Amos the prophet was not what we would consider a “professional holy man.”  He was an ordinary layman, a shepherd, and a fig grower.  When confronted by Amaziah the priest, he declared, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).  Imagine if you were called from your normal work routines to go prophesy against the sins of your religious community!

Amos was a man of great courage, with a sense of moral righteousness and social justice.  “He [could] see clearly that the softness and corruption at the heart of Israel [would] make her fall easy prey to the invader.  The future is so clear to the prophet that he sees the Assyrians advancing to the attack some years before they did in fact set out” (Phillips).   Today, who are the ones warning our nation about being soft and unprepared for what is coming at us?

Amos warned the people: “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria” (6:1).  Amos, simply an ordinary man, was concerned about the material prosperity, along with the decay of moral values and the oppression of the poor brought about by wealth in the hands of the few.   He was giving fair warning of the near future. The prophet uttered those famous words, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (4:12).  Men, have you prepared for what is coming at us?”  

In 3:2-8, God warns the people not to relish their status as His chosen people. Their supposedly intimate relationship with the Lord meant they were to live with a greater sense of responsibility. God was holding them accountable.  “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone” (Amos 3:2 NLT).  Men, with privilege comes the call to be people of faith. 

Amos pointed to nature and its expected results. “Does a lion roar in the woods if he has not cornered his prey?” (3:4 NET).  “Does a bird swoop down into a trap on the ground if there is no bait?” (3:5 NET).  Then he mentions, “If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear?” (3:6 NET).  The prophet asks, “Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” (3:6 NLT).  God is warning us nowAre we paying attention?    

These were not idle threats.  Consider v. 3:7-8: “Certainly, the Sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.  A lion has roared! Who is not afraid?” A lion that has roared is ready to pounce.  The Lord will act.  The bird is found in the trap through no fault but its own. The people needed to examine their decisions, desires, and ambitions – to see their complicity.  Instead of casting blame, we need to repent. 

Amos 3:2 in the NLT asks, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” This question awaits an answer. There is an incompleteness to it, leaving the future undetermined: the lion is still roaring; it has not yet devoured its prey (v. 4).  There is still time to escape.  Amos is prophesying in a period of grace, between warning and disaster, making clear the Lord’s message to the people.   I challenge you to ask your closest friends, “Are our decisions, desires and ambitions centered on Christ and building his Kingdom?  How can we live more in line with his will and purposes?”