Amos’ listeners did not like this message any more than a contemporary man would like it. They said, “Amos, you sheep-keeping, rural peasant, go back. We’ve got our view on these things. God has guaranteed us immunity because we are His people. God has promised us rescue.” So, Amos pictures them as they dally around on their overstuffed high horses in verse 12:
Thus says the Lord: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. That’s an interesting verse. It simply means they were lollygagging around on overstuffed ottomans and are covered with the lace of Damascus while chanting “The Lord is our shepherd, we shall not want.” And Amos said, “Oh yes. For your generation, the Lord is a shepherd indeed, but this is the kind of shepherd He is: As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear.
What a devastating word! This is really a Proverb illustrating one thing by another. I understand that in that day, when a shepherd would lose an animal to a beast, he had to produce whatever was left to show the owner of the sheep that he had not really stolen it or sold it.[i] Amos, in a rather rustic way, was never bothered by the crudity he used to explain his point. As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear.
Amos closes this word with a message about the day of the Lord in verse 14. In his apocalyptic vision, he moves forward to the time when the judgment of which he speaks is consummated. Amos uses the phrase at the beginning of verse 14 “on the day,” but he doesn’t define it. It was ominous and looming over people who must brace themselves for it’s coming if there is not repentance.
We have the cross of Christ, where God took the brunt of judgment upon Himself so that in the Christ event, we see that the hand that holds the gavel is also the nail-scarred hand. Amos didn’t see that.
We must be wounded before we can be healed. There must be an Amos as well as the wounded healer of Isaiah’s suffering servant. God smites us with the left hand of an Amos. He lifts us up again at Calvary by smiting Himself. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.