The prophecy of Amos opens by saying, “The Lord roars from Zion, And utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, And the top of Carmel withers” (1:2). A lot has been written and preached about the devil and how he roars (1 Peter 5:8), but seldom have Christians thought about how the Lord roars. This stirring image sets the tone for a stern prophecy of judgment against the children of Israel, and two elements really stand out.
The Power of God
“Roar” is an expressive way of communicating God’s power. That power has been manifested in several ways in the Old Testament. His power was shown in creation as He spoke the world into existence (Psalm 33:6, 9), the flood as He cleansed the world of unrighteousness (Genesis 6:13), the exodus from Egypt as He saved a people for His glory (Isaiah 43:10), and the captivity of Israel as He punished idolatry with the Assyrians (Isaiah 10:5-11).
The Message of God
In Amos, the direct and unmistakeable message is judgment. His language is clear and plain. If the Israelites would not repent, they would be destroyed. However, the New Testament contains an incredible message of spiritual generosity. God graciously provided the Savior for our sins (Luke 2:30-32; Ephesians 2:8).
Although there is a gracious message, the New Testament is not devoid of judgment. God will demand of every man and woman a reckoning of their deeds (Romans 14:12). But in the middle of the promise of judgment, Peter issues an assurance that God knows how to protect the godly (2 Peter 2:4-9).
Joel uses similar imagery: “The Lord also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16). This verse was used in the context of the coming of the Messiah, which was God’s most significant manifestation of His power. This power destroyed Satan and freed mankind from the bondage of sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The vividness of Old Testament language paints unforgettable pictures of the dominion and grace of God. It sticks in the mind, calling all of us to repentance and to enjoy the riches found in Jesus. God’s final display of His power will occur when He brings the physical universe to an end (2 Peter 3:10), delivering the kingdom to God for His saints to enjoy eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:24).