THE CRISIS OF CONFORMITY
AMOS 6:1 - 6:14
Scripture Reading: Amos 6:1 - 6:14
Responsive Reading: 2 Kings 17:1 - 17:23
I want to begin my sermon today by asking for your help.
I’ve been looking for a street in Fredericton and Nackawic, but I haven’t been successful.
What I want you to do is help me look for it.
Now, I could tell you a lot about this street, but I don’t have to.
You see, you know all about it allready.
In fact, you’re probably all searching for it too.
But I don’t believe any of you have found it yet.
Several times we think we may be close, only to reach another dead end.
Also we are not alone in our search.
In fact in every community of every nation of the world, people are looking for this street.
I think they all had the same results.
Peurhaps because the street has no street signs.
But then, it doesn’t need signs as it has no road.
Mind you, it needs no road as there are no houses on it.
Quite a riddle isn’t it.
I want you to help me to find a street that has:
a) no street sign
b) no road
c) no houses
It is a street that is completely finished and needs nothing.
It is a street that we are all looking for, and one that we all know its name.
It is a street that we share with the Israelites of Amos’ time.
They too thought they had found it, but were mistaken.
It is one that the church today think they have found.
The church today is in for a terrible awakening.
That street which we all seek, is easy street.
It’s the street where there are no worries.
Where there are no troubles in your life.
Easy street is the street you live on when you "have arrived".
The Israelites felt that they were on easy street.
They were God’s chosen people.
He would not let them down or judge them.
They could do whatever they want and get away with it, because of formalized worship.
The church today seeks the same relationship today, and with the same formalized worship.
Our youth worship is in many ways entertainment.
The church of today seeks to "worship" God, but her actions deceive herself.
Do we worship God by allowing same sex marriages?
Do we worship God by denying Jesus deity?
Do we worship God when we "sugarcoat" the gospel and say that God is only a God of love and would not see anyone go to hell.
Do we worship God when our worship is not designed on the basis of God’s truth, but to make the people feel good?
The church today is like Israel was then.
They are as animals about to be slautered.
The animal has no concept that it is about to lose it’s life.
It continues to carry on as if everything is normal, and then walks calmly into the slautherhouse to meet it’s doom.
My friends, the church of today needs a wake up call, if it is to see revival.
The church of today as well as Israel then face a crisis of conformity.
Now there is nothing wrong with a church or people enjoying the ease that comes as a reward for dedicated and faithful labor.
The real problem then is how Israel earned this life of ease.
They reached their life of ease through idolatry, and social injustice.
Their life of ease would lead them to a terrible judgment.
The first words of the chapter are words of upcoming doom to the people who are at ease.
Why was this?
Matthew Henry Commentary provides this description of Israel’s pride, security, and sensuality for which they would be judged:
1. They were vainly conceited of their own dignities, and thought those would secure them from the judgements threatened and be their defence against the wrath of both God and man.
2. They persisted in their wicked courses upon a presumption that they would never be called to an account for them. (read verse 3)
3. They indulged themselves in all manner of sensual pleasures and delights. Their dignities they felt would justify them in their sensuality; the gains of their oppression and violence, they thought, would bear the charge of it, and they put the evil day at a distance, that they might give them no disturbance in it.
4. They had no concern at all for the interests of the church of God, and of the nation, that were sinking and going into decay.
This chapter contains little good news for Israel’s leaders.
It is to their leaders that this message is delivered.
The leaders of the church today would be wise to heed the message of Amos today.
The chapter brings out three key concepts that we need to understand:
1. Their Boastful Complacency (6:1-3)
2. Their Luxurious Indulgence (6:4-7)
3. The Complete Devastation (6:8-14)
Point One: Their Boastful Complacency ( 6:1-3)
Complacency is a fatal poison in a church.
We get lulled to sleep by comfortable services
Church becomes a very safe place to be because we will not be challenged to do anything.
Verse One includes both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom in this sin of complacency.
We also find that it is addressed to the leaders of Samaria.
People look up to their leaders.
They have certain expectations from them that are different from other followers.
And they have a right to do so.
Illustrate with a Hockey Team:
The leaders of Samaria were to look after the people militarily, economically, judicially, and religiously.
To those who lead much is demanded.
The leaders of Samaria would fall far short of the mark, and so would the people.
How do we lead today in the church?
We all stand on the front lines in some way or another.
Young people must maintain a Christian witness in the schools.
Adults must maintain a christian witness in work
Seniors I think have the hardest task of all, as they witness to the church of the steadfast and endless peace of God as they walk through the sunset years of life.
If the church is to be a leader with backbone in the world today it must do three things:
1. It must purge itself of the complacency that infects it because we are trying to do God’s work in our power.
Let’s face one thing right now.
Revival does not start outside the church, but it starts on the inside.
It starts with you and me, not them.
2. We need to raise an army of prayer warriors who will stand in the gap and uphold the church, it’s members, and our pastors.
What a shock it would be, if instead of stabbing each other in the back, and fighting with each other, as the church in North America does now, we would learn to hold each other up in prayer.
Our mouth can be our greatest encourager or it can destroy us.
We can use it to pray for each other, or we can use it to bring each other down.
3. The third is simple.
It must call sin, sin.
We need a church who will defend right and condemn wrong on the basis of what the Bible says and not what we want it to say.
We need a voice in the world today.
We have a right to speak on pollution
If the church wants to be a leader in this world today it must have the backbone to lead.
In verses 2,3 we are told that they are to go to Calneh, Hamath and Gath and see what happened to them.
Calneh and Hamath were city states that were overrun by Assyria in 854-846 B.C.
Gath was devestated in 815 B.C. and again in 760 B.C.
All of these states were bigger than Israel and better defended.
If they could not stand against the forces of God, how could Israel.
They don’t believe it could happen to them.
They hold on to their formal valueless worship as a confidence that God would not judge them no matter they did.
Point Two: Their Luxurious Indulgence: (6:4-7)
The leaders of Israel gained their luxuries through injustice.
The leaders would have much to account for.
They laid on beds with ivory
To use ivory beds is not in itself bad, except that excess is ever to be condemned; for, when we give ourselves to pomps and pleasures, we certainly are not then free from sin: indeed, every desire for present things, which exceeds moderation, is ever justly reprehensible.
They also acted in a drunken manner as they laid on their couches.
The use of the harp just adds to the word picture of rottoness.
It would be like playing air guitar, but to mock instead of to flatter.
Illustrate as Rome in their prime:
They had finally made it to easy street
But they would not stay there.
The leaders who had wronged the people so badly, the "best men " of the nation, would be the first to go into slavery.
Point Three: The Complete Devastation: (6:8 - 6:14)
The devastation on the leaders of Israel would be complete
Amos states in verse eight that God hates their pride.
Pride is another poison in the church.
It takes the focus from whom all blessings flow.
In fact we probably shouldn’t sing the doxology on occasion.
We will succeed at nothing in our own strength.
His judgement will be swift and terrible.
There would not be a remnant that would escape.
If some should not die by the sword in the takeover, he would get them by pestilance.
God would not be denied.
Those that came to bury those that died would do it in silence.
Lest they mention the name of God and have his wrath come down on them.
Verse 11 tells us that their dwellings would be destroyed by the invaders.
Nothing would remain.
It is as useless as horses running on a rocky cliff, or an ox trying to plow that same cliff.
It makes no sense and is unbelievable.
It would be like plowing asphalt, of no value
Justice was to have no value as they perverted it.
The fruit of fairness and integrity, intended to refresh and delight, had become instead a corrupt bitter pulp.
The conquest of Lo Debar was an intentional misquote by Amos.
The name of the conquered place was Lo debar.
There is a sense of irony here as Lo dabar means "nothing", thus they celebrate nothing by their conquest.
Karnaim literally means "Horns".
It signifies the strength of a bull.
Amos was rebuking them saying in this verse that they were rejoicing over nothing and had not seized anything in their own strength as they thought they had.
Thus with verse fourteen everyone would know that with the fall of Israel, all strength was to come from God and not them.
There is nothing wrong with a desire to live on easy street.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the good things of life.
There is something wrong though when we arrive there by walking over those who are less fortunate.
When the church conforms to the ways of the world just to belong, it gains nothing
We face a crisis of conformity today in the church.
It erodes our very foundation.
Let us vow not to settle as the israelites did.
Let us build on our foundation of faith in God.