Summary: Introduction to a series on Amos
A Shepherd Gone Mad
Amos 1: 1-2; 7: 10-16
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
A Shepherd Gone Mad p.1
Have you ever noticed how sometimes people arise out of the strangest corners, making a great splash,
getting involved in things you never expected, and doing well at it?
The new move, “Rock Star”, is milking that theme - an ordinary guy blossoms into a music superstar.
Real life gives examples of that - people from the strangest corners, doing things never expected.
Take Bill Gates, one of the richest men in North America in his early 30’s, soft-spoken, bespeckled
fellow, coming out of nowhere in high school and starting "Microsoft."
It happens with political figures.
It happens in sports - former journeyman goalie by the name of Lalime blossoms and becomes anchor
of the Sens franchise.
When people like this show up, make their splash, and succeed, generally it is a pleasure to watch. It
makes for good media fodder and coffee shop talk.
But sometimes it can be quite irksome. People show up in unexpected places doing unexpected things,
and we don’t like it. They are a nuisance. What they do rubs us the wrong way; it goes against the grain.
Take Amos - a prophet who came out of nowhere, into a nation that was going along quite smoothly,
thank you very much, speaking a message that was quite disturbing, and doing it rather effectively.
The people didn’t appreciate him.
The authorities certainly were irritated.
Today we begin a series of messages that focus on the book of AMOS,
what that unlikely prophet had to say to the culture of his day,
and where that message impacts us today.
It would be helpful, as you read the book, to understand conditions in the time of Amos. He prophecied,
says the first few verses, during the reigns of King Uzziah and Jeroboam II. This is around 760-750 BC.
It was a time of great prosperity for both kingdoms, as 2Kings 14-15 tell us. Economically, politically,
and militarily, things were going well for both Judah and Israel.
However, it was also a time for idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxurious living, immorality, corruption,
and oppression of the poor.
Israel, the chosen people of God, were living high on the hog. They knew it, and they were awefully
smug about it. They remembered the prophecies of Elisha some 40-50 years prior, when he has said that Israel
would be restored to glory (2Ki13).
Now the glory was here, and the Israelites figured they had it made. God was on their side. They
deserved the blessings they got. Nobody, and nothing would ever take it away.
Into that kind of a cesspool of sin and arrogance stepped Amos, one of the shepherds from Tekoa.
Please don’t think of him in the same breath as the shepherds of Bethlehem - a lowly bunch of
farmhands, rejected and scorned by the population at large.
The word used in ch.1 for "shepherd" is a word also used with reference to the King of Moab in 2Ki 3.4.
There it is translated as "raiser of sheep." Amos, like the king of Moab was a sheep dealer, or trader, one with
significantly more wealth and resources than a mere shepherd or hired hand.
Amos was a man of means.
That is also made clear from ch.7, where the priest Amaziah chides Amos, "don’t try staying here and
making money at being a prophet. Go home!" Amos retorts that he has plenty of resources from other means.
He’s not in it for the cash.
"...I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees."
A Shepherd Gone Mad p.2
Now the sycamore-fig would not grow in the area around Tekoa, so it must have been that Amos owned land in
another part of the country. It’s also interesting that the word used here in ch.7 for shepherd is different from the
one in ch.1. It’s an obscure one, and seems to refer to the raising of large cattle, not just sheep.
Pull it all together, and it seems that Amos was a diversified, rather wealthy agriculturalist of sorts.
Now it is this man, who knew his sheep and cattle, and who had diversified into fruit-growing, that was
called by God and compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak to Israel.
Into a nation with a well-established system and heirarchy of prophets and priests and kings, a nation of
wealth and power and terrific self-esteem, wanders this merchant from Judah - an unlikely man with an unlikely
message in an unlikely way. That’s Amos.
Why does he do it?
Why lay aside a profitable business in animal trading and fruit growing to head north and tear a strip off
of people who easily could ruin him economically, or even kill him at the drop of a hat? Let’s face it - being a