In today’s blog I would like to focus on the Book Amos. He was a prophet who earned his living as a shepherd and tending sycamore trees (Amos 7:14). He was from the village of Tekoa which was located 12 miles south of Jerusalem. He was from the southern kingdom of Judah but was called by the LORD to prophesy against the northern kingdom of Israel.
He prophesied in the middle of 8th century BC, probably around 765-760 BC. The Jewish kings at this time were Jeroboam II in the north and Uzziah in the southern kingdom of Judah. Both these kings had long reigns and created societies that were strong militarily and economically.
Because things were going so well on the surface, when Amos began preaching a message of judgment in the northern kingdom of Israel, his preaching was considered the ravings of a madman. But two years after Amos began preaching, a major earthquake hit the land of the Jews (Amos 1:1, 8:8, 9:1,5). People realized that Amos was a true prophet of God and that his messages were worthy to be collected and preserved as a part of Scripture.
There are some important lessons to be learned from the Book of Amos. One of them is that even though a culture can be prospering and affluent on the surface, underneath it, there might be spiritual rottenness which makes it ripe for judgment. This was exactly the case among the Jews in Amos’ time. They were prospering but Amos exhorts them not to be deceived by their size, affluence or power (Amos 6:1-14). Throughout the Book of Amos we see the Israelites guilty of syncretistic worship where they mixed worship of Yahweh with pagan worship practices. In Amos 5:4-6, the LORD exhorts the Israelites not to go to Bethel and other places where they have set up calf-idols. It is not surprising that this false worship had resulted in rampant injustice and oppression of the powerless within Israel (Amos 5:9-15). It is in response to this state of affairs that Amos calls the cows of Bashan (rich, complacent women of the upper classes) to repent as well as their husbands (Amos 4:1-3).
Amos’ message was vindicated not only by the earthquake that struck Israel but also by the fact that before the end of the 8th century BC, the northern kingdom of Israel was exiled into Assyria. The reason given by Amos was because they refused to turn to the LORD wholeheartedly (Amos 4:4-11).
As we close this blog, I want to give some attention to the false hope that God’s people had in Amos’ time. It seems many were longing for the Day of the LORD and hoped it would come soon so that God would defeat Israel’s enemies and put His people on a pedestal (Amos 5:18-20). Amos responds by saying that you do not know what you are hoping for. The Day of the LORD will not be a time of exalting unrepentant Israelites, but a day of judgment for all rebellious people, whether Jew or Gentile (Amos 5:18, 20-22, 27).
In today’s church, there is a longing for the Day of the LORD as well. In many quarters, it is trumpeted by preachers who have made a financial windfall from their messages. A carnally curious Christian public have just eaten up these tantalizing and sensationalistic materials. One prominent characteristic of these messages is that they don’t call Christians out of their spiritual complacency. Instead they make wild speculations regarding the Anti-Christ and slanderously attack Christian leaders by name – leaders who are members in good standing with their evangelical denominations.
The Day of the LORD is coming but I am afraid that many of God’s people will not be prepared just like in Amos’ time. Many of God’s people today like to hastily throw around conspiracy theories regarding one-world religions being advocated by certain people. The only conspiracy I see is naive people of God being duped by certain preachers to make them rich with soothing messages that point the finger at others without calling their listeners to get right with God themselves. Let’s not forget Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 8:12,13: “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, and he is the one you are to dread”. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John