The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? — Amos 3:8
During the spring, in the area where we live, it is not uncommon to hear wild turkeys gobbling. Their gobble is often out of fear — the male turkey will gobble at anything that startles him. Often, a car door slamming or the sound of a power tool from a job site is enough to elicit a gobble from his throat. Sometimes he responds so quickly that you wonder if he might even have surprised himself! It can be amusing to observe the variety of sounds that will cause him to react. Yet, that is how he is made; it is natural for him to respond in this manner.
Turkeys are not the only animals that have unique ways of reacting to surprise or alarm. Startled dogs will bark, startled birds will fly, and startled cats will hiss. These are all part of their natural responses. We also see this simple process in our own lives. For example, if something is humorous to us, we laugh. Think for a moment about our natural responses to grief, excitement, joy, or disappointment. We all have responses to these emotions, and we can’t change them; that’s simply how God made us.
In Amos 3:3-8, the prophet established his right and duty to prophesy through a series of natural processes of cause and effect. He said if the lion has a prey, he roars. If the bird falls to the earth in a snare, it was because the snare was set for him. In his climax, Amos pointed out that if people are afraid in a city, it is because a trumpet has sounded an alarm.
God would carry out His judgment after He had warned the people. That is why Amos reminded them that God spoke to them through prophets. Amos was only a farmer and sheepherder, and perhaps there were those who wondered who this sheepherder was, to prophesy to them. It appears that Amos had no aspirations of becoming a prophet, or of trying to achieve greatness. Yet, God had given him a very important message, and Israel needed to hear it. GOD had spoken! How, then, could Amos help but prophesy? How could Amos, a lowly shepherd, fail to speak the words the Lord had put in his heart? To Amos, it was a natural response to proclaim what God had spoken.
When we started out to follow God, we probably didn’t have any grand ideas about all the wonderful things we were going to do for God. The overriding theme of our lives was God’s great mercy and love that had rescued us. It was natural for us to love the God who had redeemed us. It was natural for us to rejoice in our new relationship with our Lord. We were grateful for salvation and our newfound Friend!
As we kept our lives surrendered before Him, we found that it was surprisingly natural for us to keep saying yes to God’s plan. And as we responded in that way, He opened up new opportunities and responsibilities for us — perhaps some we were not expecting. We may not feel important or loaded with talent, but we can be encouraged: God isn’t so concerned with that. He needs someone who will respond to Him with a yes when He calls. What is our natural response to God?
The divided Kingdom of Israel, comprised of Israel and Judah, had ignored God’s pleas to return to Him. Thus, Amos’ message of impending judgment was directed at both Israel and Judah. God had had great plans for them, and had watched over them closely. In Amos 3:2, He reminded the people that, of all the families of the earth, He had only known them. The word known refers to an intimate relationship, as a husband is intimate with his wife. Yet, the people had taken up a hollow form of religion by bringing God sacrifices without repentance. They had forgotten to follow His laws and how to do right (Amos 3:10). It seemed they loved religious ceremony, but without any of the responsibility that accompanies righteousness.
The people of Israel and Judah had built their luxurious lifestyle mercilessly, on the blood of the poor. Their sin was so great that it even appalled the surrounding nations. They were concerned with their abundance, and seemed to have found security in it. Numerous times throughout chapter 4, we read of the horrible judgments God would send upon them for their rebellion. Famine, drought, destruction of crops, sickness, defeat in war, and catastrophe were all mentioned, with the final statement in Amos 4:12, “Prepare to meet thy God.” All of these judgments later came to pass. Tragically, it could have been avoided if the people had simply listened and responded when God had so patiently called.
Bethel, where Amos was speaking, was a religious center located twelve miles north of Jerusalem. It was a very important place to Israel because of its associations with Abraham and Jacob. In a nation full of hypocrisy and self-will, God found in Amos a man to do His work. This unlikely individual, perhaps unnoticed by man, simply responded positively to God and became His mouthpiece.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The reasons for the judgment of Israel
A. Present privilege brings responsibility (3:1-15)
1. Judgment deserved (3:1-10)
a. Failure to walk with God (3:1-8)
b. Neglect of God’s laws (3:9-10)
2. Judgment delineated (3:11-15)
a. Invasion (3:11)
b. Slaughter (3:12)
c. Cessation of idolatry (3:13-14)
d. Removal of wealth (3:15)
B. Past chastenings unheeded (4:1-13)
1. Judgment deserved (4:1-11)
a. The vain, wealthy women (4:1-3)
b. The empty ritualism (4:4-5)
c. The neglect of warnings (4:6-11)
(1) Famine (4:6)
(2) Drought (4:7-8)
(3) Pestilence and warfare (4:9-11)
2. Judgment delineated (4:12-13)
Are you as eager today to respond to God’s call as you were when He called you to repentance?