Amos was a shepherd, not a scholar. He speaks in plain language, but his speech is a warning and judgment upon Israel.
The most frightening words of today's reading, however, are these: "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel."
People who do not ordinarily give God a second thought frequently turn to Him when things go desperately wrong in their lives. The old saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" was coined during a war. When one's life is on the line, it is comforting to think that someone in authority cares about it.
But Amos lists a series of calamities that befell Israel, and the people hardened their hearts and did not return to the Lord. He implies that the Lord brought these calamities on the people for the purpose of turning their hearts toward Him, but this stubborn and stiff-necked people thought they knew best.
Meeting the Lord, face to face, when one has not served Him, when one has given lip service only, when one has left Him out of one's life, can be a scary thought. Imagine meeting this all-powerful stranger!
We should spend our entire lives preparing to meet our God. Reading His word, praying, serving, praising, relying on Him for our every breath. Those are the preparations to meet our God. If we do this, when the time comes to meet Him face to face, we will be greeting a loving, doting, benevolent Father, not some impersonal stranger.
Help us to spend more time with You in our busy days. Teach us what You would have us know about Yourself. Grant us an awareness of our total dependence upon You.
In Jesus' most precious name.