Summary: Mad Cow Disease is an appropriate allegory for sin; it easily infects, it changes our attitude & behavior; but unlike the disease, sin can be cured at the foot of the cross.
Dr. Tom Doubt, Senior Pastor Four Mile Creek Baptist Church
January 25, 2004
MAD COW DISEASE
A. Have you ever notice how some folk think you do not belong?
1. Kathie was taking registrations for a seminary lecture series. A man called and wanted to register by just giving his name over the telephone. When told he could not do it that way, he started to fuss at her. When it was clear that he would have to follow the rules, he then wanted to know why the seminary would hire a ¡§northerner."
2. The prophet Amos was someone accused of not belonging. He was a sheep breeder & grower of sycamore trees in 8th century BC. Though he lived in Tekoa, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem, God sent him to the Northern Kingdom of Israel where Jeroboam was king. Amos was a southerner sent north.
a. Unlikely prophet: no formal schooling, no prior experience.
b. Israel viewed him as a troublesome outsider. They did not want to hear what he had to say.
c. It was a time of prosperity; the threat from Assyria was low.
3. Amos stepped on the toes of people who very comfortable in their lifestyle. They were well-to-do and acted like their worship was "good enough" for God.
a. The prophet’s message was clear: God is in charge, they needed to change their ways.
b. Many Israelites had begun to think the Promised Land was for few rich, like themselves.
c. They lacked justice & righteousness, especially to poor & needy.
d. Shrines were built in Gilgal & Bethel to patronize God with their arrogant behavior.
e. Elaborate festivals were an occasion to show off their brand of religion.
f. God did not look favorably on rich sacrifices with empty words.
B. The words of Amos were biting, harsh sarcasm for Israelites sinful behavior. Listen to his inspired words in AMOS 4:1-5
A. Women of Israel were likened to cows Bashon (v 1).
1. To understand the sarcasm, you need to recall something of Bashon. It was east of the Jordan River, between Gilead & Mt Hermon. The area was lush pasture land, suitable for raising fine cattle; ones that were pampered in every way. Bashon cows were highly prized; Moses even sang of them (Deut 32:14).
2. In the 8th century BC, it was a compliment for a woman be compared to Bashon cows.
3. Men, the same reference would not fly today.
4. The sarcasm of Amos indicated God was not paying these women a compliment.
a. Pampered women of Israel might argue they had not directly oppressed the poor.
b. Yet they were filled with arrogance & self-importance, both to the needy & to God.
c. They nagged, whined & prodded husbands to provide even more.
5. Amos made it clear that men & women would come under judgment.
a. They oppressed the poor, crush the needy, and got others give them more (v 1).
b. In Bethel & Gigal they sinned in how they brought sacrifices & tithes to the Lord (v 4).
c. Worse, they loved to boast about what they gave to the Lord (v 5).
6. God had called Israel be His people; but they were not acting like He was their God.
7. They were guilty of sin & would be judged accordingly.
B. In effect, Amos told Israel they have Mad Cow Disease
1. Bovine spongiform encephalitis is caused by something called prions.
2. Prions are a biological substance, but have no DNA. Yet they are able to replicate.
a. Prions subtly infect brain & nervous tissue, eventually producing bizarre behavior in cows.
b. Prions are hard to destroy; they will survive in a medium-cooked steak or lightly browned hamburger.
c. There is no cure for Mad Cow Disease, either in cattle or humans. Ultimately the disease is fatal.
3. Mad Cow Disease is an appropriate allegory for sin .
a. God created us naturally. Since that day in the Garden of Eden, through sin we have been infected unnaturally.
b. While prions attack only nervous tissue, sin attacks both the spirit & the soul, and can even destroy our physical bodies.
c. Like prions, sin can easily infect us; it grows in us, and is hard to eradicate.
d. Once infected, sin begins to change our behavior ever so subtly. At some point, our view of who God is & how to worship Him changes radically.
f. Unforgiven sin will lead to divine judgment & fatal damnation.
4. Unlike Mad Cow Disease, there is a cure for our sins: Jesus Christ.
THESIS: Comparison to Mad Cow Disease teaches us about the threat of sin. There is no natural cure; we easily infected. Once infected, we have outward manifestations of sin that are symptomatic of altered attitude & behavior toward the Lord. The only place to seek treatment, to be cured, is at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.