Summary: God slams Israel for their actions, primarily trashing their treatment of the poor. What do we learn about how to respond in our own lives?
A PERPETUAL TRUTH: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
- Amos 5: 7, 10, 11, 12.
- It’s a cliché for a reason. It’s the way of the world.
- The poor typically get trampled.
- Let’s look briefly at the specific accusations levied by God against Israel.
a. v. 7 – “You who turn justice into bitterness”
b. v. 7 – “and cast righteousness to the ground”
c. v. 10 – “you hate the one who reproves in court”
d. v. 10 – “and despise him who tells the truth”
e. v. 11 – “You trample on the poor”
f. v. 11 – “and force him to give you grain”
g. v. 12 – “You oppress the righteous”
h. v. 12 – “and take bribes”
i. v. 12 – “you deprive the poor of justice in the courts”
WHO CARES ABOUT THE POOR? God does.
- Amos 5:5, 6, 9.
- Let’s look briefly at what God says He’s going to do in response.
a. v. 5 – “For Gilgal will surely go into exile”
b. v. 5 – “and Bethel will be reduced to nothing”
c. v. 6 – “he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire”
d. v. 6 – “it will devour”
e. v. 6 – “Bethel will have no one to quench it”
f. v. 9 – “He flashes destruction on the stronghold”
g. v. 9 – “and brings the fortified city to ruin”
- This may be something of a surprise to some of you. When we think of moral issues that are relevant to the Christian life, we think of abortion and homosexuality. Perhaps religious liberty thrown in there for good measure. But many conservative Christians don’t think about what we might call “economic issues.”
- Clearly these verses point us in that direction, though.
- It’s worth noting that here God is chastising Israel and that as He does that He can bring up any aspect of Israel’s shoddy recent record. And I’m confident He could make a compelling case of any of them. Yet what He chooses to concentrate on is largely the way that they are trampling on the poor. That’s striking. And worrisome for us.
- Why is it worrisome for us? What do you think about America’s record on this issue?
a. Would you say that as a result of corporate lobbying that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy?
b. Would you say that the rich pay their fair share of taxes?
c. Are there obviously exploitative things like payday loans that we look the other way concerning?
WHAT DOES "SEEK THE LORD" HAVE TO DO WITH THE POOR? You appreciate those who help those you love.
- Amos 5:4, 6, 14.
- First unpack the question part of the sermon outline point.
- “What does ‘seek the Lord’ have to do with the poor?”
- The passage proposes answers to what Israel should do.
a. v. 4 – “Seek Me and live”
b. v. 6 – “Seek the Lord and live”
c. v. 14 – “Seek good, not evil, that you may live”
- So the focus is on seeking God.
- This raises the question: what does seeking God have to do with the poor?
- First, it needs to be said that the common idea of keeping our faith in a private box separate from the rest of our lives is not a Biblical idea.
- Many people have a “faith in Jesus” that impacts no other part of their lives. It’s a private compartment of their lives that impacts where they are on Sunday at 11 and where they believe they are going after they die, but not much else. It doesn’t affect how they treat people. It doesn’t affect how they spend their money. It doesn’t affect what they watch on TV. It doesn’t affect the way they act at work.
- That’s not a Biblical faith. Following Jesus is to impact every part of our lives. After all, we have chosen to be disciples of His.
- Seeking the Lord and following Him means that we pursue His priorities and values. One of those clearly enumerated in this passage is God’s concern for the poor. And not only this passage, but many in the Bible.
- Now let’s discuss the answer to the sermon outline point: “you appreciate those who help those you love.”
- Story of Ryan, the move, and the basketball coach’s statement.
- When someone helps someone you love, you notice.
- Of course God loves everyone, but the Bible makes it clear that He has a soft spot in His heart in particular for the poor. So when someone helps the poor, God notices.
- It forms a circle: when we seek God, we love those He loves; when we those He loves, God notices and rewards us, thus drawing us closer to Him.