Earthquake Warning (Just A Minute #120)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

(Oddly enough, I wrote this last Tuesday, three days before the earthquake in Japan)

"The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." (Amos 1:1)

Nobody believed the country shepherd. His job was breeding sheep, not preaching. He had no formal training or any relatives in the ministry.

But one day God placed a burden on his heart and a message began to be imprinted on his soul. As he put things together in his mind he could see the hand of the Lord, even back in his infancy. Why else would his parents have given him a name that meant “burden carrier”?

What he probably could not entirely understand was that as he wrote down the words of Jehovah, he was actually predicting a catastrophic event on the land. Later he would reread his own messages and understand their awful significance.

In a sequence of eight poetical warnings, Amos told three cities and five countries that God’s patience had reached its limit. His mercy, though not exhausted, was going to be withdrawn, and terrible judgment would fall on the inhabitants of those places. Curiously, the first seven threats were described as fires that would scorch the victims and leave them desolate. Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah each received a fiery prediction of the complete destruction of their gates, walls, and palaces.

However, Israel was to expect something different. Its message was much longer than the previous seven, and mysteriously silent as to the nature of the punishment. Though one thing that was clear. The fastest and strongest men would be powerless to avoid its crushing blow.

At any rate, nobody believed the farmer boy or took him seriously. He told them to prepare to meet God but they mockingly refused.

Two years later the earthquake hit and devastated the land.

Amos may have been an unlikely candidate for prophet, but his word was still God’s eternally accurate index of reality. His hearers should have paid more attention and at least obeyed the simple, understandable elements of the message.

As always, the words of prophecy were fulfilled exactly, though in a way that caught everyone by surprise.

The Israelites had told the sheepherder to run back home and prophesy there, to leave the king and his court alone. They wanted to forget him and his message. Maybe they succeeded . . .

until the faint shiver under their feet turned into a rumble, and their world began to collapse.

God’s mind is infinitely superior to ours in every way imaginable and unimaginable. We can never expect to tie down His comments about future events with the thin strings of our tiny intelligence. Biblical prophecy is a divine genre and has no human counterpart. It is meant to be believed and respected with awe.

God’s impeccable prophetic record guarantees that when He warns us of the dangers of disobedience, He is not joking. Whether two days go by, or two months, or two years, He will shake our world and turn it upside down if we ignore His messenger’s warning.

Dear Father, help me discern the safe warnings that come from Your Word, though they come through unlikely lips. I want to obey and build my life on the solid foundation of Your truth. Amen.