“Who are ‘the remnant of Joseph’ mentioned by Amos?”
I received this interesting question a few days ago: Amos 5:14-15 mentions “the remnant of Joseph.” Who are this “remnant of Joseph” and when does this prophecy take place? Is this the final judgement?
Chronologically Amos would the first of the prophets, although it appears his call to this service came as quite a surprise to him. “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees,” he confessed to Amaziah. “But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” In the 8th century during the reign of Jeroboam II Amos moved from Tekoa in Judah to the Northern Kingdom of Israel where he prophesied its destruction and the Babylonian Captivity (7:11).
But Amos also foresaw the day when Israel would be restored (9:11-12), a passage cited by James during the Council in Jerusalem as the believers considered God’s grace in extending salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 15:15-18). This grace is still being outworked today. In our world of inequality, greed and power Amos still calls us to repent. On at least two occasions Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. cited Amos 5:24 “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” in an April 16, 1963 letter from a jail in Birmingham, and in his August 28, 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech from Washington.
To answer this question more directly it appears Amos has in mind the “remnant” (what remained) “of Joseph” (i.e. of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim — Joseph’s two sons who grew to become these two tribes, and now largely consisted of Ephraim.) Others see this as more widely representing all who had faith like that of Joseph.
Many prophecies can be seen to have interpretation for the time in which they were uttered as well as application for a future time. In some cases the prophet is aware of this dual or split focus, while at other times he may not. Many other prophecies have no further fulfillment but stand as testimonies that what God promised He brought to pass.
For my part I must only know that I must be ready at any time for eternity through full reliance on the sacrifice of Christ to bring me safely home forever.
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