7/30/2023 - Stop Playing Church

Truths from Amos  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:03
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Amos 5:1-6:14
When I was a child we spent a lot of time in the church.
My dad was the pastor, and we often found ourselves waiting for him to finish his work so that we could go home.
One of the most natural things in the world for children that find themselves in these situations is to play church.
I was the song leader, Aimee played the Piano, and Mike was the preacher.
Christians today, unfortunately can be accused of doing just that…playing church.
Their heart is not in it…it isn’t real.
They just go through the motions, like children copying what they have seen.
This is what Israel has been accused of here in these chapters.
Last week we talked about being prepared to meet our God.
We were talking mostly about the Christian and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
We saw in Amos 4, four ways that we can do right and be better prepared to meet God.
Chapter five of Amos begins with a Lamentation - a mourning oracle from God, and then goes into a Woe Oracle.
First let’s look at the:

I. Lamentation Over What Is Sought

1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, Even a lamentation, O house of Israel.
This is a lamentation from God Himself.
To Israel…He says...
2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: She is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.
Israel is described as a young virgin, the emphasis is that she is helpless, and there is no one that can help her....
3 For thus saith the Lord God; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, And that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, To the house of Israel.
The Judgment from the Lord is coming.
The army 1,000 strong will only have 100 return.
The army that are 100 men strong will only have 10 return.
Roman armies had a disciplinary procedure called decimation.
We use the word decimate to describe a destruction.
The procedure was called for when a group of a solders committed a capital crime, the group would be divided up into ten groups.
Lots would be cast, and the group that drew the short straw, were killed by the other nine groups.
What God is talking about here is far more than a decimation…not just 1 tenth of the armies, but 9 tenths of the army would be killed.
The declaration of judgment is given, and now God calls to them to repent.

A. Seek God

4 For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
He is calling out to them and telling them what they need to do in order to live.
And yet they are not listening.
Seek God.
Now Israel is still worshipping God!
They are going to the places of worship
They are making sacrifices
They are singing songs of praise and worship.
But God is telling them two things here...

1. Do It My Way

God has a right to say this!
5 But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, And pass not to Beer-sheba: For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, And Beth-el shall come to nought.
His holy temple is in Jerusalem, that is where they were to worship.
Not the places of worship that Jeroboam set up, intermixing false gods with the worship of God.
God says you have to seek me the way I want you to seek me!
When the children of Israel were in the wilderness and found themselves without water God told Moses to strike the rock, and water came gushing out.
They were full.
When they came to another point where they had no water God told Moses to take his rod with Him, but this time speak to the rock and water would gush forth.
Moses came to the rock in front of the people and lost his temper…He said, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?”
Wait a minute… who was fetching the water…not Moses…God did it!
But the Bible says that “Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice:”
I can just imagine Moses hits the rock, and nothing happens…O I must of have hit the wrong spot.
So he hits it again…then water comes out.
God still provided water for the people even though Moses did wrong.
But Moses didn’t do it God’s Way.
And because of this God tells him he will “not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
He’s not going to be able to go into the promised land.
That’s severe!
But God wants us to obey Him, and do it His way!
He has the right to require that…He is God!
A church was started in the 90’s in the Chicago area, and they sent out postcards and contacted the community around them asking them questions like, “If you could build a church what kind of songs would you want?”, and “What kind of sermons should be preached?”
They built a huge church!
But It is a shallow religion…Lives are not truly changed…they are more concerned about what they want in their church and not what God wants in His church.
We need to Seek the Lord…But we must do it His way!
Because Israel was not doing it God’s way he told them judgment was coming.
7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, And leave off righteousness in the earth,
He calls them once again to Seek Him and gives His resume, why he has the claim to require them to do it His way!
8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, And turneth the shadow of death into the morning, And maketh the day dark with night: That calleth for the waters of the sea, And poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name:
I am the one who made the stars and set them in order - the seven stars (Pleiades) and Orion.
I am the one who turns the darkest of night into morning
As well as making the day into night.
I am the one that pulls the condensation from the sea and causes it to rain upon the face of the earth.
In case you don’t know who I’m talking about…The LORD is His name!
9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, So that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
He it is that causes the one who is being plundered to turn against the strong.
Who makes the weaker to be able to go against their fortress.
listen to what I have done…see who I am....Seek Me, and do it my way!

2. Listen to Rebuke

10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, And they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
These spoiled, rich, obstinate people will not hear the men that I have sent to them to rebuke their behavior!
They stand in the gate and proclaim my truth, but you do not hear it!
They abhor him that speaketh uprightly
This is true in our country today!
They hate the truth and the truth speaker!
It has even crept into our churches!
We need to listen to the rebuke and repent before it is too late!
11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, And ye take from him burdens of wheat:
You take from the poor and stomp all over them...
Ye have built houses of hewn stone, But ye shall not dwell in them;
You have built fancy houses, but you will not dwell in them.
Ye have planted pleasant vineyards, But ye shall not drink wine of them.
You have planted beautiful vineyards, but you won’t get to enjoy their fruit.
12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: They afflict the just, they take a bribe, And they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
This could be said of many of our politicians today!
Taking bribes, and not listening to the needs of the poor.
13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; For it is an evil time.
The result is that the prudent…the wise…will keep silent.
It’s no fun to speak out when all around you is evil.
Oh our nation needs to Seek God today!

B. Seek Good

If God’s people do not want to see judgment come.
If they do not want destruction, they need to seek God, but also seek Good.
14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: And so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
Don’t look for evil, Seek out good!
Hate Evil and love the good!
What are the results - Life not judgment.
Judgment and justice will prevail in the gates once again.
God will be gracious to Israel.
But they will not do it, so the Lord says...
16 Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be 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 skilful of lamentation to wailing.
17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: For I will pass through thee, saith the Lord.
God’s Lamentation is spoken through out Israel, but they do not hear…I wonder will America hear today?

II. Woe Over Their False Security

Verse 18 begins the Woe oracle from God.
Woe is a phrase that used in Israel at funerals.
People would proclaim “woe” as the funeral dirge passes.
It is a word of mourning.
You might hear, even today, “Woe is me”
In the Bible, it is usually directed at someone else.
“Woe is you”
The prophet is invoking funeral language over the nation.
He is saying, You are going to die, if you do not change your lives and your hearts.
He is declaring a Woe over them because they have a false sense of security…especially concerning their worship.
They think everything is just fine.
They are still worshiping God, after all!
But things are not fine…and Amos is telling them that God is pronouncing the funeral language already over them.
He tells them three things in this section:

A. Don’t Rest in Your Standing

18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.
19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; Or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
20 Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?
The day of the Lord is the day of judgment.
These people obviously thought they were doing OK, and wished for the Day of the Lord to come.
They were resting in their standing as the chosen people of God.
Throughout Scripture a day of the Lord is prophesied it is sparked by the rapture of the church, and then a seven year tribulation will come.
He’s is telling them…You don’t want this day to come!
To what end is it for you?
The result is not going to be what you think it is!
The day of the Lord is darkness…not light!
a couple of pictures of someone fleeing one danger and thinking he is safe, just to be killed when he is comfortable.
He runs from a lion, but a bear meets him.
He makes it to his house, and leans his hand on the wall…phew!
And then a serpent bites him.
This is not a good thing for you!
God’s judgment is coming, and you are not safe!
IT could be said to us…Don’t pray for God to come back soon, if you are not ready to stand before Him!
Secondly He says...

B. Don’t Rest in Your Religion

Your religion will not save you.
21 I hate, I despise your feast days, And I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: Neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; For I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
24 But let judgment run down as waters, And righteousness as a mighty stream.
Incredibly strong language!
I hate, I despise your feast days!
Don’t come to worship thinking everything is alright…because it’s not!
I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Don’t send your incense my way!
Don’t send me burnt offerings and meat offerings…I’m not going to accept it!
The peace of offerings…even the most choice ones…I don’t care!
I won’t even look at it!
It’s not the act…it’s the heart!
And your heart is all wrong!
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs…He will not hear it!
It does no good for you to come to church and offer your offerings and sing your songs…if you are not Seeking God His Way!
Stop playing church and Be the Church!
Stop getting your security in the fact that you sat in a pew…there is no security there!
Sitting in a church makes you no more a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you an automobile!
No... judgement is going to come!
it will run down like water!
righteousness and justice will run like a mighty river!
25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, The star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, Saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts.
You offered sacrifices to me in the wilderness for forty years, and yet you turned to idols even then!
Moloch - King…speaks to the idols being their lord.
You sacrificed to me, and yet you carried with you the tabernacle, or home of your idol.
Chiun (kiy-yun) means a pillar for the placement of an idol.
You carried with the place you planned to place it.
The star of your god, which ye made to yourselves - a star, most likely a symbol they made to represent this false god.
You made preparations to serve false gods, even while you made your sacrifices to me.
Your religion will not save you.
27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, Saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts.
Captivity is coming!
Then He proclaims his next woe...

C. Don’t Rest in Your Might

1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, And trust in the mountain of Samaria, Which are named chief of the nations, To whom the house of Israel came!
2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; And from thence go ye to Hamath the great: Then go down to Gath of the Philistines: Be they better than these kingdoms? Or their border greater than your border?
Don’t trust in your walls in Zion…don’t be at ease.
Don’t trust in the mountain in Samaria to protect you.
Remember the other countries who fell before you because of the Lord!
Calneh, Hamath, Gath of the Philistines…But God brought them down because of their wickedness.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
3 Ye that put far away the evil day, And cause the seat of violence to come near;
You push off into the future, at least in your minds, the day of the Lord’s judgment, and yet you bring violence all around you.
They trust in their mighty standing, their military success but God is telling them…don’t rest in that…don’t be at ease!
Then he says...

D. Don’t Rest in Your Wealth

4 That lie upon beds of ivory, And stretch themselves upon their couches, And eat the lambs out of the flock, And the calves out of the midst of the stall;
They are resting in their opulence, their beds of ivory, and fancy couches, eating the best meats from their flocks.
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, And invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
They make up songs with the string instruments, and think themselves to be like David.
6 That drink wine in bowls, And anoint themselves with the chief ointments: But they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
They aren’t content with a cup of wine, but drink it from bowls.
Take the best ointments and anoint themselves with it.
And yet they are not concerned about the afflictions of their own people.
7 Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, And the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.
Therefore judgment is coming.
Their wealth will not be able to save them.
They will be one of the first to be taken.
8 The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: Therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
God hates their pride and arrogance.
He hates their trust in their own wealth.
So he will deliver the city up to the enemy along with everyone inside.
In fact it will be so bad that they will be afraid to even speak the Lord’s name out of fear that He will do more...
9 And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
10 And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, To bring out the bones out of the house, And shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: For we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.
11 For, behold, the Lord commandeth, And he will smite the great house with breaches, And the little house with clefts.
They will finally learn to fear God.
All of this Woe pronouncement is caused by Israel’s injustice and pride.
In verses 12 he uses two proverbs which were commonly used
12 Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? For ye have turned judgment into gall, And the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:
The two proverbs are used to express someone not being willing to labor in vain, or spend their strength for nothing…They cannot fight against it, so they will not even try.
It has come upon them because they have poisoned judgment and righteousness.
13 Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, Which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?
They look back at their victories over the other nations that rejected God, and gloated in that victory, but God says...
14 But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God of hosts; And they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.
You will be demolished just like those other cities.
As Charles Spurgeon said, “So, when we look back upon the judgments of God upon guilty men, we may conclude that no sinner has any right to think that he shall escape. The proudest and mightiest have been brought down by God and so will men, who dare to resist the Most High, continue to be humble, even to the world’s end.”


What can we learn from these Oracles?
What can we learn from Israel’s mistakes?
1. Seek God and Follow Him!
Don’t seek to do it your way!
Learn how He wants to be worshiped and Seek Him!
2. Don’t get a false sense of security!
Not in judgement of our enemies…because we may be in danger if we don’t look carefully at our own doings.
Don’t rest in your religion…It doesn’t matter if you go to church if your heart isn’t in it!
Don’t rest in your might…you are not strong enough to stand against God and His will.
Don’t rest in your wealth…you cannot buy your way out of this!
Israel’s biggest sin was how they treated each other.
They allowed Justice to become perverted, and righteousness to become ignored.
Any of us who live an indulgent lifestyle, neglecting the Lord and the needs of those around us will face the judgement of God.
Don’t get so focused on the things of this world, and get pulled away from God’s will for your life.
Jesus described some of these in the Parable of the soils...
Luke 8:14 KJV
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Don’t get distracted by the things this world has to offer you!
1 John 2:15–16 KJV
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
If we love the world, and are distracted by our flesh, our eyes and our pride…we are not truly of the Father…we are of the World.
Have you been allowing Satan to distract you by the things of this world.
Recommit your life to Christ today, Seek after Him!
And all your needs will be taken care of!
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