Amos an Ordinary Person
Does God no longer need a Moses, or an Abraham; a Peter,
a Paul, or an Esther? Are the days of a Billy Sunday and a
Spurgeon really over? In spite of the multi-methods of evangelism,
the electronic church, and the mass media, church history
affirms that God still looks for men and women He can use.
When He finds people who desperately desire to see God glorified
through their lives, a developing process begins.
Just as a camera needs to focus upon its subject before the
image develops, so we need to focus upon God until His character
emerges from our individual lives.
Unfortunately, no one knows whom to believe. Society's confused
value systems have infiltrated the Church and almost destroyed
its credibility. Only a people of extreme integrity will restore
confidence in the Church of Jesus Christ. Most of us are just
ordinary persons; how can we help make it happen?
Amos was an ordinary person, faithfully setting an example
before God's people, in spite of the double standards that
surrounded him. He said, "I was no prophet, neither was
I a prophet's son; but I was an herd man, and a gatherer of
sycamore fruit" Amos 7:14. As Amos performed his daily
tasks, God prepared him for a special prophetic function;
but not without the accompanying development of his character.
We tend to isolate the glamour of the "office,"
and choose to ignore the pressure points which sensitize the
prophet for his function within that office.
God has chosen the foolish and weak things of the world in
order to confound the wise and the mighty (I Corinthians 1:27).
Amos admitted that he was not a prophet by trade, nor was
he the son of a prophet. He was an ordinary person, who did
not consider himself especially gifted. Since he wasn't trained
in the regular prophetic schools, Amos' message would be met
with skepticism. If he was to impact Israel with his words,
his character must be impeccable.
Amos, a recognized herd man (Hebrew - "keeper"),
not only tended the flock, but also was known as a wool grower.
The word used for woolgrower in the original text means "seeing
both sides." Amos' ordinary occupation may have contributed
to his ability to see both sides of an issue during a time
of unusual prosperity.
Although he was a native of Judah under the reign of Uzziah,
Amos was divinely called to prophesy to Israel under the reign
of Jeroboam II. His willingness to deliver an alarming message
contrary to the peaceful times, reflects his personal faith
in the God of the message. Apparently, he was so in tune with
God's purposes, that he was able to witness the failures of
Israel without participating in their sin, or compromising
his personal convictions.
Amos the shepherd, was also "a gatherer of sycamore
fruit." Again, his common occupation gives insight into
God's requirements for usefulness. Whether a laborer or a
homemaker, with or without a college degree, the one essential
above all others is being filled with the Spirit of God.
"Gatherer" in the Hebrew text means "to deal
with." Amos examined and dressed trees in order to produce
spotless, healthy fruit, and if we expect to produce spiritual
fruit, we must first allow the Holy Spirit to examine and
deal with us on a daily basis.
A false premise is that God is partial to His people regardless
of their conduct, but the book of Amos disputes this view.
God's observations are perceptive, not just analytical. The
Bible tells us that Jesus knew what was in mankind. It is
the Spirit of God Who searches our hearts.
Our attitudes cause us to react to situations in various
ways. For example, our concept of worship probably centers
around the form used in the churches we attend. One group
insists upon ritual, another denounces it; but our Lord's
estimation of worship is far different. His Word declares
that any outward expression without purity of our motives
is superficial - with or without the ritual.
God does not read our labels. Whether Methodist, Lutheran,
Baptist, Pentecostal, or Charismatic, He considers first,
our response to His Son, and then our relationship to our
neighbor. With these in line, our worship will please Him.
As well as a true estimation of our manner or mode of worship,
God judges our sense of values as they relate to societal
trends. Every culture has its own problems which are peculiar
to the people of that society. Chapter 4 of Amos addresses
the issues which faced Israel, and they are not unlike those
One commentator observes that prosperity in a nation can
be a superficial form of a deep-seated moral corruption and
religious self-contempt. This appears to be true in our own
country when statistics such as the crime rate, substance
abuse, and abortions are considered.
Amos pleaded with Israel, "Come to Bethel" (meaning
the house of God), "and transgress ..." Amos 4:4.
In other words, the sins of your society have so polluted
you, that you are now bringing them into the house of God.
Go ahead, if you want, continue in your moral corruption and
religious pollution, but Jehovah will deal with you accordingly.
This very well could apply to religious society today. Abortion
is condoned, homosexuals are ordained, and ministries are
turned into fund-raising capers before television cameras.
The sins of society are no longer outside the church walls,
but have invaded God's house.
The prophet Amos, in his message, emphasized righteousness,
holiness, and purity of life. Contrary to his message, we
are inundated with teaching about success and prosperity.
Although the Bible tells little of the person Amos, we can
learn much from his name. Amos means, "burdened"
or "burden-bearer." Since Biblical proper names
were representative of the individual's character, we presume
that Amos was called to bear burdens. The weight of Israel's
sin pressed him to abandon all, even at the risk of persecution,
to answer God's call upon his life.
Does that sound like your pastor? Would not it be great if
every minister were like that? Better still, wouldn't you
like to be like that?
The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5, "For we that
are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened ..."
Although we are gripped in the vice of heaviness, when joy
is suddenly snatched away, we identify with the whole creation,
which groans and travails in pain, waiting for the redemption
of our bodies (see Romans 8:22-23).
"And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the
Lord said unto me, 'Go, prophesy unto my people Israel'"
Amos 7:15. Amos was an ordinary person, but because he was
faithful in the common things, God entrusted him with tremendous
responsibility. He lived for God uncompromisingly because
his sense of values was anchored in God. Israel's evident
moral decay and spiritual corruption did not touch him; he
was a true example of godliness.
The key to Amos' spirituality is that he focused upon God's
character, and refused to be influenced by the confusion within
the ranks of God's people. He measured himself by God's standard
and not by societal values.
If we desire God's best, we must honestly evaluate our attitudes
and ruthlessly deal with personal sin. As we allow the Holy
Spirit to unwrap any superficial cloaks of religion, the world
will be impacted by the character of Christ emerging from
our ordinary lives.