A couple of chapters ago I was wondering how these words from the lord went down with the listeners. This chapter has the predictable answer.
First there are some striking examples of prayer in response to visions.
First utter destruction of the crop by locusts. Amos prays for the people, calling them Jacob, who was a patriarch identified by his weakness relative to his brother Esau. His argument to God is that they are too fail for such an extreme punishment. And he relents, if you are ever wondering whether it is worth praying.
Then same scenario, fire. Again Amos’ prayer is the agency by which god’s salvation is known.
The third vision is of a plumb bob, the builders tool for showing what is straight and what is crooked. I think it’s also a line of clarity, giving a sharp definition to what is in and out of the line God has defined. His people have become blurry, vagued out the difference between them and their neighbours.
Then we get to see how Amos’ message has been received. A false priest and advisor to the king sees the threat, and reacts in the time honoured template we see around us still, every day.
The truth or otherwise of the message is not considered, not an issue. It’s simply too hard to listen to, “too much for the people to bear”. Playing on the king’s fear of losing popularity – keep telling them what they want to hear. And shoot the messenger.
Amos is discredited as a power hungry conspirator trying to bring down the king… after all didn’t he say something about Jeroboam being bought to the sword?
Amos’ response is humble and gutsy. I didn’t want this, I’m just a nobody that God compelled to say these things. And by the way, your wife will be a prostitute, your children will die and you’ll all be killed or taken captive when god’s plumb line finds you crooked and the city is destroyed.
I really struggle with bravery over speaking out about God, even to my own kids. I must not let the predictable response stop me.
Give me courage lord