Series: Shepherds Roar
Message: Mean People
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
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 7-8 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: As we have seen across this exploration of the messages and experience of Amos, hearing from God might be confronting and painful. The prophets’ messages were filled with lament, rebuke, and warning, often using graphic language and imagery. It was a daunting task to be called to be such a prophet—it was even more challenging to have one address you.
But there would be something worse than the cries and shouts of the prophets: that God’s messengers would fall silent. The ultimate judgment would not come in the voice of the prophets. Rather, the presence and messages of the prophets were a sign that God was continuing to entreat the people to repent, to return to Him. But the time would come when the people would suffer under a famine “of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11, NLT).
As heavy as the prophets’ message was, if nothing changed, there would come a time when the people would look back on the “good old days” when prophets could still be heard among them. While the prophets continued to speak, there was opportunity and hope, even amid their most dire warnings. But when the prophets were silenced, it would be too late.
Relationship counsellors recognize that communication is vital if a relationship is to continue and to grow. And, as difficult as they might be in a troubled relationship, arguments are better than silence, because when communication ends, the relationship is much harder to resuscitate. In a similar way, the strongest threat Amos could offer to the people of Israel was that he and his fellow prophets would stop preaching, and that God would leave them alone.
Underlining this warning, Amos described the desperation with which the people would seek the word of the Lord, like people who were starving or those who were dying of thirst. They would seek out their idols and false gods, but these would let the people down (see Amos 8:14). Again, it was harsh and violent language—that sought to catch the attention of the people to recognize the mercy they were yet being offered, even in this confronting message.
Recalibrate: How might we see criticism and argument as sometimes positive things? What makes the difference? Do you agree that silence can be worse than judgment?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, do not leave us alone. As hard and confronting as Your words can be, may we have ears to hear.”
Research: Read the Book of Hosea, the “next” prophet to the people Israel, coming only a few years after the ministry of Amos and speaking in much the same political, religious and social context. What are the similarities and differences that you notice in their respective messages and styles?
Remember: “The Lord used his name, the Pride of Jacob, to make a promise. He said, ‘I will never forget what these people did’” (Amos 8:7, 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.
Read God Made Me like we did at the beginning of the week. What can you and your little one touch, see, hear, and do that shows you are children of God? What we do and how we do it shows the world where our hearts are. Today, let’s put our hearts and lives in the hands of God, allowing Him to align our lives and gently reshape us in His image.
This week we have looked at different situations where we might be asked to make a decision between right and wrong. Which way did you go? Did you choose to laugh at others and judge them or stand up for them and show them God’s love?
Our Words to Remember for this week deal with an action that caused God to say that He will “never forget any of their works.” This is not a good thing. This has more to do with being infamous rather than famous. As a result of Israel’s actions, God is about to place them in exile. However, this does not mean that He has abandoned them. God is looking for His people to reevaluate their surroundings and realize that they are where they are because of their own actions.
Let’s get real: How do you want to be remembered? Are your actions causing you to be remembered in a positive or a negative way?
This week’s chapters were pretty judgement heavy. God was upset—and rightfully so. Do you think God was being an angry God or was He simply being just in expressing His frustration? I don’t want you to read chapters like these and walk away feeling like God is angry and mean. We have covered this issue in the past couple of weeks, yet I bring it up again because I want you to remember that God is “slow to anger.” Do not form an opinion that God is quick to blow up. God gives us countless second chances. The fact that God spoke to Amos about His frustrations rather than just destroying the people is a sign of God’s patience. A theme in my thoughts this week has been to take time to ask God to change you. God becomes frustrated when His people are prideful and refuse to let Him in the door of their hearts. This Sabbath recommit your life to Jesus and allow Him in! Sometimes that can be the hardest thing to do, but I promise that when you take the time to let Jesus in you will be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
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.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
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.