Summary: Like Amos, God has called us to give a testimony to the world that is not always what the world wants to hear, but what God wants us to speak!
July 13, 1997
In years past, before GPS and other navigation wonders, the lighthouse was an important feature on every coastline. On the shoreline of Lake Superior, on a point that sticks well out into the cold waters of the big lake, there is a lighthouse on the shoreline. In a dense fog, you cannot see the shoreline or the safe harbor that lies just beyond the rocks. If your boat ventures just a few hundred yards in the wrong direction, all of its cargo, including its human cargo, might be lost in the cold sea. For a body does not survive long in the cold waters of Lake Superior.
The light on the lighthouse performed another function. The horn warns of the dangerous rocks. The light directs you to the safety of the harbor beyond. On a foggy night, ships at sea are thankful that the fog horn continues to drone its warning all through the night , and the light on the lighthouse never stops pointing the way to the safety of the harbor.
Imagine if you were in the lighthouse on a foggy night, making sure the horn was sounding and the light was shining. A neighbor on the lake comes for a visit and says, “How do you expect us to get any sleep in this neighborhood? That bright light keeps flashing right through our bedroom window. And the horn! Does it have to be so loud? Can’t you turn them off just for a while until after we get to sleep?” But if you didn’t sound the horn to warn the ships, or shine your light to guide their way, what would happen to the people on those boats? Just because the neighbors complain once in a while, it doesn’t mean you can shut down the lighthouse!
Friends, God has called us, as he called Amos, to sound the warning and to keep our lights shining in our world. That message won’t always be appreciated. In fact, many will encourage us just to shut down our message because it makes them feel uncomfortable. But God has called upon us to proclaim that message to the world without holding back, even when some would want us to do so.
Don’t Hold Back!
1. God still speaks to the world
When you read a prophet like Amos, it’s helpful to read some of the introductory material your Bible might have that provides you with some background. Amos lived about 750 years before Christ. He lived and preached primarily to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which had been divided after the time of Solomon. To keep his people from going back to Jerusalem to the temple, Jeroboam I set up altars with golden calves at Bethel and Dan so that his people would stay home to worship. But in doing so, he led them into idolatry. And it would appear that for the people of Israel one religion was just as good as the next and they went along with it.
The Jeroboam in our text was no better. The Bible says, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.” This Jeroboam was a tremendously successful king and expanded the borders of Israel. But this didn’t make him popular with God! This was Amos’ message. "’Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’" Amos message wasn’t “politically correct” for his time.
Nor was his message popular with the priests. Listen to what Amaziah, the priest in Bethel, had to say. "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." You can imagine his motives for wanting to kick Amos out of Israel. After all, Amos was talking about HIS church and HIS temple. How dare he say that he was wrong in what he believed! I suppose when the climate in Israel was that “any religion” was all right, we can understand why Amaziah was angry that Amos said that his religion was nothing more than idolatry and a false religion.
Nor was Amos’ message popular with the people. The Lord instructed Amos to call attention to people’s sins. Crooked business practices were in evidence. Merchants were using one set of scales for measuring the grain and another for weighing the money. Poor people couldn’t get a fair hearing in the courts. People were committing adultery and immoral acts. At a time when people were prosperous and wealthy, they were squandering and misusing the resources that God gave them. Amos called attention to their sins and told them to repent and turn back to God. How dare Amos play the part of the judge with them!