Archive for the ‘Amos’ Category

Amos 2

Amos 2 has the prophet talking about the sixth of the judgments against the Gentile nations as he addresses the nation of Moab.  He has now addressed those nations around those of His children – Judah and Israel – who have split the Promised Land into a north and south kingdom.  But God’s punishment doesn’t stop here.  He uses the same judgment to address His children, as they are just as guilty as the previous six nations that God has punished.  “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four….” – Judah has piled on sin after sin after sin and now will face the result of those choices.

We find it pretty easy and comfortable to talk about and rebuke the sins of those who aren’t proclaiming to follow God. That is what Amos did with the first six announcements of judgment, but just as Amos went on to look at sin among God’s people, we should do the same.  Here is what he says about the people of Judah: “I will not revoke the punishment, because  they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but  their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked”.  God had blessed His people throughout history with His law and commandments, but He expected them to honor and obey His word.  They were not, and because of that would face His wrath and punishment.

Israel is in the same boat.  “I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals—those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted…”.  Israel has the same problem as Judah and the six Gentile nations – they are guilty of sin.  Theirs is more of an abusive cruelty and sexual immorality – but it is still all about sin and making choices that were against God’s laws and commands.  These weren’t simple mistakes but rather violent and direct rebellion agains God’s Word.

As history states, God calls out the things that He has done for His people:

  •   it was I who destroyed the
  • I destroyed his
  • I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt 
  • I raised up some of your sons for prophets”

God has been faithful and blessed His people for generations.  Yet they turn and walk away from Him.  Our walk with God should be based on gratitude for what He has done for us.  Without Him, we are nothing.  God is dealing with rebellious children in both Judah and Israel.  But dealing with them He will, and they will have to accept the outcome of the choices they have made.  God will not tolerate sin.  There is a day of reckoning and Amos is the messenger that makes that clear for both the Gentile nations, as well as the children of God.

Amos 1

Amos 1 brings us the words of God through Amos, a sheep herder from Tekoa which was a city about ten miles from Jerusalem.  This book of prophecy is the only mention in the Bible of Amos.  His name means ‘burden or burden bearer’. Since most of the prophecies of Amos concern coming judgment on either the nations surrounding Israel or judgment on Israel itself, he was a man with a burden.  He doesn’t appear to have any formal theological background or training, and was likely a simple man who worked the land and was called by God uniquely to share His truth.

Amos is around during the period of the kings.  What God revealed to him “he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel”.  When Amos served as a prophet, the people of God had been divided into two nations for more than 150 years. The southern nation was known as Judah, and the northern nation was still known as Israel. Through the period of the divided monarch Judah saw a succession of kings, some godly and some ungodly (Uzziah was one of the better kings of Judah). The northern nation of Israel saw nothing but a succession of wicked kings. Jeroboam the son of Joash was one of the better kings among these wicked men – especially in a political and military sense – but he was still an ungodly man.

Amos brings a message of judgment from God.  “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem;  the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the  top of  Carmel withers”.  God’s people have been disobedient again (what a surprise), and have set up worship centers outside Jerusalem in direct disobedience to God’s commands.  Sin is a big problem, and God calls it out through Amos as sin upon sin upon sin.  “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four”.  It isn’t that there were only four sins committed by the Syrians in Damascus, but that they, as the first of the folks God is dealing with through Amos’ words, were just piling on sin after sin.  That’s how we seem to live as humans.  If we get away with one sin, we just tack on more and more until judgment comes.

Amos moves on to address Gaza and Tyre and Edom and Ammon – all of whom are guilty like Damascus of piling on sin after sin against God’s will.  Judgment comes for all sin.  We don’t know when, or how that God will choose to address it.  But there is a day of reckoning for our sin and Amos makes it clear to each of these places that they would not get away with it.  In these cases, these people came against God’s chosen and were punished. But it is still God’ dealing with sin, which He did then, and continues to do today.  He can’t ignore it, whether it is attacking His people in days gone by, or violating His will and commands today.  There is a price for sin.  We need to pay attention and learn!

Amos 9

Amos 9 paints a pretty clear picture of how God will deal with sin.  He’s going to wipe it out, as well as those guilty of it.  Amos makes it clear that God’s cleansing will be complete.  “Not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape”.  Often people believe that God isn’t all that interested in what is happening here on earth.  That somehow He’ll forget about their little part of evil, or that they’ll slip under the radar some how.  It is very clear that isn’t happening.  “I will fix my eyes upon them”.  God is not only watching, He will pursue evil and clean it up.

Ah but can He really do it.  This is a pretty big planet and there is a lot going on.  Maybe God will just miss some of what I do?  Maybe I’ll slip past His notice?  Check out how Amos describes God’s ability:

–       “touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn

–       all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again

–       builds his upper chambers in the heavens

–       founds his vault upon the earth

–       calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth

Let’s be clear.  God is more than able to see all, do all, and be all.  He is not limited in any way.  Evil will not flee and escape, or fail to be noticed.  And as Amos describes the amazing God of the universe he caps it by saying “The Lord is his name” just so none of us forget who we are dealing with here.

Still wondering what lies ahead.  “The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground’.  This is pretty clear and plain.  God isn’t going to issue a pass just because of who we are or where we live.  His standards are set and judgment is coming.  “For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve”.  We’re going to be measured.  We’re going to have to give account for what we have done.  And the outcome is clear: “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword”.  The idea that a loving God would never hurt anyone – well you just need to read scripture to know that is not how it works.  Evil will be removed.

There is good news as Amos wraps up his part of scripture.  “I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit”.  God is in the restoration business.  He is all about redeeming people and bringing them back to Himself.  He pursues us and we will face Him one day, so the question is what that will look like.  Will we stand there clothed in righteousness?  That happens if we have a saving relationship with Christ and have His blood over us to cover our sin.  Or will we stand before Him on our own merits and fall short, way short, of what is required?  It is our choice.  It is our decision.  There won’t be any discussion about how unfair it is for God to have a standard so high we can’t meet it on our own.  Holiness is the standard.  Are you ready for that conversation?  Without Jesus, you aren’t.  It is very much time to get this right in your life!

Amos 8

Amos 8 continues his prophecy for the people.  He relates it to them as seeing “a basket of summer fruit”.  You can imagine it can’t you.  Big basket heaping with ripe and juicy fruit, just sitting there for the enjoyment.  Only one problem….they aren’t going to get any of it. In fact, God says “the end has come upon my people; I will never again pass by them”.  They aren’t going to enjoy the fruit of God’s blessing, in fact what lies ahead is a long way from anything that is even close to a summer fruit basket.

So what has God so irritated?  Disobedience….it almost always comes down to this.  Amos calls them out as “you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end”.  They are taking advantage of those in need.  They are not living as God has commanded them.  And they also are cheating people “we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances”.  All the while I’m sure they thought they were getting away with it.  Take advantage of those who can’t protect themselves.  Line their own pockets deceitfully by being liars and cheats.  God is not amused.

Here is what Amos tells the people from God.  “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds”.  Does anything stand out there in God’s word to them?  For me, it is the word “never”.  God takes a long view on things.  He doesn’t forget.  He never forgets.  So when we sin, it doesn’t go away over time.  It never goes away, unless it is completely erased.  And the only way that happens is through Jesus.  His blood can cover our sin and remove it.  Otherwise, God doesn’t forget…..never.  Have you got any sins that are hanging around your neck?  You do if you haven’t accepted the grace of Jesus’ blood on the cross.  You’re in the exact same spot as these people were – facing God’s punishment.

So what will that look like?  Amos gives a pretty nasty list of things that I wouldn’t want to sign up for:

–       “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight

–       I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation

–       I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head

–       I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day

–       I will send a famine on the land

It doesn’t bode well for those who aren’t obedient.  God doesn’t take it lightly, and He never forgets.  But this ending statement really says it all: “they shall fall, and never rise again”.  We need to get right with God.  We need to clean up the sin in our lives.  We need to live a life of obedience and walk with Jesus every step of the day!

Amos 7

Amos 7 has Amos delivering some rather strong prophecy to the people and rulers of Israel.  It begins with God showing Amos what is to come – locusts that would eat the grass and devour the land.  The thing that jumps out at me is that God was “forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout”.  If you ever wonder if God is in control and sees the entire picture from end to end, you can stop wondering. He does.  He is in control from beginning to end.  He has all the details in His hands.

Amos shows us the power of intercession here as he cries out “O Lord God, please cease” as God continued to reveal the judgment that was coming for His people.  We see intercession from godly men throughout scripture, when people stand in the gap between God and another or others and seek His grace and mercy.  And like we have seen elsewhere, Amos’ intercession works.  “The Lord relented concerning this”.  God changed His course of action.  He didn’t change His standards or expectations, but He is giving His people yet another chance to get it right.

We get a really good visual of what God’s expectations are here.  “I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel”.  Let’s be clear.  God has a measuring stick for our lives.  We are going to be measured by it, and every last one of us is going to come up short.  Sin will not allow us to be ‘plumb’ in God’s economy.  The rulers at that time, particularly Jeroboam whom this was directly written about, were furious.  Their answer wasn’t to correct their living, but to get rid of the messenger.  He wants to kill Amos and shut him up.

Isn’t that how we are?  When we don’t like the message, we want to silence the messenger.  Amaziah who was priest warns Amos.  He tells him what the king is saying: “The land is not able to bear all his words” and advises Amos to “go, flee away”.  Rather than address the real issue, which was obedience to God’s commands, the answer was to get the messenger out of town and quiet.  If we don’t have to hear the truth, we can ignore it.  That isn’t true, but it is how we think.  There are many churches in America today that take that approach.  If we only talk about love and grace and mercy, and never mention sin and hell and death, it won’t apply to us.  That is so far from the truth, and so many will get surprised someday when they stand at the judgment throne and try to enter heaven based on wrong doctrine that they were fed in a church.  Don’t fall for it.  God’s truth is not easy, but it is the plumb line we will stand next to.  Are you ready?  Are you plumb?

Amos 6

Amos 6 has some strong words for the people.  “Woe to those” is how he begins.  That can’t be a good message.  Yet it is one that we often need to hear.  Unfortunately for many of us in the church today, the focus is not on woe but grace.  We’ve moved away from the reality that God is a just and holy God and there will be punishment for our sin.  We focus on the grace and mercy and love nature of God, and completely ignore the truth that he also is holy.  But not Amos, he is front and center with the message that things are not going to slip through unnoticed.

What was going to cause woe?  “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain….who lie in beds….eat lambs….sing idle songs….drink wine….annoint themselves with the finest oils”.  Woe is coming because they are focused on self and being consumed with their own comfort.  They fell prey to the lie of the enemy that they were the source of their own blessing.  It is not the case.  God is the giver of all good things.  He alone is the source of goodness and we must never lose sight of that.  The minute we start to believe that we do anything to bring it upon ourselves and dwell in the midst of self, we’re on a very slippery slope.

Amos calls them out about what they were focused on.  They were at ease and enjoying themselves, but were “not grieved over the ruin of Joseph”.  God’s desire is that we are overcome with our sin.  Jacob’s sons were living it up while they put Joseph into a pit and then sold him into slavery.  To top it off they lied to their father.  Amos gives God’s word to this sin: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it”.  God doesn’t ignore sin.  He deals with it.

We tend to twist things to our own benefit.  “You have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood”.  We make excuses for our actions and convince ourselves that God will let it go.  But He won’t.  He can’t.  And we will come face to face with Him some day having to answer the question of why we lived as we did and chose to disobey and sin.  It won’t be a good conversation, and unless we have something beyond our own lame excuses, it will be short and decisive.  Amos warns us of what lies ahead.  Sin will be addressed.  Are you ready for that conversation?

Amos 5

Amos 5 has some pretty strong words from the sheepherder turned prophet.  The real message comes at the end of the chapter when he tells the people that God will “send you to exile”.  This isn’t going to end well.  But why?  What is driving God’s punishment?  Well it is pretty basic blocking and tackling stuff.  In a word, it is disobedience. But let’s break it down.  Amos tells God’s chosen people that they were “fallen, no more to rise…..forsaken on her land”.  They have really messed up in their journey with the Lord.  And there is punishment coming.

So what’s that look like?  “The city that went out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left”.  This is some serious downsizing that God is going to do.  90% of the people will be gone.  It’s going to be only a remnant that remains.  It is serious business, and the future does not look bright.  God is serious about obedience.  He doesn’t just close His eyes and look the other way.  And when we choose to disobey, He will find a way to get our attention.  And that may not be much fun.

Amos gives the simple solution to the issue.  “Seek me and live….Seek the Lord and live…. Seek good, and not evil, that you may live….Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice”.  This isn’t rocket science, same message, same God, same set of expectations throughout scripture.  It comes down to obedience.  We live in the midst of a war between good and evil.  There is a constant battle going on between the two.  That will never change until the Lord returns.  So it comes down to choice on our part.  Will we choose good and seek the Lord, or will we choose evil and endure the consequences?  It really is that simple.

God knows that as humans, we’re going to mess up.  “For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins”.  He doesn’t get pleasure in that, or the punishment that must follow.  But He knows our hearts and our tendency toward sin.  So it boils down to the reality that He is a holy God, and His nature and character is one filled with righteousness and justice. He can’t ignore what we do.  It will be dealt with.  “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”.  Justice is coming.  It flows out of the nature of God.  The question is – are you ready to face that?  If not, it is time to get right.  Jesus came to make it possible to have right standing with God.  Are you ready?

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