The words of Amos, who was one of the sheep breeders from Tekoa—what he saw regarding Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. He said: The Lord roars from Zion and makes his voice heard from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the summit of Carmel withers (CSB).
Next, let’s think about the tone of the prophecy (1:2). Amos speaks as one through whom the Lord was speaking. He is God’s spokesman. “This is what the Lord says.” Amos declares the authority for the message. He speaks the words of God. This is different from the current style of many pastors and Bible teachers, who specialize in cute stories, make fantastic predictions, or speak about political issues from either a conservative or liberal point of view. The voice of the Lord is disregarded, downplayed, and even disputed. We need men like Amos who will boldly declare God’s words to people.
The manner in which God speaks is startling. The Lord roars (cf. Amos 3:9). People want a “feel-good” kind of message in worship services. They want to be pleased, not contradicted. They desire comfort and dislike becoming upset. They like politicians that tell them, “We can fix this to your liking.” They hate preachers of truth that tell them, “Our case is desperate! We need the living God to act for us. Let’s return to the Lord.” This is a warning before judgment, like a lion would give when he is about to strike (cf. Isaiah 5:29). It is very natural for a shepherd like Amos to use this illustration to warn of serious danger. The true God is roaring today. We need ears to hear his roar.
The Lord speaks from Zion, the place of the temple, where God chose to reveal himself (Exodus 25:21-22; Numbers 7:89; cf. 1 Kings 8). The Lord speaks from the place of his choosing. That place was Jerusalem, not Samaria, in Amos’ day. That would have been an unpopular message to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jerusalem is the place of revelation by God. Samaria or Babylon or Athens were places of human opinions, religion, and philosophy. God speaks from the Zion or Jerusalem that is above, not from the political centers or academic institutions that are below. Please ask yourself: “Do I depend more on the wisdom of human ‘experts’ than on the Word of God?”
The reaction that God’s roaring word causes in his creation. God has power over the universe he has made. God acts in history. Even the most remote places (represented by Carmel—the mountains) can’t escape when the Lord extends his hand. The fertile pastures also would be dried up. This judgment would hit hard, producing hunger and poverty.
See how dependent the creature is upon God. He can make our pastures dry up! But even if all others are thirsty, God can satisfy our thirst. On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39 CSB).
Grace and peace,