Amos 1:1 and Amos 7:14 – 15The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa . . .
Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.
“But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.'”
Does the Lord always need to use the professionals to perform and display His works among the people? Does one have to be schooled and specially trained in order to be certified as a minister of the Word? Many of the prophets of the Old Testament are professionals, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, just to name a few, who were from the schools of the prophets or are from the ruling classes.
But Amos is not one of them. He was an indigent sheepherder, “living in indigent circumstances, not as a prosperous man” as C.F. Kiel writes in his commentary. note Imagine yourself being a bus driver, a mechanic in an automobile tire shop, a janitor in a hospital, a migrant worker, or any of the millions of lowly jobs most people would consider beneath themselves, and then getting the call from God to bring His message of warning, punishment, and hope to your fellow countryman. Wouldn’t that be a shocker?
Never mind that misled people too numerous to mention have assumed this authority for themselves for thousands of years, most recently the likes of Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, Warren Jeffs, ad nauseum, self proclaimed prophets who either self willed or self deceived assumed a role never bestowed by God. It does beg the question for the individual, how will they know they have been sent? Maybe more importantly, how will they know God is calling them? Are the days gone where such confirmations of visions such as Isaiah or Ezekiel or Daniel received no longer received? It is hard to argue with such confirmation as “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” as depicted in Isaiah 6:1 – 4, though who couldn’t hope for such a visual affirmation?
Maybe the point is that your heart needs to be in a state of receptivity, in order to accept the call, like a radio needing to be on and its tuner dialed in to receive signals from a station. Not only must we be turned on to the things of God but our hearts must be tuned to hear His word, to be able to tell His voice from the myriad other deviant signals that are filling the airwaves. Such were the problems of the Old Testament where there certainly was no lack of false prophets that the likes of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Amos had to contend, often to the threat of bodily harm. That is why it is so important to be familiar with the Scriptures, that with the Word all those evil signals can be deflected. If you aren’t intimately familiar with the Word of God it will be next to impossible to be able to tell the false word from His true Word.
So on my soapbox I again say that it is imperative to daily read His word, read through the entire scriptures year after year so you can tell the fiction from the truth. Then maybe you’ll one day be surprised with a personal invitation, like Amos, to prophesy to your fellow citizens.
Kiel-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 10, Minor Prophets, p. 233, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. reprint 1977
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]