Summary: Through the prophet Amos, God tried to get people to recognize their sin and to change. He also told them that unless they would repent that God’s wrath would come down on them. Not only is his message applicable to Israel then, but it is pertinent to u
READ: Amos 1:1-2
I suppose that as long as there have been schools, someone has been accused of being the teacher’s pet. While I’m sure that most teachers try to give equal attention to their students, sometimes there is a closer bond with a few of the students. May be because of a troubled home life. It may be because the child seems to do exceptionally well. It may be because the student shares the same interests.
ILL> When our son went into the 9th grade he took a science class under Mrs. Pfeiffer. Many of the students didn’t care for her style of teaching, but our son loved it from the start. They were studying forensics which has always been of great interest to him.
Because of their close relationship we have some unique items around our house. She had a spare cat that had been used for dissection, so she gave it to our son and a friend who tore into it. She gave our son a large crawdad which he has in a jar in his room, next to the fetal pig that she also gave him.
For the past 2 years he has spent one semester as an aide in her class.So, you might say that he has gotten some special privileges.
In the OT Israel was God’s chosen people. At times they felt that as God’s chosen special that that gave them some unique privileges and I suppose that it did. However, what they found out that this unique relationship with God did not grant them a license to go about and just do whatever they wanted. They learned that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. They discovered that God does not play favorites.
ILL> The place was New York City, during the time of the subway rush in the evening of a hot summer day. People were manning into the subway cars as they were moving out of the station and each car was loaded to capacity. One man happened to be just the last man to push and jam his way inside of a car, and he stood facing the door. The doors closed and the car moved off. He stood there, packed against this door, pressed up against it with the awful push of humanity in the car. As it went down the tracks, waving and swaying, he began to feel a little sick. The further he went, the sicker he got, and just at the critical moment, the car came into a station and the door opened and he got sick all over the man standing on the platform right opposite him. But without anybody moving, the door suddenly closed and the car moved out of the station. The man on the platform stood there looking at himself, and then he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Why me?”
That’s kind of how the Israelites felt when Amos prophesied before the people. Even though they deserved God’s rebuke, they felt like everyone around them was worse–and besides, they were God’s chosen people.
There were other elements that need to be considered. Amos was from Judah, but some of his harshest prophecies were for Israel. Now Israel was at the height of its power while and was doing very well economically. That’s another reason that Amos’ message of doom and gloom did not go over well.
ILL> We might think back to the days of the dot.com bubble. When a lot of money was being invested in the internet during the presidency of Bill Clinton, the stock market was running over 14,000 and the NASDAQ was over 4000. It was Alan Greenspan, however, that warned that the stock market was like a bubble and someday it was going to burst. Greenspan took a lot of ridicule for his failure to jump on the bandwagon.
However, the bubble did burst. People went from being millionaires to penniless in a matter of a few days–in some cases, in just a few hours. We are still trying to sort out the mess as companies like Enron and Tyco were falsely reporting their economic situation.
Just because you don’t like the message of doom and gloom doesn’t mean that it’s not correct. Amos was making his prophecies around 787 BC. About 50 years later (722 BC) Assyrian conquered Israel. In a very short period of time they had gone from a political and economic power to nothing.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE PROPHET
So who was this Amos?
We have already said that was from the southern kingdom of Judah, but his prophecies dealt with Israel and many of the surrounding nations. He would have prophesied around the same time as Hosea and Isaiah. One of the interesting things about Amos is that he was not trained to be a prophet. He did not go to one of the schools of the prophets. He was a herdsman or a cattleman, or as it states in the first verse–a shepherd. Because of that, some refer to him as the cowboy preacher.