“The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds 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.
“The Lord roars from Zion
and utters his voice from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
and the top of Carmel withers.”
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Damascus,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they have threshed Gilead
with threshing sledges of iron.”
It’s not usual to see a direct correlation between our focus on God and our perceived need for Him. We’ve all been there, the prayer and promises to God before a test we didn’t quite study enough for, the prayers and promises as we realize we have more week than paycheck, and the prayers and promises when we’ve blown it at home or at work.
Of course, when everything is going well, it’s easy to coast and forget about the praying, and forget about the promises that we made when we “really” needed God.
This is the context into which Amos brought God’s message. Israel was in a period of relative peace and success. The divided kingdoms, Israel and Judah, each had strong, well-established rulers, and all their usual enemies were subdued or otherwise occupied with other surrounding issues. They were beginning to grow a wealthy class and although highly religious, their true focus and dependence on God had waned and they were guilty of shirking some of their covenant responsibilities.
Amos said that God’s holy response to their disobedience would be like the paralyzing roar of a lion. He begins by pronouncing judgment on the nations surrounding Israel, which might have been a relief at first, but as Amos’ message progressed, it got closer and closer until they were in the crosshairs.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Are you in a period of peace and success in your life right now, or challenge and turmoil? How is it affecting your reliance on God at the moment?
- Are there areas where you’ve grown lax in your walk with God because you’re not dealing with anything urgent?
- What is something that you can do to make your fellowship with God an ongoing and ever-steady fellowship?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Although the passage may appear to paint Amos as a lowly shepherd, language used in the text and clues from other areas of the book suggest he was actually pretty accomplished in his own right. It was likely that Amos had his hand in livestock breeding and sycamore-fig farming. He might have managed a group of shepherds and farmers and been respected in his community.
Question: How might this have affected the impact of his message?