One day as I was sitting before God and was asking Him where He wanted me to study next, and I felt a clear leading towards Amos. I was thinking Amos? Why Amos? But I obeyed and I was blessed, and I want to share a few things over the next week or two.
The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. –Amos 1:1
The name Amos actually means “burden” and he carried a great burden as he gave out the judgments for the gentiles and Israel. Sometimes our names say something about us or our situations in which we were born. An example of this would be Moses who was named because Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the water or Samuel who was born of Hannah whose name is literally “heard of God” because God heard her petition and granted it. You may think this is just an “Old Testament” thing, but think on this: how many parents lately have named their children Judas or Jezebel?
When I think about it, we all carry a name if we are true followers of Jesus, that is Christian. Literally “Little Christs” and it is not a name to be carried lightly. When we think about all who Christ was as He lived on earth as our example, it is a daunting thought: Rebuke the hypocrites in love not judging, love those who are not so lovely (remembering we in our unsaved nature and in sin were not so lovely to God who in His Holiness would have had to send me to hell not because He did not love me but because I rejected Him and therefore cannot stand in His presence), hating sin but showing compassion on the sinner, sacrificing Himself for others. Sometimes I think we feel it is a sacrifice to come back to church on Sunday night! We have the name Christian it should affect ever area of our thoughts and lives in the singular though and purpose: Glorify our Father in heaven. Sorry about the parathonical insertion, back to Amos.
As we go over the book there were three things I noticed: first is some of the wonderful imagery we will see as we go along. Second is the simple and wonderful poetry used in Amos. Third is the prophet himself.
We know what his name means, and after a bit of research I learned that where he came from, Tekoa is a little valley going down toward the Dead Sea from the area of Bethlehem. Actually, if you’re standing on Herodian, that fortress that Herod built sort of east off Bethlehem, looking south, you’re looking into the valley of Tekoa, the area from which Amos came.
Lastly is the prophets description of himself (found in Amos 7:14-15): he was a herdsman (not a Shepard with the spiritual connotations but a literal keeper of the animals) and a picker of figs. Not a prophet, son of a prophet, graduate of the school of prophets. God called him, gave him a message and he went.
Now I know God can use graduates who have been trained in Christian schools and colleges but that is not the requirement for ministry. If you have the opportunity I would encourage it but if God called you, we need to remember God will equip you (Faithful is he who calleth you who will also do it -1 Thess 5:24) But that does not give a “free pass”. I cannot pray for an A on a test and then not do my part by not studying for it. God called me to preach, and that means I study and prepare. I try to learn what I can from God and the good pastor He has placed me under in the church I attend. But do not let your situation limit you if you know God has called you.
And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. –Amos 1:2
Here is the first of the images given in Amos. The Lord roaring like a lion, the shepard mourn (or lament, walk with ones head cast down) and the top of Carmel, where Elijah had victory over the false prophets of Ball-am, shall wither (or dry up). When the Lord speaks, it is a wonderful and awesome thing (inspiring awe or wonder NOT cool!). It makes me wonder about those who claim to actually hear from God in audible voices and think of it casually or even fun. That is not what is shown in the Bible. Elijah had to cover his fact with a cloak when he heard the still, small voice, both John and Daniel fell as dead men in the presence of Jesus when in His glory not covered by a body of flesh. Peter, James and John could do nothing but bow when Jesus showed His glory on the mount of transfiguration. When I hear from God my reaction is more like that of Isaiah: Woe is me! It makes me see myself for what I am: a saved sinner in the presence of a Holy God allowed in by His grace giving my salvation so I can be made righteous (not am righteous, but made righteous by the blood of Jesus). When I see myself for what I am and am thankful for what God has done for me and watch carefully for temptation and by God’s mercy and grace not yield to it.
When God roars while I read His word, I try to heed what it says. And God is roaring out judgement and we will look at that next time.