When we hear, “He’s a man of God,” we think of some famous evangelist, a “Reverend,” a missionary, or the campus minister—professionals, Christian workers, those who preach and teach the Word as a vocation.
Surely Amos was a man of God, a person whose life was devoted to serving the Lord and whose lifestyle reflected this devotion—but he was a layperson. Herding sheep and tending sycamore-fig trees in the Judean countryside, Amos was not the son of a prophet; he was not the son of a priest. As a humble shepherd, he could have stayed in Tekoa, doing his job, providing for his family, and worshiping his God. But God gave Amos a vision of the future (1:1) and told him to take his message to Israel, the northern kingdom (7:15). Amos obeyed and thus proved he was a man of God.
Amos’s message has impacted God’s people throughout the centuries, and it needs to be heard today by individuals and nations. Though divided from their southern brothers and sisters in Judah, the northern Israelites were still God’s people. But they were living beneath a pious veneer of religion, worshiping idols and oppressing the poor. Amos, a fiery, fearless, and honest shepherd from the south, confronted them with their sin and warned them of the impending judgment.
The book of Amos opens with this humble shepherd watching his sheep. God then gave him a vision of what was about to happen to the nation of Israel. God condemned all the nations who had sinned against him and harmed his people. Beginning with Aram, he moved quickly through Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. All were condemned, and we can almost hear the Israelites shouting, “Amen!” And then, even Judah, Amos’s homeland, was included in God’s scathing denunciation (2:4, 5). How Amos’s listeners must have enjoyed hearing those words! Suddenly, however, Amos turned to the people of Israel and pronounced God’s judgment on them. The next four chapters enumerate and describe their sins. It is no wonder that Amaziah the priest intervened and tried to stop the preaching (7:10–13). Fearlessly, Amos continued to relate the visions of future judgment that God gave to him (chapters 8–9). After all the chapters on judgment, the book concludes with a message of hope. Eventually God will restore his people and make them great again (9:8–15).
As you read Amos’s book, put yourself in the place of those Israelites and listen to God’s message. Have you grown complacent? Have other concerns taken God’s place in your life? Do you ignore those in need or oppress the poor? Picture yourself as Amos, faithfully doing what God calls you to do. You, too, can be God’s person. Listen for his clear call and do what he says, wherever it leads.
Life Application Bible Notes (Tyndale, 2007), 1435.