The prophet who denied he was a prophet was Amos. He said of himself that he was neither a prophet or the son of a prophet but he was a man who dressed Sycamore trees. But God called him and gave him a message that he was to prophesy in Israel. It was during the days of Jeroboah and God was giving them warnings about what was about to take place in their country and with the people of that kingdom. He pointed to their sins and there evil actions and declared that God wasn’t moved by their worship or service to him because their lives were given to evil or sin. Amos pleaded with them to “Seek the Lord so that they could live Or he will break forth like a fire on the House of Joseph and it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel.” (Amos 5:4-6)
Amos pointed to their foolish desire for the day of the Lord to come when the reality was that the day of the Lord would bring nothing on them but calamity. He told them that the purpose of the day of the Lord was to bring darkness, not light. It would be like a man running from a lion and meeting a bear. Or like who goes home and leans on the wall for rest and is bitten by a snake. “I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings to me and your grain offerings, I will not accept them. And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from me he noise of your songs: I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23).
In Amos 6:1-4 God gave one of the greatest charges against a people as any ever given. “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, the distinguished men of the foremost nations. To whom the house of Israel comes. Go over to Calneh and look, and go from there to Hamath the great, then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, or their territory greater than your? Do you put off the day of calamity, and would you bring near the seat of violence? Those who recline on beds of ivory and sprawl on their couches and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall.”
Think of these descriptions of what was going on in Israel during that day. When Jeroboam led the ten tribes away from Judah God pleaded with Jeroboah to follow him and do what was right and he would richly bless him. Obviously He didn’t believe what God said. So when the time came he set up altars to the gods or idols of the land and required priest of all kinds to come and serve the people. Now the evil had become so great that God pulled a farmer from taking care of the sycamore trees to become a temporary prophet and go to the people and proclaim the day of the Lord and his judgment that was coming upon them if they didn’t make serious changes. He told them if they didn’t believe he would lead them into permanent ruin and destruction.
But instead of being frightened by what Amos told them that God was telling him they talked about wanting the day of the Lord to come quickly and they were “at ease in Zion”. Sitting on beds of Ivory and feeling secure in the mountain of Samaria was trying beyond measure to the Lord. He told Amos he was sending one with a plumb-line to measure Israel to see where they were on the scale of pleasing him. If their lives and works for God’s kingdom were not what he wished for them to have the day of the Lord would quickly come and lead them into distruction.
I’m not a doomsday preacher. I’m not one to sit around comparing our world to how things were when we were growing up. But I must say that the plea he made in that day is the same one we need to follow. He challenged them to actually Seek Him instead of trying so hard to get to him in their own ways, just seek him. Instead of pleading for more ease and comfort in Zion, we need to be seeking a way to please our Lord. Look around and be honest with yourself. Isn’t what we tend to seek much of the time to be at ease in whatever city we live at the time. We wish to get away from the work to think quietly about our work and be left alone. But we too often get away wanting something powerful to happen only to come to the realization that instead of making us more spiritual to hear God’s leading we become more focused on what we wish to have or obtain.
Today I wonder if we aren’t in that group of people sitting at ease in our zion. Nothing to worry about, everything is going on as usual. Yet the Day of the Lord will come and those sitting on the couches of ease will be in deep trouble.