By Zac Poonen
1. Have a Large Heart
Two expressions that never occur in the book of Amos are ‘the God of Israel’ and ‘the Holy One of Israel.’ This was because Amos saw God as the God of all nations, and not just the God of Israel. He quotes the Lord’s words, “Do you Israelites think that you are more important to Me than the Ethiopians? I brought you out of Egypt. That’s right. But haven’t I done as much for other nations? I brought the Philistines from Crete. I led the Arameans, that is the Syrians, out of Kir. And I brought you out of Egypt. What is the difference between you and them?” (Amos 9:7).
Amos was a prophet with a “new covenant” vision that embraced all people of all nations. He believed that God would gather the Gentiles also along with the Jews and make them all into one body. Amos rose above the petty narrow-mindedness of the Israelites. He had a large heart for people all over the world. He was not exclusive like the other Israelites who felt, “We are the only people whom God has accepted.”
There are many Christian groups today too that imagine that God has chosen only them to be His people on earth!! In fact, that attitude is one of the identifying marks of a cult. There were people like that in Israel in those days too. But not Amos – he had a large heart.
A true servant of God will have a large heart that accepts God’s people in every group and denomination. Babylon is not a system that is found in any one denomination. It is the world system that can be found right inside your heart. People can sit in the best church in the world and be a part of Babylon – because Babylon can be in their spirit. They may imagine that because they have come out of a denominational system, they are free from Babylon. But that is not true. For example, if you love money, whichever church in the world you may belong to, you are a part of Babylon. If you live according to the lusts of the flesh, whichever church in the world you are in, you are an adulteress. You can glory in your pure doctrines saying, “We don’t worship Mary or practice infant baptism…” Good. But if you worship money and practice your lusts, you may actually be worse than those others. Theirs is a head-problem (doctrinal), whereas yours is a more serious heart-problem (related to life).
There is a lot of exclusivism in Christendom today that imagines that God cares only for one’s own little group!! The body of Christ is larger than any one denomination. God’s people are not found in any one denomination today. God has His people in every denomination. There are born again people in many churches with different doctrines. I don’t agree with the doctrines of many churches; but I cannot deny the fact that God has some of His children there. In the same way, there are unconverted people who sit as registered members in evangelical churches and who are breaking bread in “separated” assemblies – especially those of the second and third generations in those churches. We must see something of Amos’ vision in these days. God punishes people of all nations and of all denominations. And He gathers people also from all nations and all denominations.
2. Value the Prophetic Word
In Amos 8:11, 12, we read these prophetic words about the last days: “There will be a famine in the last days – not a famine of bread but a famine of the word of the Lord – and people will wander here and there looking for a word from the Lord.” We are seeing that famine today. ‘The Word of God’refers to the Bible – and there is no shortage of that. The Bible Society distributes millions of Bibles every year and the Bible is still the world’s best-selling book. But here it is speaking about ‘the word of the Lord’ – and that refers to the prophetic word that comes from God according to the need of the hour through the mouth of a prophet. The “word of the Lord”will be rare in the last days. People will wander everywhere to hear a true prophet – but they will not be easy to find. So, when you do get an opportunity to hear a prophetic word from the Lord, pay attention and listen to it carefully – and take it seriously.
3. A Glorious Promise
In Amos 9:13 we read: “Behold, days are coming” declares the Lord when “the plowman will overtake the reaper”. What that means is: We have sowed much evil in the past, and although we have been forgiven, yet to some extent we still reap what we have sown. But the time will soon come when the new things that you are sowing in your life (after becoming a wholehearted disciple) will wipe out the things you have been reaping (because of your past). For example: The dirty thoughts and dreams that have been plaguing your mind because you read and saw so much pornography in the past, will gradually be replaced by thoughts and dreams of spiritual things, because you are now filling your mind with the word of God. And your life will be fruitful for God. What a glorious promise that is! Hallelujah!