The wrath of God is seldom discussed in our times. I wonder how many sermons last Sunday dealt with that subject. It doesn’t make for popular preaching. Even evangelical churches are reluctant to speak of it—it doesn’t fit the marketing model many have bought into. Can you imagine someone inviting a sinner to come to worship, “Our music is wonderful! Our small group Bible studies are very encouraging! Best of all, our pastor is preaching this week about the wrath of God!” I am skeptical that will make the masses fill the auditorium. The world beyond the walls of the church building scoffs at the idea. Nevertheless, you must shun large sections of Scripture to avoid the subject.
I doubt Amos enjoyed delivering sermons that warned of the wrath of God, either. His audience was no more appreciative of such preaching than modern man. Though not enjoyable, it was essential—it was truth that demanded to be told. For Amos to be obedient to God, he had to deliver this burden.
That’s what his name signified, “burden” or “burden-bearer.” That’s what he was named: Amos, burden, and how appropriate it was—his words were weighty—these words about wrath.
God called him from being a sheep-breeder to become a spiritual shepherd. What he fed the flock of God would be bitter to their taste. But, if a man is to be faithful to His call as a preacher, he must speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, whether it is palatable or not. He has no warrant to sugarcoat it. What God has clearly spoken, he must courageously share.
The times in which Amos ministered were days of calm before the storm. The political and economic climate was relatively stable. Clouds were gathering on the horizon, but the people thought, “It will all blow over.” It always had. So, the populace was in no mood to hear a forecast of stormy weather.
Indeed—haven’t preachers been proclaiming such dire prophetic messages for years and years? Growing up in the Bible belt, I was taken to church as a child and sometimes scared stiff by the horrific terms used to describe the wrath of God, which the old country preacher made to sound like judgment could break loose any minute. That was over a half-century ago. It hasn’t happened—yet.
In two years from the day Amos delivered his stout sermon, an earthquake would strike the land. The status quo would be shaken up. Everything was about to change. As I ponder this thought, my mind races to a passage in Hebrews which speaks of the shake-up that is coming, and I think soon—in two years? I cannot say for certainty when, but I can say assuredly it will come eventually. It might be in a hundred years—or it could be in a hundred days.
“Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what can be shaken-that is, created things-so that what is not shaken might remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 HCSB)
The wrath of God is not just the rant of an Old Testament prophet, it is New Testament truth. The loving Son of God, the Lord Jesus, warned, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!" (Luke 13:5 HCSB)
My sixth grade school teacher, Mrs. Trantham, would tell us when we would have a test, and we needed to prepare for it, and she would then add, “A word to the wise should be sufficient.” The time of testing is coming. Amos said, “prepare to meet your God!” (4:12b) A word to the wise should be sufficient.