When we are seeking God in the Scriptures, we often instinctively turn to the Gospels or to the Psalms. But much wisdom can be found in a section few of us rarely turn to called the “minor prophets”.
Really? who would want to be called a “minor prophet”?
It sounds rather derogatory.
I mean, would you rather play in the Major Leagues or the Minors?
The truth is that these prophets are called “minor” merely because they wrote smaller amounts of material than say, Isaiah or Jeremiah, and it has nothing to do with being less important than the others.
Among these “minors” is the book of Amos. But in spite of being “minor”, he has a very significant message. In fact, the book of Amos was even a favorite of Martin Luther King, “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (5:24).
Amos was unique among the prophets, and he is a guy I think many of us can relate to. To start with, he was admittedly not your standard prophet material.
“I was not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’” (Amos 7:14-15)
Like Shakespeare wrote, “Some are born great….and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em”.
But clearly his heart and mind were ready. He was out in the field working his job, God called him elsewhere, and he went about fulfilling the call.
He had no seminary training, no ministry experience, no public speaking seminars, no qualifications, no expert references, no previous prophet work, no famous prophets in his family.
What he did have was the call of God. And it turns out that’s all he needed.
The name Amos means “burden-bearer”, and Amos indeed carried a heavy burden. He was called from his native sheep-herding lifestyle into the nation of Israel, where he pronounced very unpopular prophecies of judgment to the King and leaders.
He knew he was called of God, but they saw him as…well…unqualified.
He pointed out their oppression of the poor (5:11-13), dishonesty in business (8:4-6), selfish indulgence (6:4-7), and their idolatrous worship (5:21-27).
Not sunshine and roses kind of stuff.
Keep in mind that things in Israel were good! Very good! Israel at the time was a very prosperous nation, and archaeological evidence proves that the reign of Jeroboam was the most prosperous the nation had known. and few were interested in hearing such a “doom and gloom” message in good times. Especially from an out-of-town guy who just came off the farm.
Amos was an average guy chosen by God to leave what he knew, to walk out in the public and speak a very unpopular message.
Although Amos ends his prophecy with a hopeful vision of the future, he is the first prophet to predict the captivity of Israel and God’s punishment upon His chosen people (4:4, 5:21-24). We know historically that this prophecy came to pass years later.
He even went so far as to accurately predict the end of the King’s royal lineage.
His prophecies contained pretty bad scenarios regarding their behavior and apathy, and they were all based in the truth of God. Yet the priests and the leaders, instead of listening and repenting, chose to complain about him and simply wanted him gone (7:10-11).
Because they were qualified, and he was not.
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