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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Meeting a career prophet (Amos 7:7-17)

The second part of the chapter is an example of the opposition that Amos faced from the leaders of the false religion that was causing the people of Israel to forget about God.

Amaziah was a career prophet who was in the work to make a profit. He was also an employee of the government and he dutifully reported to them the rebellious message that Amos was preaching. Amaziah spoke correctly when he said that his worship centre in Bethel was the sanctuary of the king of Israel and belonged to his kingdom (v. 13) – it certainly did not belong to the God of Israel and his kingdom.

Amaziah imagined that he had the answer to the problem by suggesting Amos should go back to his homeland and prophesy to his own people of Judah and find security there (v. 12). Clearly, Amaziah did not understand that God could send a prophet to a people living in another country. For Amaziah, each nation had its own form of worship and saw no contradiction between him prophesying a false message in Israel and Amos declaring a true message in Judah.

The consequence of being a career prophet is that such don’t make a long-term profit. In Amaziah’s case, his losses came before he died (vv. 16-17); with others, they come after they die. He lost everything he had worked for – his family, his assets, and his position. Moreover, he was shown to be a false prophet because his predictions of ongoing prosperity for Israel turned out to be wrong. That is how he is remembered.

Amos, in contrast, had the marks of a true prophet and we can see several of them in this passage. First, he took the Lord’s message right to the heart of the opposition’s camp. Second, he was aware that he had been propelled into his prophetic ministry by God (neither Amos or his father had wanted him to be a career prophet). Third, this burden from God never left him. Fourth, he did not adjust his message when a prominent and powerful individual stood in front of him.

In God’s church today, those in the pulpits are like Amos or like Amaziah. They are there either to serve God or to serve themselves. As Jesus said, it is impossible to serve God and mammon. Sooner or later, it will become obvious which one is Master. We should pray that those who want to be like Amos will become increasingly like him, and also pray that many of those who currently are like Amaziah will become, through God’s grace, like Amos.

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