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Amos 3-5

June 3rd, 2012 by Vic

Amos 3-5

June 3, 2012

“You are in trouble.  Here’s why”

 

Amos was a rancher.  God called him to preach a message that God is still God.  It does not surprise me that God did not call an educated scholar.  Farmers who play in the dirt seem to have a simpler trust in God.

 

Amos’ speeches were oracles.  An oracle can be a vision, a prophesy, a forewarning, or a revelation.  We use the word today for a wise saying or a psychic prediction.  Amos was simply warning the people, “You are in trouble.  Here’s why and here’s what is going to happen to you.”

 

3:1-2  God is speaking to his whole family that has been delivered from slavery in Egypt.  All the children of God need to listen.  An important message has been sent.  Because of your special relationship with God, God has to punish you for your sins (2).  This is a truth that we do not like to hear.  We would rather hear that God wants us to be happy, that God will protect His children if they worship Him most of the time.  We assume that God will bring help not harm.  We forget the covenant provided for curses as well as blessings.  The Bible says, “God has to punish sin.”

3:3-8  During times of prosperity we get complacent and can easily forget the word of God and ignore the signs of the times and the warnings from the hand of God.  Some things in life are inseparable (seven questions).  Cause and effect are part of ordinary life.  Blessings and curses are both part of the covenant.  They are inseparable.  God cannot walk with us if we do not agree. Amos says he has to speak the message God gave him.  The Lion has roared.

 

3:9-4:3  This passage contains 4 oracles against Samaria.  Each describes an aspect of Samaria’s luxurious lifestyle and unfaithfulness to God’s law.

 

God’s invites the leaders of foreign nations who do not know God’s law to come to Samaria and witness the shocking level of exploitation by the super rich against humanity that was being practiced.  Get together on the mountain.  Find a place that will give you a better perspective or bigger picture.  You will soon see that there is no peace and safety, but corruption (9).  They have become more sinful than the foreigners even though they have God’s laws in their Temple.  Their guilt is greater.  God is seeking to bring them back to Himself with warnings and judgments.

 

God says the rich do not know how to do right.  They have ignored God’s law and their thinking became distorted (10).  God is sending an enemy to destroy and occupy their land so they will repent and return to Him.  Those things they trusted in will provide no defense at all (11).  The things left will have no value except as a memory of past luxury (12).

 

God is the judge calling witnesses to Israel’s sin against the known law of God (13).  The altars at Bethel were for idol worship.  They were monuments declaring the nation’s corruption.  Your house of worship will be destroyed.  Your summer home, winter home, and large estates will be demolished and looted by invaders.

 

God is against fat cows.  The beef from Bashan were well-known for their size and rich pasture.  Women as well as men are like fat cows responsible for mistreating the poor (4:1).  They are fat and well fed.  They arrogantly dominate their families.  God says their time is coming.  Their selfish complacency will be replaced by death without burial or dignity.  Their bodies will just be dead meat thrown on a dumpsite.

 

Samaria’s present leisure and luxury will become horror.  A city of pleasure seekers will see its wealth stolen, its comforts ruined, its idols annihilated and its people captured, killed, and exiled.  Does that sound like the New Orleans flood?  Is God speaking today?  Keep in mind that these oracles are against the city as a whole.  The righteous suffer because of the wicked.  Drunk drivers kill righteous people.

 

4:4-13  God has spoken in the past, but you no longer recognize His voice.  So go on sinning and doing your own thing.  You worship in the wrong place, with illegitimate priests, and with the wrong attitude.  You are making more pilgrimages than God asked for.  You worship more days of the week than God asked for.  You love your sacrificial system, but you don’t love God or your neighbor.  Intense devotion does not justify sin.  You are exploiting the poor through your distortion of the legal system.

 

God sent hard times so you would repent (6).  God sent floods to some cities and drought to others but still you did not repent (8).  God sent different natural events to reduce the yield of your crops and vineyards but still you did not repent (9).  God sent plagues and raiding parties into the land but still you did not repent (10).  You should view yourselves as fortunate to be alive.  God snatched some of you from certain death but still you did not repent (11).

 

Disasters of every kind should humble us and wake us up to serious reflection.  Behind all events stands a personal God who loves us.  He gets no pleasure from disciplining us.  He calls us to return to Him and seek His presence.  The man of God sees the hand of God present in everything.

 

Therefore, prepare to meet your God.  Not your idol gods, but the God who formed the mountains.  He is the God who brought you out of Egypt and gave you this land.  He reveals His thoughts to those who will listen.  He reveals His nature to those who will see.  He is the Lord God Almighty.  He is the creator, the revealer, the walker, the ruler of heavenly armies.  Prepare to meet God.  Judgment is certain.  There is no expectation that the nation as a whole will hear God’s word and repent, but some individuals will.  You’ve seen a lot of disasters in the past, but you have not seen anything like what is about to happen!

 

5:1-17  How can we escape the judgment of God?  Seek God and live.  God says, “Listen to my cry for you.  I see you are not going to repent.  I see you are fallen and no one is going to help you” (1-2).  You will be tragically helpless and lonely in death.  God, the only one who could help you get up, has abandoned you.  You have not sought after Him.  Israel is doomed to defeat by her enemies.

 

But God says, “Seek Me and live.”  You won’t find help in the Bethel University (center of idol worship), the government at Gilgal (Joshua’s first encampment), or Wall Street in Beersheba (resort center).  Seek the Lord that you may live (6).  Life is possible only by a return to God.  Is that too simple?

 

If you do not repent and return, the fire that is coming is God.  Our God is a consuming fire.  He is a just judge and will tell you the truth (10).

 

The wise man realizes that there is no justice in the court system so he keeps quiet (13).  These are evil times.  If you will seek good and not evil you will live (14).  The Lord can change things, but we must fear God and do good (Acts 10:35; Rom 12:9).

 

The northern nation of Israel was at its historical height of prosperity and power on the outside.  But inwardly it was weak and corrupt.  Leading citizens were persecuting the righteous.  They were distorting the legal system to their benefit.  The jurists were bribed (12).  How should godly people respond when they are part of an ungodly society about to be punished by God?  They must choose to do good and not evil and do not take God’s blessings for granted.  Be thankful.

 

Hate evil.  Love good (15).  Do your part to maintain justice in the courts.  Don’t presume on God’s favor.  There will be a day of reckoning (18).

 

5:18-27  The day of the Lord refers to an ancient concept that a real king could win his wars in a single day.  People were hoping that God would demolish their enemies in a day.  Amos is saying that God’s people and God’s enemy are the same people.  God is not required to only bless His people.  Instead of rescue, the day of the Lord will bring judgment (20).

 

In their deluded minds they desired this day of the Lord.  They thought they were pleasing God because they kept up the forms of Mosaic worship.  God will punish our enemies.

 

People assumed that God was pleased with their partial obedience.  Commitment to your wife does not mean 5 days a week.  Commitment to God does not mean weekends.  Intermittent commitment will not please your wife.  Intermittent righteousness does not please God.  Beautiful music does not earn God’s favor (23).

 

We please God when we practice justice and righteousness all the time.  Our righteousness must keep rolling on like a never failing stream.  Rivers do not turn on and off for your convenience.  The assumption that ritual is the epitome of worship is mistaken.

 

Therefore, says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty, if you do not seek good but instead pursue evil, if you do not seek Me, the Lord God Almighty, I will use a nation to punish you severely.

 

Despite past punishments, Israel has not returned to the Lord.  They are smug and confident in the belief that since they were the chosen people, no calamity could come on them.  They worshiped God with their lips and put on a great show every week, but their hearts were far from Him.  Their pretentious worship was unacceptable to God because their lives were full of sin.

 

God sends a prophet and tells them they are in trouble.  Here’s why.  Here’s what you need to do about it to prevent it.  Seek God with your whole heart and live.

 

Prosperity and wealth is no sure sign of God’s present favor.

All human wealth, strength, and defenses are powerless against the judgment of God.

God defends the poor and helpless.

God hates public corruption and perversion of justice.

God is pleased with the nation whose laws and worship honor Him.

The Almighty Creator God expects us to honor Him and give thanks.

Seek God and live.

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