Amos was a shepherd, called by God to be a prophet. His story is found in the book of Amos in the Bible.
Amos says what God tells him, but after a while, the people of Israel — the primary target of his God-given proclamations — get tired of Amos and what he says, telling him to be quiet and go back home. Interestingly, Peter, the disciple of Jesus, is given a similar warning by the authorities. Both Amos and Peter decline, insisting that they must do what God tells them to do.
At first Amos has no qualms about sharing God’s judgments regarding other nations, but he does eventually object. God shows Amos what will happen and Amos protests — and God relents. (Similar things happen when both Moses and Abraham plead with God.)
God then gives Amos another stinging word. Amos protests and God again relents.
Then God gives Amos a third oracle. This time Amos says nothing.
I wonder if Amos gave up too soon. I wonder if we sometimes make the same mistake.
[Amos 1:1, Amos 7:10-15, Acts 4:18-20, Numbers 14:11-20, Genesis 18:16-33, Amos 7:1-9]
The book of Joel is classified as one of the Bible’s prophetic books, as it contains a foretelling of the future. After multiple reads, however, this short, 3-chapter book begins to emerge more as poetry than prophecy, revealing multiple levels of meaning awaiting the patient reader to unveil and discover.
The name of the book is the same as the prophet who received God’s oracle — Joel. The nemesis of Joel’s story is a swarm of locust.
Joel’s message is one of unprecedented destruction via this army of locust, which eats everything in sight, devastating all plants — and the sustenance they produce. Both man and animal suffer as a result. However, there is also a grand and glorious redemption that follows, with God promising to restore the years that the locust ate.
Perhaps the most notable mention of locusts in the Bible is as one of the plagues that befall Egypt during Moses’ day. Another is that of locust — along with honey — comprising the unique dietary stylings of John the Baptist.
Aside from the life-nourishment that the locust provide to John, all the other Biblical references of locust relate to plague and destruction — and death — be it literal or figurative.
Regardless, I wouldn’t what them to eat my food or to eat them as food — I’m happy to take my locust as a metaphor.
[See Joel 1:2, Joel 1:4, Joel 2:1, Joel 2:25, Exodus 10:1-20, Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6]
Moses gave a curious command: “Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” This seems to be an excessive response when one is wronged, but given the culture of that day, it was actually a move towards moderation.
For example, when Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped, her brothers avenged her violation by killing the perpetrator and all the men in his village and then sacking the city. That is excessive — and what God, through Moses, wanted to rein in with his “eye of eye, tooth for tooth” imperative.
Jesus, however, took this one step further when he told us to love our enemies and pray for them. That’s how we should act today — lovingly, not vengeful.
[Deuteronomy 19:21, Genesis 34:1-31 (especially verse 2 and 25), Matthew 5:38-48 (especially verse 44)]
After Moses led the people out of Egypt, God gave him some specific instructions for constructing a place of worship. Moses was not supposed to do the actual work, but was charged with making sure it was done correctly. He had to delegate:*
Here is what he did:
1) Moses selected capable people with good character. Successful delegation requires finding the right people; not everyone is ready or able to receive delegation. Although it was ultimately God who made the selections, it was Moses who carried it out. [Exodus 35:30-33]
2) Moses provided them with the resources needed to do their job. Moses gave all of the gifts that had been received to the people he selected. Because of their character, there was no need to be concerned about them misusing these resources. [Exodus 36:3]
3) Moses inspected their work. Since Moses was ultimately responsible for the results, he wisely inspected their work. Because the right people had been chosen for this task, this was an easy step and their work met expectations. [Exodus 39:42]
4) Moses took responsibility for the results. The people were first esteemed for their fine work, but later Moses also received accommodation for the results. Similarly, had the work not been completed or done appropriately, Moses would have received the blame. Such is the responsibility of management. [Exodus 40:33]
* This was not the first time that Moses delegated work. At his law-in-law’s advice, he set-up and trained a network of judges to help guide the people. Prior to this, Moses spent each day with people lined up to see him. [Exodus 18:17-26]
A reoccurring statement in the Bible is “Here I am.”
This was often said to God when he calls out or speaks to one of his children.
- Twice, when God called to Abraham, Abraham responded with, “Here I am.” [Genesis 21:1 and 22:11]
- Abraham’s grandson Jacob had similar experiences. Once an angel came to Jacob in a dream (on God’s behalf) and another time God spoke to Jacob in a vision at night. Both times Jacob replied by saying, “Here I am.” [Genesis 31:11 and 46:2]
- Some 400 hundred years later, God spoke from the midst of a burning bush and Moses said, “Here I am.” [Exodus 3:4]
Abraham, Jacob, and Moses were all expectantly ready to listen to God. We need to do the same.
Later Jesus said, “Here I am” in obedience to do the will of his father. [Hebrews 10:7-9, which is quoting the prophetic text in Psalm 40:7.]
Lastly, this phrase is spoken to us by Jesus. He says,
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” [Revelation 3:20]
Jesus is saying that he is ready for us; he is waiting; all we need to do is open the door for him.