“Ain’t No Profit In Being a Prophet” July 21, 2019
“Ain’t No Profit In Being a Prophet”
Amos 8:1-12/ Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28/ Luke 10:38-42
Moishe was a medieval Jewish astrologer. One day, he happened to prophesy that the king’s favorite horse would soon die. Sure enough, the horse died a short time later. The king was outraged at the astrologer, certain that his prophecy had brought about the horse’s death. He summoned Moishe and commanded him, “Prophet, tell me when you will die!”
Moishe realized that the king was planning to kill him immediately no matter what answer he gave, so he had to answer carefully. “I do not know when I will die,” he answered finally. “I only know that whenever I die, the king will die three days later.”
No one, I don’t believe, has ever set out to become a prophet – at least not a prophet in the true sense of the word. I mean, think about it: to be a prophet is to be the mouthpiece of God. At first, that sounds like it might not be such a bad thing. Think of the sense of importance that you would feel. Think of how it would feel if whenever you would walk into a room, all conversation would stop; folks would find themselves speechless in your presence. Imagine what it would be like to rarely have to wait in line and always get the best seat in the house. Yea, it wouldn’t be a bad job. And when you would speak – O my – when you would speak, everyone would hang on every, every word.
Now, I imagine that you’re all way out ahead of me on this because we all know that even though the words of the prophet are what brings them fame, they are also what gets them into trouble. To be a prophet is to be the mouthpiece of God; that’s understood. But there are times when that doesn’t matter. People are going to take it personal.
This is the 2nd week of our study of the minor prophets, but don’t be fooled. Even though the books of Micah and Amos and Zechariah and the like are a little on the short side, they are packed with wisdoms that ought to be heard today. Our text today from Amos 8 starts out similar to last week’s text where the Lord showed to Amos a simple plumb line. (Amos 8:1) reads, This is what the Lord showed me: a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again forgive them.”
“A basket of summer fruit.” A perfect symbol of prosperity, of wealth, of abundance; and that pretty much describes King Jeroboam and the northern nation of Israel. That, in itself, is a good thing, a wonderful thing. It’s what every nation, every society, every community hopes to attain: prosperity, abundance, security. So, what’s the problem? Well, the problem seemed to be that a lot of this prosperity had been obtained by “trampling on the needy and destroying the poor of the land.” (vs 4) Commerce and governance had become corrupt and the Sabbath had become a nuisance because it stopped the flow of buying & selling. The God of Israel had been replaced by the God of wealth.
Amos then tells of all the terrible things that will fall upon King Jeroboam and his people. It is typical prophetic gloom and doom stuff: (vs 9) “I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.” (vs 10) “I will turn your feasts into sad affairs and all your singing into a funeral song.” A whole raft of awful things are about to fall upon a very unjust people. But it is the last of these calamities that got under my skin. (vs 11) Amos tells the people of Israel, The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will send hunger and thirst on the land; – and then here’s the kicker – neither a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. Amos goes on to say, They will wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they will roam all around, seeking the Lord’s word, but they won’t find it. “They will roam all around seeking the Lord’s word, but they won’t find it.”
(John 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
I didn’t have a clue how to understand these last words that Amos spoke. But what really puzzled me was why it bothered me so much. Give us earthquakes, floods, any kind of calamity you can throw at us and we’ll come through it somehow. But somehow, there is a call here to remind us that we need to hear the word of God. Speaking for myself, there is a call here to remind me that I couldn’t live, I couldn’t truly live, without the presence of Christ in me. I ain’t that special, I ain’t that wonderful. All that I have that is good, that is righteous, comes from the Lord. And the thought of being denied that goodness, that righteousness, just scares me to death. It was Pastor Rod Larkins that wrote, “God does not bless you because you’re good, because you help others, because you give money, because you witness, because you come to church or any other overt activity. God blesses you because you possess His righteousness. It is your eternal relationship with God that brings you blessing.”
So yea, old Amos had some pretty strong words for the folks of Israel, but he still speaks to us today. I find it fitting that the Sheridan Choir just happens to be singing Matt Maher’s song of praise titled, “Lord, I Need You” on this day of all days. The lyrics in the chorus say it all:
Lord, I need you, O I need you
Every hour, I need you.
My one defense, my righteousness,
O God, how I need you.
Amen & Shalom