Amos Speaks Truth to Power
Amos, the prophet, understood that the Lord God loved his people, even though they had rebelled time after time. So God had commissioned Amos, a farmer, to take a message to the leaders of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel in Samaria. The Lord was giving them both a warning, and a message of hope. Amos knew that the Lord had chosen Israel to bring the light of truth and hope to the world. But they could not do that task unless they were willing to walk in agreement with God. So Amos, was tasked with speaking God’s truth to the powerful leaders of the day, who had forgotten God.
At that time of national prosperity under the rule of Jeroboam II, the elite of Samaria were self-satisfied and loathe to listen to God’s prophet. They had their own priests and prophets in Bethel, the centre of worship, who wrote to the king to complain about Amos. The ‘professional prophets’ were paid well to tell the king what he wanted to hear, so they were dismayed by Amos ‘bad news’ report. As a leader of the cancel culture of the day, Amaziah the priest of Bethel, tried to suppress Amos’ message, but without success.
God Hates Hypocrisy
Israel was experiencing a moment of great prosperity and expansion. The nation had reached a pinnacle of material wealth and splendour. The elite were revelling in the abundance of wine and oil, and purchasing expensive furnishings with ivory inlays. While at the same time, the poor were being exploited, enslaved, abused, and murdered. God was especially disgusted by this lack of justice, and nauseated by the hypocritical religious worship. Amos’ message pleaded with Israel to do what was just, and to care for the fatherless and the widow — the vulnerable of society. He reminded them of the cities God had destroyed in the past as a result of their evil ways. But the leadership just mocked at God’s warnings.
God gave Amos a vision of a basket of ripe fruit, to remind him that the nation was ‘ripe’ for disaster. Yet there was still hope that the people would repent of their evil ways and return to God. Unfortunately Amos’ message from the Lord fell on deaf ears. The people did not heed the warning of coming disaster — war and captivity. So twenty-five years later, according to the annals of history, the neo-Assyrians began their attacks. Eventually, in three separate waves, the Assyrians overwhelmed the people of Samaria and destroyed Israel as a political entity. This happened just as God had prophesied through Amos. And yet a message of hope remained.
Prophecies and Promises
God had allowed a foreign nation to destroy the infrastructure, the political system, and many of the leaders. But God also promised not to destroy all of the people. Rather, Amos prophesied that God would “sift the people through the nations” and not a kernel of the faithful remnant of the people would be lost. The Lord God came to earth as Jesus the Messiah to fulfill the messages given by the prophets to Israel. Amos prophesied that there would come a time of building and renewal of the nation of Israel. Jesus and the apostles repeated these promises. For when the Messiah, Jesus Christ returns, the exiles of Israel and Judah who will seek God, will return to rebuild the nation once again. In fulfilling this prophecy they will also do the work of bringing God’s light to all nations.
The apostle, Peter, reminded the brethren to remember the prophets and their messages of warning and hope. Peter understood that it was God’s hope that all would come to repentance, so he could restore them to walk with him. It was a mistake to think that God’s ‘delay’ in executing judgment against the evil-doers was anything but his mercy and patience. Ultimately the Lord will return, just as Amos prophesied. Then he will execute justice upon those who hate his ways, and he will preserve those who love him. So Peter ended his message with this admonition, that knowing the prophetic message, we need to be self-reflective and ensure that we are living godly lives. Amos’ message is as valid today as it was 2300 years ago. So are we listening to God’s message as delivered by Amos?
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