Summary: God saw the injustice of His people during the day of the prophet Amos and He issued His judgment to turn their hearts back home. God is still watching His people today, but are we listening?
The Lion Has Roared...
"Are We Listening?"
Many years ago there was a small time, insignificant farmer and rancher who was busy taking care of his sycamore fig trees and tending to his sheep while the big world around him was carrying on business as usual. Amos never thought of himself as a man of the cloth. He had never been to seminary. Never sat at the feet of one of the great religious teachers of his day. He was content doing what he had always done and had never thought of a career change, but something happened. Amos found himself in the grip of God and God filled his mouth with words that were not his own. He could not hold them in no matter how hard he tried. He could not go back to tending sheep no matter how bad they needed him. The sycamore figs would have to wait for someone else to tend their fruit. There was a message that had been given to Amos that had to be declared to the nations. The Lion had roared and the nations were standing at attention. The Word of the Lord had to be spoken.
Amos lived in the Judean hill country, in the southern Kingdom during the time when Israel was divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south. He lived in the small town of Tekoa, just to the south of Bethlehem. Amos was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, the prophet that we took a look at last week. These men were speaking the same message at the same time given by the same God. If you will remember our study last week then you will remember that Israel and Judah were living large. Economic prosperity was widespread. The market was soaring. The GNP was higher than it had been in generations. The threat from enemy nations was simply not there since the super powers of Assyria and Egypt were at rest. The people were enjoying their weekends, going about their business, and enjoying their success with security and serenity.
Life was good. Life was so good that some of the upper echelon of society had winter homes in Sarasota, Florida or some other beach front property as well as their normal home, according to Amos 3:15. Life was good - or so they thought. The churches were full. Since prosperity was widespread the offering plates were piled high. The religious leaders of the day didn’t challenge the people to live for the Lord, they didn’t preach about sin and repentance, they just enjoyed the good times with the people. The preachers saw the shrines and altars to false gods, but why ruffle feathers while the getting is good? The cupboards were overflowing. The merchants were busy. The shoppers were many. The sound of cash registers filled the air like Christmas carols in Wal Mart during the holiday season. Religious songs sprang up on every corner. The people were living in the lap of luxury. Or so everyone thought. The message that God gave to Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah was quite different than what the people were expecting. Prosperity was understood by everyone in the land to be a sign of God’s favor. Or so they thought. The full churches and the abundance of priests and shrines and altars were signs that things were going well with God’s people. Or so they thought. But that’s not what God was thinking.
God was watching. While the market soared and people were getting rich there were other folks who were languishing in the lowlands. Those who had money and could hire the best to represent them in the bought-and-paid-for court system got off "Scott-free" -- if the price was right. While there were well heeled criminals getting off clean in court there were others who were being sold down the river on a rail because they couldn’t afford an Israeli version of Johnny Cochran or Allen Dershowitz to represent them.
The churches were so full that "building campaigns" were being talked about in all of the churches. The people of God were so busy building their elaborate, ornate structures of sanctimonious smugness that they never even recognized their neighbors who were struggling to find something to eat, a place to live, or some sense of security as they foraged for a friend who would truly understand their loneliness or hopelessness.
Those who had were not content with what they had - they had to have more and more and more. They were always trying to cut costs so that they could boost their bottom line. They hired workers who had no other options and paid them a pittance. While the successful prospered they never gave a thought to helping their workers who were struggling to simply put food on the table for their families. They lied and cheated and stole in order to prosper, but they never missed church on Sunday. With injustice flooding the streets of Israel and Judah - The Lion roars!