Summary: It's shocking to many that God sometimes is the cause of hardship in our lives. When that happens, what is He hoping to accomplish?
“HE SAID WHAT?!”: Sometimes hardship is from God.
- Amos 4:6-12.
- This passage might have been shocking to you. “What do you mean God did all these things?” Today we sometimes think of Him exclusively as a kindly grandfather who would never say a cross word to anyone. That, however, is not the Biblical picture.
- Sometimes God is the cause of hardship.
- Where does hardship come from?
a. My sin.
b. Others’ sin.
c. Fallen world.
d. Hand of God.
- At different times each of the four might be the cause. It is not always easy to discern which one is happening. That’s especially true when we’re not open to considering the fact that it might be my fault.
- And, of course, it could be more than one. For instance, it could be my repeated sin that is bringing the hand of God.
- What are the two biggest mistakes most people make on this issue?
a. Thinking all hardship comes from God.
b. Thinking no hardship comes from God.
- As noted earlier, some presume that no hardship comes from God. Why would God ever punish us? This is especially true for people without a robust understanding of the nature and depth of human sinfulness.
- On the other hand, there are some people who presume that all hardship comes from God. This shows up in phrases like “Well, it just must be God’s will” whenever something bad happens. The presumption that phrase reveals is that everything that happens is God’s will and therefore all bad things are God’s will. This is, of course, not true Biblically, but it nonetheless is a popular idea.
THE PASSAGE'S TWO BIG PHRASES:
1. GOD'S MERCY SHOWS UP IN HIS INITIAL GOAL REPENTANCE.
- Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11.
- The most obvious “big phrase” in this passage is repeated throughout: “yet you have not returned to Me.” This speaks to a disappointment from God over Israel’s reaction to the hardship He brought.
- What was God’s goal in bringing the hardship? His goal was repentance.
- This repeated phrase forcefully makes that point. God shares the hardship that He brought and then mourns: “yet you have not returned to Me.” That tells us God’s goal in bringing the hardship: He wanted Israel to come back to Him.
- God was not bringing the hardship just for the sake of doing it. No, He did it with the hope of pushing Israel into returning to Him.
- How would that have worked? Often it’s only when things start to fall apart that we begin to question what we’re doing. Moments of hardship can be moments of reflection. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes you don’t look up until you’re flat on your back.”
- Now, of course, that doesn’t always work, as is indicated in our passage. Israel suffered through these hardships and yet it didn’t cause them to turn to God.
- Why wouldn’t they turn back?
- Sometimes you just blame God. You don’t see your culpability.
- Sometimes you just take it as the way things are. You don’t see it as a reason for reflection.
- Sometimes you blame those around you. It’s the fault of their stupid actions.
- Sometimes you know it’s directed at you but you are simply unwilling to bow down to God.
2. GOD'S JUSTICE SHOWS UP IN HIS EVENTUAL GOAL: JUDGMENT.
- Amos 4:12.
- Here we find the other great line in this passage: “prepare to meet your God.”
- It sounds like (and probably has been used as) a line from an old western!
- This points us to the more difficult of the two truths: a lack of repentance eventually leads to judgment.
- There is a point where God’s patience ends and His justice comes to the fore.
- “Prepare to meet your God” speaks of the Lord showing up in fury and wrath in a way that no one could be prepared for.
- Let’s talk about how that might show up today:
- We need to recognize that in our own lives there is the possibility of God bringing judgment.
b. The church in America.
- If the church in America continues to pursue materialism and its own comfort, there are not good days ahead.
- If America continues to do things as a country that are displeasing to God, judgment will fall at some point.
BE WARNED: Right now do you need to embrace repentance to avoid judgment?
- Amos 4:13 – “reveals His thoughts to man”
- As we close, let’s think about each of our lives. We are each in different places, but we are all imperfect.
- Is there something in my life that I need to repent of? Are there things I’m doing that I know I shouldn’t be doing? Am I being callous or indifferent to the Spirit?
- If so, this sermon serves as a reminder that judgment will come eventually. We are pushing into dangerous territory to blithely walk forward.