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picture of a heavily laden cart; "as the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two
legs, or a piece of an ear" (3: 12). Perhaps the best known of his illustrations is "the
basket of summer fruit" (8: 1, 2): ripe the fruit, ripe the time. As a countryman he
would have been well acquainted with "that which may be known of God" in nature,
"even His eternal power and Godhead". Examples of this are to be found in chapter 5: 8,
"the seven stars and Orion . . . . . that calleth for the waters of the sea . . . . .", and in the
"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it to you? the day of
the Lord is darkness, and not light; As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him;
or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him" (5: 18, 19).
Again, "will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out
of his den, if he hath taken nothing?" (3: 4), and verse 5 and 8 of the same chapter draw
on the power of God in nature as illustrations, and there are other similar pictures from
the same source. Chapter 9: 1-4 speak of Jehovah's Godhead and holiness.
On the surface Amos was nothing, and had nothing to offer God by way of service;
but God took him as he followed the flock. He was simply watching over them as they
fed, not leading them. Perhaps in this is a hint of his character and personality. He was
no leader of men; a humble, insignificant nobody.
Yet this man had the audacity, not only to prophesy against the king of Israel, but to
do so at "the king's chapel" or sanctuary (8: 13). But if it was a genuine place of
worship, was it "the king's chapel"? There was a time when the temple at Jerusalem was
known as "the House of the Lord", but when the Jews turned from their God it became
"your" house. This sanctuary was one of those established by Jeroboam, forever branded
as "Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which caused Israel to sin" (the Jeroboam against whom
Amos prophesied was a much later king, who reigned about the same time as Uzziah king
In these studies we have taken into account the historical background, and the
background to the ministry of Amos is summarized for us in II Kings 14: 23-29.
Jeroboam the son of Joash "did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed
not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin" (14: 24). But
for all that he was a king of `might' (28) and he `restored the coast of Israel' (25). He
was, therefore, in all probability, a very popular king. What hope of success was there
then, for a nobody like Amos?
One can imagine the scorn with which Amaziah (the priest of Bethel, the king's
chapel) viewed Amos: "O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there
eat thy bread, and prophesy there" (7: 12). Some have suggested that the force of "thou
seer" is "thou visionary", for it seems unlikely that Amaziah recognized in Amos a true
prophet: Amos was too insignificant for that according to Amaziah's reckoning! To
modernize this priest's words, `clear off to Judah'. Did he also wish to imply that Amos
was a mere mercenary, paid by the king of Israel to prophesy against Jeroboam? It seems