In context, this prophecy is handed down to the Israelites while they are looking to do much of what God has told them not to do. They want to exploit the needy and find ways to maximize their profits while selling the worst product possible. The priest has told Amos to stop prophesying; the one who was supposed to represent God to the people and vice versa is telling the man commissioned by God to speak that he should keep silent. Things are not good. They are bad and getting worse.
There are more than a few parallels between Israel in Amos’ day and the nation in which I live today. There are people who allegedly represent God doing anything but; preachers who do not preach the word of God, but their own agenda and for their own aggrandizement. There are people looking to exploit the needy — politicians for their own ends (to increase their power or burnish their image); marketers to make money off them selling them things they do not need (no one needs a smart phone, for example, we spent almost a century with no cellular phones at all). Businesses large and small have ceased making truly durable durable goods and have done everything they can to make the durable goods as cheaply as they can. There is the odd exception, but the rule is to make something as cheaply as possible and thereby maximize profit margin.
The outcome then will, I fear, be the outcome now.
God announces to Amos that a famine is coming to Israel. Not your garden variety famine — pun intended — but a famine for hearing God’s word; a dearth of truth; a spiritual drought. There may be food in plenty, pundits and pedants spewing what they claim is truth, and “spiritual” leaders that lead us into the weeds, but the real thing is lacking. The food on which our souls feed is scarce. Actual truth is seldom spoken. “Spiritual” leaders are trafficking with spirits with which we should have nothing to do. It all sounds frighteningly familiar to me. What is a man to do?
God does not point these things out to depress or draw down my spirit, but to remind me that small lights shine brightest in deepest darkness. Amos, when confronted by the priest, said that he was not a prophet (by profession) or the descendant of a prophet, but a shepherd called by God to speak. Amos was a small light in a dark time. So, too, is it for me and every other believer who is not called to a pulpit. I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but just a man God has given words to. God has given His Word to every believer — Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh and He lives in us. We have light to offer those who are still in darkness and that light will shine brighter the darker things get. Not because the light changed, but because things around it did. A candle is just a candle and it does not get any brighter just because the lights go down, but it certainly seems to.
This morning’s verse is a reminder to me. It is a reminder that God has given me an abundance of Truth (Jesus is the Truth) and I should share it liberally with those who have none. I need only speak truth. It is a reminder that God placed His Holy Spirit within every believer to well up into a fountain of living water so that those in the spiritual drought may slake their thirst. The water will continue to flow so long as the Spirit is given reign in me. I need only get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do His work. I am no one noteworthy; no one of consequence. But God is both and He wants to provide spiritual food and drink to those starving for truth and panting for spiritual renewal. More, He wants to use me and every other believer to distribute those necessaries. Will I, like Amos, step out and do what I am called to do?