Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?
Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?
Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?
If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?
Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear?
The Lord GOD has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?
In our text the Lord asks a series of nine pointed rhetorical questions, one can say it is like a catechism, which as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a set of formal questions put as a test.
A rhetorical question is a question posed for the listener to reflect upon, rather than to literally answer. In fact the literal answer to a rhetorical question is usually known by the questioner. Such questions encourage the listener to reflect on what the implied answer to the question must be. The practice of asking pointed rhetorical questions is imbedded in mankind as a rational creature as one of the major means he is led to searching self-reflection. We find this principle very early in the Scripture, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the first thing they hear from the voice of God is the question, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). After Adam responds, God continues to shower him with more questions, “Who told you that you were naked?” Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11). In verse 13 God asks the woman, “What is this you have done?” So we find from early in the Bible that God comes as the great Inquisitor to fallen man. Obviously God is not asking these pointed questions to Adam and Eve to get information out of them that He does not know. But He asks them these questions with a view to force Adam and Eve to self-reflection and an accurate self-assessment. In Genesis chapter 4 God asks Cain, “Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen?” And then later after Cain killed Abel, He asks, “Where is your brother Abel?” God knows exactly why Cain was angry, and where Abel was, but He wants Cain to reflect on what he has done, so God probes him with pointed questions. At the end of time, the saints of God sing the song of the Lamb, which includes the rhetorical question, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?” (Rev 15:4). The implied answer is obvious – all men must glorify God, but at the same time the question forces us to ask ourselves, am I fearing and glorifying the name of the Lord?
Our Lord Jesus Christ often asked questions as well. When blind Bartimaeus cried out to Christ for mercy, Christ was arrested in his steps; He turned to the blind man, and asked him in Mark 10:51, “What do you want me to do for you?” Remember in John 21 in that beautiful scene by the Sea of Galilee as Jesus restored Peter, he did so with probing question, “Peter do you love me?” And when the Lord apprehended Saul on the road to Damascus, as reported in Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26 – in all three accounts Saul is first confronted with the initial question, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Paul often used rhetorical questions: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? … how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom 8:31-35). Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos? (1 Cor 3:5). “Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?” (1 Cor 9:7). “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” (Gal 3:1). Again in all these cases, the literal answers are not sought, but rather they are asked in order for the listener to assess what is the obvious answer and whether he himself truly believes that answer to be true.
Amos uses this very tool to bring into sharp focus what God is doing among the people of the nation of Israel. This week, ask yourself the nine questions of the Lion’s catechism (Amos 3:3-8), personalizing each one – for example: Am I walking in agreement with God? Is there anything in my life that the lion seeks to pounce upon? What traps do I find myself constantly falling into? Am I heeding the warning calls of God? Do I fear the Lord? Am I a faithful herald of His Word?
Listen to this message: