You probably remember that the Prophet Amos was a herdsman and a farmer of  figs from the sycamore tree.  As I researched to preach about Amos on Sunday, I wanted to know more about this interesting fruit.  Additionally, I’ve always been fascinated with the farmer/turned prophet.  This morning I took the time to look up and find a picture of the tree and the fruit.  The genus of the tree is in the Ficus family and it is known as the Egyptian Sycamore fig tree.  The fruit looks like the fruit of the sea grape that grows wild in Florida along the shoreline.  It is sweeter than the fruit of the fig trees that we are accustomed to eating. 

Amos was harvesting his fruit some 760 years before Christ was born and about 2703 years before I was born.  Yet, because of the Bible, I can read and search the heart of this common man who became a powerful prophet to the nation of Israel.  He was a Jew who lived in Judah.  These two nations, Judah and Israel, were sworn enemies.  Therefore, it is interesting that God used Amos to become the man who proclaimed the message of destruction to Israel.

It appears from the Hebrew word that is used to describe his occupation, Amos was more than a “watcher of sheep or shepherd.”  He was probably a breeder of sheep and he was a herdsman which indicated that he herded and bred larger animals also.  After a brief study, it seems that this man was not a “perfect fit” for the task that God assigned to him.

His writing was illustrative, forceful and concise.  He was an educated man who could afford to leave his ranch to travel to Israel for an extended visit to preach God’s message of judgement. 

Amos intrigues me for several reasons.

  1. His message is full of descriptive, vibrant  illustrations of roaring lions, a bowl of fruit, a plumb line and locust. 
  2. His preparation in life seemed to ill-prepare him for the task that he was assigned to do.
  3. In a day, when travel was done prudently, Amos left everything to give Israel God’s message of impending justice.
  4. Amos was not well-received; but that didn’t stop him from sharing the message which God had given to him.
  5. His message was progressive.  God didn’t give him everything he was to do all at once.   In progressive dreams and words, God told him what to tell the children of Israel.

Sometimes, when I step before a class of people who are mentally challenged, I still think to myself, What am I doing here?  While I’m exceedingly grateful that God has asked me to share the good news of God’s redemptive love to the special needs community, I occasionally feel inept.  I’m not a parent or even a family member of a person who is mentally challenged.  I’m not part of the professional community.  Neither my education or training has equipped me to do what I do.  I certainly don’t have a “social worker’s personality.”  No one ever calls me sweet, gentle or kind

Often, we peg certain people as perfect for a task; but God delights in breaking the mold and creating an Amos, a Jew, who preaches to Israel.  This reality makes me comfortable.  While I know my calling, there seems to be nothing that would recommend me for the position I currently hold.  The calling of God is sure and secure but it can be risky.  Just ask Amos.