“Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.”
As Amos is preaching the righteous judgment of God toward Israel, he reminds Israel of the way the Lord brought them out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness that they might “possess the land of the Amorite.” God raised up their sons to be Nazarites. The Nazarites took vows of separation unto the Lord. They separated from wine, strong drink, and any fruit of the vine, and would not cut their hair during the time of the separation. Likewise, God called men to be prophets – men who spoke for God and proclaimed the Word of God. They were God’s messengers to His people.
Israel responded by giving the “Nazarites wine to drink” and commanding “the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.” In other words, the people of Israel were discouraging their men from living separated lives unto God and from proclaiming God’s truth. The people did not want God’s will being done among His people. The Israelites were not in favor of having holy, dedicated, and separated servants of God in their midst. They preferred that the men not be so set apart, and they had no interest in being confronted with the Word of God.
It is not difficult to see contemporary applications of this text among God’s people. We no longer keep the vows of the Nazarite, but we are clearly commanded to separate from sin and worldliness. Since we have the full revelation of God in our Bibles, there are no longer prophets in the sense of the Old Testament prophets; but, God is still calling men to proclaim His truth to our generation. Unfortunately, like Israel of old, many resist standards of separation and find preaching to be too old fashioned and confrontational. Too many parents would prefer their children seek the world’s approval rather than serve the Lord with zeal and holiness.
Our response to God’s commands should be different from those of Israel. We should take seriously the Scriptures which warn us of the danger of worldliness and encourage those who know the Lord to be excited to serve Him.