Read Amos 7:7-15.
The book of Amos begins with a powerful line. Amos 1:2 says, “The Lord roars from Zion, His voice goes out from Jerusalem [to all the world].” Amos describes the Lord like a powerful lion.
We prefer lions behind bars, at a safe distance in the zoo.
No one wants to meet a lion outside the zoo.
Lions aren’t safe!
It’s for this reason that sports teams often adopt lions as their mascot. My church’s school, St. Paul Lutheran School, is the home of the Lions. We’ve got a mean-looking lion on our t-shirts. I have heard that the Detroit Lions have as one of their cheers, “Restore the Roar!” For fans it is meant to be an encouragement when things are going bad during the game.
But that’s exactly the point of the book of Amos. It has as its singular goal to restore the rightful roar from THE Lion, THE Lord Yahweh, THE God of Israel.
Now Amos lived some 2800 years ago, in a day and age when even God’s own people seemed to ignore the LION OF JUDAH. Oh, sure, they pretended to be God’s people. They liked the idea. But they didn’t want God’s word to meddle in their lives too much. They liked the idea of a God who was on their side, but they didn’t want that God to tell them what they could and could not do.
So God sends the prophet Amos to remind them that it’s not wise to mess with a Lion, especially when He is roaring at you. You don’t just put your hands over your ears and look the other way. When the Lion roars you better beware.
Now sometimes we are just lazy when it comes to God’s word. When I was a kid in in college at Texas A&M, I often struggled with the temptation not to go to church on Sunday morning. I just didn’t feel like it, or my buddies weren’t going, or I was tired from the night before. And besides, I figured I knew enough about God’s Word already.
Martin Luther addressed the danger of this when he wrote, “For let me tell you this, even though you know God’s Word perfectly and remember all the stories, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against God’s commandments. Therefore you must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. Because, where the heart is idle, and the Word not heard, Satan too easily breaks in and does damage before we are aware. On the other hand, such is the ability of the Word, that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is never without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words—the Lord’s words–are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. And even though no other interest or necessity impel us, yet this ought to urge everyone towards the WORD, because thereby the devil is put to flight and driven away.”
This is why Luther would eventually—and brilliantly—write his meaning to the third commandment as such: Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy: What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His word, but hold it sacred and GLADLY HEAR AND LEARN IT!
In Amos 7:7-15, Amos has a vision from the Lord wherein, God is holding a plumb line over His people. A plumb line is what brick masons use when they are building a brick wall. It’s a piece of string with a weight on it that helps ensure that the entire wall is built straight, with every brick in line. And so in Amos’ vision, God is determining whether His people are in line. His will is that they be in line with His word.
It is His will for us, too.
But sometimes we lose sight of that. We fall into something—a habit or lifestyle or relationship that isn’t in line with God’s word—and we go down that road for a while but then we’ve been gone so long from His Word, we start to forget what isn’t right with our situation. Rather than let the plumb line of His word shape our lives straight again, we start looking for justification from the world for our sinful choices. We make an argument from convenience, or we say that times have changed, or we say, “It’s just complicated.”
But our duty is to regularly examine our lives according to His word and if we are doing something immoral or living in a way that is out of line with His word, then it is time to make a change.
Don’t ignore the lion roaring at you.
That’s a big part of what this 30 days is all about. And what’s so cool is that when we do this—take time for His Word—we realize that it’s not all judgment and damnation for us crooked, out-of-line sinners. We discover that His will and His word is good—good for us. His word forgives our sins. We need to gladly hear and learn what the Lord has to say.
It isn’t good to get crossways with a Lion. But how wonderful it is that THE LION, THE LORD, is good. He is very, very good.
So let’s restore the roar…
I owe credit to a Seminary Professor of mine, Reed Lessing, for the brilliant tag line “Restore the Roar.” He brought OT books like Amos to life for me and I will be grateful always for his teaching.
Some questions for consideration:
- What would it take for you to go to a Bible study on Sunday morning or a small group study during the week for just one month? What are your typical excuses for not going?
- If joining a study wouldn’t work, what other way could you include some intentional Bible study in to your routine? Consider online podcasts and other media.
Lord God, You bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from ear to heart, and from heart to the lips that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it. Let it be so in my life also.
Lord, I don’t want to miss what Your will is for my life. Help me conform my life to Your Word and delight in it, even when it calls me to account for my actions and attitude. Over these next couple of weeks, help me consider how I might continue engaging in Your Word after these 30 Days of Prayer and Purpose are over. Help me adjust my schedule to accommodate more time with other Christians in the study of the Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.