Posted by: watchman | January 5, 2012

No Manners

Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I a prophet’s son; but I am a shepherd, and a trimmer of sycamore trees. But the LORD took me from shepherding the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

-Amos 7:14-15

Amos was so cool. He never pulled a punch and his message went right up to the King of Israel and hit him between the eyeballs. But the message that Amos brought was not exactly enjoyed by the nobles and the good church-going folks of his day. The king’s toad of a priest (Amaziah) told Amos to buzz off and learn some respect.

I can’t really blame the king or the priest. Amos had a tough message to hear. “The Day of the Lord won’t be no party for y’all” was essentially the message Amos brought. He said that God was sick of the idolatry and the injustice, and he wasn’t about to put up with it anymore:

Doom to you who turn justice into poison, 
      and throw righteousness 
      to the ground!

I know how many are your crimes, 
      and how numerous are your sins— 
   afflicting the righteous, 
      taking money on the side, 
      turning away the poor 
      who seek help.

-Amos 5:7,12


I find it fascinating that when the priest tries to teach Amos some manners, Amos doesn’t give his credentials, show his ordination papers, or anything of the sort. In fact, he does the opposite. He says to the priest ‘I’m not a prophet at all! I’m just a shepherd and a fig-picker.’

I picture Amos sitting in front of the ornately dressed priest. What a contrast! Amos has his bib overalls on with a straw hat and a piece of grass hanging out of his mouth.  You don’t learn manners when you’re herding sheep, and you don’t learn to keep your mouth shut when you’re picking figs. Amos was saying that he was too dumb to keep his message to himself. He was too common to ignore the call of God.

We could use an Amos these days.

That is part of the reason I am so eager to see the ministry in my rear view mirror. So many preachers preach toward their own popularity, or attempt to coddle the message and make it nice. Meanwhile, the truth-tellers get their heads served up on a silver plate.

I’d rather throw on some overalls and pick a few figs. A fig-picker tells the truth when the high priest can’t.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be. But, I do know what I can no longer do; I know what I can no longer be. I can’t be some sniveling priest, kissing up to the king and justifying corruption. Hell no. I don’t have manners enough for that.



  1. The video is a live performance by a Seattle band called Fleet Foxes. The second verse of the song in particular speaks to the personal confession in the post:

    “What’s my name, what’s my station, oh, just tell me what I should do
    I don’t need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you
    Or bow down and be grateful and say “sure, take all that you see”
    To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me

    And I don’t, I don’t know who to believe
    I’ll get back to you someday soon you will see”

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