Restore the Roar!
Sometime around the year 762 BC, Amos, a herdsman from the small Judean town of Tekoa, heard the voice of God and compared it to hearing the roaring of a lion, a roaring that causes pastures to mourn and forests to wither (Amos 1:2). That is some kind of roar! The prophet then personally encounters the Lord as a Lion (3:12), and this propels him to confront Israel’s movers and shakers who were deaf to God’s call of justice and righteousness (e.g., 5:24; 7:1–17).
What set off this divine roaring that sent Amos into the fray? People were busy with religion, but they were not heartbroken over what was happening to the little people on the fringes of society (e.g., 6:1–7). Samaria, Israel’s capital, was a place of affluence and power that was indifferent to the poor. So the Lord roared, and Amos preached.
There are biblical images of God as a caring Shepherd (e.g., Psalm 23) and a mighty redeemer (e.g., Job 19:25). But we dare not let these images remove the claws and teeth of the Lion who roars from Zion. Throughout the Book of Amos, the Lion sends fires and earthquakes, locusts and droughts, famines, diseases, and an army bent on the complete annihilation of Israel. His wrath and anger are real. Amos declares that Israel’s most sacred institutions—its temple and systems of worship, priesthood, covenant, land entitlement, election tradition, and kingship—will not avert disaster. Long-standing institutions associated with God’s blessings, cherished belief systems, and a social structure that appeared invincible will come to a cataclysmic end (Amos 8:1–3). The prophet insists that the kings, priests, and leaders are engaging in an enormous deception, a huge lie.
The message of his book is singular—Restore the Roar!
This Lent, we will listen to the Lion as He rumbles in His jungle, pointing out our complacency, duplicity, and sin. But, and thank God for this, the ferocious Lion is also the bleeding Lamb. Our Lord’s mighty power is made most perfect in the weakness of the cross (2 Corinthians 12:9). And gathering under the cross, we will all the more be amazed when the roaring Lion defeats His greatest enemies, the devil, hell, and the power of death. Then with resurrection joy we will say of Jesus, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, He has triumphed” (Revelation 5:5).
On Easter, the roar of God’s saving love is restored forevermore!