Monday, July 05, 2010

Meet Amos

"Call of Amos"
Reformation era woodcut

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 1:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "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 year before the earthquake." Amos 1:1

Have you ever taken a trip in a taxi, got into conversation with the driver and discovered he or she was educated well beyond what you would expect? That has happened to me. The "philosopher taxi driver" is common enough to practically be a cliche in our culture.

Today we meet a Bible character whose life illustrates a similar dichotomy. Amos, writer of a powerful oracle from God was a sheepbreeder and orchardist. We'll be reading the whole book of Amos in the next little while, so let's start that by meeting its author. As we look at this little book, we learn these things about him:

1. He was a real person, living in a specific location (Tekoa in Judah) at a specific time (during the reigns of Uzziah and Jereboam II).

2. He came from humble beginnings. As a sheepbreeder (1:1) and "tender of sycamore fruit" (7:14) he was an ordinary, unpretentious labourer.

3. He had literary talents. Throughout the book we'll see his facility with words and images. In Chapter 1, for example, he uses a literary device called "graduated number or numerical parallelism." He uses it five times in this chapter: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four…" vs. 3 (and again in verses 6, 9, 11 and 13 in pronouncements against other nations). It suggests "For enough transgressions…for more than enough."

5. He knew God. This final fact is what really qualified Amos for the lasting contribution he has made.

He could name the exact time when God's word came to him: "two years before the earthquake" (an event that has been identified archaeologically and probably helped to date the writing of the book). That knowledge allowed him to say with boldness and authority: "Thus says the Lord" (verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 13).

Also, the confidence he had that this was an assignment from God enabled him to speak without regard to how his hearers would receive his message. For we will see that he prophesies not only against Judah's enemies but against neighbouring Israel. Imagine how it would rankle citizens from the US if, for example, I as a Canadian came to them with words of God's displeasure. Amos, knowing that God had sent him, spoke without being unduly concerned over the fallout to himself.

Perhaps you have felt God fingering you for an assignment. Maybe you even have natural talents or abilities that would fit with carrying it out. (If not evident, perhaps you'd discover they are there when you start moving in an obedience direction.) Don't let humble beginnings or a lack of education or experience stop you. Rather, be like Amos and step out to do the thing God has told you to do.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the example of prophets like Amos. Help me to be as obedient as he was. Please equip me with his passion, conviction and desire to impress You more than the people around me.

MORE: said another way…


Amos was a shepherd,
A gardener as well.
He didn't go to Prophet School
Yet God gave him much to tell.

Nehemiah was a servant,
Moses said he couldn't speak,
Samuel was just a child,
David came from keeping sheep.

God doesn't always use
The people we'd expect.
He looks right through the outward part;
He looks for an obedient heart.

© 1998 by Violet Nesdoly, all rights reserved

(Published originally in Partners.)

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