Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: 15And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.Amos 7:14-15.
Many of us can be encouraged by these words of Amos: “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet.” According to Hebrew tradition, Amos was not a prophet. Their religious culture had raised prophets to an elevated position, and to become accepted as such, one had to attend the “school of the prophets,” or the prophet’s seminary. This seminary training is referred to by Amos as “prophet’s son” (see 2 Kings 2:5). An apprentice prophet would sit under the teaching of another and attain the credentials necessary to be rewarded with the responsibilities and privileges given by man to the intended, ordained, individual. This is not much different from the polity of many of today’s churches. Someone is not considered to have any spiritual authority unless they have been ordained by a process of man’s invention. We have divided the ministry of the kingdom between two camps: the clergy and the laity.
By that definition, Amos was a layman. What was Amos’ profession? He was a shepherd and tree farmer, a position considered at the bottom of the social ladder. Why was Amos preaching in Israel without the credentials of the school of the prophets? Amos’ calling came from God, not from man. Likewise, the calling to ministry of every Christian comes from God. Seminary training is a great advantage to those who can make use of the training attained there. Ordination to the ministry, however, carries no such intrinsic advantage. Ordination is only a declaration by a group of Christians that they support the ministry of another. Unfortunately, our church culture has placed ordination, and often seminary training, in a context much like the school of the prophets that ordains and supports people who are not necessarily called by God. One lay person who is ministering in response to God’s call is of far greater value to the kingdom than a hundred seminary-trained, ordained men or women who are ministering without God’s call. Likewise, the prophesy of Amos was not shared by the school of the prophets in either Israel or Judah. The message of this one layman had power, where that of the school of prophets was silenced.
Be encouraged. Those in the school of the Prophets who reject you, those who make a decision to avoid you prophetic brother or sister, will never silence your voice. Speak aloud. Prophets Prophesy. The LORD will make your voice heard.