“The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel” (Amos 1:1).
Today we start in on the book of Amos. And the first chapter gets right down to it. Amos has been sent by God to call down judgment his roaring judgment (1:2), and call it down he does. There’s all this fire devouring cities and nations around Israel (1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14). God is bringing justice. And, I imagine, the people in Israel who were listening to Amos preach were pretty stoked about it.
But you know, Amos wasn’t a likely candidate to deliver this message to the people of Israel. He was a shepherd. He wasn’t a professional prophet. God may never have used him as a prophet to this point. It’d be like a farmer showing up at church one Sunday and saying, “I have a message I’d like to give you from God.” Really?
Not only was Amos not a professional, but he wasn’t even from Israel. He was from Tekoa, which was in Judah. At this point in biblical history, the 12 tribes of Israel have been divided into two separate kingdoms. The northern 10 tribes made up Israel, the southern 2 comprised Judah. Amos was from Judah (which is where Jerusalem was).
So, here we have a “prophet” with a backwoods accent who’s arrived in Israel to give a word from the Lord.
Would you listen? I don’t know that I would. I have a hard time respecting someone who hasn’t been trained, hasn’t done seminary, doesn’t have their credentials, isn’t well spoken.
I have a hard time hearing from people who don’t look “respectable” on the outside. Amos was far from respectable. And yet he was the prophet God raised up to give his word to his people.
God’s truth often comes from the less respectable side of society. Too often, the church tries to make itself look respectable so that it can win friends and influence people. But the gospel message is about as far as you can get from respectable. Our Savior was an uneducated backwoods preacher who claimed to be God’s Son. Not respectable.
God isn’t concerned with our sensibilities. He’s concerned with our hearts. He’s concerned with our hearts being humble and open to him and his leading. And whether his word comes from a well-spoken preacher or an uneducated brother or sister, we are called to humbly listen, submitting ourselves to the gracious offense of his gospel.