Amos is a rough, tough, working man. He was a rancher and a farmer. He was also a man who loved God and loved God's word.
One day, the Lord spoke to him and told him to leave his homeland, ride up into Israel, and start preaching. God told him to warn the people that they have been spitting in God's face for so long their nation is about to be destroyed... but there's still time to get their hearts right with God.
The basic problem was that God had called the Jews into a special covenant relationship with himself. In that relationship, God promised to bless them and protect them. Their job was to enjoy his grace, to share his grace with one another, and to show God's good news to a waiting watching world.
That was the plan.
Unfortunately, that plan didn't happen. Instead of looking to God, the people turned away from God.
Instead of worshiping God, the people worshiped idols. Instead of showing grace to one another, the people took advantage of one another. They used people. They exploited people financially and sexually. Instead of showing a lost and dying world the way to God, God's people let the demonized nations show them the way to paganism and corruption.
By the time of Amos, this twisted, crooked, shady way of life had been the story for generations. But now everything is going to change. The reign of fake religion was over. The days of taking God's blessing for granted were coming to an end.
Amos is there to warn them to get right with God.
In chapter 7, God shows Amos three visions. Here we go.
"Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king's mowings. And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: 'O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!' So the LORD relented concerning this. 'It shall not be,' said the LORD." (Amos 7:1-3)
Amos has a vision of swarms of locusts. In these societies, locusts were absolutely devastating. When they come through, there's no food left behind. No grain. No crops. No food. No economy. Just starvation and death.
If the locusts came through, that would be the ruin of the nation.
So this was the vision God gave him, and it made Amos pray. He prayed.
O Lord, God, forgive, I pray!
Of all the things he could pray, why pray for this? Why pray for forgiveness? Amos prayed for forgiveness because Amos followed the logic.
He knows why the locusts are coming. It is because the justice of God has been activated. God is in full judgment mode.
Whenever God sends down judgments, it means that there has been serious sin. Serious, ongoing, unashamed rebellion against God. Disrespecting God. Ignoring God. Forgetting God. Disobeying God.
The problem isn't locusts. Locusts are a symptom of the problem. The problem is sin against God.
So Amos doesn't pray against the locusts, the symptom. No. Amos prays over the real problem here which is sin.
Wherever there is sin, there is a massive need for forgiveness. So Amos prays for that. "O Lord God, forgive, I pray. Oh that Jacob [Israel] may stand, for he is small."
God hears. God answers. God forgives.
So the LORD relented [repented, changed his mind] concerning this. "It shall not be," said the LORD."
So no locusts.
Aren't you glad you have a forgiving God?