He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the LORD God Almighty is his name.
Amos 4:13 (NIV)
Reading: Amos 4:1-13
Consider: Amos might seem a very unlikely person to prophesy against Israel (the northern kingdom), particularly as it was during the time of Israel’s great prosperity and security under the reign of Jeroboam II. Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, a village about 10 miles (16km) south of Jerusalem, in the southern kingdom of Judah.
The majority of the nine chapters of Amos are taken up with the prophesy against Israel (2:6 – 7:9), with a very small part devoted to how his message was received (7:10-17). Can you imagine the scene: a lowly shepherd comes north to deliver God’s message of judgement at Bethel (a place of worship established in opposition to Jerusalem). Amaziah, priest of Bethel, confronts Amos and tells him to go back to Judah, as they weren’t interested in hearing his prophesy. We need to remember that Amos’ message of judgement came at a time of great prosperity and security in Israel. This led those in the northern kingdom to have an overconfidence in themselves, rather than being confident in God. This is particularly clear from chapter 4 where the words ‘… yet you have not returned to me’ are used five times. At each stage where God reveals his anger with the people of Israel, they ignore him and rely on their own strength.
The book of Amos teaches us that time and again God expresses his love for his people. He repeatedly offers repentance and forgiveness to those who will turn to him. However, it is clear that there will come a time when God’s judgement will fall on those who reject him.
Amos also teaches us that God can call and use the most unlikely of individuals to deliver his message of repentance and forgiveness. This is what Amos himself says when answering Amaziah: 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. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).
If you are reading this and haven’t committed your life to Christ, the offer of repentance and forgiveness is freely available to you and now might be the time to respond to God’s call.
If you are already a Christian, are you prepared to let God use you in the way he chooses to speak his message of forgiveness in a world that is indifferent to the message?
Pray: Father, we praise you for your offer of forgiveness that is freely available in Christ. Create in us a willingness to bring your message of repentance and forgiveness to a needy world. Amen