The Part-Time Prophet

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Amos, Route 66

Route 66: Amos, “The Part-Time Prophet”

Sometimes God uses the most unexpected people to accomplish His glorious ends.  We see it throughout the pages of the Bible.  An idolater is called by God to leave his home and trust God by faith (Abraham).  A disgraced fugitive is called by God to confront the world’s most powerful king & demand freedom for his people (Moses).  A shepherd boy not even esteemed by his own family is called by God to become the premier king of Israel (David).  Such was the case with Amos.  He wasn’t a priest like Ezekiel – he wasn’t a prince like Solomon – he wasn’t even a man of influence or with the royal court like Nehemiah.  Amos was a simple rancher.  He was a sheep breeder/shepherd living in a small town in southern Judah.  He had absolutely no reason to be made a prophet of the Lord of Hosts, but that is what God did.  God took this every-day Joe from an every-day town, and gave him a message that would rock the northern kingdom.  God wanted to shake them up & grab their attention, and Amos was just the guy to do it.

What does it take to get our attention?  It’s easy for us to settle into a rut & go on auto-pilot.  Whether it’s something as simple as driving to the same location every day without realizing it, or settling into the same habits at home watching the same TV shows at the same time, it’s a rut.  To break out of it, something different needs to come along.  The same thing is true in our spiritual lives.  We can easily fall into ruts, muttering the same prayers at meal-times and bedtimes without meaning what we have to say – or glancing over a page in our Bibles without really reading the words – or doing anything that is the same-old, same-old.  Eventually we stop paying attention & we inevitably drift into sin.  We find ourselves doing the things we hate & wonder how we got there.  We might even become so complacent that we wonder if we ever need to leave.

That’s when God tends to grab our attention.  He’ll convict us, shake us up, even discipline us – all in an attempt to break us out of our complacent ruts and fix our eyes once more upon Him.

That was His role for Amos.  Amos may have been a regular Joe, but God wanted to use Amos in such a way that Israel would be shaken.  They were headed down a bad road & had become completely complacent to their situation.  They needed to be woken up, scared straight…and Amos was just the part-time prophet for the job.

As with many of the OT prophets, the message given by Amos is for a specific people at a specific time: primarily ancient Israel/Samaria in regards to the coming Assyrian invasion.  What makes it important to the Christian?  (1) It’s the word of God, and that in itself is important.  (2) It speaks of the judgment of God, mainly in regards to His own people.  God is not blind to our sins, and He will not hesitate to do what is necessary to shake us out of our sinful habits.  If that requires strong discipline, so be it.  (3) It demonstrates the mercy of God in the midst of His judgment.  Was God prepared to judge His people?  Yes – He knew exactly how He would do it.  Is that what God wanted to do?  No – He wanted them to repent, seek His face, and walk in righteousness.  Like any father, God would much rather His children humble themselves and obey Him, than to bring down His hand of discipline.  He will do what is necessary, but repentance is far better.

Although we can point out a general timeframe as to when Amos wrote his book (somewhere between 760-750BC), we cannot say with certainty in what order Amos actually shared these prophecies.  It seems likely that he went to Israel for his prophetic ministry, and returned back home to the south before he ever wrote anything down.  So whether or not the written order is the chronological order, we do not know.  However, there is a general flow to the book:

  • Declarations of Judgment (1-2).  Unlike other prophets who listed the judgment of God against other nations at the end of their books, Amos puts his right up front.  It’s a summary judgment of all of the neighbors of the Hebrew people, along with the Hebrews themselves.
  • Discourses on Judgment (3-6).  The general feel changes quite a bit here, as well as the focus.  Amos hones in on the Hebrew people, specifically the northern kingdom of Israel/Samaria.
  • Visions of Judgment (7-9).  God used several word pictures with Amos in order to get His point across, and the method and severity of the coming judgment becomes clear as Amos can see it in his mind’s eye.

It’s not all judgment.  In the middle is a call to repentance, and at the end is a promise of restoration.  But the idea is clear: time was short, and it wasn’t to be wasted.  God was trying to shake up His people, and He wasn’t afraid to speak sternly to them to do it.

Declarations of Judgment (1-2)
Actually, prior to the initial oracles is a brief section that gives us all of the background of Amos that is contained in the Bible. (1:1-2)  Amos preached to the north, but lived in the south.  Tekoa was a small town approximately 5 miles south of Jerusalem.  It was south even of Bethlehem, though still close enough that in modern-distances we might think of it almost as a suburb of Jerusalem (though it wasn’t).  When called by God, Amos left his home, went to the north, just barely crossing the border of Israel over to Bethel.  There he preached the word of God & was even told by the priest of Bethel to go back home.  When Amos returned, we don’t know, though he probably wasn’t in the north for very long.

The king of Judah under which Amos served was a good one: Uzziah.  Uzziah had some issues with pride, for which he was divinely disciplined, but overall the king loved the Lord & tried to do what was right.  The king to the north, however, was evil: Jeroboam II.  Like his namesake, he was a staunch idolater, repeatedly provoking the Lord to anger.  God had shown much patience to Israel/Samaria in the past, and His patience was almost at an end.  The kingdom would be conquered by the Assyrians less than 100 years into the future.  The people were running out of time – they needed to repent & to do it quickly.

Not that they saw a need.  Although Jeroboam II was evil, he had a prosperous reign.  The people were fairly protected & lived fairly well – well enough to let the rich get rich & the poor get poorer (and they mistreated the poor along the way).  They needed something to shake them up, and God gave them something: an earthquake.  What the earthquake was, we do not know.  However, it was a big enough event not only to get people’s attention, but for Amos to use in dating his book.  Amos preached the need for repentance, and two short years later an earthquake came.  The people may have thought that the quake itself was a preview of the Day of the Lord!  It certainly underscored the judgment yet to come.

In fact, that seemed to be picked up by Amos as the voice of God.  If the people hadn’t listed to what the prophet proclaimed, perhaps they would listen to God as He figuratively roared across the land as the ground shook from the national disaster.  (Sometimes God speaks in a road; other times it’s a whisper.  Are we willing to listen?)

Against the Gentiles (1:3-2:3)
The common refrain in all of these prophecies is “For three transgressions of ___ and for four…”.  The thing to remember is that this is not a literal count from Amos.  They haven’t sinned for only 3-4 times, and perhaps Amos can’t decide on which number it is.  The idea is perpetual sin.  The sin for these nations has been habitual, and God (via Amos) is going to detail just a few of them, showing that His judgment of them is just. 

  • Damascus (1:3-5). Damascus was (and is) the capital of Syria, and is one of the oldest-inhabited cities in the world.  Historically, they were off/on enemies of Israel, depending on which kings were on the throne at the time.  During this time, they were enemies, and had attacked the Israelite region of Gilead.  God had seen it & promised the Syrians would fall to the rising Assyrian empire.
  • Gaza (1:6-8).  Gaza was home to the ancient enemies of the Philistines.  They had taken Israelite captives to Edom, and God promised to rise up against the Philistine cities and their false gods.
  • Tyre (1:9-10).  Like Damascus, Tyre was an off/on enemy of Israel, but this time they had done the same as Gaza, and they would be judged in the same way.
  • Edom (1:11-12).  Edom had a closer relationship with Israel because the nation was descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob (Israel).  Thus God pointed out how Edom “pursued his brother with the sword.”  Because they had warred against Israel (along with the help of Gaza & Tyre), God would bring His judgment upon them.
  • Ammon (1:13-15).  Ammon had also gone to war against Gilead, having engaged in all kinds of atrocities.  The things they did would be considered war crimes today.  God saw it, and He would judge them harshly for it.
  • Moab (2:1-3).  Moab’s judgment is interesting in that they were judged not for what they did against Israel, but against Edom.  They had desecrated the tombs of the Edomite kings (among other things), and God declared their own judgment.  It underscores the sovereignty of God over every nation.  He isn’t only interested in 1-2 nations among all the others in the world – God is God over the entire planet.  All nations everywhere will answer to Him.

Against the Hebrews (2:4-16)
The Gentiles are not the only nations of the world to be judged.  God turns His attention to His own people…

  • Judah (2:4-5).  Although the bulk of Amos’ prophecies are against the northern kingdom, it doesn’t mean that God ignored the sin of the southern kingdom.  Here, Judah is condemned for having “despised the law of God” (2:4).  They would also be judged in time, and a fire would indeed “devour the palaces of Jersualem.” (2:5)  It would be a different conquering empire, but it would be the judgment of God, nevertheless.
  • Israel (2:6-16).  This is where God really hones in His message through Amos.  Interestingly, the judgment is not for the reasons we might expect.  Later on, God is going to have a lot to say about the false religion of Israel/Samaria, but that’s not in view here.  Here, it’s the injustice of the people.  There was abuse of the poor, bribery among the rich, sexual perversion done in the name of religion, and more.  God had judged other nations for less, and He reminded the people that it was He who brought them out of slavery and gave them this land (2:10).  It was God who gave them the law and good examples through prophets and Nazirites, but the people restrained the prophets and Nazirites from doing what they were called to do. (2:11-12)  Thus God had to deal with them, and deal with them harshly.  The nation weighed Him down, and so He would bring down His strong hand of judgment upon them, and none would be able to deliver himself (2:15).
    • We don’t often think of our sin being a burden upon the Lord, but that seems to be exactly what God is saying.  Granted, we’re under a different covenant with God, having been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ – but surely the general principle still applies.  Jesus so graciously offers us a light burden of His own, as He strengthens us and bears our load with us.  Yet when we engage in willful sin, we are burdening Him.  He already became sin for us when He died upon the cross for our sakes.  How seriously we need to take the issue of sin!  The weight is so burdensome & the cost is so great!

Discourses on Judgment (3-6)
Judgment announced (3:1-15)
As the oracles against Israel begin in earnest, they begin with the most interesting address: “O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt.” (3:1)  This is a reference to both the northern AND southern kingdoms.  Although the kingdom of Israel is more closely in view, the indictment God gives is applicable to Judah as well.  Israel’s judgment may be coming first, but that didn’t mean Judah was exempt.  They would face their own similar judgment in future generations (which was historically fulfilled through the Babylonians).

In vss. 3-6, God gives a series of rhetorical questions.  The whole idea is that judgment doesn’t come for no reason.  It’s impossible to walk together unless two people are agreed on the destination (3:3).  Lions have no reason to roar unless they find something (3:4), etc.  When the judgments of God come (and they would), God had ample justification for bringing them.  In fact, God was the one roaring like a lion just now (3:7) – this was His warning to Israel.

The people were to be told that an enemy was approaching Israel, and this enemy would be victorious.  The palaces would be plundered (3:11), and the nation would be ripped to pieces (3:12).  At this point, God does specify the idolatrous sin of Samaria/Israel in regards to the “altar of Bethel” (3:14).  Long ago, Jeroboam I had constructed a pair of golden calves for Israel to worship, in order to prevent the people from travelling to the temple in Jerusalem.  This proved to be a stumbling block time & time again to the people, with people consistently walking away from the worship of the one true God.  Even when God raised up Jehu to bring judgment on King Ahab & other worshippers of Baal, Jehu still allowed the golden calves of Jeroboam to remain (2 Kings 10:29).  Now it would be time for a final judgment, which the Assyrians would bring in their destruction of the land.

Judgment was warned (4:1-13)
Once more, God turned to the social sins of the people, and through Amos abandons all political correctness as He basically calls the women of Israel “cows.”  These women (“cows of Bashan”) oppressed the poor, crushed the needy, and tempted their husbands to get drunk (4:1).  These women might have experienced luxury and sinful excess now, but they would experience slavery later.  Amos gives a specific reference to the Assyrians as he describes how they would be led off by “fishhooks” (4:2) – a cruel method to torture their prisoners-of-war.

It wouldn’t matter how much they prayed or how many offerings they gave – everything they gave at “Bethel” (4:4) was false & wouldn’t be accepted.  If they didn’t turn to God in truth, they would not be answered by the God of Truth in prayer.

  • BTW, that concept is still the case.  There are many who pray to the “Man Upstairs,” or the “Big Guy” or whatever.  If they are not approaching God through Jesus Christ, then they are not approaching God at all.  Jesus clearly taught that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6).  Jesus is the one Mediator between God & Man (1 Tim 2:5).  The only way to ensure our prayers are heard by God the Father is to go through God the Son.  Otherwise, we are wasting our breath praying to a false god.

God (through Amos) goes on to emphasize how He gave the people ample warnings.  He gave them prosperity, and they didn’t listen (4:6).  He gave them droughts and floods, and they didn’t listen (4:7-8).  He afflicted their crops, sent plagues, and sent marauders, and they didn’t listen (4:9-10).  Over & over again He had warned them, and now it was time for them to face God Himself.  Amos 4:12, “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”  Suffice to say, that’s not a good place to be!  This was not a promise of grace, but of judgment.  They hadn’t listened when God worked through alternate means, so now they would face the wrath of God Himself.  And who is able to stand against that?

  • Although the mercies of God are great, we can come to a point that it’s too late.  Even today, God’s mercies are new every morning, but we can still come to a point that we’ve reached the end of His patience.  In regards to our salvation, that moment is the moment of our last breath.  The time we have to be saved is the time He has given us right now.  We need prepare to meet our God, for meet Him, we shall!
  • How much better it is to meet Him as His child, rather than as His enemy!

Judgment avoided? (5:1-15)
God first sings a funeral dirge for Israel, lamenting the destruction that is to come (5:1-3).  God may have determined her judgment, but He did not delight in bringing it.  He did what He had to do.

After that point, the tone changes for a bit.  Yes, judgment is coming…but it was something they could avoid.  How so?  Repent!  Turn away from the false gods at Bethel, and as God said “Seek Me and live,” (5:4).  They could live if they simply worshipped God in truth!  They could live if they turned away from their idolatry.  The God who created the stars in the heavens (5:8) could easily turn away His judgment, if they would but turn away from their sin.  To this point, they had refused.  They had oppressed the poor and taken bribes (5:12), and even those who knew better kept silent in the face of sin (5:13).  So did they deserve their judgment?  Yes.  But what did God desire to show them?  Mercy.  Amos 5:14–15, "(14) Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. (15) Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."

The same Lord God of hosts who promised to come against them in judgment also invited them to respond to His invitation to repent, so that He might be gracious to them.  Why?  Because this is our God!  Our God is a merciful God – He is a gracious & compassionate God – He is a loving God.  Yes, He is righteous & just & will not relent in His wrath upon the wicked – but He is kind & loving & desire that all men everywhere would no longer BE wicked.  That’s the very reason He sent Jesus Christ to die upon the cross for us.  Jesus became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).

  • If God gives us the opportunity to repent, we need to take it!  This isn’t something to waste; it’s something to treasure!

Judgment consummated (5:16-6:14)
Of course God knew that they would not repent, so He laid out what their day of judgment would look like.  There would be wailing (5:16-17).  It would be considered the Day of the Lord (5:18).  It’d be like meeting a ravenous bear in the woods or encountering a venomous snake (5:19).  False piety & superficial offerings wouldn’t help them (5:21-23).  As long as they were seeking false gods, they ought to let their false gods come to their aid (5:26).  They would not be able to flee to other lands, for they would also be judged (6:1-2).

Thus God proclaimed woe to them.  They had lived at ease, believing that the day of judgment was far off (6:3-4).  They had lived in luxury & leisure (6:5-6), never thinking of what was yet to come.  They became completely complacent, and now they would be judged.  The judgment described is total.  Households would be decimated with nowhere to run (6:9-10), and they would be afflicted all over the land (6:14)

Visions of Judgment (7-9)
The final section of Amos’ prophecies relate a series of visions he received, mostly dealing with the coming judgment.  Just in case what God had spoken wasn’t clear enough, God provides word pictures to help bring home the point.

Locusts & Fire (7:1-6)
The first two visions given to Amos frankly terrify him, and he pleads with God that they would not come to pass.  The first was of multiple locust swarms that destroyed all the crops in the land, and the second was of a massive fire that burned up all of the territory of Israel.  Both symbolized total annihilation.  Whether these were literal plagues that were to come, or symbolic of something else, Amos quickly realized that no one would survive & he interceded for the people.  Even a people deserving of judgment need someone to stand in the gap for them, and Amos took that upon himself. (As should we, regarding our own nation.)

In both of these cases, the “Lord relented concerning this,” (7:3,6).  This didn’t mean that God was wishy-washy or changed His mind – it simply means that God responded to the prayers of His prophet, exactly as He intended to do all along.  God is innately merciful, and His desire was to respond to His people’s prayer. (It still is!)

Plumb Line (7:7-9)
The third vision doesn’t not seem to overtly speak of judgment, but it still does.  Instead of the devouring destruction of locust or fire, this time the judgment is shown to be just.  Just like a plumb line shows the true vertical of a wall, so would God pass through His people and demonstrate true holiness.  They had fallen away from His standard for them, and they would be judged accordingly.

  • What serves as our plumb line today?  The Scripture!  The Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  If something lines up with the Word of God, excellent.  If not, throw it out!

Interlude: Priestly Opposition (7:10-17)
There is a bit of a break from the visions here as Amos encounters some resistance from the false Samaritan priest.  Amaziah was the “priest of Bethel” (7:10), meaning that he was the priest who oversaw the sacrifices and worship at the golden calves of Jeroboam I.  Upset that Amos had prophesied so vehemently against the idolatry, Amaziah sent word to Jeroboam II (currently on the throne), accusing Amos of conspiracy.  On one hand, Amaziah took the message of Amos to heart, and understood Amos proclaimed their judgment – but on the other hand, Amaziah accused Amos of false motives and a false goal.  Amos never claimed to want to overthrow the king of Samaria – all he did was speak of the empire that eventually would do it.

How did the priest respond to the word of God?  He rejected it.  He told Amos to go home & to take his prophecies with him.  Bethel belonged to the king of Samaria, and they wanted nothing of the word of the God of Jerusalem. (7:12-13)

  • Sadly, this is still the case with so many today.  When false teachers are confronted with their heresies, few repent.  Most double-down, and reject the word of the Lord.  They don’t want the truth of Scripture, because that would show them to have either been deceived, or to be a deceiver.  So they reject God and His word altogether.

What was Amos’ solution?  He refused to back down.  As for going back to Judah to prophesy, there was no need.  This wasn’t a career choice for Amos – he was a rancher; not the son of a prophet (7:14).  This wasn’t something he invented for himself.  If God hadn’t called Amos to prophesy, he wouldn’t have done it.  Yet God did call him, so Amos had to respond in obedience.  What else would he do?  When God told him to go, he went.  (As should we!  Obedience isn’t optional for the Christian.  It’s not legalism; it’s just part of who we are.)

Amos was now given a specific word for Amaziah.  Amaziah had told him not to prophesy, thus he had come between God and His people.  The false priest was an obstacle between the word of God and the people of God, and that was going to be judged.  The priest’s own family would personally suffer during the days of trial.  Amaziah’s sin had far-reaching consequences for his wife, sons, and daughters.  (Sin always has consequences…it cannot be avoided.)

Summer Fruit (8:1-14)
The visions continue with a basket of summer fruit (8:1).  Again, this does not seem to overtly speak of judgment, but it still does.  The idea is ripeness.  Just as ripe fruit is ready to eat, so was the time ripe for Israel to be judged.  The “end” had come (8:2), and there would be no escaping the consequences.

Once more the injustice of Israel is detailed, as merchants are shown trying to skirt the Sabbath rest, cheat on their payment scales, and defraud the needy (8:5-6).  Thus the Lord swore to judge them for their sin (8:7).  Because the people would not humble themselves in repentance, they would be humbled in mourning (8:8,10).  Famine would come to the land, and people would die of thirst (8:11-13).

  • In regards to our own culture, we have to ask ourselves a similar question: how long?  How long will it be until the time is ripe for our own nation to be judged?  Surely it’s not long.  There are too many injustices to list.  Between complacency towards the needy, murder of the innocent, perversion of holiness, and total disregard for the True God, our nation has more than filled up on our share of sin.  The time is short!
  • That only underscores our need (and responsibility) to share the gospel.  Men & women of Christ, there is not much time left!  Praise God that Jesus will soon be calling us home, but when He does, it will usher in the period of His judgment.  Far better for people to get saved now, than to endure the days of the Tribulation and hope to come to Christ then.  The time is ripe for the rapture of the Church, and that means we’ve got work to do!

Lord at the Altar (9:1-10)
Chapter 9 does not begin in the same way as the other visions, but it’s clear that this itself is a vision, as Amos sees “the Lord standing by the altar.” (9:1)  (BTW – if Amos saw the Lord, Who is it he saw?  The pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and any visible representation of God in the OT has to refer to the Lord Jesus.)  This particular vision is definitely one of judgment.  The Lord was standing by the altar, but no worship was being offered.  Instead, a pronouncement of war was given.  God Himself proclaims that He “will slay the last of them with the sword.” (9:1)  None would escape His hand.  God would search out the Israelites wherever they would hide themselves, and He would personally ensure that they would be destroyed.  How bad is it?  He even says “I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.” (9:4)  That’s not usually a Scripture that is included in the “God’s Promise Book!”  God (i.e. the Lord Jesus) specifically speaks of His wrath being poured out upon Israel.

  • Question: “How can this be?  Isn’t He the merciful God?” Yes.  But He is also the righteous God.  Sin must be judged where it is found, even when it is found among the people who claim to belong to the Lord God.  In Israel/Samaria’s case, they had long since abandoned the worship of the True God, but God had not forgotten His covenant with them.  Yet even He (the merciful God) would judge them according to their sin.
  • Why?  They had no intercessor.  They had no mediating sacrifice.  Thus they had to answer to the wrath of God on their own.  THAT is the difference between us & them.  We are just as sinful & just as deserving of judgment, but through faith in Christ, we have a Mediator.  We have a Sacrifice.  Jesus, who normally would bring the wrath of God, personally satisfies the wrath of God at the cross.  THAT is the good news of the gospel!  That is what we enjoy as believers in Christ!

Even in His wrath, God would not totally annihilate Israel.  He is the God of all creation (9:6), and the God who brought Israel out of Egypt (9:7), but even in all His power, He would not “utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (9:8).  Why?  Because He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to preserve their house – and God’s promises are always true.

Promise of Restoration (9:11-15)
How would God keep His promise to the patriarchs?  By restoring the broken nation to glory.  The kingdom would be broken & its people would be taken into captivity – but God had more than that in mind for them.  He also had thoughts towards their restoration, when the true worship of God would be raised up from the ruins (9:11), and the people would be restored to the physical land of Israel.  Ultimately, God is looking forward to the days of the Millennial Kingdom.  What is spoken of here did not take place when the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity.  How do we know?  Because the overall context has been regarding the northern kingdom of Israel/Samaria.  The Samaritans were still estranged from the Jews even in the days of Jesus.  So this total reunification is a prophecy even yet to be fulfilled.

But they could be assured it was coming.  All of the great things spoken by Amos here would be true: vineyards planted, mountains fertile, captives brought back, cities rebuilt, etc.  They would no longer “be pulled up from the land” that God gave them (9:15).  They would dwell in their land exactly according to all of the promises of God.

So how could they be so assured that these days of restoration were coming?  Because of their judgment.  Think about it.  If the wrath of God came through the Assyrians just like God promised, then that gives credibility to the future days of restoration that God also promised.  If He was true to one promise, He’d be true to the other.  And He is.  God’s word is always true…every word.

Amos may have been a part-time prophet, but he certainly had a full message!  Time was running out for Israel, and if they didn’t repent right now, they would feel the fullness of God’s wrath against them.  That’s not a place anyone wants to be, and Amos pleaded with them to change (despite opposition).

There are a few things we can take from Amos in this.  First, we can be grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf!  How badly we deserve the judgment of God…not just as a nation, but as individuals!  We had sinned against Him repeatedly – we had ignored His numerous warnings – we had fully earned all of the righteous anger that He could put upon us.  But He didn’t put it on us – He put it on His beloved Son instead.  Jesus took that anger when He died upon the cross.  He paid the ultimate price for us, so that we could be free from God’s judgment.  And then He went even further by rising from the dead, so that we could be saved.  What amazing grace we have in Jesus!  We face no judgment, because Jesus faced it for us.

Second, although we do not face the eternal wrath of God, it is good for us to be reminded about the present discipline of God.  There are days we still ignore His warnings & we fall into complacency, immorality, or injustice.  And we need a wake-up call.  Thankfully, He gives it!  Sometimes it is through His written word, as we are made aware of our sin – other times it’s through the work of God the Holy Spirit as He brings conviction to our heart.  Either way, praise God for His wake-up calls.  They may not feel good at the moment, but they are indeed necessary.

Third, remember who Amos was: just a normal guy given an anything-but-normal message from God.  Amos delivered it with courage & conviction, despite any lack of training or any resistance he encountered.  We still need men & women of God like this today!  You don’t have to be in “full time” ministry to be used by the Lord.  You don’t have to be a pastor to proclaim the message of the gospel or the need to repent.  All you need is the calling of God, the empowerment of the Spirit, and the love of Christ.  With that, God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things.


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