Pastor Steve Ellison
Amos was a shepherd and grower of sycamore figs. He lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, not far from Jerusalem. God sent him to the northern kingdom of Israel with a message of judgment because the people had rejected God and turned to idols. Amos began with pronouncements of judgment against Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab before turning his attention to God’s people. He started with Judah and quickly moved on to Israel. Amos spoke out against their culture of greed and corruption in which the poor and weak were cheated and cruelly taken advantage of. God was disgusted with the injustice, immorality, and idolatry among His people.
Through the words of Amos, God next reminded Israel of their redemption from Egypt by His mighty hand. He reminded them that He had led them out of Egypt, cared for them in the wilderness, and went before them in Canaan, destroying other nations so that they could inhabit the Promised Land. He reminded them that He had raised up prophets to deliver His Word to them. He had also appointed Nazirites from among them to serve as godly examples holding the people accountable. After detailing the good He had done for them, it was time for them to receive a question. God says in Amos 2:11-12, “Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the Lord. “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’ (NASU) The rest of chapter 2 is a pronouncement of terrible judgment on Israel. They will not be able to avoid the consequences of their actions.
It is always good for us to review the wonderful mercies of God in our lives. It is not nearly so pleasant when we forget, and God must review it for us. If we remember and give Him the praise He so richly deserves, we will likely not fall into the sin that Israel had fallen into. Israel had forgotten and when God raised up prophets and Nazirites to instruct them, they did worse than ignore their instruction. The people of Israel corrupted the Nazirites and commanded the prophets to disobey God. The people were given an opportunity to deny God’s assertions, but they did not.
One day, you and I will stand before God in much the same way that Israel did in Amos’ day. God will recount all the mercies He has had upon us: how He saved our souls; how He cared for us when we had no idea what we were doing; how He provided for us in the wilderness; how He went before us conquering giants in our lives; how He gave us His written Word in the Bible; how He gave us preachers and teachers. The list could go on and on: life itself, health, air to breathe, food, sunshine and light, families, etc. and etc. After the evidence of His magnificent mercy is presented to us, I suppose the question will ring in our ears, “Is it not true?” Just as God gave Israel a chance to deny His kindness, you and I will have a chance to deny it, but we will not be able to. There will be no denying it.
Following Israel’s inability to deny His mercy, God had an accusation for them. He declared that they had corrupted the people He had expressly sent into their lives to be guides for them. Surely it is a bad thing to refuse to listen to the people whom God has sent to guide you. Surely it is a worse thing to corrupt those guides whom God has sent your way. Be careful how you treat the Nazirites and prophets God sends to instruct you. Surely, they will hurt your feelings and ask you to do things you do not want to do, but that is their purpose.