Summary: A Warning from God to anyone who is "Playing Church."
Consider the text God’s warning to anyone who’s ‘playing Church!’ I ought to just finish right there with that one statement, for the text says it all. Amos, here, is dealing with those who like to try to fool people by acting holy.
One thing about it brothers and sisters... you can fool man, but you can’t fool God! Man is easy to fool because man’s assessment and evaluation of people is based on what man sees ‘outwardly.’ In other words, man’s view and purview of humanity is based on what man is capable of seeing with his natural eye. But Amos is letting us know that there is an ‘unseen eye’ that sees all we do and an ‘unseen ear’ that hears all we say. That unseen eye and that unseen ear belongs to God... and God sees stuff and knows stuff about you that nobody else knows.
I tell people all the time... don’t be too quick to judge folk based on “what you think you know” about them, because you really don’t know them! Truth of the matter is... some people are good - “real good” -at being one thing around you, but something else behind closed doors. Matter of fact, you’d probably be surprised to learn some of the stuff the person sitting right next to you does when they’re out of your eyesight. You ought to turn and look at them today and say, “I wonder what you do when you know I can’t see you!”
But you see, that’s man’s limitation. Man only looks at the outward appearance. But God has the power to look through man’s physical and skeletal structure to see what state man’s heart is in and likewise, what state man’s soul is in! Amos apparently had issues with a few folk here. Evidently there were some people - some so-called church members - who were going around talking about how glorious it will be when the Lord comes. There are people today doing that. I’ve heard them stand on Sunday’s (in various churches) and ‘Testi-lie’ ... I mean ‘Testify.’ Talkin’ ‘bout: “Saints... if you miss me from singing or preaching down here, and you can’t find me no where... come on up to the city called glory and I’ll be waiting up there!” It sounds good! And when they say it, they sound so convincing! But my brothers and sisters, the proof is in the pudding and the spice is in the cake! There’s no sense in you telling me to look for you in glory if you can’t get along with folk right down here! There’s no sense in saying “I love the Lord, He heard my cry and pitied my every groan. Long as I live and trouble rise, I’ll hasten to His throne” ... if every time I hear your name mentioned it’s involved in some kind of ungodly mess!
I need to drop some money in the meter right here and park for a minute to tell anybody who’s playing church... you better stop it and get serious about this thing because time is winding up! I don’t know when He’s coming, but this one thing I am sure of: “It’s just a matter of time!”
And so, Amos is trying to warn Israel that destruction is approaching! Look at what he says in verses 16 & 17: “... there shall be wailing in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skillful of lamentation to wailing." In other words, Amos telling us that God’s judgement and devastation will be so complete throughout the land that there will be sorrow on every street! Travelers on the highway will see it every place they go! Farmers and vineyard workers will find the burden of sorrow more pressing than the care of their crops, and it will lead them to mourn! The only ones who will profit from this judgment will be the professional mourners. Yes... you see, back in the bible days, they had professional mourners. These pro-mourners would go around crying for folk for a fee. If you died and nobody cared, your family could hire these people to come and cry at your funeral. Well... the word says that when the judgement of God comes... the only people who profit from will be those who make a living from being professional mourners. And all of this will happen because Jehovah Himself will pass through the land in judgment as He has promised. Tell somebody, “He’s coming... just as he promised.”
I’m gonna leave you alone in a minute, but the writer says that the land of Israel shall be put in mourning, true mourning, that all places shall be filled with lamentation for the calamities coming upon them. I think we’re seeing that in our land today. Look at our cities these days, and just about every place you cast your eye there is wailing in the streets, on main streets. On side streets. On highways and byways. Everyday, you hear about another person being murdered, mugged, raped, or robbed. It’s not safe to walk the streets alone at nights. Nowaways, when you got out, you almost have to carry mace or pepper spray, or a stick or something to protect yourself in case you’re attacked.