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What is the significance of Amos 7:1–6?

The Lord revealed a judgment he was planning to bring on Israel to Amos in a vision. Amos prayed “O Lord God, forgive, I beg you!” (vs. 2). Scripture declares that, “The Lord relented concerning this; ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord” (vs. 3). The Lord then showed Amos another fierce judgment he was planning against Israel. Amos again intercedes, “O Lord God, cease, I beg you!” (vs. 5). Again Scripture says, “The Lord relented concerning this” (vs. 6).

Does this passage accurately describe God’s interaction with Amos? Did God really plan to bring about these two judgments against Israel, only to change his mind in response to Amos’ prayer? If so, God could not have been all the while certain he wouldn’t bring about these judgments. If God eternally knew he would never unleash these two judgments, we can’t help but get the impression that he was toying with Amos in a sort of manipulative charade for no real purpose. Nothing was really changed as a result of this interaction. If we believe God is above such Machiavellian antics, and if we believe that Scripture should be taken at face value, I do not see how we can avoid concluding that the classical view of the future is inaccurate.

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