Amos was an uneducated farmer, but the Lord called him to perform the function of a prophet. His prophetic words recorded in Amos 3 ought to inspire us and motivate us to heed what the Lord says. Chapter 3 begins with the Lord reminding the nation of Israel that He had chosen them to be His special people and that He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. Then He tells them that with privilege comes responsibility. Because of their belonging to Him, their conduct will be judged and punished if need be. Chapter 3 continues with a list of seven rhetorical questions, followed by a declaration from the Lord and “The Question”.
God begins his questions by asking one that carries no negative connotations and contains nothing to fear. It simply sets the stage for understanding cause and effect. The next four questions use the animal kingdom to generate anxiety and fear in the hearer. A lion roaring produces a fear that freezes the prey. A lion growling in his den makes us understand that he is preparing to eat his prey. A trap is set for a purpose and the prey is snared unaware.
God uses human experience to get his message across in the next two questions. He asks a pair of questions certainly related to war and possibly related to natural disaster. A trumpet sounding in an ancient city always brought anxiety and fear to the people. It meant an armed enemy was approaching. The last of the seven questions is certainly rhetorical; it reads more like a declaration; it has an expected answer. When calamity or disaster came upon a city, the people of Israel knew that it was because the Lord decreed it. This is not the main point of the passage, but it is a related and significant minor point. In times past, God’s people had a firm belief in the sovereignty of God. They believed in His absolute power and control over all things. Today, if you asked God’s people if they believed that, the vast majority would answer yes, God is sovereign and holds absolute power over all things. Believers pass the test of faith when speaking in generalities, however in specific cases, they often do not. For at least the last 35 years, it has been increasingly difficult to find anyone who believes that God is responsible for any war or any natural disaster. Those who dare to publicly say such a thing are quickly silenced and publicly humiliated. The Bible is filled with instances of God controlling, even sending war and natural destruction. God has not changed.
“The Question”, the main point of Amos 3 comes in verse 7 and 8. God declared that He is sovereign and that He always reveals His plan to His prophets. Thus, the word of the Lord through Amos is validated; the people of God should take heed. Amos declared that the Sovereign Lord had spoken and anyone with good sense would be compelled to proclaim the word of the Lord. The lion has roared. God Himself has roared. Israel had better take notice; fear is appropriate. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. With privilege comes responsibility. Israel found that out and the Church should learn from Israel’s experience. God expects His chosen people, those whom He has called, to obey Him. He will hold us accountable. The rest of Amos 3 paints a picture of judgment. When the Lion roars, who will not fear? Save yourself a whole lot of grief, repent before you hear the Lion of the Tribe of Judah roar. When that Lion roars you will be frozen in your tracks, unable to speak a word in your defense.