by Francis Foulkes ©


'Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son, but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel." Now therefore hear the word of the Lord, You say, "Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac." Therefore thus says the Lord: "Your wife shall be a harlot in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parcelled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land." " ' (7:14-17)

We have seen how Amaziah opposed Amos in three ways, accusing him to Jeroboam the king, suggesting that he was prophesying just to make money, and then threatening him so that he would go away from Bethel back to Judah. In three ways Amos answered Amaziah.

a. He told him what he was

Amos had a very simple and straightforward reply to Amaziah. He did not think of himself as a professional prophet. Certainly he had no thought of earning money by prophesying. 'I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son.' When he says that he was no 'prophet's son', although it might seem that he is saying that his father before him was not a prophet, more likely it means that he was not one of those groups of prophets who were called 'the sons of the prophets' (see 1 Kings 20:35, 2 Kings 2:2-15, 4:1, 38, 5:22, 6:1 and 9:1). He was not preaching God's message to please himself, nor to gain money for himself, nor even because he chose to do so. He had no desire even that people should give him the name 'prophet.' He was like John the Baptist in later times who did not want people to give him great names, or think great things of him, but said of himself that he was just 'the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord".' (John 1:23.) Amos, like John the Baptist, did not want people to think anything of him. He only wanted people to hear God's word. He could have gone on to say to Amaziah that he had no interest in politics, and he had no desire to conspire against the king, or do anything to harm his rule over Israel (verse 10). But he did not worry about defending himself against the criticism of Amaziah. He left that in God's hands.

b. What God called him to do

Amos was just a man of the country, a shepherd, who had as another job for part of the year the dressing of sycamore trees (see Study 1). He was a preacher for one simple reason, and he gave this reason to Amaziah: 'The Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel".' God called him, and he could not refuse. Remember the way he has put it in 3:8, 'the lion has roared, who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?' God sent him to preach his message to Israel, and until his work was done, and until God released him from it, he could not turn aside. He was like Luther in the days of the Reformation in Germany, when people threatened him, argued with him, and tried to turn him aside from the truth on which he stood and which he felt bound to teach; he said, 'Here I stand; I can do no other; so help me God'. It is the test of a true and faithful messenger of God, whether or not he is willing to go on preaching, whatever men threaten to do to him (see the passages referred to in Study 12 on 3:8).

c. The word of God applied to Amaziah

Amos had one more thing to say. Amaziah had tried to silence the word of God. 'Therefore' he must realise that that word will apply to him, to his wife, and to his children, as much as to anyone else. Amos was not speaking in spite, answering words of hatred with further words of hatred. He said what he did because the man who rejects God's word and opposes God's messenger stands under God's judgment unless he repents. He was so sure about this that he could say to Amaziah, 'Now therefore hear the word of the Lord' - not the word of the shepherd seer Amos, but the word of the Lord. 'You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac'. Therefore thus says the Lord . . . ' First, the word concerned his wife. Though she was the wife of a priest, she would suffer as many of the women of the city suffered when the enemy came in; she would be treated as a harlot.

Secondly, the word concerned his children. His sons and daughters would 'fall by the sword', like the sons and daughters of many others in the land. Thirdly, the word concerned his land. The priest's property would be measured out and handed over to others (compare Jeremiah 6:12 and Micah 2:4, and for the description of what happened when the Assyrians conquered Israel, see 2 Kings 17:24). Fourthly, the word concerned Amaziah himself. He would not live out his life in the 'holy land' of Israel, but he would 'die in an unclean land'. And finally Amos repeated the word that Amaziah had rejected (verse 11) but which would certainly come to pass, 'Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land'. Amaziah was to learn that no words from God could fail to find fulfilment.


Lord, look in mercy on those who oppose Your word today; and work in them as You worked by Your Spirit in Saul, the persecutor. Turn many back to Yourself in repentance, that they may live for You, and like Paul the apostle, become the messengers of Your word. AMEN.

For further thought and study. 1. As you study in these verses the reason Amos gave why he was a preacher of God's word, consider how Paul tells the reason why he was an apostle in Galatians 1:13-16 and 1 Timothy 1:12-16.

2. Compare the courage of Amos before Amaziah with that of Elijah before Ahab (in 1 Kings 17:1), Micaiah before Ahab and Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:13-29), the first apostles before the Jewish council (Acts 4:5-20) and Paul before Agrippa (Acts 26:1-29); see also Paul's prayer for courage in his witness to his Lord (Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4).

Notes. 1. Right through these verses the emphasis should be seen. As Amos spoke of what he was and what he was not, we have 'I', 'I', 'I' (verse 14), then 'the Lord', 'the Lord' (verses 15-16), and then 'your', 'your', 'your', 'your', 'you yourself' (verse 17).

2. Foreign lands were thought of as 'unclean' lands (verse 17) partly because in them food was eaten that the Jewish people thought of as unclean (see Leviticus 11) and partly because Israel was seen as the 'holy land' in which God's presence was felt to rest in a special way. See also Ezekiel 4:13 and Hosea 9:3.