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Amos 7:10-17 – Who was Amos?

Amos lived in a time when Israel was experiencing the best political and economic circumstances since the time of King Solomon. There was peace, Judah and Israel’s boundaries were expanding and there was a growing wealthy middle and upper class. Life was the best it had been in about 200 years!

As people have tended to do throughout history, they believed that their wealth and prosperity were unmistakable signs God’s blessing. The Israelites believed that life was just going to keep getting better.

God called Amos to speak a message of judgment against Israel. Amos accused Israel of worshipping God in pretence rather than from heart obedience. He pointed to their social injustice. True worshippers of God cared for the poor and vulnerable, but they exploited the poor for their own advantage.

The word of God was offensive to the northern kingdom of Israel and that was not helped by the fact that God had sent a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah – Amos.

Bethel was a city in the northern kingdom that had a temple to God as a replacement for the temple in Jerusalem (that was part of the southern kingdom). The ‘high priest’ was a man called Amaziah. Amaziah believed that the message of judgment spoken by Amos was not in the kingdom/his interest. Amaziah quoted Amos to King Jeroboam as saying that the king would be killed and Israel exiled. Amos had not actually said that about Jeroboam but it would certainly incur the king’s wrath. Amaziah then told Amos to flee for his life as if it was under threat from the king – a shrewd strategy by Amaziah. Even worse, Amaziah implied that Amos was simply a prophet for hire and that he would gain better earnings in Judah than prophesying in Bethel.

Amos’ reply is that he was not from some kind of prophet’s guild where people prophesied for money. He says he formerly was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs – in other words he was relatively well off socially and economically – and he did not have to hire himself out for money! The reason Amos preaches is because the LORD called him to preach.

Amaziah, Jeroboam and Israel might reject the word of God but the judgment Amos speaks of will certainly come – starting with Amaziah. Amaziah sees himself as a holy priest but his wife would become a prostitute, his children killed, his sacred property given to others and he himself would die in an unclean land where Israel would most certainly be exiled.

When God speaks his words wise people listen. To reject God’s messenger is to reject God’s word. One recalls how Jesus, the ultimate prophet, was rejected. God’s word is certain and we should be in awe as we choose to expose ourselves to it daily – and to hear must be to obey lest a greater judgment than Amaziah’s befall us.