Series: Shepherds Roar
Message: A Shepherd's Vision
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Amos 1-2 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The morning air was still fresh and clear as our tour group climbed off the bus in the parking lot of the Visitor Center at the Herodium in the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. The cone-shaped hill loomed above us. The Herodium was built by Herod the Great as a country palace in the late first century B.C. Wanting to stay in sight of the capital city, Jerusalem, about 10 miles (16 kilometres) to the north, he commissioned his builders to create a tower atop a small hill but then to build up the hilltop around this central tower. Not only did this create a landscape-dominating vantage point for the king’s country retreat, it also became the place in which he was buried after his death in 4 B.C.
But this wasn’t our first point of interest for the day. Looking across from the carpark, our tour guide pointed across a small valley to the village on the next hillside to the south. The morning sunlight caught the small white houses and the rocky valley below it. Groves of drab-green olive trees punctuated the valley and small darker green cypress trees climbed the ridge line.
“That’s the village of Tekoa,” said our tour leader, then continued with the leading question, “—anyone remember who came from Tekoa?” Of course, one of the Bible students in our group quickly identified it as the hometown of the Hebrew prophet Amos.
Like nearby Bethlehem, Tekoa was one of those villages with occasional mentions in the Old Testament, both before and after the time of Amos. But Tekoa has only ever been a small village—like Nazareth in the time of Jesus, it was an unlikely place for a prophet to come from. We would have missed it if it had not been pointed out to us.
Personally, Amos made clear that he was nobody special, without any formal prophet training; he was “only” a shepherd and a fig farmer (see Amos 7:14). Yet because of Amos’ faithfulness to God’s call, his name and his words are more widely known today than the tyrant king who would build his palace-fortress on the neighboring hill some 750 years later.
Recalibrate: Why does it seem that God has often used unlikely people from out-of-the-way places to be His messengers?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, whatever our circumstances, origins, experience, training, or current location, may we respond to your call to listen and to speak for you today.”
Research: Find Tekoa on a map (south of Jerusalem, east of Bethlehem), then search for other mentions of Tekoa in the Old Testament and read the stories or contexts in which these mentions appear.
Remember: “The Lord will roar like a lion from Jerusalem. His loud voice will sound like a growl from Jerusalem” (Amos 1:2, ICB).
Nathan Brown is a writer and book editor at Signs Publishing Company, near Melbourne, Australia. Nathan is author/editor of 16 books, including two this year—Of Falafels and Following Jesus and For the Least of These.
Watch the Parable of the Lost Sheep with your little one. Amos was a shepherd, just like the shepherd in this video. The most important thing for a shepherd is to look after his sheep. They are precious to him and the Good Shepherd (Jesus) gives His life to protect them. Remember that your little one is one of God’s precious sheep.
Watch God’s Story: The Prophets. Amos was one of the prophets that spoke up when God’s people were not living like God had told them to. Amos was a shepherd. A shepherd takes care of all the sheep, making sure that they are all fed and safely home when night time comes. Why do you think sheep need a shepherd? Why can’t they just stay out and play all night?
A shepherd. That is who God used. Not a king, not a “formal” prophet—a shepherd. Wait, I’ve seen this story before—but this is not the book of David. This is about a young man who was a shepherd, just like David, Jacob, and Moses were. God has a special place in His heart for shepherds in the Bible. Remember that the angels only appeared to shepherds who were tending their flock to announce the birth of the Savior, not to the “holy men” of Israel. Later, Jesus would reveal Himself as the true shepherd in John 10:11.
Let’s get real: Why do you think God chose shepherds to be His servants/prophets/ representatives and even describes Himself as “the Good Shepherd?”
Lion and Lamb. What a contradiction! Jesus was called both in the Scriptures, and (as I wrote in a kids song years ago) when it’s all said and done, “The dragon will run from the Lamb.” What kind of “lamb” does it take to defeat a dragon? That’s going to be the focus of our discoveries for the next five weeks. We’re going to sneak unexpected peeks at Jesus in the Gospels. We won’t observe the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” Sorry about that; you just won’t find Him there. Nope. Not the Jesus of the Bible. I invite you to tag along as we rediscover a tough and tender, relentlessly courageous Lamb. A Lamb who will make the dragon run away. C’mon—let’s go!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.