Israel has several names in the Old Testament and a new one is seen in chapter seven. In fact, it only occurs this way in that chapter. Israel is called “Joseph,” and “Ephraim” in other places, but in Amos 7 she is called “Isaac.” Perhaps the Lord does this because Israel is stuck in the past as well as in idolatry. She makes regular pilgrimages to Beersheba (Amos 5:5; 8:14) where Isaac was born and where he also witnessed an appearance of the Lord and built an altar.
Israel holds to the faith of her fathers, but not to the way of her Heavenly Father. It is a problem in every generation. Early on, the generation seeks its own way, innovating as it goes and wandering further away from what God wants. Eventually it seeks to return to the “old paths,” but the old ways are but the ways they grew up with, their religious traditions – idols, which were also forged by their wandering forefathers. In Israel’s case, she has journeyed so far from the Lord she no longer knows the way back, and God is not inclined to forgive.
God plans punishments for Israel. The first one is so destructive Amos begs for forgiveness on her behalf. God doesn’t forgive, but He does relent. Then another punishment is seen. This time, Amos doesn’t pray for forgiveness, only that God will stop before Israel is destroyed. God does, but a third punishment is contemplated and from this, there will be no reprieve.
God doesn’t forgive forever, and there is an end to his patience. Each generation must seek the will of the Lord, a will that leads not to comfort with the familiar (the past), but the discomfort of the holy. The way of the Lord has been revealed and it can be known, at least by people who seek to know it above all else.