Summary: This sermon addresses the issue of how prosperity does not always mean that God apporves of what is going on with those in positions of power.
A PROPHET CHALLENGES THE SYSTEM
Text: Amos 7:7-17
One of the most intriguing sights in all the world is that of the leaning Tower Of Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. It was begun in 1174 and completed in 1350. It stands 179 feet high and leans some 16 and a half feet out of the perpendicular as of 1910 compared to 15 and a half feet out of the perpendicular when it was measured in 1829. It seems that the foundation for this tower was not deep enough which caused the tower to begin to lean. (Information taken from the Encyclopedia Britanica. Volume 17. Chicago: William Benton Publisher, 1961, p. 954). I also read somewhere where they had inserted some more concrete to stabilize the structure.
This structure---the Tower of Pisa is part of a church. It is unique because of its angle as well as its stamina. One does not need a plumb line to see how this structure is out of line. Its angle is obvious by the naked eye. God showed Amos the vision of a plumb line. God was checking the wall with a plumb line, He was checking all that could not be seen with the naked eye. God was testing how well the people measured up spiritually.
When I read Amos 7:7-17, I cannot help but to think of the Tower of Pisa, because of the plumb line analogy that God was illustrating to Amos. The crookedness of the people and their ways was a reality. It was not readily seen by the naked eye. Nevertheless, it was evident that there was a problem or else God would not have been executing judgement. Things were out of line. Though all seemed to be going well, all was not well. They had assumed that prosperity meant approval. To their own eyes everything was just fine. But, to the eyes of God the ways of the people were leaning like the Tower of Pisa.
THE PROPHESY OF AMOS
The prophesy of Amos was not well received. His credentials were called into question. Amos was not a prophet by their standards or at leats the standards of Amaziah. By their standards---the standards of those that Amos prophesied to that is, Amos was a country boy who was sent by God to go and prophesy (Amos 7:15). Amos was a shepherd. But, he was also a prophet that was chosen by God. Amos was not concerned with the fact that they questioned his credentials so much as he was that they were questioning God.
When Jesus chose disciples, He did not choose the people that we would have thought that he would have chosen. He chose fisherman, tax collectors and other sinners to a new way of life. In much the same way that Jesus chose His disciples, God chose Amos in this situation to go and be a prophet.
It should not surprise us that God chose the simple to confound the wise. All things are possible with God. The problem with the people to whom Amos was prophesying was that they were putting God in a box. To put God in a box is not to give God the place that He should have. The problem that these people were having is that they wanted to be God’s people on their own terms and not God’s terms. The problem that God was having with these people is that they would not be His people on His terms. To get their attention, God sends them a simple man, named Amos to let them know that He is still in charge. It seems the reason that God sent Amos was because Amos was open to sharing God’s views without editorial alterations. Perhaps, if God had chosen somebody other than Amos, they might have edited God’s message to their own liking and thereby put God in their little box. All we can do is speculate as to why God chose Amos over other potential candidates.
AMAZIAH WAS REFUSING TO LISTEN TO AMOS
Amaziah was the priest of Bethel. This fact meant that Amaziah had clout. However, Amaziah had gotten off track concerning his position and purpose. He was abusing his own position and accuse Amos of being a troublemaker. Amaziah tells Jeroboam, the king of Israel that Amos has conspired against him. Amaziah thought that he was doing what was in the best interest of the nation. But, the real problem was that he had mistaken his own personal interest as his duty.
I read of a story where an insecure officer had been promoted from Major to Colonel. Along with the promotion came a new office. Like a child playing with a new toy, the Colonel was reveling in his promotion and trying out his new chair. It was then that the door opened. It was a young enlisted airman. He saluted the Colonel. “In a desperate effort to try and impress this young recruit, the newly promoted Colonel said, “Just a minute young man,” as he picked up his telephone. “I have to answer my phone. It rang just before you stepped in.” He picked up the telephone and in a pompous way said, “Oh, yes, General. Yes sir, General. Yes sir, I’ll telephone the President immediately.” Then he put the phone down and looked at the young man and said, “What can I do for you?” The nervous youth answered, “Oh, nothing sir. I just came in to connect your telephone sir.” (Quoted and paraphrased from the following resource: Robert H. Schuller. Discover Your Possibilities.New York: Ballantine Books, 1979, pp. 11-12).