The prophecy of Amos has helped us to see that divine judgment is always deserved and is inescapable. But the book of Amos also indicates that Jehovah’s judgment is selective. God can find the wicked and execute judgment upon them wherever they hide. He can also find repentant and upright ones—those to whom he chooses to extend mercy. This is beautifully highlighted in the final chapter of the book of Amos.
According to Amos chapter 9, verse 8, Jehovah said: “I shall not completely annihilate the house of Jacob.” As noted in verses 13 to 15, Jehovah promised that he would “gather back the captive ones” of his people. They would be shown mercy and would enjoy security and prosperity. “The plowman will actually overtake the harvester,” Jehovah promised. Imagine that—a harvest so abundant that some of it would not yet be gathered in when the next time for plowing and sowing seed came around!
It can be said that Jehovah’s judgment against wicked ones in both Judah and Israel was selective in that repentant and rightly disposed ones were shown mercy. In fulfillment of the restoration prophecy recorded in Amos chapter 9, a repentant remnant of Israel and Judah returned from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C.E. Back in their beloved homeland, they restored pure worship. In security, they also rebuilt their houses and planted vineyards and gar
It is beneficial to consider the fulfillment of the many prophecies of Amos, not only those that were fulfilled in the punishment of Israel, Judah, and the other nations but also the prophecies of restoration. True to Jehovah’s word through Amos, the captives of Israel returned in 537 B.C.E. to build and inhabit their desolated cities and plant their vineyards and gardens.—Amos 9:14; Ezra 3:1.
However, there was a glorious and upbuilding fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy in the days of the apostles. In discussing the gathering of non-Israelites into the Christian congregation, James, under inspiration, makes clear that this was foretold in the prophecy at Amos 9:11, 12. He indicates that the ‘rebuilding of the booth of David that had fallen down’ finds fulfillment in connection with the Christian congregation, “in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah.” Here, indeed, was the Scriptural support for the new development, as related by Simon Peter—that God was taking out of the nations “a people for his name.”—Acts 15:13-19.
As recorded at Luke 21:24, Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations [“the times of the Gentiles,” King James Version] are fulfilled.” Jerusalem had been the capital city of the Jewish nation—the seat of rulership of the line of kings from the house of King David. (Psalm 48:1, 2) However, these kings were unique among national leaders. They sat on “Jehovah’s throne” as representatives of God himself. (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem was thus a symbol of Jehovah’s rulership.
How and when, though, did God’s rulership begin to be “trampled on by the nations”? This happened in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. “Jehovah’s throne” became vacant, and the line of kings who descended from David was interrupted. (2 Kings 25:1-26) Would this ‘trampling’ go on forever? No, for the prophecy of Ezekiel said regarding Jerusalem’s last king, Zedekiah: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. . . . It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27) The one who has “the legal right” to the Davidic crown is Christ Jesus. (Luke 1:32, 33) So the ‘trampling’ would end when Jesus became King.
When would that grand event occur? Jesus showed that the Gentiles would rule for a fixed period of time. The account in Daniel chapter 4 holds the key to knowing how long that period would last. It relates a prophetic dream experienced by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He saw an immense tree that was chopped down. Its stump could not grow because it was banded with iron and copper. An angel declared: “Let seven times pass over it.”—Daniel 4:10-16.
In the Bible, trees are sometimes used to represent rulership. (Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:2-5) So the chopping down of the symbolic tree represents how God’s rulership, as expressed through the kings at Jerusalem, would be interrupted. However, the vision served notice that this ‘trampling of Jerusalem’ would be temporary—a period of “seven times.” How long a period is that?