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: After six chapters that have primarily consisted of Amos proclaiming the warnings and judgments of God, Amos 7 offers a glimpse of two new elements in the dynamics of his prophetic ministry: we hear a little of the conversation between God and the prophet, and we see some of the response from the people of Israel to Amos’ messages.
In this way, we see the dual role that a prophet such as Amos fulfilled. We have heard much of his representation of God and the proclamation of His message to the people. But now we hear the prophet’s voice of advocacy on behalf of the people, speaking back to God.
It seems this was an important role of God’s people in a number of key Bible stories. Among other examples, we can witness the audacity of Abraham to negotiate with God about the potential destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 18:16–33), the humility of Moses to offer himself as a target for punishment in place of the rebellious people of Israel (see Exodus 32:9–14), or Daniel praying for his people later in the land of exile (see Daniel 9:1–19). Not only were these people interceding for their people—there was also concern for God’s reputation. It was like these people of God were insisting to God that He was a God of faithfulness and mercy, not like the gods of the surrounding nations who were often portrayed as vengeful and vindictive. And in each of these instances, God appeared to change His mind or at least His intended action to a degree.
As we read in Amos 7:1–6, Amos fits in this tradition. In the face of threatened disaster, he appealed to God and His mercy on behalf of the people he had spent so long criticising—and God relented: “Amos’ compassion for his people is profound . . . he prayed for mercy (7:4ff). And yet he also identified himself with God’s threat of doom for the whole people. This is the burden of the prophet: compassion for man and sympathy for God” (Heschel, The Prophets, p. 46).
Recalibrate: What might it mean for us to be advocates on behalf of our people, our community, or our church? What might it mean to advocate on their behalf to God?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, may we be people who know You, who hear Your voice and who work with You for the good of those around us.”
Research: Read the full story in Genesis 18, Exodus 32 and Daniel 9, as well as Amos 7. What do these chapters tells us about what God is like? And about a healthy relationship between God and these people of God?
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.
With your little one read the Live Wonder storybook God Made Me. Every day we choose what we will do with what God has given us. Our Words to Remember tell us that the Lord will remember what His people did. In this circumstance, what the people did was not a good thing—it hurt the world around them. Choose to do a good thing with what you have been given and bless the community where you live.
Have you ever had to make a hard decision? It could be deciding what type of birthday cake you want or if you are going to play soccer or basketball at lunch with your friends. When I find it hard to make a decision I sometimes flip a coin. What do you do to help you make a hard decision? Each of us has to decide if we are going to follow God and live the way He wants us to. But when it comes time to make this decision, we won’t have to flip a coin because God has sent lots of shepherds to help us make this decision.
One of the things that I loved doing when I was a child was taking piece a paper that had numbers on it and connecting the dots to see what kind of image would be “drawn” on that piece of paper. When we read the book of Amos, we cannot forget that in order for us to get a greater understanding of what Amos is saying we have to connect the dots with stories from other parts of the Bible.
Our story today reminds me of the story of Abraham when he intercedes on behalf of his nephew, Lot, when God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin (see Genesis 18).
Let’s get real: Do we take the time to talk to God to be merciful to those who are not walking in a relationship with Him?
When the Bible refers to God as “sovereign” does this term invoke feelings of trust or distrust in your heart? I think for many the word sovereign has some negative connotations. It is used when describing someone with absolute power and authority. As I look at this world, the idea of one person having all the power is a bit scary! That is because people all throughout history have abused power and often used it to hurt others. When you think of God, do you think He is worthy of the title “Sovereign Lord?” Jesus has never harmed me nor forsaken me. My prayer for you today is that you will trust Jesus as sovereign today. If that seems hard for you to do, take some time to look at your life and reflect on all of the ways Jesus has been for you and not against you.
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.