I love the Minor Prophets. And I hate the designation ‘minor.’ There is nothing minor about these 12 fairly short books that park at the end of the Old Testament. They were given that unfortunate moniker because they are shorter than the ‘major’ prophets. But these short books pack a punch that is far greater than their designation as ‘minor’ might indicate. The unfortunate thing is that since they are considered ‘minor,’ and since they are so short, and since they are often considered hard to understand and confusing, we have largely ignored them. I mean when was the last time you had a delightful time with God basking in the text of Nahum?
I believe that it is imperative we get to know God as best we can. Learn all we can about him, his character, the way he works in the world and with mankind, and turn that knowledge into a personal relationship. After all, we cannot have a very good relationship with a person we do not know very well.
I further believe that all scripture is God-breathed, and all scripture is necessary to know God as best we can. So it stands to reason that if there are significant sections of scripture we neglect, such as the Minor Prophets, our view of God will be skewed. And I would argue, our view of God is too small, too soft, too uninvolved, too uncaring, too focused on his love and grace as opposed to his wrath and justice. The view that God is soft and gushy is too prevalent.
Amos is one of the Minor Prophets who packs a major punch. Amos was a farmer in Israel about 760 B.C. His agricultural expertise included sheep that were known for a high quality wool, and producing sycamore figs. He was not seminary or Bible college trained. His father was not a prophet. He was common, ordinary farmer. But God called him to a task, and he obeyed and went.
At this point in history Israel was in control of the major trade routes. Money was pouring into their cities. A rich, hedonistic upper class was emerging. Expensive homes were built with rare and expensive materials. These indulgent Israelites felt entitled to their snobbish, self-serving lifestyle. Homes and families were disintegrating. Sounds a bit like America, maybe?
Amos stepped into this pit of opulent wealth and called it for what it was. He was sarcastic. He was blunt. He was bold. He called the rich women ‘fat cows.’ He painted a terrifying picture of God as a roaring lion. In fact, the opening words of his sermon are “The LORD roars from Zion…” He tells us that when this Lion roars, the mountains wither, the pastures mourn, the earth melts.
And as we might expect, his message was rejected. The local priest told him to go preach somewhere else. But Israel was on the fast track to destruction and God called Amos to warn them. History tells us that about 35 years after Amos ministered, the Assyrians would invade Israel. They would murder, rape, and pillage. Any survivors would be chained and marched across 600 miles of desert, where many more would die. The opulent lifestyle would come crashing down. The Lion roared, and bodies fell. Not very soft and gushy.
Amos gives us a picture of God that may not be very comfortable, or popular. But under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, completely accurate. A necessary part of the whole counsel of God. Part of ‘all scripture’ that we dare not neglect.
So, yea. Lets have some great quality time with God in Amos. And Nahum. And Obadiah. Read these books in a Study Bible or with some Bible study helps so you do understand the context and background, because they can be confusing. But read them. Study them. Expand your understanding of our great God.
The Lion has roared.