Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
Imagine a lion with its prey in sight. Can you see it as it stealthily stalks its prey? What one thing would the lion not do if it were preparing to strike? It would not roar! Yet, in the message of Amos, God is seen as roaring multiple times. Amos even begins his oracle with this revelation of God as a roaring lion, "The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem..." (see Amos 1:2). It is this roar, this warning to the prey that exposes the loving heart of God. He does not strike without extending grace to those who are His target. He roars as a means of allowing an escape from His attack. The LORD would rather see the backslider flee to an altar in repentance for sin than to strike and bring suffering. This is the heart of a loving Savior who always has redemption in mind. The LION roars to warn.
The fourth chapter reveals five roars of grace (five is the biblical number signifying grace) where the Lion has roared in an attempt to make the children of Israel flee. His purpose in sending these warning judgments is clear, God is trying to turn the people away from wrath to the place of grace and mercy. It would be easily understood if the children of Israel had pondered the questions posed in chapter 3:6, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" God has let their hedge of protection down.
Many critics of the Prophet Amos mention him as a doom and gloom prophet; however, a close and prayerful reading shows many pictures of grace. While he is tough at times--like calling the wives of the elite "cows of Bashan"--his Holy Spirit inspired work shows that God yearns for us to draw to him when we are erring. Consider the rest of chapter four. God allowed them to have meaningless worship while their altars remained empty. They loved to worship, but it was worship compromised with sin and rebellion. As a result, there was no bread and no rain. Is this not like today? Many are shouting and whooping and hollering their praises while living a compromised life. As a result, the bread of God's word and the presence of God's rain (the Holy Spirit) are withheld from the service. If church is all about a shout while the altars remain empty of repentant sinners or saints crying out in prayer for a lost world, maybe it is time to listen for a warning roar? "...yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD (Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11, )." Can you hear his warning roar?
Rather than a national revival in nations where the Gospel once thrived, we have small regional revivals where God's presence moves for a short time. Have you not seen revivals where hungry and thirsty believers drive hundreds of miles at great personal expense just to see the LORD move briefly? Wouldn't you rather have a move where the rain of God's presence falls across the land? This regional move scenario is portrayed in Amos' revelation. "And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD (Amos 4:7-8)." God is roaring, "Return to the altars of your hometown, repent, plead, pray for the latter rain." Can you hear His warning roar?
From lack of bread and rain to mildew, caterpillars, scorching winds, plagues, and loss in battle, the LORD was trying to warn them to flee to Him before He finally allowed them to be deported and dispersed by the Assyrians. We know that Israel did not heed the call at that time. In mercy and as a part of God's plan, we are seeing these tribes returning home now as was promised. As a result, this is a loud roaring for the entire world--the Day of the Lord is near upon all heathen (Obadiah v.15). This is an assurance that God will do what He says He will do. He keeps his promises as far as redemption is concerned. Beware, however, He also keeps His promises of justice on the unrepentant who will not heed His warning roars. How about you--can you hear His warning? Deal with your sin quickly while the Lion of Judah is roaring before he begins His charge. Do it quickly, Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!