The word ‘prophecy’ in many cases does not mean predicting the future, but rather giving messages from God about His observations and attitude toward the present state of things, sometimes with lessons taken from the past. Amos lived in Israel’s northern kingdom and he brought the inhabitants warnings about their increasing ungodliness. These warnings often included predictions about how God will act “for the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (3:7) and the northern kingdom had more warnings from the prophets before it was destroyed.
Amos makes some blunt statements about his responsibility before God; “the lion has roared who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken who can but prophesy?” (verse 8). He parallels God speaking with the fear caused by a lion’s roar. But who took notice of messages from God? Who takes notice today of His word? Israel was falling into spiritual darkness like the world today, “‘They do not know how to do right’, declares the LORD” (verse 10).
The most challenging question in today’s chapter is “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has done it?” (verse 6). The disasters the Creator brings are the things He controls and not humans – earthquakes, plagues, tsunami’s, droughts, floods, fires and massive storms. Today these things are multiplying!
The secrets God revealed “to his servants the prophets” do include some specific future prophecies. The most stirring to us are those about the scattering and regathering of Israel and the return of Jesus Christ at a time of the world’s greatest trouble (Matthew 24:21-30), with its epicentre in Jerusalem.
That will be the time when Moses’ question to the people in the wilderness will be repeated, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me” (Exodus 32:26). And those who know “The Lord God has spoken” will show that they are.