Amos - A Major Minor Prophet

     I had a most unusual dream. In the dream I saw someone who was making a comment about the prophetic book of Amos, who is considered to be a minor prophet. The comment in the dream was simply this – “A minor prophet? – HA!”

     I take it the dream was conveying the point that the message of this so called minor prophet is anything but minor. I believe that the Lord was directing me to take a close look at Amos’ message at this particular point in time as we are continuing the march toward the fulfillment of the prophecies in the book of Revelation, and the second coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

     Amos was not a “professional” prophet; he was a layman, showing us that God can use anyone to carry His prophetic words to His people. Amos was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, who received his call from God at a critical time in Israel’s history. As with all the prophetic books, the prophecies apply to the prophet’s day and also to events in the future, which can mean that many of the things contained within this book apply to us as well.

     In Amos’ time God’s people were divided into two camps Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Israel had broken off from the house of David and chose a religion that revolved around calf worship and eventually the worship of Baal, which was introduced through King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. Israel’s sins were peaking and God sent Amos who was from Judah, to the northern kingdom to prophesize their coming captivity if they did not repent.
     Amos’ prophecy was given two years before a devastating, major earthquake. He begins by saying – “The Lord will roar from Zion.” Have you ever been in an earthquake near its epicenter? I have, they literally roar, the noise is frightening.

     The Lord roars out a warning to the secular nations in Chapters one and two of Amos’ prophecy. Their sins will not escape His punishment.

     God’s word, His laws apply to everyone, not just the Jews or believers. Those who flagrantly commit evil are subject to the wrath of God and will indeed reap what they have sown.

     From Chapter two on God turns His attention to His own people, those who profess to know Him. God begins with Judah. They would be punished because “They have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments” – Amos 2:4.

     We are told in the New Testament that –All the commandments are summarized in this statement – ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love works no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. He that loves another has fulfilled the law – from Romans 13: 8-10.

     Then God turns His attention to Israel who receives the bulk of His admonishments for the rest of the book. An absence of love manifests itself in Israel as well, resulting in abuse of the poor. – “I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes, that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek” – Amos 2:7.

     There are other sins mentioned in God’s indictments, but Israel’s treatment of the poor stands out by the frequency with which it is addressed.

     “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy” – Amos 4:1.
     “Your treading is upon the poor – and you take from him burdens of wheat” – Amos 5:11.
     “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. – Amos 5:12.

     God continues to describe a selfish, covetous, self-indulgent, greedy people – (Amos 6:4-6) that are not “grieved for the sufferings of Joseph.”

     Joseph was sold as a slave to Egypt by his own brothers who possessed an uncompassionate, hard hearted lack of concern for their little brother’s welfare - Genesis 37. God’s people here according to Amos’ declaration are being upbraided for a similar lack of compassion to their brethren who are afflicted.

     God says He hates their “palaces” – (Amos 6:8) luxuriant dwellings places that were constructed through the oppression of the poor. He condemns these complacent ones who are so focused on their own personal gain at the expense of others –

     “Hear you this, O you that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, saying when will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? And the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great – and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yes, and sell the refuse of the wheat? – Amos 8:4-6.

     To me this sounds a lot like what’s going on today; the dishonest business practices and greed, governments that favor the wealthy creating an imbalanced economy and inflation that makes the poor vulnerable and merchandise for the rich.

     There are many Fortune 500 companies doing business in Mexico where they pay the workers low wages and then watch them go home to houses made of cardboard and whatever material from the dumps they can find. These companies are making their fortunes on the backs of the poor, yet they can’t bring themselves to at least provide decent housing for these ones who are helping them accumulate their wealth?

     Instead of viewing the poor as God sees them, as people He has called us to care for, the poor in this generation, as well as ancient Israel’s, have become to many merely a commodity to be used.

     God continues His judgments upon Israel by saying He will not forget their works and again makes a reference to the coming earthquake. – “And the land shall tremble for this and everyone will mourn who dwells there” - Amos 8:8.
     "And the Lord GOD of hosts is He that touches the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwells there shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. It is He that builds his stories in the heaven, and has founded His troop in the earth; He that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth" - Amos 9:5,6.
     It sounds like some of the disasters that are happening today. Unfortunately the poor must suffer along with the wealthy when sin causes the earth to quake, but the poor are never forgotten before the Lord.
     There are hundreds of Scriptures in God’s word that address His concern for the poor and needy. When He hears the cries of the oppressed He will arise -“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, says the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffs at him. – Psalm 12:5. And He arises in the hearts of those who can hear Him to reach out to them with His hands of compassion.
     He reminds us through the mouths of His Apostles to “Remember the poor” - Galatians 2:10. And we are told that those who neglect them are void of God’s love. –
     “But whoever has this world's good, and sees his brother has needs, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?”– I John 3:17.

     We are not saved by our works, but if we are saved, then the Grace of God works through us to change us into the people He wants us to be, and He has called those who profess to know Him to serve others.

     Jesus tells us that there is great reward for those who have ministered to and provided for His “Least of These.” But those who have, like ancient Israel, turned a deaf ear to the cries of the needy, well, according to the word of God they are standing on some pretty shaky ground.
     He that has an ear, it’s time to start listening.

Matthew 25: 31-46

When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

     Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.
     Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took You in? or naked, and clothed You? Or when saw did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?
     And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it to Me.

     Then shall He say also to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you gave me no food: I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and you did not take Me in: naked, and you did not clothe Me: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.
     Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?
     Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. – Matthew 25:31-46

copyright 2010 by H.D. Shively

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