Saying and doing the right thing isn’t always cool or popular. This is probably a lesson that most of learned in Kindergarten and yet one that continues to be relevant all of our lives. For Amos, one of our Old Testament prophets, that meant being a prophet of God’s words. It meant sharing what God had hoped for Israel and how they had fallen short. His words, to say the least, were unpopular. Who, after all, likes to be called out for the wrongness in their lives? But Amos was asked by God to speak the right thing.
For those of you got to make it worship this past Sunday, we got to hear from Amos 7:7-15. You could read it if you like but the gist is Amos tells Israel to get their stuff straight, and Israel’s reaction is “who can bear these words.” They don’t want to straighten up, and so there is confrontation. Amaziah, the royal-so-called-prophet, steps on stage to chew Amos out.
To give some background, kings of old in Israel started employing prophets. It started as a way to keep the word of God close but soon morphed into a way to have God’s “prophet” say whatever the king wanted him to say. Prophets got used to fine foods and a cushy lifestyle and found that they preferred to be popular instead of right-with-God. They’d say what made people happy rather than what God needed them to say. Amaziah is one of those “prophets.”
So Amaziah tells Amos to leave. “Earn your bread elsewhere,” he says. “This place is the king’s sanctuary,” aka stop making waves. For Amaziah, he thinks Amos is in the prophesy business to make a living, “to earn bread.” And why wouldn’t he. After all, that’s why he is a so called prophet.
But Amos tells him that he had a job. He tended trees and took care of animals, but he shares these words of what is right because God told him to “Go!” Amos therefore goes. It wasn’t what he dreamed of doing and he clearly isn’t the most popular person but he is also doing as God has asked him to do.
And that’s Amos….
It isn’t always easy doing what God asks of us. And that is true whether it is speaking up for justice, caring for the downtrodden and poor in our midst, or reminding people to straighten up. We do it not because we are going to make bank or earn a whole lot of bread. We do it because God says to us, “Go” and what else do you do when God says that to you.