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Thursday, June 30, 2011

From the Mouths of Shepherds (Amos)

This post is a little late due to my involvement in All-Star Camp this week. What a hoot to hang out with the kids at Barnes School. I think a good time was had by all!

One aspect of the book of Amos that I appreciate is the detail we are given about this prophet. For most of the minor prophets in the Old Testament, we get very little detail about their life or background. Sometime a city of origin. Sometimes the name of the father, or perhaps the king who reigned during the time of their prophecy. Sometimes only the name of the prophet! But about Amos, we are given this unique little tidbit: he was a shepherd from Tekoa.

While some recent Biblical scholars have tried to claim that Amos was more of an elite "breeder", all of the earliest and best evidence would suggest that Amos is exactly as the book suggests; a simple shepherd. A low-ranking caretaker of four-legged creatures, mostly ignored by the greater world, except perhaps for a group near Bethlehem some 700 years later. But it is this lowly shepherd whom God calls to minister to kings. Unlike most of the prophets, who give messages to only one nation, Amos delivers God's word to no less than 8 nations. Amos is called upon to deliver powerful words of God's coming judgment to the elite of his day.

This falls in line very well with what we heard last week from Joel. (Remember "the book of the 12"- meant to be read/understood together!) Joel 3 says, "Let the weak say I am strong!" When it comes to God assembling his final army, he pays no attention to our worldly definitions of weak and strong- He uses whomever He chooses. The weaklings become warriors.

Ironically, the "elite" prophet in the book of Amos is a man named Amaziah, who evidently works for King Jeroboam in Israel. Rather than speaking God's truth, however, this seer chooses to say what the king wants to hear. Words of comfort, peace, and security. And he was dead wrong. But not Amos. Amos says what needs to be said because God is the one saying it.

I guess what I really want to say is a reminder to all of us that God speaks in the most amazing ways, and rarely does He use the powerful, the rich, or the famous to deliver his Words. He uses shepherds, fishermen, and outcasts. He uses the weak to shame the strong. The lowly and the despised things become the honored ones in God's kingdom.

No matter where you are, no matter what situation you might find yourself in, God wants to speak to you and through you. Don't say no because of your station, your age, or your place. Allow Him to use you, and the world will be a different place.

On this journey, there's a bit of shepherd in us all. The question is, will we trust God to use even us however He chooses? I hope your answer, and mine, will be yes!



Marcia said...

I find myself wishing I could attend your church. This sounds like a fabulous series!

Pastor Nick said...

Thanks for the compliments. Have you found the podcasts? We do have all the messages online, so "attend" as often as you'd like! :-)