Two Preachers: Amos and Amaziah
The Old Testament prophet Amos was a shepherd turned preacher. The crowd to whom he preached was the upper class of Israel, including the King himself. He was not their choice of a preacher, however. They did not choose him -- God chose Amos for them. His oratory was not refined eloquence. His preaching was not "polite" by their standards. If they could have "fired" him, they would have, but Amos was God's preacher, not theirs. Amos 7:10-13 provides commentary on his work in Israel.
"Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel saying, 'Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said: "Jeroboam shall die by the sword, And Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land." Then Amaziah said to Amos: "Go you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the King's sanctuary, and it is the royal residence."
This text shows Amaziah to be a different kind of preacher than Amos. Amaziah would preach what his hearers wanted, rather than what they really needed. He disliked Amos' style and message. He scoffed at the warnings Amos issued about judgments coming upon Israel because of her sins. Doubtless, it pleased King Jeroboam to hear Amaziah rebuke Amos. Amaziah told Amos to leave Israel and go to Judah, where his kind of preaching might be more appreciated. "We are too refined and sophisticated for this kind of preaching," Amaziah might be heard to say. But Amos did not keep quiet. He did not allow Amaziah to ridicule him and his work. He said, "I was not prophet, nor was I the son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go prophesy to My people Israel.' Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord ..."
Amos was not a preacher for hire! He was not a prophet because his father was, or because he had gone to a "brotherhood preacher school." Nor did he preach because he was looking for employment! He was preaching because God told him to prophesy. We are made to wonder, "Why was Amaziah preaching?"
Many churches today want preachers like Amaziah. He would never be so rude as to disturb the peace of a congregation by pointing out its errors. He would not bother people by calling them to repent! No one would leave his preaching with feelings of guilt. Everything would be so sweet and pleasant that God would become nauseous!
Conversely, Amos' preaching would not always be pleasant. It might even be troublesome at times if people insist on remaining in sin. His harsh rebukes might even cause some guilt feelings and unrest. But, remember -- Amos was God's preacher! Honestly now, which kind of preacher would you prefer -- Amos or Amaziah?