Amos 3:7
That there must be assumed to be some limitation to this broad statement is manifest. It is not intended to declare that God made his prophets acquainted with all his counsels and intentions, but rather that revelation and inspiration are realities, and that prophecy is a Divine ordinance.

I. THE ACTIONS OF GOD ARE THE RESULT OF DELIBERATE COUNSEL AND PURPOSE. This way of representing the conduct of Divine affairs is out of harmony with much current teaching of our time. We are often told that it is childish to conceive of God as personal, as thinking, feeling, and acting. But so far from such representations being derogatory to the Divine dignity, they do, in fact, enhance our conceptions of him. Reason and will are the lofty attributes of mind; and whilst the Eternal is not bound by the limitations which circumscribe our faculties, these faculties are the finite reflection of what is infinite in him. It is the glory of our Scriptures that they reveal to us a God who commands, not a blind awe, but an intelligent veneration, and elicits an appreciative and grateful love.

II. THE COUNSELS AND PURPOSES OF GOD ARE REVEALED TO THE SYMPATHETIC MINDS OF HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS. The mode of this communication is concealed from us; it may have been but partially understood even by the prophets themselves. There is nothing unreasonable in the fellowship of mind between the Creator and created spirits. The human consciousness is above all vehicles surely the fittest medium for the intercourse between the Divine and the finite. God has his own servants employed in his household, his husbandry; and he chooses his own agents for the several works he has for them to do. Among his servants are the prophets - men selected and qualified to speak forth his mind and will to their fellow men. Perhaps we are too restricted in the view we commonly take of the prophetic office. We know that there were schools of prophets among the Hebrews, and that there was an order of prophets in the primitive Church. There were oases in which by the agency of prophets new truth was revealed, but there were also cases in which prophets were inspired to apprehend and republish truth already familiar. Prophets in this second sense there certainly are among us to this day.

III. THE COUNSELS AND PURPOSES OF GOD COMMUNICATED BY THE PROPHETS DEMAND OUR REFERENTIAL ATTENTION AND CHEERFUL OBEDIENCE. When the Omniscient declares his mind, when the Omnipotent unfolds his purpose, by the agency he has chosen, the revelation is first made by the Spirit to the human minister, and then by the human minister to his fellow men. The holiness of the Divine character and the righteousness of the Divine government are thus brought effectively before the minds of the intelligent and responsible sons of men. The secret is revealed, not simply to excite wonder, but to guide conduct. The appropriate attitude of those privileged with a revelation so precious is that expressed in the resolution, "All the words which the Lord hath spoken will we do." - T.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.
I. GOD AND THE PROPHET (or God's revelations to the prophet). The seventh verse gives a striking picture of the dignity of the prophetic office. God, the Ruler of the earth, is watching the tides of human life. Before God interposes He admits the prophets into His councils and reveals to them what is yet concealed from the world (Genesis 18:17). Deluge to Noah, etc. The lives of all the prophets of Israel illustrate Amos's words.

II. THE PROPHET AND THE WORLD (or the prophet's utterances to the world). The prophet, admitted to the secrets of God, was bound to utter them. He was a daysman between heaven and earth. Aware of danger, he would neither have been a man nor a patriot had he failed to prophesy. God foretold the evil that He might escape the pain of inflicting it. They were reckoned troublers of the land (Ahab to Elijah), yet they persisted in their message. Application. God still reveals His purposes concerning men. The fate of individuals is not known, but the fate of sin and the sinner is clearly revealed. Listen to all warnings. Regard every one who utters them as a friend who may aid you to avert the evil. Do not attempt to silence such warning voices (Acts 4:20; Acts 5:20, 29; 1 Corinthians 9:16).

(J. Telford, B. A.)

This has been the least understood of all the evidences in support of Christianity. Superior difficulties attend the subject. Not difficulties which stagger our faith, but such as require attention to overcome. Trace out the causes from which the difficulties attending this subject have arisen. The obscurity of the prophecies is generally supposed to have arisen from the metaphorical or figurative language in which they are conveyed. But figurative language is not necessarily obscure; it is the style that always did, and still does, predominate throughout all the East. It is the natural language of all rude and uncivilised nations, and may be made, if a writer is inclined to make it so, as clear and as intelligible as the most literal expressions. The obscurity of prophecies neither did nor does arise from any one peculiarity, property, or principle of language. It is still more evident that it did not arise from anything in the subject to which they allude. For whatever event is capable of being described after it has happened, is equally capable of being described before it has happened, the change of tenses being in this case the only thing required. The obscurity of the prophets can be attributed to nothing else, but to the original intention and plan of their Divine Author. The full evidence of prophecy does by no means appear from the discussion of one or of a few single predictions concerning Messiah, but from the consideration of all the prophecies taken together, dispersed as they arc throughout the Bible. We have the same right to unite them into one body of evidence, that we every day assume, of drawing the character of any eminent person in the records of history, by the general tone of all his actions compared with one another and taken together. The prophecies are not only dispersed in various parts of Scripture, but are in most places connected with some other circumstance or transaction near the time at which they were delivered, and to which and to its immediate consequences they also allude. These events are often so interwoven in the very texture of the prophecy that to separate them requires a superior knowledge of ancient history, and superior powers of discrimination. Besides the predictions of Moses and the prophets, the law itself, the Mosaical and Levitical law forms in its very structure and essence a distinct series of prophecy. The ceremonies of Jewish worship were a shadow of good things to come, whilst the body was of Christ. To extract the prophetical matter out of the Levitical law, and to show what weight it has, as an evidence for Christianity, requires not only sagacity, but in a much higher degree, the greatest sobriety, moderation, and good sense. May not these difficulties suggest some arguments even in favour of the pretensions of prophecy?

1. The evidence of prophecy is by no means absolutely necessary to the proof of a Divine revelation. The working of miracles is of itself sufficient to prove that a teacher came from God. The Divine authority of Moses, for instance, was never foretold by any prophecy, but was grounded on the belief of his miracles alone.

2. The evidence drawn from the ancient Jewish history is considerably increased by the obscurity of the prophets, which has been so much complained of. Obscurity, at least before their completion, was in the original intention of their Divine Author. No one, before their com pletion, was able to unravel or understand them, so no one but God was able to work their accomplishment. Other means might co-operate, but the obscurity of the prophecies alone was a sufficient guard and security for reserving their completion in the hands of God Himself. We have shown that it is from a view of the whole, not from single predictions, that our arguments are drawn. Such a view carries with it the force of the strongest circumstantial evidence, which in many cases is more convincing than evidence which is direct. Independent circumstances are facts, not liable to suspicion, unbiassed and invariable. Should an unbeliever insinuate any suspicion of collusion in the first settling of Christianity, his argument would immediately lose its force when applied to the prophecies. It must insinuate a collusion between persons of different countries, who lived many centuries distant from one another, between our first parents, and all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs who succeeded.

(W. Pearce, D. D. , F. R. S.)

I. GOD HAS MADE A SPECIAL REVELATION TO HIS SERVANTS. "He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." In all ages God has selected men to whom He has made communications of Himself. The Bible is indeed a special revelation.

1. Special in its occasion. It is made on account of the abnormal moral condition into which man has fallen, — made in consequence of human sin and its dire consequences.

2. Special in its doctrines.

II. That the right reception of this special revelation necessitates preaching. "The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" The idea is, that the men who have rightly taken the truth into them can no more conceal it than men can avoid terror at the roar of the lion. There are some truths which men may receive and feel no disposition to communicate, such as the truths of abstract science, which have no relation to the social heart. But Gospel truth has such a relation to the tenderest affections of the spirit that their genuine recipients find them to be irrepressible. "Who can but prophesy?" None but those who have not received the truth.


God has given to different nations different missions. He has given to Rome the mission of teaching the world the meaning of law; to Greece the meaning of art and philosophy; to the Hebrew race the meaning of religion. He has given this race this message: Tell the world what you can learn of God and His relation to men. The Hebrew people have added nothing to the architecture, the art, the philosophy of life; but they have been a prophetic race — discoverers of God. In this race there were pre-eminently religious men, who saw God more clearly than their fellows, and God's relation to mankind more clearly, and God's relation to human events more clearly, and told their fellows what they saw. And, from all their telling, natural selection says the scientist, providence says the theologian — I say the two are the same — elected those that had in them the most vital truth, the most enduring, the most worthy to endure. Thus we have in the Old Testament something like two score of writers, the most spiritually-minded of a spiritually-minded race, telling us what they have discovered concerning God. This is the Bible. It is the gradual discovery of God in the hearts and through the tongues of prophets who were themselves members of a prophetic race.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

The lion hath roared, who will not fear?
St. Bernard has described the first stage of the vision of God as the Vision Distributive, in which the eager mind distributes her attention upon common things and common duties in themselves. It was in this elementary school that the earliest of the new prophets passed his apprenticeship and received his gifts. Others excel Amos in the powers of the imagination and the intellect. But by the incorrupt habits of his shepherd life, by daily wakefulness to its alarms, and daily faithfulness to its opportunities, he was trained in that simple power of appreciating facts and causes, which, applied to the great phenomena of the spirit and of history, forms his distinction among his peers. In this we find perhaps the reason why he records of himself no solemn hour of cleansing and initiation. "Jehovah took me from following the flock, and Jehovah said unto me, Go, prophesy unto My people Israel." Amos was of them of whom it is written, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching." Through all his hard life this shepherd had kept his mind open and his conscience quick, so that when the Word of God came to him he knew it, as fast as he knew the roar of the lion across the moor. Certainly there is no habit which so much as this of watching facts with a single eye and a responsible mind is indispensable alike in the humblest duties and in the highest speculations of life. When Amos gives those naive illustrations of how real the voice of God s to him, we receive them as the tokens of a man, honest and awake.

(Geo. Adam Smith, D. D.)

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