In the book of Amos, we have the written record of his prophetic ministry in which he proclaimed God’s judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel. Have you thought about how difficult a task this was? People want to hear good news, especially about their future! But Amos was charged with delivering a very unpopular message.
We, too, have an unpopular message to deliver. People in our culture don’t want anyone with religious views telling them what to do, especially if they speak for the true God. (But they will allow anyone in the media to tell them how to think!) Yet we must speak. How can we speak up in the face of determined resistance? Obviously we need some motives that spur us on. Let us learn from Amos at this point.
Let us think first of the power of God’s message (3:7-8).
The source of the message is the Lord and not the prophet (3:7; cf. 2 Peter 1:16ff). This is a recurring theme in this section (3:11, 12, 13, 15). God’s authority is the bedrock on which every ministry for the Lord rests. Unless you know that you are telling people God’s message, you will not speak up in the face of opposition.
The judgment that would come on Israel would arrive because the Lord planned that judgment. He let people know this by telling it to his prophets. The actions that God is doing in our age are a fulfillment of prophecy. The Lord told us what the last days would be like, so we should not be surprised when history looks like prophecy. But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people (2 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB; cf. 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18-23).
By the way, we do not have to be confused about what God’s will is. It has been revealed for us in the Bible. The question is “do we search the Scriptures intently to find out what God’s will is?”
The imperative behind the message—it must be delivered (3:8). Compare 1 Corinthians 9:16; Ezekiel 2:5-7.
We must deliver God’s message because we are his servants. A servant does what his master desires (cf. Luke 6:46). I think that this is the first time that this idea (of the prophet as God’s servant) was used in redemptive history. When we come to the New Testament Scriptures, it is an important concept. Think of Paul, James, and Peter; they called themselves servants or slaves of God and Jesus Christ.
We must deliver the message because of the nature of the message. It is like the roar of a lion in the preacher’s ears! Listen to what Jeremiah also said about being a prophet. I say, “I won’t mention him or speak any longer in his name.” But his message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail (Jeremiah 20:9 CSB).
The clarity of the servant’s perception of the message will show itself in the urgency of his presentation. Casual, light-hearted words free from a zeal to persuade people to turn from their own ways and follow the Lord will make all that the speaker says to be trite and “take it or leave it, it’s up to you.”
“I find, and this is somewhat of a confession as well as an exhortation, that my own words mock me too often when I preach – when I can say the word ‘hell’ and not feel the horror of it; when I can speak of heaven and not be warmed with a holy glow in the light of the fact that this is the place my Lord is preparing for me.” (Martin, “What’s Wrong with Preaching Today?” p. 10)
Let us be motivated by the power of God’s word (Romans 1:16-17)!
Grace and peace,