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The DEEP

The Ultimate Air-Raid Siren

Is it the shofar, or the prophesy?

Amos 3:3–8

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?
Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?
Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?
If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?”

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear?
The Lord GOD has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?

The Hebrew idiom used here works the same in English. Questions posed in the negative imply that the answer is obvious. Two walking together must have agreed. A lion roaring in the forest must have its prey. The Hebrew word translated as forest here is more like a thicket. It has the sense of a hiding place. Thus, a roar would be a giveaway. That’s absurd unless the hunt is over.

And notice the foreboding sense of Amos coming back to the lion imagery in verse 8. In Hebrew poetry, that means they’re connected. The LORD is the lion and Israel is in its clutches.

Similarly, a bird falling in a snare must be caught in something. A snare springing up must, likewise, have caught something. The bird is Israel and they’re already caught.

A trumpet blast in a city must inspire fear. The Hebrew is literally, “Does a shofar blown in the city not inspire fear?” The sound of the shofar is their version of an air-raid siren.

And the next line is the conclusion. Disaster coming to a city must be of the LORD.


Amos’s point here is clarified and strengthened by two things.

First, the poetic structure gives emphasis to the conclusion. The pairings of the lion with the young lion, and the bird in the snare with the snare, set up the final pair. The fear inspired by the shofar blown in a city is paired with the coming calamity in a city. The calamity won’t be something like a drought; it will come with terror, preceded by blasts of the shofar.

Second, Amos’s prophecy and his repeated use of the phrase, “Says the LORD,” solidify the connection. Any event can look random out of context, but prophesized in advance, it takes on additional meaning.

What’s coming is anything but random.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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