The Minor Prophet Amos may have proclaimed God’s Word back in 763 BC Israel, but his time and circumstances are strikingly similar to ours today.
I believe if you read the following excerpt from my new book, co-authored with Steve Howell, titled 12 Faith Journeys of the Minor Prophets, available on our website and on Kindle and Nook, you will marvel at the similarities between the nation of Israel of old and the Western nations of today. Then, I suggest reading the book of Amos, particularly chapter 5’s call to repentance and chapter 9’s warning to those nations who fail to turn from their sad spiritual state.
The relevancy of Amos’ message to us today is a dire warning that we must heed or face national extinction.Amos' message is a dire warning that we must heed or face national extinction. #prophecy Click To Tweet
Time of the Prophet
“The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders 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.” Thus Amos 1:1 introduces Amos, the third of the twelve Minor Prophets.
Amos lived during Israel’s golden age of economic stability and tranquility. From 805-740 BC, Israel’s enemies, such as the mighty aggressor Assyria, were stuck in a temporary time of decline.1 During that intermission, the Jewish kingdoms, both north and south, expanded back into the old Solomonic boundaries outlined in 2 Kings 14. It was a golden age historians described as “a period of expansion, freedom, activity, prosperity and peace. Money poured in; the armies were always victorious. The people were filled with pride… nothing interfered to chill the popular spirits.”2
Since fallen human nature during times of blessing forgets God’s benevolence, a human-centered form of worship arose in Israel’s Northern Kingdom that replaced the true worship of God. Worship of Yahweh in the Temple in Jerusalem was replaced by the worship of golden calves in the cult shrines in the towns of Bethel, Beersheba and Gilgal (1 Kg. 12:26-33). Samaria’s shrine towns and their calf idols were never authorized by God, and He despised them as abominations.
As the false, idolatrous worship of God arose in Israel, the people were no longer taught who the real Yahweh God was and His moral law as revealed in the Torah. Ethics and morality were replaced by empty rituals and man-made ceremonies. The consequence of this godless, human-centered religion combined with a new ethically-lacking upper class fostered a fertile breeding ground for terrible acts of injustice. These injustices defined the time in which Amos lived.
Construction of a Prophet
Thus in this spiritual climate of apathy and empty religion which defined the Northern Kingdom, Yahweh turned His gaze far south to the little town of Tekoa in search of a faithful messenger. If Bethlehem was considered an “O, little town,” then Tekoa just six miles south of Bethlehem and 12 miles south of Jerusalem was equally insignificant. This fly-speck of a village overlooking the Dead Sea was nestled among the barren limestone hills of the Judean wilderness. Like America’s old El Paso in Texas, Tekoa was the frontier town burned by the sun and dried hard as the clay. What the town lacked in size and culture, though, its harsh setting more than made up for it by producing a stock of ruggedly hearty people.
One of these iron men was Amos. Built tough like the herdsmen of old, Amos lived the harsh life of wrangling an ugly, stunted breed of sheep which had a fine wool called noked.3 When the seasons got too dry, he’d pull up his tent pegs and head for the coastal plain or Jordan Valley to tend sycamore-fig trees. He’d set to the tedious task of ensuring good fruit by slicing or pricking the top of each fig with all the great patience one would need in doing such mind-numbing labors. And, when the wool and fruit were ready, Amos would likely travel a few miles to join the busy caravan route linking Jerusalem with Hebron and Beersheba to sell his goods up in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
It is likely that in those northern trade markets Amos got to witness first-hand the bitter taste of the religious and social corruption that dominated the North. He was a humble man of the earth with no stated lineage, cut from the same hairy cloth as Elijah and John the Baptist, and just as much a devoutly faithful follower of Yahweh. The rampant materialism and harsh oppression of the poor he would have witnessed could only have galled him. What he saw became a burden on his soul, fitting for a man whose name means “burden-bearer.”
Call of the Prophet
Few would want God’s call to become His messenger the way Amos received his calling. “The Lord roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers” (1:2). What a call! Amos, the lowly shepherd, heard the ear-splitting shout of the Lord roaring with a voice so loud it would have withered one of the highest mountaintops in the land.
From the lowest pastures with his ugly sheep, Amos responded to that mighty voice with, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (3:8). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah had found His messenger in Amos.
It was the irony of God to use a peasant to bring His message to the wealthiest in society. The contrast was perfect. And Amos, he had no choice but to respond to God’s command to go. Amos didn’t volunteer; he was drafted!4
- James M. Boice, The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 1, Hosea-Jonah (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1983), p. 134.
- Kyle M. Yates, Preaching From the Prophets (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1942), p. 33.
- David A. Hubbard, Will We Ever Catch Up with the Bible? (Glendale, CA: G/L Regal Books, 1977), p. 38.
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I’ve submitted, and sometimes have had published, many Letters to the Editor of my San Antonio newspaper. Here’s one I just sent a few minutes ago which I called “Worst POTUS candidates in my lifetime”: “I usually vote Republican, but this year’s arrogant, thin-skinned, loose-cannon, bully candidate mocked a special-needs reporter and dissed veterans who became POWs. I will not vote for the Democrat who has a history of dishonesty, incompetence, 100% pro-abortion voting record (anytime for any reason), and enabling a serial-philanderer spouse. In my opinion, both fit the description of “a nasty piece of work.” I will not stay away from the voting booth, but if I have to write in my choice in order to live with my own conscience, I will. America has hit a new low, of that I have no doubt.” I SO pray for the Rapture, but on the other hand, I know there are so many billions who have not accepted Christ and would face God’s wrath during the Tribulation, and I don’t want that for them either. It seems to this 67y.o. woman that we are surely in one of the world’s most tumultuous times and the season of the King’s return. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
We have to be reminded that God is Sovereign and He is in control. Whether the Dem win or the Reps will is really immaterial because whoever wins has to be looked at that it is the Lord’s will, if you have voted and prayed. Just be thankful of the greatest gift Christ Gave us was forgiveness for our sinss and eternal life. Nothing else really matters, so spread the Word.
Keep up the good work and may God bless you.
Whether Orlando, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Washington, Jerusalem etc. want to hear it or not, “Shall a Trumpet be Blown in the City and the People not be Afraid? Shall there be Evil or Calamity in a City and YAHWEH hath not Done it?” Amos 3:6
For those of us who ponder ‘why’ when evil occurs, consider this advice shared to me by a godly friend. “The evil of sin is from ourselves; it is our own doing. But the evil of trouble, personal or public, is from God, and is his doing; whoever are the instruments, God is the principal agent. Out of his mouth both evil and good proceed. This consideration, that, whatever evil is in the city, the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6), should engage us patiently to bear our share in public calamities and to study to answer God’s intention in them.✝”
One of the questions about God’s Word (hopefully not silly) I have pondered more than a few times is this: More than once in the Bible do we find the meaning of the name of a prophet or other key person go along with their character or lifestyle (apart from the name changing by the Lord for Peter and Paul). Were the parents somehow inspired by God to name their child a name that would befit their character or lifestyle as used by God?
Excellent question! Even the names in the genealogy of Jesus point to Him. Though the Bible doesn’t say specifically other than the naming of Jesus and a few others like Hosea’s children, it appears that some of the biblical names were indeed inspired.
Your humanization of the Prophet Amos and the clarity of how this man was called by God sheds great light on who God uses for His will and purposes. I agree that presently we are in similar circumstancs in America today, as the Kingdoms were at that time. Who knows how many more cycles of fallings away and repentances are remaining for us! I do know there are many of us Believers left to carry on as God wills it to be, but our form of government has legislated out almost any chance of repentance as a nation.
Blessings to yours and Dr. Reagan’s Ministry.
I agree with Linda on our choices for POTUS this year, however, I must vote for the Republican because the appointment of Supreme Court justices is so very important. A write in candidate vote is the same as casting a vote for Clinton, which I cannot in good conscience do. I pray that our Lord returns soon, it seems that we all need to be “looking up” and doing His work.
I love the book of Amos and I have just got back from a trip to Israel and one of the reason of going was to go to Tekoa, A Jewish cabdriver took me there and we spend a day there and eat lunch with a Jewish group of people as they celebrate a milestone in a workplace there. What is amazing Amos prophesy of the day of Jesus hanging on a cross and God darken the Earth that day some said it could been a eclipse but they will not last but a average of seven Minutes, Amos 8:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day: Only time this has every happen is when Jesus was on the cross, asIsrael was backslider yet God promised a day of redeemption for Israel which because ours also. and then Amos told about us Gentiles coming in and restoring the Tabernacle of David and gave Israel a promise of Great days which is coming to them, I could go on and on but I love Jesus, Lord God, Israel and everyone too.
If I may, I found the reference to Amos 5:8 of particular interest. Due to the reference in the KJV of the Companion Bible, Appendix 12, page 17 refers to the constellation of “Orion” (Or in Hebrew) as the Coming Prince. Or in Hebrew meaning “Light”. Archealogical evidence has it to have had been taken from depictions on the “Denderah Zodiac” which was a part of a ceiling within a tomb in Egypt. Interesting given the modern comparisons to Orion and the positions of the Egyptian pyramids. There are also references in Job 9:9 and Job 38:31 that have similarities, as well.
Our sins on the earth are great, similar to the Days of Noah. I don’t think we are going to get righteous leaders who put God before themselves, or the will of the People. Looks like our Republic is gone.