Summary: God's warning is an act of grace, an act of love and a gift of hope. His desire is not to condemn but to save.
[Read Amos 7:7-17]
Amos saw a vision – God standing by a wall that has been built true and straight.
• He was also holding a plumb line in His hand, to confirm that the wall has been build true and straight.
• If the wall is true, the plumb line will prove it. If it is not, then the plumb line will show that too.
Israel was found to be sorely wanting. She has deviated far from God’s ways.
• Amos was called to prophesy God’s warnings to the people.
• He was not a professional prophet, just a shepherd and a gardener. But God needed a voice and Amos became that voice.
• He spoke the Word of God faithfully and I felt with great courage, challenging the whole nation to return to God and away from judgement.
Amos did not overstate his case. He did not exaggerate. He just tells it like it is.
• Israel was prosperous at this time, rich and successful, but in a bad shape spiritually and morally.
• She has gone for many other lovers, as Hosea revealed. She has the look of religion but no intimate relationship with God.
• She was proud and arrogant. She was oppressing the poor and exploiting the needy.
So Amos came and lifted up, in a sense, a mirror for them to look at themselves and judge for themselves.
• He began with the words of God (chaps 1-2) pronouncing judgment on the nations, ending with Judah and Israel.
• Glance through chaps 1-2 and see the phrase - “For three sins… even for four” repeated throughout.
• Let’s read what God said about Judah and Israel - Amos 2:4-8.
God saw them all. He was not saying there were only 3 or 4 sins, but highlighted just some that most characterised them.
• God was giving them warnings. God was telling them, if they continue to go down this road, they would face dire consequences.
God’s warning is an act of grace.
• As the righteous God, He could have executed judgment and no one could have faulted Him. But in His grace, God showed restraint. God was patient.
• One of the unfortunate pictures that we have of God in the OT is that He is mean and fierce because we read only of His judgments. How can God be so cruel?
• But we forget that God has tolerated sin for a long time. He has given the people time, actually, lots of time.
Did you notice that, having seen all of man’s evil, His responses were, “I will send fire, I will destroy, I will…”
• God’s disciplines are placed in the future… He is giving us time… time to repent.
• Psalm 145:8 says God is slow to anger and rich in love. [Ps 145:8-9 “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made.”]
God’s warning is an act of love.
• Amos 3:7 “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” God will not punish without warning.
• Amos 2:11-13 “I have raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men. Is this not true, people of Israel?" declares the LORD. 12"But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.” [Nazarites are men specially dedicated to God (never cut their hair and drink wine).]
• Then the Lord was left to do verse 13 "Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain…” and the list of judgement continues.
• As Amos speaks, God was still giving them time. In fact, God gave them another almost 40 years (before Israel fell to the Assyrians)!
Heed God’s voice. Each time we are convicted by the Word, heed it.
• It’s serious business to God. Repentance is a step towards blessing.
Judgement is never God’s choice. It is man’s choice, actually.
• God never condemn anyone. John 3:17 tells us very clearly. Jesus came in our world to save us, not to condemn us.
• We condemn ourselves when we choose NOT to turn from our sinful ways.
Nineveh did the right thing when they heard the reluctant prophet Jonah spoke.
• They repented in sackcloth and ashes. God gave them time, a chance and they took it!
• God gave Israel many chances here. [Read Amos 4:6-12]
What God did was to leave prompters in their experiences.
• God does that in our lives, giving us His messages through friends, sermons, experiences we had, to remind us of our need to return to Him.
• If God is really present with us, then this is surely what we can expect. He will speak to warn and guide.