Amos is a story of a man called out of a very common lifestyle to serve the Lord as a prophet. He burned with righteous indignation at the immorality, injustice, and insincerity he observed in Israel.
The name Amos literally means “burden,” and it is said that his words were burdensome—either he was slow of speech or convicting—maybe both. Either way, God used him in a mighty way to warn the people of Israel of their sin.
Amos was a shepherd in Tekoa, a small town in Judah not good for growing crops but very suitable for grazing. Shepherds were not looked at very highly in Israel back then. Most shepherds lived by themselves in very remote places tending their flocks, and they were considered “unclean” according to Jewish standards because of the work that they did.
In Amos 7:15, he wrote, “…and the Lord took me from following the flock, and … said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”
Why would God use a shepherd to bring an important message to His people?
We can see the answer in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called, not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things—and the things that are not to nullify the things that are.”
“So that no one may boast before him.” It is because of HIM that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God. That is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore as it is written, “’Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”
LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD
Challenge #1: Men of valor cannot ever be proud of who we are or what we have done, because we are nothing without the Lord. God gives us talents and abilities; we do not gain them on our own. (Only in Him are we given everything—2 Peter 1:3.)
Amos was a lowly shepherd who merely obeyed. How he earned a living didn’t matter; what mattered is that he loved and obeyed God.
What has God called you to do? How has He gifted you? True men of valor do not boast of themselves; they boast only in the Lord. “Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
PUT ASIDE THE SINS THAT ARE SO EASILY COMMITTED
Amos 2:6-8: “The Lord says, “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and for this I will certainly punish them. They sell into slavery honest people who cannot pay their debts, the poor who cannot repay even the price of a pair of sandals. They trample down the weak and helpless and push the poor out of the way. A man and his father have intercourse with the same slave woman, and so profane my holy name. At every place of worship people sleep on clothing that they have taken from the poor as security for debts. In the temple of their God they drink wine which they have taken from those who owe them money.”
It also seems that in Amos’s time, Israel had adopted some kind of perverted hybrid of Judaism in that they were trying to combine the worship of the one true God with Baal worship. The insincerity of their religion was proved by the injustice and the immorality of their lives.
As odd as that sounds, don’t we try to do the same thing? We say we are Christians and we act sincere—in public anyway—but then cling to the same habitual sins we struggle with instead of confessing and repenting of them and putting the sins aside.
Challenge #2: Men of valor must put aside the sins that are so easily committed. Whatever you or I struggle with—and we are all different—we must make sure that sin does not rule our lives.
GOD LOVES US TOO MUCH TO LEAVE US ALONE
Then, finally, Amos reminds the Jews of being the chosen ones of God—they were chosen and favored by Him. God had promised them blessings if they obeyed Him but punishment if they didn’t. Amos 3:2: “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your sins.”
The Lord states this again in Hebrews 12:6, where we are told, “The Lord trains the one he loves. He corrects everyone he accepts as his son.”
Challenge #3: Men of valor must live only for God. God chose us; He loves us; He has forgiven us‒YES. But that does not mean that we can live however we want.
What it means is that we do everything in our power to please Him and live in obedience. We do this by His strength, because He is with us.
If the favors of God do not serve to retrain us from sin, then they will not serve to exempt us from punishment. Because He chose us, He loves us too much to leave us alone. The word of a minor prophet of humble origin requires a major response from men of valor.