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Unit II. Calling of Prophets

Sunday School Teacher Preparation - July  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Overview of Unit

This unit looks at how God called various prophets at different times for specific purposes. It deals with the calls and responses of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos.
God has a divine habit throughout scripture to take ordinary people and call them to do great works for him. In this unit, we experience four separate accounts of God’s pressing and purposeful calls on the lives of what would come to be known as the Prophets.

That’s Not Fair

We must remember the context of our scriptures. Exodus begins with the tyranny and abuse of a people who are mistreated by another people group. God’s call of Moses shows God’s timely movement on behalf of his people. It is here that we enter the call.
Remember the following:
1. God cared NOTHING about Moses’ plans.
2. God manifested himself DIRECTLY to Moses in order to get his attention.
3. Moses felt great feelings of inadequacy, which caused him to desire to shy away from the call that God desired for him.

Who, Me?

Context: One of the most major events in the life of Isaiah, and the people around him, has occurred. King Uzziah has died. The lesson describes in detail all of the things this meant for him. It is through this civil tragedy, that his eyes became open to God.
The same pattern is present for Isaiah as is Moses.
1. He sees God as God manifests himself.
2. He then recognizes and confesses who he is.
3. Then he responds, “here am I. Send me.” It is after we witness God’s goodness that we are willing to go for him.

You Can Do It

Jeremiah’s call throws in another dynamic. They all felt great shame, inadequacy, or weakness, but here Jeremiah has feelings about something he cannot control. His age! God REASSURES us in our weakness!
The Lord then establishes those that he calls, even after they have attempted to get out of doing what is required.

Speak the Truth Anyway

Ezekiel’s call is different as well, as he was forced to eat the scroll.
Ezekiel was commanded four times to eat the scroll, then to go preach his message to the Israelites. These commands revealed that the message of the Old Testament prophets was external and originated with God. They did not discover the truths they preached through logic or deduction but through divine revelation. Nevertheless, God did not supplant the personality of the prophets through whom he spoke. Their messages also reflected their personalities, backgrounds, and individual character traits. Thus the truths that emerged were neither wholly from the prophets alone nor from God alone but from both. Their messages were divine truths through human channels.
God must have given Ezekiel something outside of himself before he can speak to this particular audience. They all would have their troubles. God will talk to Ezekiel about his audience specifically, even comparing them to other nations and why they are worse. He also warns of their rebelliousness and advises him not to take it personal. “They’re problem is with me, and they won’t hear YOU because they refuse to hear ME.” But, HE SENDS HIM ANYWAY.
He also does not place the burden of submission upon Ezekiel. Essentially, he tells him, “Just do what I told you to do. Let ME handle the rest!”

Facing Hostility

Amaziah is identified as “the priest of Bethel.” He probably was the high priest there. His action to send word to Jeroboam implies that he was in charge of the Bethel sanctuary. “Sent” suggests a runner with a written (or verbal) message from the priest to the king. The distance between Bethel and Samaria was approximately twenty-five miles. Assuming that Jeroboam was in Samaria, a response from him would have taken at least two or three days. Amaziah did not claim royal authority for the order and instructions he issued to Amos (vv. 12–13). The text does not indicate that he received a response from Jeroboam. He probably was acting on his own authority as priest of Bethel.

Amaziah charged Amos with treason (cf. Jer 26:7–11; 37:11–38:4). The verb (qāšar) means “tie up,” “be allied together,” or “form a conspiracy.” Nothing in the text of Amos suggests that he was in league with anyone except God in his mission to Israel. But Amaziah accused him of operating on a purely human plane, with human motives and means, assuming perhaps that Amos was a man like himself.

7:14 Amos’s reply in v. 14 has been the source of much discussion and disagreement. In Hebrew it consists of three verbless clauses, for which English translation requires a form of the verb “to be.” What tense is required must be determined by the context. Although the NIV chose the past tense (following the LXX), indicating that Amos had not been a prophet until God called him, a present tense may fit the context better.54 Amos seems to have been disclaiming professional status as a prophet and denying that it was his livelihood. Yet he performed the activity of a prophet when God called him to do so (v. 16).

If the first two verbless clauses should be rendered (literally) in the present tense (“I am not a prophet and I am not a son of a prophet”), then Amos was acknowledging that he had no authority based on professional status as a prophet. “Prophet” and “prophet’s son” are parallel designations of an official office of prophet. If the third verbless clause should be rendered (literally) in the present tense (“but rather I am a cattle breeder and a slitter of figs”), then Amos was giving his occupation or professional status

THE LORD! (7:15–17)

Amos testified that his normal profession had been interrupted by the Lord’s action and commission. The prophet’s only authority in Bethel was his commission from the Lord to go and prophesy to the Lord’s people Israel. By contrast Jeroboam and Amaziah were holding office by their own authority, which was set against God’s.

7:15 “The LORD took me” means the Lord intervened to take Amos away from his normal business of “tending the flock” (cf. 2 Sam 7:8; 1 Kgs 11:37; Ps 78:70–71). Then the Lord ordered him to “go” (lēk, the same term Amaziah used to order him out of Bethel) and “prophesy” (hinnābēʾ, the same verb Amaziah used with a negative particle in v. 13) to Israel. What Amos described was an activity, not an office. His authority was the action and commission of God. “Amos reveals himself as a lone figure, one who is unclassifiable but with a unitary focus and guided by a personal vision.”61 “My people” meant that Amos was to address his audience as God’s covenant people, not as the breakaway kingdom of Israel. They were not Jeroboam’s people or Amaziah’s or even Amos’s. They still owed their allegiance first to God, and Amaziah was wrong to try to stop God’s prophet from preaching to them. Interfering with the word of God proved disastrous for Amaziah and remains today a dangerous activity.

God is both Savior and Judge!!
God called Amos to speak truth to wicked people. His role, although not official in the sight of the world, would still ring to be true. God does not always work through humanly conventional means. He can use those outside of the room, and make room for their voice to be heard!
Of course, human things can produce God’s will. Anger, which was meant to have Amos pushed out, was the very thing that opened the door for his voice to be heard. We cannot stop the will of God, and in many cases, those very measures we take to block it, can be the very things that help accomplish it.
The punishment of Amaziah and the exile of Israel come as a result of YEARS of disobedience and refusal to adhere to God’s words and will. Sometimes our sins can go unpunished, and if we continue in them without repentance, they can carry heavy penalties. This exile would lead to them being displaced from the Promised Land.
But… as God is still Savior and Judge, he still saves Israel..... He. Sends. Jesus!!! God was in covenant with Israel. Nothing would keep him from keeping His word, not even sin!
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