May 19, 2002 PM SERVICE
INTRODUCTION: All of us frequently compare ourselves favorably with someone else. We all think of someone whom we consider to be less mature, less competent, or less able than we are. That person is a great comfort to us because he or she enables us to keep our self-image intact by saying, “Well, at least I’m not like so-and-so.” The only problem with determining our self-worth by comparing ourselves with others is that we are using the wrong measuring stick.
A little boy came up to his mother one day and said to her, “Mother, guess what! I’m eight feet, four inches tall!” His mother, greatly surprised, inquired into the matter and found he was using a six-inch ruler to measure a “foot.” The boy was actually only a few inches over four feet. This is exactly what we do. We measure ourselves by one another, an imperfect prototype, rather than by the standard of the Word of God.
READ TEXT: AMOS 7: 7-17
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Tonight we are going to look at what it is measure up and to meet a real standard. Our text speaks to us of a people who have not responded to the love and grace of God, therefore He will no longer tolerate their behavior and is bringing justice to bear upon them. The theme here is THE STANDARD to which God has called all people. Our text speaks of those who have not placed their faith in God and therefore are experiencing His Wrath. The Bottom Line Theory here is that God expects something of us, THE STANDARD.
THESIS: Failure to live up to God’s standard results in experiencing His wrath.
I. WHY THE STANDARD?? (vv. 7-8 )
A. Meaningless worship
1. The people have turned their worship into meaningless exercise (4:4-5)
2. Here Amos invites the people to come and sin at these two worship centers/ sites. This is a sarcastic remark, for he is really acknowledging that they had already come to these places to sin.
3. The reasons: a. they were worshipping in improper locations, b. they worshipped in an improper manner, via illegitimate priests, idols, etc.; c. they substituted worship for righteous behavior!!
B. Meaningless existence:
1. The people had replaced compassion with cruelty and greed in their dealings with one another (2:6-7b; 4:1)
2. there is no justice, even those who do right are mistreated.
3. No one is caring for the needy in their midst, the poor are oppressed, the needy are crushed.
4. For the sake of self, others are sacrificed. The ladder must be climbed, people do not matter.
II. THE RESULT OF A STANDARD NOT MET (v. 9)
A. God will no longer respond to His people (5:18-27)
1. He will utterly abandon his people, there will be no safety
2. He will not honor their worship, it is repulsive to Him
3. He will send his people into exile
B. God will destroy the Sanctuaries and the Royal line
1. Curse language: desolation of sanctuaries Lev. 26:30-31: I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings.
2. Curse language continued: destruction of the royalty. Lev. 26:25: And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
C. The Bottom Line Theory here is God will not spare anyone who has sinned.
1. God gets to the root of the matter (verse 9).
2. God shows no partiality, whether you are the king, or just a common person, God expects all to LIVE UP TO THE STANDARD.
III. THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY’S RESPONSE TO THE STANDARD (vv. 10-13)
A. Amaziah goes to the “highest authority” to complain, he writes the King.
1. Interesting to Note, Amaziah knows how to get the attention of the King, He uses a political word: Conspiracy!
2. Amaziah also stresses to the King that this is no silent rebellion, like our Sunday School woes, Amos has been so vocal, Amaziah states that the Land can not bear all his words: Amos’ verbal attacks as coming like a flood.
3. Amaziah distorts the words of the Prophet saying that the “Jeroboam will die by the sword,” a comment that Amos did not make.
4. Finally, Amaziah does get one right, he tells the King that Amos prophesies the exile of Israel.
B. Amaziah did not stop with writing the King, He tries to kick Amos out of town. (v. 12)
1. Here Amaziah takes a stand as a northern cosmopolitan snob and tells Amos to go back south, to the “sticks”, and to the “conservatives” that live there.
2. He also tells Amos to “Earn his bread there.” This is a derogatory statement, that Amos had come North to Preach, because the Priest could find more beneficiaries in the more populated north than in the South. Amos’ response in vs. 14 indicates that Amaziah was treating Amos according to his own standards.
3. Amaziah also tells Amos to no longer prophesy at Bethel because this is the “King’s sanctuary and the temple of the Kingdom.” What he is saying is that this is an official sanctuary where only official Preachers can preach, and that he, Amaziah, is the official of the Sanctuary and is thus claiming authority over Amos telling him to leave!!!
IV. AMOS’ RESPONSE TO THE STANDARD OF GOD (VV. 2-3; 5-6, 8-9, 17)
A. A PROPHETS PLEA: Begging God not to enforce the standard. Believing that God can be reconciled to His People.
1. Crying to the Lord!! An impassioned plea.
2. Forgive!! Calling on God’s mercy!!
3. Jacob can’t survive, He is so small. Rationalization!!
B. A PROPHETS REALIZATION: 7:7-9 is a sharp turning point in the Life of Amos.
1. Discouragement of the prophet, these people will never learn, they will never repent of their sinful ways!!
2. Realization that Yahweh will no longer relent when His people refuse to meet His standard.
CONCLUSION: Charlie Brown comments to Lucy in the Cartoon Peanuts, “Some one has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our life.”
“Aaugh!” cries Lucy. “This is the last day! This is it!”
She dashes away screaming, “I only have 24 hours left! Help Me! Help me! This is the last day! Aaugh!”
Charlie Brown, left alone, muses, “Some Philosophies aren’t for all people.”
The Point is God has a standard. How are we then to live knowing the truth of His word? The truth is, we are to live each day for the Glory of God and in doing so, we will have lived up to “THE STANDARD!”