In 1 Kings 19:12, we read that God speaks to Elijah in a “still small voice.” But Elijah was expecting to hear from God in the “great strong wind.” Then he listened for God to speak in an earthquake and then in a fire. We really can’t blame Elijah for expecting to hear from God in the wind, earthquake, and fire. The Psalmist tells us that God speaks that way when he needs to get our attention. Psalm 18:13, “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones, and coals of fire.” Job confirms this also. In Job 37:5, “God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.” We have more biblical evidence of God speaking from fire, thunder, and other calamities than we have of His “still small voice.” C. S. Lewis said, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[1] We hear God speak in the opening verses of Amos with his megaphone. Amos 1:1-2 says, “The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said: ‘The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”

Amos held no official title in Israel. He was just a Shepherd of Tekoa, and not a very significant one because the text points out that he was “just one of the many” among the shepherds of Tekoa. He was a common person, like you reading this, and me writing this. Yet, he saw something that others could, or would not see. Notice that the “words” of Amos, are described as being those that he “saw” during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The thing to notice about this timing is that it was the most prosperous time in both NNatio’’shistories. Amos was from Judah but prophesied against the northern Kingdom of Israel where Jeroboam II reigned. It was a prosperous time, but an evil time for Jeroboam II continued the pagan worship begun by his namesake, Jeroboam I.

It doesn’t take a college degree to recognize the similarities between Amos’ day and ours. We face very similar problems. Jesus himself addressed the dangers of prosperity on several occasions. He warns us much more about the dangers of pleasures than the dangers of pain. True, I’ve seen many who have turned from God because of pain in their lives, but I agree with John Piper who says, that more are lured away from God by their pleasures. Pleasures seldom awaken people to their need for God; pain often does.  The first danger of prosperity is complacency. I’ve seen many churches with huge endowments and debt-free buildings forget about their mission of making disciples. Another problem is arrogance. Prosperity often leads us to wrongly believe there is some kind of quality in us that makes us better than others. The third danger of Prosperity is self-sufficiency. Full barns often lead us to think we don’t need anyone, including God. All three of these dangers are addressed by Amos. But Amos was alert to the fact that God wanted to break through all the luxury and financial security and prosperity in the land. Thus Amos tells us that “God Roars.”  Of all the things in that agricultural economy that could not be ignored was a roaring lion. That’s the picture that Amos uses to describe God’s message to the healthy and the wealthy nations.