Sunday School Lesson – Sunday July 30, 2017 – The Call of Amos
To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator
Time: 762 B.C. Place: Bethel
Golden Text: “I was not a prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me Go, prophesy unto my people Israel (Amos 7:14-15).
Lesson Outline: I. The Message Challenged – Amos 7:10-13, II. The Message Authenticated – Amos 7:14-15, III. The Message Reinforced, Amos 7:16-17
Amos was a prophet of the eighth century B.C., he was a native of Tekoa, a village 6 miles south of Bethlehem overlooking the wilderness of Judah. Amos was not a member of a prophetic guild in training to be a professional prophet, but he instead a sheep breeder by profession. Amos was also a dresser of sycamore trees, the fruit that resembled figs and must be pierced or slit shortly before ripening in order to be edible. Amos prophesied during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah, and Jeroboam, II, king of Israel. Spiritually and morally these were barren times, the lapse of godly King Uzziah in his later years was symptomatic of a broader moral decline in Judah. Israel, the chief target of Amos prophecies, apostasy continued to run rampant in the worship of the golden calves of Jeroboam I. In addition to all of this, success had created a wealthy commercial class that indulged in luxuries while exploiting the poor. Amos, therefore, brought Israel a severe message from God.
Lesson Outline: I. The Message Challenged – Amos 7:19-13
Amos 7:10 – Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. The priest in charge of the temple at Bethel informed the king about the prophet who was making threats supposedly against the king’s house. Amaziah was reacting to Amos’s third vision which ended with God’s promise to bring the sword against the house of Jeroboam. The prophet Amaziah regarded Amos’s words as a political threat and reported them not as a prophecy from God, but as Amos’s call to revolt. Politically Judah and Israel were at peace and thriving, but their success had created a wealthy commercial class that indulged in luxuries while exploiting the poor, therefore, God was sending a severe message by Amos. Amaziah the priest didn’t care about correcting the sins that were bringing God’s judgment on Israel but attacked the messenger by saying Amos was conspiring against t the king. Amaziah was the official over the shrine at Bethel with its golden calf god. Amaziah of all people should have known this wasn’t right in the eyes of Amaziah being a priest should have known the First Commandment “Thou shalt have none other gods before me”. Rather than correcting the people of worshiping a calf he told the king, Amos was conspiring against him and the words he was saying would be disturbing to the people.
Amos 7:11 – For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. Amaziah regarded Amos’ s word as a political threat and not as a prophecy from God but as Amos’s call to revolt. Bethel was one of two sanctuaries established over a century earlier by Jeroboam I to keep his subjects in the north from going to Jerusalem to worship. Keeping them from the place of worship wasn’t enough, he set up a golden calf for them to worship like their fathers did when God delivered them from Egypt. While Moses was on the mountain talking to God, Israel set up a golden calf and began to worship it. When people stray from God, they will call right, wrong, and wrong, right. Both the priest and the people knew, worshiping a calf was worshiping something other than God and that was a no, no. Amaziah heart was hardened and rather than taking to heart what the prophet was saying, he reported the words spoken to the king as being treasonous. Amaziah’s attitude toward Amos showed how far the northern kingdom had departed from the true worship of God. The priest opposed God’s message and tried to silence God’s prophet; if he would have been a godly priest he would have repented and instructed the people to repent.
Amos 7:12 – Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there. After sending his report to Jeroboam, Amaziah turned his attention to Amos. Since Amaziah was an official of the king, his command to Amos was to return to Judah would have amounted to making Amos officially unwelcome. Amaziah forbade Amos from prophesying in Bethel; it was the king’s sanctuary, part of his court. Amos had revealed God’s message through three visions, but the priest rejected them. He told Amos to make a hasty retreat to Judah, implying punishment if he stayed in Israel. The statement “To eat bread”, was to earn a living. Amaziah assumed Amos was a professional prophet like the false prophets of Israel, who made a living by telling lies. Amaziah was implying that in Judah, Amos might find someone willing to pay him for his visions, but not in Israel. Amaziah was informing Amos that Bethel was off limits, he wasn’t welcome, leave go elsewhere and speak your message, but not here was basically what he was saying.
Amos 7:13 – But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. Amaziah was informing Amos don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, it was the king’s chapel, this is where the king worshipped and it was part of the king’s court. In other words, he was saying, the king nor I or the people don’t want to hear what you or your God has to say.
Lesson Outline: II. The Message Authenticated – Amos 7:14-15
Amos 7:14 – Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit. Amos denied himself as being a prophet by profession, neither was his father a prophet. He had not been trained in prophecy. He informed Amaziah he was a herdman a gatherer of sycomore fruit. In other words, the words he was speaking was not his, but the message came from God.
Amos 7:15 – And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. Amos told Amaziah I was in the midst of my duties when the Lord called me, I’m not a prophet, he informed him as being a shepherd and a fruit picker. He was an uneducated man whom God had called while he was herding sheep. Amos is explaining to the priest the message he was given wasn’t from him but from God, it was God who was talking to him while he was feeding the flock and told him to go and prophesy to His people, Israel.
Lesson Outline: 7:16-17 The Message Reinforced – Amos 7:16-17
Amos 7:16 – Now therefore hear thou this word of the Lord: Thou sayest Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy words against the house of Isaac. Amos instructs the priest Amaziah to listen carefully to what he was about to say, although Amaziah had instructed Amos not to prophesy in Israel nor against the house of Isaac, “Isaac” is used as the synonym for Israel. Amos wanted Amaziah to know the words he was about to say wasn’t his own but they were the words of the Lord and he needed to hear and listen carefully to what God was about to do.
Amos 7:17 – Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be a harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. The only way the spouse of an important official like Amaziah would be reduced to prostitution would be if all her family and all her resources were taken away and she was left to fend entirely for herself. The rest of Amos’s Oracle predicted that such a situation would happen to Amaziah’s family. The land was going to be divided indicating that it would be assigned or sold to new owners. As being a high official of the king, Amaziah certainly possessed a large amount of land, and he would not retain any. Finally, Amaziah would die in a defiled land, that is pagan, country. All Gentile nations were considered unclean by Israelites because of their false religions. And Israel would go into captivity far from its land. In spite of Amaziah’s commands, Amos wisely spoke God’s words regarding the consequences of Israel’s rebellion. Amos boldly proclaimed God’s message even when told to stop. He illustrated that one’s education or wealth is not an indicator of effectiveness for God’s service. Like, Amos when God gives us a message to rely to someone, we must not look at their faces or be concerned about their reactions. When God gives us a word and not us giving the word from ourselves it will be effective to the hearer and could save a soul or oncoming destruction to the individual. God hasn’t changed, He still uses prophets, as well as those who don’t hold a ministerial office to get His message to His people. All God needs is a clean and willing vessel.