Amos 8: A prophecy that pointed to Sabbath abolishment?

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Amos 8: A prophecy that pointed
to Sabbath abolishment?

Jack Gent, one of Adventists modern day critics, tells us on his website in a booklet he wrote called “Is the Sabbath Commandment abolished?” that chapter 8 of the book of Amos is actually an ancient prophecy which, while pointing forward to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, also shows that at that time the Sabbath would be abolished. His left hook is verse 9, which reads:

Amos 8:9
(9) And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Have you heard this argument before? We have. Our critics compare verse 9 with a similar event which took place at the time of the cross just after Jesus gave up the ghost:

Luke 23:44-45
(44) And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
(45) And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

In believing that Amos 8 is speaking about this specific time in history, they feel they should also conclude that the Sabbath has come to an end because when you return to Amos 8, verse 5 reads:

Amos 8:5
(5) Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

There are, however, many problems with this interpretation, and we believe that it’s due to not reading the chapter in its proper context. First off, notice that…

There is a big difference between
Amos 8:9 and Luke 23:45.

Amos 8:9
(9) And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day

Luke 23:45
(45) And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

There is a difference between having the sun “go down” and having the sun “darkened.” When the Sun goes down, it is not darkened, it remains light on the other side of the earth. When the sun is darkened, then we have an occasion where the flames of the sun were either turned off or perhaps blocked by something, like a great amount of clouds. We don’t doubt the prophet Amos was shown a view of the coming Messiah and his mission, but if at this point in his book he was seeing the darkness which occurred at the cross of Calvary, why didn’t he describe the event in the exact same way? There are no accidents in the word of God. The reason why he did not write that the sun would be “darkened” as Luke did in his account, was simply because that is not the event he was foreseeing. Its certainly possible however that both these texts are figurative, but scholars agree the event of the sun being “darkened” really happened as oppossed to the “going down of the sun” in Amos. It’s more likely that Amos is being figurative as it is embeded in a prophecy while Luke 23:45 is describing an event that already took place.

Now let’s move forward by examining…

The actual context of Amos 8.

By just beginning in verse 1 we get a clear picture as to what the prophet is actually talking about. With this we will be able to gather a couple of points which will further demonstrate that the cross of Calvary is not what he had in mind when he penned these words. Notice:

Amos 8:1-2
(1) Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
(2) And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.

Immediately we are informed of something important… that at this time would be “the end of my people Israel.” When Jesus died upon the cross, did the end of the Jewish nation come? Did they as a people cease to exist? The destruction of their temple took place in 70 ad, not in 31 ad, the year Jesus died on the cross. What about as God’s people, did the end of them being God’s people cease at the cross? Well, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, particularly Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy, the bible say that God’s people Israel had those 70 weeks to…

“… finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” –Daniel 9:24.

And that Messiah would be cut off in the “midst” of the seventieth (last) week, not at the end (Daniel 9:27). If not at the end, then there were still three and a half years left for Israel. If the context of Amos 8 is speaking about that time when Messiah would be cut off, which was in the middle of the last probationary period of the nation of Israel as a people of God, then he would not have said in verse 2 that “the end is come upon my people Israel.”

In fact, the preaching of the salvation message Jesus bore to the “house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) did not cease with him when he died on the cross; it continued on with the disciples (Hebrews 2:3) until finally:

Acts 13:46
(46) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

That’s not all, look what happens when we get to the next verse in Amos 8:

Amos 8:3
(3) And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.

When our Lord died upon that cross, there were not “many dead bodies” in “every place.” There were at the most three bodies present, but Jesus was the first to die (the two thieves had their legs broken) and they were not certiantly “in every place.” Now the next three verses bring forth the sabbath, but there’s something important our critics have not notice about them which we will not see:

Amos 8:4-6
(4) Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
(5) Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
(6) That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?

Note carefully that the ones who say “when will the sabbath be gone” are actually the wicked who:

-swallow up the needy
-make them poor of the land to fail

Our critics don’t realize they are quoting the “wicked” and their greedy remarks when they quote this passage to claim the Sabbath was abolished!

The reason why these wicked ones are wanting the Sabbath and New Moons to end is because there was to be no business transactions upon those days, therefore they could not, through falsehood and deceit (verse 5)… “buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the refuse for wheat.” –verse 6. They desired the Sabbath hours to end that they may continue their selfish acts of profiting at the expense of the poor and needy. What greed!

At this point a fierce judgement is pronounced upon the people (verses 7-8) which includes the going down of the sun and the darkening of the earth (verse 9). The condition in which the people will find themselves after such a judgment takes place is clearly described in the following verse, verse 10:

Amos 8:10
(10) And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.

Is there an occasion in the New Testament which describes the head of “every” people being “bold” or their loins having upon them “sackcloth” after the death of Jesus upon the cross? Our critics can’t find such a thing. Why? Because Amos is not describing Calvary!

Finally we reach that last remaining verses, whose focal point is that the people would go “to and fro” trying to “hear” the words (note: plural, verse 11) of the Lord, but can not. When Jesus died on the cross, the word of the Lord was still available for the hearing of the people. Even though those involved in the controversy like the disciples were probably to despaired at the situation to look for the words of the Lord, it was still “available” to them. These verses are telling us the words of the Lord will not be available to anyone.

It’s clearly established, through proper reading of the context of this chapter, that our opponents are highly mistaken when it comes to their interpretation of these sacred texts. They place the event Amos is describing too far into the future, when in fact Amos is describing a local destruction which would soon after take place in the land of Israel. Let’s see that now.

What is Amos talking about?

Look at the verse ending the chapter just before chapter 8:

Amos 7:17
(17) Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.

While rebuking Amaziah the priest of Bethel, Amos makes this startling prophecy… “Israel shall go into captivity…” In fact, this warning seems to be the theme throughout almost the entire book of Amos. Let’s back up a little more. Look at what this verse in chapter 6 tells us:

Amos 6:14
(14) But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.

We are told all this will happen just before chapter 8, where the “going down of the sun” is described. When was the prophet Amos alive and active during his ministry? During the time of the captivity of the nation of Assyria!

Let’s prove this. The prophet Hosea was a contemporary of Amos. They both prophesied at about the same time. Compare the following:

Hosea 1:1
(1) The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

Amos 1:1
(1) The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

Therefore, there is information about this “nation” mentioned in Amos 6:14, which takes Israel captive, which we can find in Hosea. Notice the following few verses:

Hosea 3:4
(4) For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince…”

Hosea 8:8-9
(8) Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.
(9) For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.

Hosea 9:3
(3) They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.

Hosea 10:6
(6) It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.

Hosea 11:5
(5) He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

Now here is the actual historical account:

2 Kings 17:6, 23
(6) In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
(23) Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

What Amos was describing in chapter 8 was simply the reasons why they will be taken captive to Assyria and the anguish the people will thus have to endure!

What about the “going down of the sun?” Well, a couple of chapters before, the prophet, while describing the judgement which will come upon the Israelites during this captivity, said:

Amos 5:20
(20) Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

The reference to the sun going down was just another way of describing the gloom and darkness of the day upon which the children of Israel will reap the harvest of their rebellion and go into captivity to the land of the Assyrians.

As we can see, the idea that Amos is speaking about a future event and the abolishment of the Sabbath is completely absent from these texts.

There are some beautiful lessons our critics could probably learn from these chapters if only they would stay in context. For example, sometimes the Lord has us go through affliction that through it we may seek him more fully (Hosea 5:15). Unfortunately, when we distort these words by taking them out of context, as our critics do, we lose more then just the historical setting of such chapters. We lose the opportunity to learn vital lessons that could perhaps bring us closer to God.

For further study, see:

Colossians 2:14-16:The Sabbath a shadow? Which Sabbath?
Romans 10:4: Christ the end of the law?
Jeremiah 3:14-17: Proof that the 10 commandments are abolished?


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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