Summary: There are two ways to prepare to meet God—on our terms or on His terms.

1. How Israel tried to meet God on their terms

a. They behaved on their own terms (4:1)

b. They worshipped on their own terms (4:4-5)

2. How God persuaded Israel to meet Him on His terms

a. God warned on His terms—His holiness (4:2-3)

b. God persuaded on His terms (4:6-11)

3. The results

a. The result of Israel’s terms (yet have ye not returned to me)

b. The result of God’s terms (prepare to meet thy God, O Israel) (4:12-13)

Sometimes I think that the lawyers have taken over the world. It seems like everything we do has some type of terms we have to agree to. Just listen to a car dealer commercial on the radio sometime. They go through all the commercial telling you about this once in a lifetime sale they’re having. This weekend only. Push, pull or tow your old car in and we’ll give you top-dollar trade in value for it. We’re practically giving cars away. Whoever reads that stuff for the commercial is loud, enthusiastic, and just over the top with excitement. Then comes the part where they have to disclose all the terms. The reader changes his voice to just above a mumble. And he reads faster than any human being can possibly understand. It’s the same thing with all the junk mail I get. Somebody will send a credit card application. All over the front in big 2-inch letters it’ll tell me about all the money they’re going to give me. But then at the bottom or on the back, it’ll give the terms and conditions. Of course, you have to have a magnifying glass to read the print. The only reason they put the terms there in the first place is because the lawyers make them. But they still try to hide them as best as they can. But you can’t hide the fact that nearly everything in life has terms attached to it. Whether you’re buying anything, getting a job, or entering a contract—terms have to be agreed to. Did you know that God has terms as well? Except God is no lawyer—He sets His terms up front. The problem comes in when we try to meet God on our terms instead of on His. That’s what Israel did. Ever since God called up Abraham and promised to make of him a nation, He had laid out His terms to them. And they consistently refused God’s terms. They wanted a relationship with God, but they wanted it on their terms. They wanted to meet Him on their terms, not His. In our passage tonight, God speaks through Amos to review His case against Israel. He reviews the ways Israel tried to meet God on their own terms in spite of His continual persuasion. Even though times have changed, human nature hasn’t. Neither has God’s character. There are still two ways we can prepare to meet God. We can either try to do it on our terms or His. We’ll meet Him either way. Either we’ll meet Him in judgment or in eternal relationship. Each of us is going to meet God. I want each of us here tonight to prepare to meet Him on His terms. In order to do that, we’re going to look at three things. We’ll see how Israel tried to meet God on their terms. We’ll see how God persuaded Israel to meet Him on His terms. And we’ll take a look at the results. First, let’s see how Israel tried to meet God on their terms. Israel tried to meet God on their terms because they behaved on their own terms. Look at verse 1:

AMOS 4:1

They behaved on their own terms. Look at the words God used to describe them. He called them kine. Kine is an old-timey word for cows. Cows, not bulls. Bashan was a hilly area overlooking Samaria that was known for its cattle. If Hardee’s had been around back then, they would have marketed Bashan burgers instead of Black Angus. Bashan cows were well-fed, spoiled and fat. And this is the picture God used to describe the Israelite women. In the original, the feminine structure of the verse makes it clear that God is talking about the women of Israel. Plus, when He uses the word masters, that is the word that is most commonly used for husbands. Throughout history, in every society, women are the main stabilizing forces. You’ve heard the song, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World. Well, it may not rule the world, but it certainly makes it stable. The decline of any society can be seen in the way the women act. Women are typically more stable. They are more moral. They are more obedient to laws. They are more kind and merciful to the poor and needy. But when they begin to turn from those natural ways, society inevitably declines. That was what was happening in Israel. The women had turned from their natural roles. They had lost their mercy and kindness for the poor and needy. They had usurped their roles in the home and were now demanding to be waited on. This is not just a judgment on the women. It is a judgment on Israel as a whole. Because women acting that way is an effect. It’s not a cause. The cause is from men and society as a whole turning from God. Look at what has happened in our country. America began to turn away from God in the mid 1800s. Our educated elite began to believe in things like Darwinism. They began to question the Bible and tear it down piece by piece. That was the beginning. Now fast-forward to today. Women in America are no longer valued for their kindness and mercy. We lift up cutthroat, catty corporate executives and political figures as role models. From an early age, girls are encouraged to be tough and aggressive instead of kind and merciful. Just like in ancient Israel, that is just one of the final symptoms of a disease that has been ravaging for a long time. It is a disease called wanting to behave on our own terms. We all want to meet God. But we don’t want to behave on His terms. Just like Israel, we want to behave on our terms. But not only did Israel behave on their own terms, they worshipped on their own terms. Skip down to verses 4-5:

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