Summary: The themes of Judgment in Amos
Amos: The Message - 8/14/2005
Turn with me in your bibles this morning to the book of Amos. Take a quick quiz: What is the book of Amos about?
•a farmer delivering a message of God’s judgment
•a prophet foretelling of attack by an enemy nation
•a call to repentance and a message of hope
And of course, the answer is all of the above. Amos is a book in the Old Testament, in a grouping we call the Minor Prophets. Minor, not because their message is unimportant, but because these are books of only a few chapter in contrast with the Major Prophets which are books like Isaiah with 66 chapters. Christians are largely unfamiliar with the Prophets. But they are books which give us a lot of important teaching. Next week, we’ll be looking in the book of Isaiah. If you want to read ahead, read the first 10 chapters of Isaiah this week.
We mentioned last week that we learn from both the messenger and the message in the book of Amos. In looking at the messenger last week, we looked at the idea of our calling. God often chooses to have us change our job, and takes us out of our comfort zone. But when he does, we need to obey willingly. We saw Amos as a farmer and shepherd in the southern nation of Judah, called to go to the northern nation of Israel. Under David’s grandson Rehoboam the Jewish nation experienced civil war and split into two halves. Amos is called to go out of his comfort zones, to the rebels in the north, to give them a message from God.
This morning, as we look at Amos’ message, I think we will see that it is a message that applies to our nation in an amazing way. And it is a message that each of us needs to take to heart. Let’s pray, and ask God to speak to us through the words of the prophet Amos. PRAY.
On January 23, 1996, Pastor Joe Wright of Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas offered a prayer at the opening of a new session of the Kansas Senate. It’s suggested that in such circumstances, clergymen should follow the "Guidelines for Civic Occasions", written by the National Conference of Christians and Jews which calls for the use of universal terms for the deity and for the recognition of the pluralism of American society. But what Pastor Joe Wright prayed that day didn’t conform. Let me read some of it:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good" but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism;
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism;
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle;
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation;
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;
We have killed our unborn and called it choice;
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem;
We have abused power and called it political savvy;
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition;
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression;
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free... I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
How do those words strike you? They partially echo the words that were spoken by God through the prophet Amos around 2,800 years ago. What God said through Amos was, "They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor ... and deny justice to the oppressed." We see parallels between these words as they reflect a society that is less than ideal.
Two-and-a-half millennia separate those pronouncements, yet the prayer uttered in the Kansas Senate echoes the words of Amos to the nation of Israel. The setting of Amos is about the year 760 BC, about the time of the founding of the Roman empire. It is about 100 years after the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. The nation of Israel has been divided for about 160 years. About 200 years before were the glory days of David and Solomon. But these are the days of sin and corruption. Israel had split into a northern kingdom, called Israel, and a southern kingdom called Judah. In the north, you’ll remember, King Jeroboam set up two golden calves, idols, so the people could worship these instead of going south to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh, creator of the universe. The kings of the North were all evil, and years later, another king, Ahab, introduced idol worship, causing Israel to turn from worshiping Yahweh, or Jehovah, the Lord, and to worship Baal and Ashtaroth. Worship at idol temples, worship involving mutilation, premarital and extramarital sex, and all types of perversion. The King in 760 is Jeroboam II. In just 40 years the northern of Israel will be no more - it will be invaded, sacked, and destroyed by the Assyrian nation. The people will be starved, besieged, impaled, raped, mutilated, and taken out of their land and scattered across Asia. But before all that happens, God gives the Jews several warnings from the prophets.