A Prophet and a Roaring God
The Lord’s voice will roar (1:2).
Amos is one of the most intriguing biblical characters, tucked away in the neglected corner of the Minor Prophets. I’ve struggled with the prophet partly because my son Seth once had a stuffed monkey named Amos. My main difficulty, however, has been that Amos is true to his calling as a prophet.
The word prophetconjures up odd images and associations: glaring eyes, angry voice, strange words. Prophets would never have been mistaken for mainstream. They didn’t ask permission to speak. They didn’t try to persuade others that they knew what they were talking about. Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann says prophets were God’s uncredentialed spokesmen. A true prophet was only a messenger. God spoke, and God’s prophet passed the word along.
A prophet spoke when something was drastically wrong. The moment was urgent. It was not time for deliberation or dialogue. It was time to listen. It was God speaking. Lives depended on it.
Amos spoke because humanity had forgotten God, and—as a result—humanity was cannibalizing itself. Israel had crushed and robbed the poor (2:6). They had perverted the systems of justice so that the marginalized had no recourse (v.7). They had enslaved whole tribes and villages. They had violently abused the most helpless: the underprivileged, widows, and orphans.
This would not do. This was not the world God had created. God was angry. Amos put it boldly: The Lord would “thunder from Jerusalem” (1:2). What was a prophet to do when the world had gone mad, and when God would not gently let it be?
I see the destruction in our world, the pain, violence, and evil. I see it, and I long for God to get angry. I long to hear God roar.
Pick any section of verses from the first several chapters of Amos. Look for God’s righteous anger. What was He angry about? Read Amos 8:11. What’s God’s final hope for His people and His world?
Where in our world do you see injustice that you believe deserves God’s anger? How does God’s kind of anger reorient our own anger?