Series: Shepherds Roar
Message: Versus: Against All Odds
Preacher: Tony Hunter
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
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 3-4 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In many of the Bible stories, God is often described as active in multiple ways and at a number of levels, and often in ways that are unexpected. At times, we can focus on only one way God might act—with me as an individual, for example—but we should remember that He also works with larger groups of people. In the story of Amos, we see the reality of God’s activity played out individually, in the community of the “people of God” and in the rise and fall of the nations surrounding Israel.
The most obvious of these examples of God’s activity is that He spoke to and through Amos, a humble shepherd from the small village of Tekoa. It would be fascinating to know more of his story before and after the prophecies given in his book, and of the circumstances of his call to prophetic ministry. But given his dramatic career change, leaving his hometown and livelihood to head to the northern kingdom of Israel, we can assume—with Abraham Joshua Heschel—that Amos “was suddenly overwhelmed by God and called to be a prophet.” In whatever way it happened, Amos heard the voice of God and it changed his life in almost every way.
As we have seen, Amos also described God as active in the fortunes of the nations surrounding the people of Israel. While the Israelites had been specifically chosen and blessed by God, that did not preclude Him from also working with and even blessing—or punishing—other nations and peoples. While the Hebrew scriptures focus on the story of God’s special relationship with His people, there are also hints of other stories to be told, of God’s actions just off stage or just out of the frame we might be watching.
In the subsequent ministry of Amos, we also see God at work in the community of the people of God. These were people God had called specifically in their history. He had intervened dramatically in their nation in the past and He was still concerned with their wellbeing and faithfulness, albeit in ways that challenged many of their assumptions and called them to a renewed focus on Him.
Recalibrate: Do we assume that God is working in our lives, our communities and our world today? How can we be more alert to where and how God is active in us and around us?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, thank you for your actions in my life, but help me also to be sensitive to your actions in the lives of others and in communities and larger groups around me.”
Research: Make a list of some of the examples in which God acted with and through unexpected people in the stories of the Bible.
Remember: “Before the Lord God does anything, He tells His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, 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.
The Words to Remember for this week are, “Before the Lord God does anything, He tells His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, ICB). Share with your little one about what you are doing today. Talk about what you are doing and why and how you plan to do the things on your list. Ask them to help you where they can. Know that God’s plans for those who love Him are good (Romans 8:28). Make good plans today and share them with your little one.
Have you ever built something out of Lego? When you open a new box of Lego, you will find the blocks to build with as well as a book that will show you the things that you can build. This book gives instructions and shows you how to put the blocks together so your car/airplane/castle will look like the one on the cover of the box. The Words to Remember this week are, “Before the Lord God does anything, He tells His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, ICB). Just like the Lego instruction book, God has plans for us to do good things together. Imagine what we could build with God’s plans!
There comes a time when even God cannot overlook the bad things that people are doing and He must step in and pronounce judgement on them. In Psalm 9:16, David writes, “They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.” We should not be surprised to see God pronounce judgment. He has done this throughout the entire Bible. As we continue to study the Book of Amos we see that God is not about to pull a fast one on His people.
God called Amos to deliver a peculiar message of judgement to the kingdoms (countries) around Israel and Judah. What is more striking is that God also pronounced judgment on Israel and Judah.
Let’s get real: Have you ever been upset at a punishment your parent(s) gave you that you thought was unfair? Did you deserve it? Why or why not?
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone, and slowly over time, the relationship began to deteriorate? It can happen to the best relationships, and it is usually a result of one person taking the other person for granted. Amos is a book about Israel, God’s special people, and how they gradually began to fall away from Him. In Chapters 1 and 2, Amos, a prophet from a small town, is asked by God to let Israel know that God was noticing the strain in their relationship. When a relationship of yours starts to go south, how do you respond? Are you the type of person to address the issue or let it linger? Through this week we will be looking at how God responded to Israel. Keep one thing front and center in your thinking this week: God is love. His love is the driving force of the book of Amos. God loved His people and wanted them to love Him back.
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.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.