Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Amos: Just a boy from the pasture

photo credit: freedigitalphotos

Monday, I was chatting with a couple of friends in the office (I work part time at my church) and I said, "I was reading in Amos and--"


Laughter filled the office (and blessed heat; they freeze me out) "You were reading Amos? You don't hear that often…'I was reading in Amos…'"

Maybe it is A-typical. Like me. Here's why I love the book of Amos. Here's why I love Amos.  So much in this little overlooked book says so much about our God, His power, His overwhelming love.

Amos shows up in a time when Israel has much military success and prosperity (thanks to Jeroboam). Guess what comes with sitting like fat cats?

Pride. Greed. Immorality.

Amos focused on putting Israel and Judah (two separate kingdoms at the time) in their place in the area of worship, mostly.

Meaningless worship.

Can you hear how upset God is when He says, "Go to Bethel (center of Baal worship) and sin. Go to Gilgal (remember this is where they set up the remembrance stones after they crossed into the Promise Land, to remind them God had delivered and made good on His promise--not a place of prostitution) and sin yet more." Amos 4:4

*parenthesis mine

Do you hear the , "Go ahead, you're going to anyway. I've done everything I can to dissuade you" tone?

"Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings--boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do." declares the Sovereign LORD. Amos 4:4-5

Amos made sure to let them know WHO was talking to them. THE SOVEREIGN LORD.

Do you hear the, drips of sarcasm. Is it just me?

God goes on, through Amos, to tell them every single thing He's done to grab their attention. He holds back rain to wither their crop…hey if they're hungry maybe they'll call to Him, turn back…remember. Amos 4: 6-8

But they didn't.

Then He struck their gardens and vineyards with plight and mildew. And sent locust to eat away at their crops. Maybe if a third party enters to gnaw away at their hard work, they'll turn back…remember. Amos 4:9

But they didn't.

Then God allowed sickness and war to overtake their bodies. The last resort. Surely, if their bodies were sick, if the enemy came in with the sword they would call out to God. Maybe then, they'll turn back…remember. Amos 4:10-11

But they didn't.

Therefore…God delivers up consequences for their sinful behaviors.

"…prepare to meet your God, O, Israel."

That gives me chill bumps.

And of course, in God's wonderful fashion He also declares restoration. But even so, Amos's words fall on deaf and angry ears.

The high priest, Amaziah (living at Bethel--center of Baal worship) gets all testy. I mean what corrupt priest wouldn't, right? And he sends word to the king of Israel, Jeroboam. "Amos is raising a conspiracy (Amos isn't doing Jack. God is.) against you and the very heart of Israel (translation: me. He went after me, king) The land cannot bear all his words. (again. Me. I can't bear it) He says, 'Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.'"

Then Amaziah gets testy with Amos. Tells him to get the heck out, go back to Judah and prophesy there, but keep his mouth shut to Israel because this is where the king finds sanctuary and he better stop disrupting it. Amos 7: 10-13.

And here is what I love.

Amos says, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'…" Amos 7:14-15

Amos wasn't anyone powerful, nor did he come from a powerful line of prophets. He was a lowly shepherd. But God called him to something else. And he took up the mantle and went. His words were harsh at times, no one wants bad news or to be corrected when they're happy doing wrong.

God was with Amos. God loved His people enough to send someone! I love that he chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

I love that Jesus, by men's standards, was nothing but ordinary.

"He grew up like a small plant before the Lord, like a root growing in a dry land. He had no special beauty or form to make us notice him; there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him." Isaiah 53:2 NCV

I love that God sent Him--not to judge…not yet. But to save.

"The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them." Luke 19:10

How does it make you feel to know that God uses the ordinary to extraordinary things? Does it give you hope for yourself?  Do you feel ordinary?

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  1. Two things stick out about this ** post: One is that I wrestle with what is a consequence of my actions and what is just the yuck from the fall. Another is that I feel this...that I am small, the youngest in my family, and God continues to use me in BIG ways for His kingdom. I don't get it. Thankfully, I don't need to.
    ~ Wendy

  2. Okay. I admit. Once upon a time I would have laughed at you for reading Amos too...

    I live in the ordinary so I kinda glom onto these guys and gals God used. I think He knew what He was doing...:)

    1. LOL! I'm with you. I do the same thing!

  3. I love the title of this post! Made me LOL.

    I feel ordinary--or maybe not good enough--sometimes when I look at all the other writers who have achieved what I haven't. But I know that God can use me. He's given me the tools I need. He is in control of the situation.

    And even in my non-writing life, He uses me to reach people in ways I couldn't have dreamed. He orchestrates so much behind the scenes. I love that.

    1. I've had to learn it's not all about the writing life and when I did, God has been doing some amazing stuff on the home front which I'll post about soon!

  4. Oh yes, I feel very ordinary and I used to feel incredibly invisible. I don't know if I've read Amos, and if I did, I don't know if I understood it. Thanks for shedding some light, and yeah, I'm thankful for God and his ways.

  5. This year, I've been reading the Bible cover to cover. The best thing about reading the Bible like that is that I've read books like Amos that I would have missed otherwise.

    Yes. I'm feeling pretty ordinary right now. In a world where everybody seems to be yelling for attention, it's awesome to know that we don't need to do that. God can use us for big things.

    1. If you like to read the Bible in a year, the chronological study Bible is A-MAzing!

  6. I love when God uses the ordinary. I'm with Julie, everyone seems to be yelling for attention. God just points His mighty finger and says - I need you to do something for me - the ordinary become extraordinary!

    Loved this post, Jess.

    1. I agree with you both. Sometimes it's so loud, I feel overwhelmed. :)

      So glad God is never overwhelmed and can hear our freak-outs through the crowd!

  7. My favorite verse in Amos is 5:4..."Seek Me that you may live."

    I love that!

    Good for you for gleaning so much from the book of Amos. I love how God used so many shepherds in the Bible: Abel, Moses, David, etc.

    He even had His angels appear to shepherds to announce the arrival of Jesus! I thank Him for choosing the ordinary everyday.

    Thanks for this post. It is great to meditate on the greatness of God!!

    1. I love that verse too, Ruth! He is all about some shepherds, isn't He? LOL

  8. I love this "I love that he chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things." I absolutely love that God can use me, just an ordinary woman, wife, mom, teacher, student, in so many ways!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting and hanging out today! Feel welcome anytime. So glad you were blessed by the post! :)

  9. I love how you drive home the truth that God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Like shepherds. And Moms. And Writers. The book of Amos is jam packed with incredible truths. Great insights here today, Fiend!

  10. I love how God uses ordinary people all the time in the Bible to do extraordinary things! It gives me hope. I even look at my mom, she didn't finish high school, she was a teen mom, married my dad at the age of 17 and then had three more children. When we think about people like this we think there is no hope - but God showed up in her life! She went back to school, started her own company and is now the mayor of our town! Not to mention she raised four amazing children (if I do say so myself) and she and my dad are still married thirty-six years later! She is doing extraordinary things!

    1. What an amazing story, Gabe! I love it! My mom has a similar story as well. It's testimonies like this that brings hope to so many! Awesome!

  11. I know someone who named their kid Amos. It's seriously so hard for me to say seriously... :)

    Okay, here's the truth: sometimes I actually feel extraordinary. I really do. I know I'm a totally ordinary, every day, small town sorta gal. But every once in awhile, I get this feeling of "I was meant for big things." And you know...I don't think it's that I'm necessarily meant for big stuff in the way the world defines it...but I think in those moments, what I'm actually feeling is God breathing enthusiasm, passion and excitement into me...breathing His purpose into my life!! I want to embrace those moments...and not walk away thinking I'm awesome, but KNOWING He's awesome and because of that, my life and my purpose are extraordinary!

    Those, of course, are the high moments of life. But I want to hold on to them in the every day remember that life is meant to be extraordinary even in its ordinary-ness...

    Okay, enough rambling... :)

    1. Yes! Hold on to them! You didn't ramble! I love your comment. I was nodding and nodding as I read it. :) You're so cool, Tagg!

  12. Jess, I absolutely love the way you minister in your unique voice. I can hear you saying this as I read it. Love.

    Even in the Christian publishing industry where writers are called to minister through words, it's so easy to feel insignificant and ordinary. Sometimes I get caught up in the "if only I had as many blog commenters" or "if only I had a USA Today review" or "if only I made the bestseller list". But then I receive a reader letter. Someone who read my category romance and took the time to email me. Someone who was touched by my words. These letters bring me to my knees in humble praise for God using little ole me to write something that ministered to someone else. I may never have a Joyce Meyer or Michael Hyatt type of audience. I may not make a bestseller's list or win awards, but I'm being used by God for His purpose. If I surrender my concerns and desires to Him, He will use little ole me for great things.

    1. Lisa, you've blessed me today! I never think I have a "voice" and I struggle with wondering, what exactly is it? Do I have it? So to hear you say that makes me smile. :)

      I love what you say about ministering even if you never make USA Today or a best seller list. While those things are wonderful and we celebrate with those who have made those, it's important to remember the real treasure lies with Jesus Christ and the Kingdom! Great wisdom!

  13. Ordinary, plain, little ole me - but God wants to use me anyway! Great word, Jess!

    (Guess I'd better go read Amos now instead of ragging on you for doing it!)

  14. Nice post, Jess - and great reminder to keep God first. It's hard for us humans to understand God's love and sovereignty existing together, but I'm learning the same thing in the book of Ezekiel. I'm so much like the children of Israel. And I'm especially grateful for the warnings He gives in His word and through other believers. He doesn't want to punish me, He wants me to repent! God bless~


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