Summary: What steps do we have to take to prepare to meet our God.
If you are like me, you like to make a good first impression. Many years ago a boss I had stressed over and over the truth of the statement, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And so you try to put your best foot forward. Just think back to the last time you prepared your CV, or resume, you tried to impress whoever it was prepared for with your very best features and you tried to minimize any flaws you might have.
And so we begin to read the book of Amos with these words: Amos 1:1 This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. Boy that sounds impressive, not.
What Amos neglects to mention is that he was one of the most powerful preachers in Israel. He was a man who was a middleclass tradesman who was called into the ministry from his profession, kind of a second career type thing. Amos was from the Southern part of the kingdom, if we pull up a map here you’ll remember how the country of Israel had been divided into two kingdoms, however most of his prophecies were directed at those who lived in the Northern Kingdom, which must have made him popular. Kind of like when Michael Moore was up here giving us political advice before the election.
God seems to have a special place in his heart for shepherds. Able was a shepherd, David was a shepherd, Joseph was a shepherd Moses was a shepherd and it was to shepherds that the birth of Christ was first announced. Some of God’s greatest men were shepherds. The 23rd Psalm is probably one of the most popular Psalms there is and it is here that King David draws a comparison between God and a tender of sheep. Most of us can recite the first line from memory, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
I wonder why Shepherds seem to take on an extra special role in the bible? Maybe it’s because sheep are about the only creature God made that are more stubborn and ornery then people and keeping sheep is a good training ground to develop patience in one who would lead people. Or maybe not.
So we know the author of the 30th book in the Bible is Amos the Shepherd and he dates his letter in verse one by saying Amos 1:1 This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel.
So he begins by giving us a general time frame. If someone said in the Days of Diefenbaker King of Canada You’d know that they was referring to a period between June 21 1957 to April 23 1963. Or perhaps in the Days of Trudeau, Emperor of Canada, we would think of the sixteen year span between 1968 and 1984. Or if you were speaking of a relatively short period of time you would speak of the Days of Joe Clark, pretender to the Throne May 22 1979 to February 18 1980.
So we know that Uzziah reigned from 787 BC to 735 BC and we know that Jeroboam II reigned from 790 – 749. So there is an overlapping period from 787 to 749 BC or a 38 year period. But he narrows it down by referring to an incident that everyone would be familiar with “The Earthquake.” If you were to say two years before 9/11 everyone in our culture would know of which you spoke and would immediately be able to date back to 1999.
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that “The Earthquake” coincided with Uzziah’s leprosy, which historians tell us happen in 751 BC, so if we go back 2 years it’s 753 BC. Why was the book written? This prophecy was God’s last appeal to Israel, warning them to repent before it was too late. Did they take heed? Well it was only thirty years later that Israel fell to the Assyrians.
As a boy Amos may have heard the preaching of Jonah and Elisha. He would have been a contemporary of both Joel and Hosea and as he exited the scene Isaiah and Micah were just beginning their work. The particular portion of the book that we are focusing on today is the last part of the 12th verse where Amos writes these words. Amos 4:12 Prepare to meet your God. Now I know that isn’t the passage that Heather read from this morning but it ties in to that passage as it does with the entire book. The message that Amos is preaching is very simple, there will come a time that you will meet God, will you be ready?