”

AC 7051

·        “They who know nothing of the internal sense of the Word cannot believe otherwise than that the Israelitish and Jewish nation was chosen above every other nation, and hence was more excellent than all the rest, as also they themselves believed....Hence also it is that most persons in the Christian world also believe that that nation will again be chosen, and will then be brought back into the land of Canaan, and this also according to the sense of the letter, as in many passages....” Amos 9:8, 9 are cited among the many passages given in this number.

·        In the closing paragraph of this number, we read: “From all of this it can now be seen that the Israelitish and Jewish nation was not chosen, and still less that it will be chosen; and also that there was not anything of the church with it, nor could be, but only the representative of a church; and that the reason why it has been preserved even to this day, has been for the sake of the Word of the Old Testament.”

Derived Doctrine

“The eyes of the Lord are on the sinful kingdom....”

  • AR 48 gives us a wide range of correspondences for “eyes” in the Word. When a human being’s eyes are mentioned, it refers to human understanding and intelligence. “...when spoken of the Lord, the Divine wisdom is meant; but by a ‘flame of fire,’ is signified spiritual love, which is charity; wherefore, when spoken of the Lord, the Divine love is meant...that by ‘eye,’ when predicated of the Lord, His Divine wisdom...His Divine omniscience and providence....” are signified.
  • Using this quote, we can understand that it was not Divine anger at work but Divine Love, Wisdom, Omniscience, and Providence looking at the sinfulness of Israel. They were focused on finite goals whereas the Lord wanted them to focus on eternal goals. To those with finite priorities, it appears that God is angry and vindictive. “Hence I (the Lord) will destroy it from the face of the earth....” describes the way an unregenerate person perceives the operation of the Lord’s love.       

The Face of the Earth

  • What is meant by “the face of the earth...”? There is an interesting teaching expressed in AC 358: “The face, with the ancients, signified internal things, because internal things shine forth through the face; and in the most ancient times men were such that the face was in perfect accord with the internals.... They considered it a monstrous thing to show one thing by the face and think another.”
  • Could the above quote be a direct teaching from the Lord that the Israelitish church would not be allowed to continue its practice of saying one thing with the lips and believing another thing in their hearts? Was the Lord telling them that the reign of hypocrisy was over?

The House of Jacob

  • Why was the “house of Jacob” not utterly destroyed? A house in its positive sense represents a mind in which there is intelligence and wisdom. A house also contains affections which are of the will. (AC 1488) But in reality, whenever one church comes to an end, the Lord provides that a remnant is saved so as to continue, or build, His church anew. (AE 407 & 676)
  • Also Micah 5:7-8 speaks of “...the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass...the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people....” (AE 278)
  • The “house of Jacob” represents the “external church” and the “house of Israel” represents the “internal church.” (AC 5550)
  • What then is the Lord teaching us about the “house of Jacob”? As we might expect, the meaning is deep and fully involved with all of the history of Jacob and his children. But consider the following quote as a possible indicator of the core of deeper things: “...Jacob represented...the Lord’s natural; and as where Jacob is treated the internal sense the Lord is treated of, and how He made His natural Divine....” Is the promise that the “house of Jacob” would not be destroyed a promise that the Lord’s advent would overcome the idolatrous worship of the previous churches so that the New Church might become the “crown of all churches”? Is it a story of His natural serving a use prior to being glorified? Later in Jacob’s life, he was told, “Thy name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.” (Genesis 32:26) This is a movement from being a representative of the external church to becoming a representative of the internal church.

 “Sifting” the House of Israel Among all Nations

  • Let’s first consider the meaning of “all nations.” AC 249 says that a passage from Micah 7:16 where “nations” is mentioned represents those who trust in their own proprium. In AC 622, “nations” represents evils that are of the will, or of cupidities. Nations therefore seems to represent a vast network of proprial desires that are so integrated into the lives of people that only the Lord can “sort things out.” It is comforting to know that the Lord will not be fooled by appearances. He can distinguish between what is and what is not. He will sort out things that confound the wisest civil laws and the best human prudence. True justice in the hands of the Lord will be given to everyone. No one will be able to claim that the Lord treated him or her unfairly. Our emotional “Gordian knots” will be unwrapped, and there will be nothing left unattended among “all nations.” 
  • These insights give us a clearer picture of why the Lord said He would sift the nations, the mind, the proprium, the cupidities, to remove the “chaff from the wheat.”

·        AC 9726 explains a passage from Exodus 27:4, “And thou shalt make for it a grating, a network.” The grating represents “ it were (sifting and separating) the things which enter into man and are presented to the understanding and the will, thus truths and goods.”  

“...not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

  • This is like the verse in the Word that reminds us that nothing escapes the Lord’s notice. Even the hairs of our head are numbered. There is not a sparrow that falls to the ground but the Lord knows. We might wish otherwise so that we could escape accountability, but the Lord’s omniscience is beyond human comprehension. Not even the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. The Divine sieve works to remove the useless and to protect the potential of the smallest seeds, just as He did for the mustard seed. It was able to grow beyond expectations.

“All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword”

  • To get help with the internal sense, we can read AC 2799[20&21]. “...the ‘sword’ denoting the punishment of falsity.... The angel of Jehovah standing in the way against Balaam with a drawn sword (Numbers xxii. 31) signified the truth which resisted the falsity in which Balaam was; and for that reason also he was killed with a sword.... That a ‘sword’ in the genuine sense signifies truth combating, and in the opposite sense falsity combating, also the vastation of truth, and the punishment of falsity....”
  • Those who are opposed to the Lord’s truth see nothing of what is good and true. When they are shown the error of their ways, they prefer falsity and defiantly demonstrate a contrary spirit against the Lord. (AR 309)
  • The mental picture I get is that they are so angry with the Lord’s truth that they rush upon the “sword” to destroy themselves instead of admitting their falsity. They prefer to die by the sword then to be defended by the Lord.
  • How do we see that the explanation above might be so? Listen to the words of the people. “The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.” Their haughty, contemptuous, proud words seem to defy the Lord’s prophecy.
  • These words speak a form of “denial” that seems so human. Turning away from issues, refusing to admit them, or blaming others just doesn’t work. Eventually we have to deal with the results of unbridled behavior. Evil seeks to hurt and destroy us. Ignoring disorder is not a part of regeneration.

 Putting It All Together

1. The summary of this section, by now, should be pretty clear. Those in the church (any church) who refuse to obey the Lord’s Word will “perish” spiritually. The Lord will not be fooled with any teaching or tradition about “specialness.” There are no chosen people. Salvation is not a “right” earned by giving money to build ornate houses of worship. From the beginning of this study, we have been made mindful of the need to love the Lord and His ways. Love truth for truth’s sake, and do not twist the Word to excuse or justify the desires of self.

2. The correspondence of the sifting of nations through the Divine sieve so that nothing (the smallest grain) goes to waste is a wonderful reminder that the Lord sees and knows all. The story of the widow’s mite is a worthy example of this.

The thought, the look, the touch, the kind word we offer might be the small grain that becomes the mustard tree that provides branches for the birds to build nests and to hatch their young.  As a secular song says, “Little things mean a lot.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:8-10.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      The Writings teach that the advent of the Lord takes place every time the Word is read with love. Do you see these verses as a theme of the Lord’s advent and glorification?

2.      We have considered this theme before: What can we do to break down or soften our stubbornness? Why is it that we have a love for what is forbidden? Some have described this as a “command-resistance” act to demonstrate our proprial freedom. Is our insistence on “freedom” all bad? Couldn’t that longing to be free also come from a “healthy urging” that is planted by the Lord? “As of self” is a useful tool in regeneration. Discuss the different types of freedom.

3.      How do you picture life’s emotional “Gordian knots” being unwrapped by the Lord’s loving Wisdom? Have you ever been frustrated with situations that seem to offer no solvable answers to troublesome issues? Do you look forward to the “time” when all will be settled with no “backlash” effects?

4.      The quote from P&P says the “church will not perish, but that those perish who are in the church.” Does this remind you of what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness? Those who sinned against the Lord roamed and roamed for 40 years. When they had all died, then the Lord led the remaining generations into the Promised Land.  What are some ways that we distinguish between the church and its members? How about the distinction between the spiritual church and the human organization on earth?              

Amos 9:11-12

“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that a new church will be instituted, which will acknowledge the Lord, vers. 11, 12... ”

AC 414[2&3]

·        “...the ‘tabernacle’...denotes what is celestial and the holy things ancient times they performed the holy rites of worship in their tents. But when they began to profane the tents by profane kinds of worship, the tabernacle was built, and afterwards the temple, and therefore tents represented all that was subsequently denoted first by the tabernacle, and afterwards by the temple. For the same reason a holy man is called a ‘tent,’ a ‘tabernacle,’ and a ‘temple’ of the Lord.”  Amos 9:11 is cited as one example.       

AC 3322 [4]

·        “In Amos: (ix. 11, 12)...the ‘tabernacle of David’ denotes the church and worship of the Lord; the ‘remnant of Edom,’ those who are in good within the church; the ‘nations that were called by His name’ those who are in good out of the church.”

AC 4391[4]

·        “ Amos ix. ‘set up the tent of David that is fallen,’ denotes to restore the holy of truth after it has perished; ‘David’ denotes the Lord relatively to Divine truth...for a ‘king’ denotes Divine truth.... As a ‘tent’ signified the holy of truth, and ‘dwelling in tents,’ the derivative worship...”

AC 4926[3]

·        “In Amos ix. 11...[this passage is] describing the church which is in good, the ‘tent of David that is fallen’ being the good of love and charity from the Lord....and that ‘David’ is the Lord.... To ‘fence up the breaches’ means to amend the falsities which have entered by the separation of truth from good; ‘to build it according to the days of eternity’ denotes according to the state of the church in ancient times; that state and those times are called in the Word the ‘days of an age,’ and also ‘of generation and generation’...”

AC 9163[5]

·        “...‘In that day will I raise up the tent of David that is fallen, and close up the fractures thereof; I will set up again its ruins, and I will build them as the days of eternity (Amos ix. 11); ‘the house of David,’ and ‘the tent of David,’ denote the church of the Lord, for ‘David,’ in the prophetic Word, denotes the Lord....”

AC 10248[8]

·        “...where by ‘the days of an age’ is meant the time of the Most Ancient Church, which was celestial.” Amos 9:11 is the verse being explained.

AC 10545[7]

·        “...the ‘tent of David’ denotes the church of the Lord and what is holy of the worship of Him; ‘to close up the breaches, and restore the ruins’ denotes to restore these by removing falsities. That ‘David’ in the Word denotes the Lord...hence it is that ‘the tent of David’ denotes the church of the Lord, and that which is holy of worship.” This passage is in explanation of Amos 9:11.

AE 799[19]

·        “That a ‘tent’ signifies the church in respect to the truths of doctrine....” Amos 9:11 is cited.

AR 704

·        In AR 704, a long series of quotes from the Word are given “ which the Lord’s coming and the New Church from Him at that time are meant by ‘the day of Jehovah’...” Amos 9:11, 13 are within that series of references given from the Word.

Derived Doctrine

“On that day I will rise up....”

  • Let’s focus on the words “on that day...” because they differ from “the days of old,” the “day of vengeance,” or the “day of wrath.” Checking the correspondence of to “rise up” might give us a clue. AC 4160 tells us that “to rise” signifies to reveal or to discover. AC 2218 teaches us that when people “rise up,” it signifies that perception has come to an end.
  • Could this portion of the prophecy be a combination of both things mentioned in the quotes above? The Lord saw Israel’s movement away from Him. He witnessed the flickering light of inner perception fading away until darkness filled the mind. “On this day,” the Lord was going to reveal (let them discover) just how far they had moved away from Him.


  • The Writings describe Gentiles as “...various forms of worship among those remote peoples who lived in mutual charity.” (AC 1158) In another quote, Gentiles “signify all who are in the good of love to the Lord.” (AE175[2])  Gentiles also represent “those who are in good out of the church.” (AC 3322[4])

Putting It All Together

The Lord’s words are quite plain and straightforward. He tells us that:

  • A New Church will be instituted that will acknowledge Him.
  • The tabernacle of celestial and holy things of worship will be restored.
  • The Lord will raise the church up from the mental and spiritual ruins.
  • The church will be built like the days of the Most Ancient Church.
  • The New Church will have the restored truths to work with.
  • The church’s love will be freed of self-love.
  • The church fences will have the breaches (infractions of Divine order) mended.

Most of all there is given a prophecy, a new song, of hope. There is a call for a rally of the faithful to come around Him. A beginning. A church whose kingdom will be forever and ever. “Come and taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:11-12.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

In Revelation 6:10, we find a picture of those who had been slain for the Word of God gathered for the opening of the fifth seal. They were yearning for the day when the Lord would avenge their abuse. They asked the Lord, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

1.      After reading this prophecy in Amos, do you feel the same kind of modified question forming in your mind? “How long, Oh Lord, holy and true, until…” You bring the promised New Church to those who dwell on the earth?

2.      We seem so small and so diversified as a church organization We long for the truths to take hold and spread. The delay, we are taught in the Writings, is for a purpose. Slow growth is necessary. Growth of the church must occur for the right reasons. Yet how long will it be? 

Amos 9:13-15

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed:
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

Passages From the Writings


·        “…that in it (the church) there will be the doctrine of truth and its understanding, vers. 13-15…”

AR 704

·        “That ‘the great day of God Almighty’ signifies the coming of the Lord, and then the New Church, is evident from many passages in the Word, as from these:- [Amos 9:11, 13 are cited among the many references.]”

AE 433 [27]

·        “From this it can be seen how far from the truth those have wondered, who believe that at the end of time the Jews will be converted to the Lord and brought back into the land of Canaan. Those who have hitherto so believed are excusable, because they have known nothing of the spiritual sense of the Word, and therefore have not known that the ‘land’ signifies the church, ‘Jerusalem’ the church in respect to doctrine, ‘Israel’ those who are of the spiritual church, and ‘Judah’ those who are of the celestial church; also that bringing them into the land of Canaan is treated of in the prophets, bringing the faithful into heaven and into the church is meant. This took place when the Lord came into the world, for then all those who lived in the good of charity and had worshiped God under a human form were brought into heaven; these had been preserved under heaven until the Lord came, and when He glorified His Human they were brought in. These are the ones meant in many passages in the prophetic Word that treat of the captivity of the sons of Israel and Judah, and their being brought back into their land.” Among the many passages offered, Amos 9: 12-15 is cited.

AC 6435 [10]

·        “...‘mountains’ denote celestial love, and ‘hills’ spiritual these passages the goods of celestial love are signified by ‘mountains;’ and likewise by ‘hills,’ but in a lower degree.” Amos 9:13 is cited as one reference.

AC 5117[7]

·        “In treats here of the setting up of the spiritual church, which is thus described–the conjunction of spiritual good with its truth by the ‘ploughman reaching the reaper;’ and the conjunction of spiritual truth with its good by the ‘treader’ of grapes reaching him that draweth the seed;’ the goods of the love and charity therefrom are signified by the ‘mountains dropping new wine and the hills melting;’ ‘bringing back the captivity of the people’ denotes deliverance from falsities; ‘building the waste cities’ denotes rectifying the falsified doctrinals of truth; ‘inhabiting them and planting vineyards’ denotes cultivating those things which are of the spiritual church; ‘drinking the wine thereof,’ appropriating the truths of that church which are of charity; and ‘making clusters and eating the fruit of them,’ appropriating the goods thence derived. Every one can see that ‘building cities,’ ‘planting vineyards,’ ‘drinking wine,’ ‘making clusters,’ and ‘eating the fruit of them,’ are merely natural things, in which there would be nothing Divine unless they contained a spiritual sense.” Amos 9:13, 14 are cited.

AC 6377 [8]

·        “That ‘wine’ denotes the good of love and of faith, is plain from the Lord’s words which He said of wine when He instituted the Holy Supper...which He would give to those who are of His kingdom.” Amos 9:13, 14 are cited.

AR 316

·        “...that ‘wine’ signifies truth from...good, is evident from the following passages...” Amos 9:13, 14 are cited.


·        “It is because the habitations of the angels are upon mountains and hills, that ‘mountains’ and ‘hills’ in the Word signify heaven and the church, where there exists love to the Lord and love to the neighbor, and, in the opposite sense, hell, where there exists self-love and the love of the world...[this] is evident from the following passages...” Amos 9:13, 14 are cited.

AE 405[19]

·        “In Amos...‘The mountains’ are said ‘to drop sweet wine,’ and ‘the hills to dissolve,’ because ‘mountains’ signify the good of love to the Lord, and ‘hills’ the good of charity towards the neighbor, and ‘sweet wine’ truths; therefore these words signify that from these two goods they shall have truths in abundance, for the bringing back of the people from captivity, about which this is said, signifies the establishment of a new church.” Amos 9:13, 14 are cited.

AE 376[6]

·        “In Amos...ix. 13-15...This chapter treats first of the vastation of the church, and then of its restoration by the Lord; and ‘the people Israel’ do not mean that people, but those with whom the church was to be established; and ‘the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that draweth forth the seed,’ signifies that he who receives good and truth shall also perform uses, or bear fruit, thus that with the man of the church the two shall be present at the same time; ‘the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and all the hills shall dissolve,’ signifies, as just above, that from the good of love to the Lord and from the good of charity towards the neighbor there shall be truths in abundance, ‘sweet wine’ here, or ‘wine,’ meaning truth; that ‘the captivity of the people Israel shall be brought back’ signifies the restoration of the church among the Gentiles, for ‘captivity’ means spiritual captivity, in which those are who are remote from goods and truths, and yet in a desire for them (see A.C., n. 9164). ‘The waste cities that they shall build’ signify the doctrinals of truth and good from the Word, before destroyed and at that time to be restored; ‘the vineyards which they shall plant,’ and ‘the wine of which they shall drink,’ signify all things of the church from which there is intelligence, ‘a vineyard’ signifies the spiritual church, and therefore ‘vineyards’ signify all things of the church; ‘wine’ signifies the truth of the church in general, and ‘to drink it’ signifies to be instructed and become intelligent, thus intelligence; and ‘the gardens which they shall make, and the fruit of which they shall eat,’ signifies wisdom, ‘gardens’ meaning all things of intelligence, and their ‘fruit’ signifying the goods of life, thus ‘to eat their fruit’ signifies the appropriation of good, thus wisdom, for wisdom comes when truths are committed to the life; and because this is what is meant, therefore it is said of Israel, ‘I will plant them upon their ground.”

AC 1069[3]

·        “‘Planting vineyards’ denotes the planting of the spiritual church; thus a ‘vineyard’ means the spiritual church, or Israel.” This quote follows the citing of Amos 9:14.

AC 1071[5]

·        “In Amos...ix. 14...This is said of the spiritual church, or ‘Israel,’ of which planting vineyards and drinking the wine thereof is predicated, when it becomes such as to have faith from charity.”

AR 90

·        “Wisdom and intelligence are also signified by ‘garden’ in...Amos ix, 14...The man of the church is also like a garden as to intelligence, when he is in the good of love from the Lord, because the spiritual heat which vivifies him is love, and the spiritual light is intelligence therefrom. It is known that gardens in this world flourish by means of heat and light; it is the same in heaven.”

TCR 467[4]

·        “Elsewhere in the Word ‘garden’ signifies intelligence (as in...Amos ix. 14...)

AE 811[25]

·        This number mentions Amos 9:14 but tells the reader to see the explanation in AE 376, 405.

AE 919

·        “That a ‘vineyard’ signifies the spiritual church is evident from the passages in the Word where ‘vineyard’ is mentioned (as in...Amos ix. 14...).”

Derived Doctrine

1.      It would appear that we have little need to turn to derived doctrine for help. We have enough direct teachings as our source to help us with our summary and application section. Our sixteen references explain just about all of the major points of the verses, helping us to frame up the internal sense. Once again, if anyone finds additional reference numbers, please share them in the discussion period.

Putting It All Together

1.      Contrasts are an essential part of any learning process. If you were to read books about Amos written by people who are not members of the New Church, the commentary on this last chapter would be filled with statements like this one:

Israel will in that day be restored from centuries-long captivity to rebuild her cities and inhabit them with the enjoyment of her vineyards and her gardens...Then Israel will be planted and rooted in her own land...never more plucked up and uprooted from her God-given land. The day of exile, thank God, will be past.... God’s heart is full of good things in store for Israel. (This quote is taken from page 124 of The Minor Prophets, by Charles L. Feinberg, Moody Press.)

2.      The Writings, on the other hand, remark that Israel (and the Jewish nation) “was not chosen, and still less that it will be chosen...” Israel was only “the representative of a church...” (AC 7051)

Instead, the closing prophecy in Amos is about the Lord. It is about His coming into the world to glorify His Human. Those who had been preserved (the remnant), those who had remained faithful, are the ones who are to be brought back into the land. This closing prophecy is about the New Church. The promise of sweet wine, the hills flowing with the abundance of wine, the planting, the gardens, being fed, refer to the gifts the New Church will enjoy.

Put simply, the Lord is promising to restore the spiritual gifts of love and wisdom. Balance, conjunction, and elevation of heart and mind will help us see what is planted in the restored land of our captivity. We are to see the beauty and order of the gardens. We will taste the wine of the mountains. No longer will Hell be able to pull up the resources of the Lord. The New Church will be the crown of all churches whose kingdom shall reign forever and ever. Amen!

Read and Review

Read Amos 9:13-15.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Have you heard recently anyone speaking about Israel being the chosen people? Have you ever heard someone describe the chaos in the Middle East as a sign that the end of the world is coming?  What do you think about this?

2.      How might this “chosen people” concept interfere with our understanding of the internal sense? When we understand the internal sense, how is this concept a part of it?

3.      Is there a sense of excitement as you read this final section of Amos? Why?

4.      After reading all of the hard messages directed to the unfaithful, isn’t it wonderful to end with an uplifting message about the Lord coming to our rescue with a permanence and victory? The hells do not prevail. The hells are not stronger than the Lord. The effort to remain faithful pays off. What were we worried about? Should we have been so unsure of ourselves and the Lord?  How can we hold onto this triumphant state during times when it doesn’t seem visible?

5.      Doesn’t this final chapter do a lot in restoring our confidence in the inevitability of the New Church?  Let’s talk about this.

To Epilogue