Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth if it has caught nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:1-8)
The Lord Does Not Roar Without Cause
It was the golden age of the northern tribes of Israel as the nation prospered with great luxury and indulgence. The moral fiber of the people filled with greed and corruption with the rich getting richer and the poor become more impoverished. There was a sense of ease in the land of Zion with the opulence of a haughty spirit that had no time for God. Worship was nothing more than a ritualistic exercise of empty promises filled with the paganistic pursuits of a carnal world. Entering upon the landscape of moral corruption came a shepherd farmer prophet who was outraged and appalled at the decadence he saw among the people of God.
Amos was a man of fiery temperament who despised the hypocrisy of the priests, the corruption of the leaders, and the injustice of the people against one another. He came to the history of Israel in the providential time of God’s wrath upon a rebellious and disobedient people. Within forty years the nation would be destroyed by Assyria. The Lord sent His “angry prophet” to warn His people of the impending doom. Israel was the apple of God’s eye. They had been chosen above all peoples on the earth to serve as an example of grace, love, and mercy. No people were more blessed and privileged than the Hebrews rescued from the bondage of Egypt and yet they were rebellious, defiant, wicked, and unthankful for the blessings of God. Amos declares that Israel will receive a heavier judgment above all nations because they were the chosen of the Lord.
At Mt. Sinai, the Lord and Israel had come to an agreement. The people declared their faithfulness to the covenant established with God through Moses. Less than 700 years later, Israel stood on the threshold of annihilation. Their hearts had turned away from the word of God. None of the kings of the northern tribes served the Lord. The corruption of the land had become a cesspool of idolatry, immorality, debauchery, and carnality. Through the prophets, the Lord sent warnings of impending doom to the people, but they did not repent, and they would not listen. Judgment was coming.
In a series of rhetorical questions, the Lord declares His judgment on Israel. When a man hears a lion roar in the forest, it is because he has caught his prey. A young lion will cry out in his den because he is about to feast on his victim. When a bird falls into a snare he does so because someone set a trap to capture the bird. A city will hear the trumpet warning of an approaching enemy bringing fear to the hearts of the citizens. They know danger is near. All these questions point to the warnings the Lord has sent to Israel to repent and turn back to Him. There will be no excuses offered when the Assyrians march in and take Israel captive. They were warned but refused to change.
The Lord roars today and the young lion is heard through the voice of His word. Through the message of the Bible God has revealed His divine will for humanity yet most men will refuse to acknowledge the warnings. There is a great day coming when the world ceases and all men will stand before the judgment seat of God. All those gathered before the great I AM will not have any excuses to offer of not hearing the roar of God’s wrath upon disobedience. Like the prophet Amos, men have sounded the warnings of doom to those who refuse to obey the word. Most will not hear, and most will be lost. The Lord does nothing unless He reveals his plans to the world through the voice of His word. The lion has roared. Who isn’t frightened? The sovereign Lord has spoken.