TODAY’S READING: Amos 1–5
A central component of prophetic responsibility is to remind all the earth, all the nations that they are under the authority of the Lord God of Israel. While God says to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2), this was relayed through Amos after he declared the word of the Lord to Syria, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 2:1). Amos lived in Judah and technically prophesied against the nations in the foreign nation of Israel. Missionary messaging is not all light and fluffy; it must include the reminder that all nations must bow before Jehovah and the warning that judgment will fall on those who resist.
Missionary Amos was up north in Israel prophesying during the reign of Jeroboam II (793–753 B.C.), a time of prosperity in Israel despite the looming Assyrian threat.
Amos spoke harshly about the complacency…and he brought with him a deep intolerance for oppression. He raged against the lavish lives of the rich (4:1-3), the oppression of the poor (5:11–15), and the ostentatious religious ceremony of the oppressors (5:21–24). Even more startling, Amos belittles Israel’s precious Exodus heritage. Yes, Israel was chosen from among all the nations, he says, but that just means God will judge Israel more harshly (3:1, 2). Besides, Amos adds, God works among other nations too.
Amos’ point was that “the God who called Abraham in order to be a blessing to all nations is the God who governs the histories of all nations. The God who called Israel to be his treasured possession and priestly kingdom is the God who can say ‘the whole earth is mine’.”
Missionary Amos left his homeland and went to another country to declare God’s disappointment with many nations. A simple prophet, Amos was offended on God’s behalf for the waywardness of all peoples, Israel in particular (for they knew so much and loved so little), and he was provoked that they were not living as their covenant with Jehovah required. A fire burned within Amos and he erupted: “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy” (3:8)? God indeed roars through us, and the prophetic missionary word is universal. No place or people is without excuse. No place or people will escape judgment. No place or people can survive out of covenant obedience to Jehovah. No place or people is blessed, if that blessing is misconstrued to mean we can live contrary to God’s covenant and expect to escape His wrath. Amos’ missionary prophecy both warned the people of God (that heritage is no guarantee) and wooed the nations (that heritage is no disadvantage). The only recourse for all people is to seek God and live (5:5). We are not to seek Bethel—it cannot help us. Our hope is in Jesus, not place or ethnicity, nor in pleasing worship based on poor theology.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 579.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 467.