Daily D – Amos 7:14-15
Amos 7:14, 15 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ (NIV)
Advanced degrees are not, by themselves, evidence of God’s imprimatur upon a leader. Religious appearance does not equal a fully devoted heart. A focused mind and a disciplined heart declare a readiness to hear God and to take the life-giving action he asks.
By the way, imprimatur is one of those fancy words people with advanced degrees like to throw around. It means a book has official approval for publication or a person has official approval to exercise authority. You get the idea from reading Amos’ self-description that he would never use words like imprimatur.
He was a shepherd. He was also an arborist. Again, he did not use such a fancy word. He said so very plainly, “I also took care of sycamore-fig trees.” Sycamore fig trees have more in common with mulberry bushes than fig trees. To sweeten the fruit and make it more edible, a man like Amos would puncture the skin of the immature fruit. The wound made the difference in its usefulness.
We might call Amos a bivocational, or covocational, preacher. Amos said he was just a man who was minding his own business tending sheep and bruising fruit until God put thoughts in his mind and words in his mouth.
A history lesson, if we may. The Reformation which flowed alongside and after the Renaissance in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries AD (Anna Domini, the Year of our Lord, now called by many the Common Era, CE, which is common only because of the impact and effects of Jesus and Christianity).
One of the major tenets, a big word meaning doctrine or principle, of the Reformation is the Priesthood of All Believers. This means religious professionals like Amaziah (Amos 7:10-13) have no more authority to know and experience God, and to hear and obey God, than fig pickers like Amos. This is true for garbage collectors, police officers, school teachers, pharmacists, and clerks today.
Each one of us has direct access to God. We do not require religious professionals in unique clothing and funny hats to give us access to God. We have opportunity and responsibility to know and experience God for ourselves. We get to read the Bible and pray in direct relationship with our Father in heaven.
You and I can go to our Father in heaven with Jesus because of what Jesus has done for us (See Matthew 6:9 and following.) Our Father in heaven includes you and me in his plans to bless the whole world. As you step out the door today and go about your work and play, listen for his voice, join him in what he is doing, and enjoy the fact that he can use shepherds, fig pickers, and you just as well as he can preachers and professors.
One other thing? We need each other. We require professors who seem to know more and more about less and less. They provide clarity through focused research. We require garbage collectors. They keep our homes, neighborhoods, and communities sanitary and healthy. We require theologians who make known the mysteries of God. We require time alone with God day by day to learn to hear his voice and to know his will and to follow his way.
What is God saying to you today? Hear and obey. It is always the better way.
I will make time day by day to hear what God has to say.
Our Father, speak to my heart. Give me ears to hear what you say. Give me a willingness to obey. Remind me how your goodness has always led me in the better way. Show me how to live today. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”