By Michael E. Brooks
“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah: ‘I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel”” (Amos 7:14-15 NKJV).
When I arrived at brother Hari’s house in Chapagaon for a devotional and fellowship, I was surprised to find that I was to preside in a baby naming, with me choosing the name. Hari and his young wife were blessed with a baby boy, now about 2 months old. He needed a name and his parents wanted a good Biblical name for him. I was elected to choose it.
After some reflection I remembered Amos’ explanation of why he went to Israel to proclaim God’s judgment. The leaders of Israel did not want a prophet from Judah to come up and teach them about God. They had their own prophets, along with their own priests, temples and idols, none of which God accepted.
But that did not matter. Amos was butting in where he was not home. “Go home and leave us alone” they said. But Amos could not and would not.
Amos told them he was minding his own business on his sheep and sycamore farm when God called him. His choice of verbs is interesting. “The Lord took me”, he said.
We are perhaps most familiar with this phrase from the story of Enoch who was translated to Heaven directly without death. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
Amos was left on earth, but he was removed from his normal haunts. God “took him” to send to Israel, Judah’s northern neighbor.
Does God take people today? We continue to use the phrase, usually to explain an unexpected and unwelcome death. A child asks why her mother died or where she has gone. “God took her” she is told, “because He needed her more than we did.” I’m not sure that is a proper explanation, especially not to a young child.
There is no evidence that every death is a matter of God’s specific action. But God does indeed take people today.
He takes them in salvation, reclaiming them from sin (Jude 23). He takes them in ministry, giving gifts, opportunities and responsibilities for service (Ephesians 4:7-8; Romans 12:6-8). He takes them unto himself in comfort and compassion, forgiving from sin and soothing their hurts and fears (Romans 8:28).
Has God taken you? Have you followed him into areas of ministry, sought him in times of need, or called upon him for salvation? I gave the baby the name “Amos”, along with a prayer that God would take him, bring him to faith, and use him in service all of his life. Regardless of name, that is my prayer for all.