Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel , saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel . The land is not able to bear all his words.
For thus Amos has said:
‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land.'”
Then Amaziah said to Amos:
“Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah . There eat bread, and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel , for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the royal residence.”
Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:
“I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel .’ Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel , and do not spout against the house of Isaac.’ “Therefore thus says the LORD:
‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.'”
After Amos relates the subject of his third vision – that of a plumb-line, he goes on to make the prediction that Israel would be desolate, its sanctuaries laid waste and its king’s house destroyed (Amos 7:9). Perhaps the bluntness of these words stirred the political machinery of Israel to stand up and make an objection. Right in the midst of relaying the five visions which the Lord gave to Amos, comes this brief narrative describing a conversation between Amos, an unknown Judean shepherd-farmer turned prophet of God, and Amaziah, the influential priest of Bethel of the powerful kingdom of Israel.
Amaziah reflects the culture’s mindset in 8th century B.C. Israel – trusting in their outward success and prosperity as a nation. In such an environment, prophetic voices appear rude and unwarranted. The prophet is seen as a trouble-maker. It is very hard indeed for the outwardly successful establishment to hear truth, especially when it threatens to upset its comfort! So, cloaking himself in the pomp and circumstance of the established religious order, Amaziah with patronizing disdain, bids Amos to return to the job security of his home and speak to his own people – basically saying, “Yankee go home!”
This world and the devil, as well as the established church will forever be attempting to silence the prophets in one way or another. We live in an age where adhering to Biblicism is considered, “old fashioned.” “Preaching,” it is supposed, “is outdated – we must be open to other forms of evangelism and ministry in our churches.” Satan is constantly at work to discourage Gospel ministers from holding fast the faithful word. Even human governments are attempting to legislate political correctness in church pulpits. How must the man of God respond to such guile? He must not allow, ‘Amaziah’ to bully him into setting aside his God-given ministry. He must be certain of his commission to preach the Word and revisit the moments when he became conscious of his call. This is exactly what Amos does. In verses 14-15, Amos recounts his own calling. These verses contain what is called a ‘call narrative,’ a description of the specific and direct call of God on the prophet’s life. We find similar ‘call narratives,’ of Moses in Exodus 3, Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, Isaiah in Isaiah 6, Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1, and Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1.
In the end when the plumb-line of God’s Word falls between Amaziah, the priest, and Amos, the troublemaker, it is the priest who is exposed as the self-seeking, unscrupulous politician who would not heed God’s Word. And because the priest seeks to silence God’s mouthpiece, he will find himself silenced. Everything that Amaziah had come to trust in will be lost, as he will be destroyed by the very Word he despised.
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