Amos 7: February 3—Prophet not for sale
Jan 27, 2013
By MARK A. RATHEL

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
As I drive through neighborhoods, I am amazed at the number of houses with “For Sale” signs placed in front of the houses. The signs testify to our nation’s financial crisis. A different kind of “For Sale” sign testifies to another a more crisis in our nation—the phenomenon of preachers “For Sale” willing to sell a popular message to the mass of people. The focal passage describes Amos as a prophet from God who was not for sale.

What are the characteristics of a prophet “Not For Sale”? The prophet Amos modeled the “Not For Sale” conviction needed of every servant of God.

First, a servant “not for sale” proclaims a message of both judgment and hope. Amos 7-8 describes the message of judgment. Amos 9 proclaims a message of hope. 

Rather than judgment and hope being contradictory ideas, God’s judgment often must precede hope. Perhaps a feeble illustration will help. A dentist must complete a root canal to deal with the rotten infection. God may need to deal in a painful way with His people to promote health.

In the Old Testament, God promised to do nothing without first revealing His plans to His prophets. 

Second, a servant “not for sale” intercedes for the people (Amos 7:1-6). In the Old Testament, God promised to do nothing without first revealing His plans to His prophets. God granted Amos two visions of devastating judgments—locusts and fire. God judged the Egyptians (Ex. 10:1-20) and Israel (Amos 4:9-10) by swarms of locusts—a judgment to which Israel did not return to God. The Bible at times used locusts as a picture for an invading army because locusts swarm, advances unhindered, and devastate the land. Likewise, the Bible describes the fury of war with the image of fire (Zech. 12:6). 

In response to the terrifying visions, Amos interceded. God “relented”—that is, He graciously responded to the appeal of another—the prophet. 

Third, a servant “not for sale” tells the truth even when unpopular (Amos 7:7-9). God judged the people with a plumb line, an instrument used for construction of buildings and as a means to check if a wall or building had settled or titled. God’s people had been built “true” according to the plumb line standard of the Torah, yet the wall deviated from the principles of God’s righteousness. 

The Hebrew term translated “spare” by the HCSB means “to pass over.” While this is not the same term to describe the Jewish festival, the promise is significant. God “passed over” the people in Egypt, but His judgment would not longer “pass over” them. Amos did not pray on this occasion. God directed His certain judgment to the idolatrous worship centers of Israel.

Fourth, a servant “not for sale” will encounter opposition (Amos 7:10-17). Amos encountered religious and political opposition. Amaziah served as “the” priest of the religious sanctuary at Bethel—“house of God.” Jeroboam I, the first king of the northern kingdom, set up a man-made, syncretistic worship center at this location. As “the” priest, Amaziah came in an official capacity to silence Amos for unpatriotic preaching—the king would die and the nation would experience defeat (Amos 7:11). The priest commanded to earn his living by preaching elsewhere. Amos denied he belonged to the professional guild of prophets and did not belong to the school of the prophets—the phraseology “sons of the prophets” described individuals we might call seminary students today (2 Kings 2:3). 

Because of the spiritual condition of the priest, he lost his partner, his progeny, his property, prestige, and life. The priest at the “house of God” would die in an unclean state in unclean or pagan land.

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