Speak Up! Part 2
I wondered to myself as I wrote this sermon what was I thinking taking on an Old Testament prophet this early in my preaching career
And to tell you the truth I haven’t come to an answer for that question yet
But as I look at these passages, as I study and have truths revealed I see that this book is critical at this time
It is a hard time to be in ministry
There is so much going on - last week it was hurricanes and shootings, this week California is burning to the tune of 13 lives lost and up to 150 people missing in Northern California
And the question is - why? Why is this happening right now?
We looked at an answer for that question last week as we saw in Amos 3:6
If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?
The Lord allows these events in His sovereign will to bring people to repentance and faith in Him. That is a hard truth to grasp. That a good God would bring calamity on His own people. It was a truth that the Israelite people struggled to grasp and it’s one that we still struggle with.
The one thing that keeps revealing itself is that we’ve forgotten Who God is.
Tonights passage is going to reinforce that truth for us again.
Read Amos 3:9-15
You Could Learn Something
You Could Learn Something
Amos 3:9; Deuteronomy 17:6; Genesis 15:14; 1 Samuel 5:2-5;
Two Witnesses Required
Amos calls two witnesses to observe Israel’s depravity
The Mosaic law required that there would be a minimum of two witnesses in a capital case
On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.
The case that God has laid out against Israel requires a complete destruction
But Amos doesn’t just call any witnesses
In most criminal cases the District Attorney tries to call the most credible witness they can find
Amos calls two of the worst violators of human rights in the ancient world as well as in Israel’s history
The hypothetical coming of immoral barbarians from neighboring states to judge the morality of Samaria would have a dramatic impact on the the listeners
Egypt had oppressed Israel for more than 400 years
Just as Egypt had been judged for their oppression of the Israelites
But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
Israel would be judged for their treatment of their own people
Calling on Egypt to be a witness to the events taking place in Israel is doubly scathing to the inhabitants of Samaria
It was their treatment at the hands of Egypt that resulted in the Exodus - it is again a reminder to them of what God had done on their behalf
And it points to the impending exile of the people of Israel
After the oppression at the hands of the Egyptians the national relationship between Israel and the Philistine people is the most notably contentious
Whenever you think of Israel these are the two nations that come to mind the most - Egypt for the Exodus and the Philistines for the David and Goliath narrative
Naming only Ashdod rather than the entire Philistine nation is significant
Ashdod was the center of the Philistine religious life - it housed the temple of Dagon
When the Israelites had lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistine’s it was to the temple of Dagon in Ashdod that they took the Ark
It didn’t go real well for Dagon
Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
God doesn’t play well with other gods or share His glory
In these two witnesses we find that Israel is going to be judged for the social treatment of people as well as their religious perversions
Amos is rhetorically calling these two nations to witness what is taking place in Israel as if to say - you aren’t that bad, take a look at what’s happening here - you could learn a few things
Even people long used to living off the labor of others would be shocked to see the level of exploitation practiced in Samaria
Amos highlights two aspects of this community
great tumults and oppressions
The ruling class in Israel had created such a climate that no one could know what was going to happen to them
This promoted a culture of confusion in which your possessions, livelihood and even existence were held in the tenuous and fickle grasp of those who had the power
This is completely contrary to the treatment of others prescribed in the Mosaic law and the Ten Commandments
Amos calls on those whose lives should have been most contradictory to the lives of the Israelites to witness just how like them the Israelites were - and not even just like them but that they had surpassed them in their oppression of people - and not just people but their own nation.
Today this same request could be made regarding the church - the visible church -
where the divorce rate the same as the secular world but even 10% is unacceptable.
Where 76 % of young men ages 18-24 admit to actively using porn - and 33% of women the same age.
A recent Barna group study from early 2016 cites that 14% of Pastors and 21% of Youth Pastors admit this is a current struggle in their lives
Child abuse takes place in the church - Calvary Chapel North Coast just had a pastor arrested for this in June
Gay bishops suggest that God is female, or suggests that Jesus was a bigot
We are supposed to stand out from the world yet in many ways we are indistinguishable from it - and can even teach it a few things about depravity
One reason is the same as what the Amos says about the Israelites....
They’ve Lost Their Way
They’ve Lost Their Way
Amos 3:10-11; Judges 21:25; Amos 2:7-8;
They do not know how to do what is right
This is much different from what is said about the nation of Israel in various places in the Old Testament
The last line of the book of Judges says that “every man did what was right in his own eyes”
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
but here the Lord declares that His people do not know how to do what is right
They had lost touch with the Mosaic Law and the ordinances of worship
The Israelites worshipped two golden calves at Dan and Bethel right alongside altars to Baal and Asherah poles
One expression of the tumults alluded to in verse 9 are rampant sexual orgies that would take place right next to the altars
“These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless Also turn aside the way of the humble; And a man and his father resort to the same girl In order to profane My holy name. “On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
Samaritan society had over the years so thoroughly departed from the standards of the Mosaic covenant, standards of which Amos was a divinely appointed enforcer, that its favored citizens generally would not know what those standards were.
The concept of the dignity of human life is one of the first principles to depart society when the Bible is not taught and so the nobility felt justified in their treatment of the poor because they held all the power
“My people have forgotten how to do right,” says the Lord. “Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence.
They filled their these fortresses with wealth taken by theft and violence against the people of Israel
Because of these departures there must be Divine judgement
Amos promises this in the form of an unnamed nation that will surround the land
This nation will plunder their fortresses
This is the first step that God lays out to detail the complete destruction of Israelite society
In the ancient days of Israel, these fortresses were the main form of protection for the people
Samaria was situated high on a mountain with sheer cliffs surrounding it
The people felt safe there
Think the Keep from the Lord of the Rings movies - a seemingly impregnable fortress that the people expected to protect them from attacking armies
Just like that fortress had a fatal flaw - so did the Israelites plans - they didn’t take into account who would bring their destruction upon them
This is the calamity promised in Amos 3:6
They will be surrounded
Their defenses will be torn down
The fortresses they had taken such care to populate with plunder and valuables would be plundered
In some ways the visible church is the same way
Charles Spurgeon once said “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write damnation with your fingers”
And I’m afraid that this standard is little different today
Biblical illiteracy is on the rise in the church
Preachers preach their own ideas supported by a verse here and there rather than carefully working from and through the Word of God
7 ways to have a new marriage by Friday
3 ways to experience more joy in your life
We have walked away from the truth and have forgotten how to do what is right
As a result of this the world is now encircling and getting ready to invade the church
We are no longer able to stand on Christian principles in the marketplace
In June Russell Voight, during his confirmation hearing as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, was verbally assaulted by Senator Bernie Sanders for an article he wrote in support of Wheaton College following their suspension of a professor who wore a hijab in support of Muslims in what amounted to a religious test for political office. His primary objection was Mr. Voight’s contention in the article that if Muslims don’t believe in Christ they can’t be saved
Incursions are even now being made into our fortress and the foundation has been given over for words that tickle the ears and provide a temporary sense of relief
But we must, we must, get back to our foundation
J.C. Ryle said this
Let us read the Bible regularly, daily, and with fervent prayer, and become familiar with its contents. Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing, which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible. Let our rule of faith, our touch-stone of all teaching, be the written Word of God.
Because if we don’t our future could be bleak
Amos now goes into more detail regarding what is going to happen to the nation of Israel in their future
There’s No Where to Hide
There’s No Where to Hide
Amos 3:12-15; Exodus 22:10-13; 2 Kings 19:29-31; 1 Kings 19:9-18
Notice who starts this final section off
Again - Amos is not standing on his own pronouncements or his own words or ideas but he is heralding the words of the Lord
If the nation is going to be called back to what it once knew - if it were going to be reminded of what they once adhered to - then the words had to be the Lords
Amos uses an easily recognized analogy to explain to the Israelites two things
first that they could expect the destruction to be a total destruction that removed Israelite society completely
“If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, an oath before the Lord shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces.
No shepherd could completely protect their flock, there would always be losses
David was given God’s power to overcome the lion and the bear to protect his family flock but most shepherd’s dealt with loss frequently
They would have to follow the animal that took their sheep and retrieve whatever was left so that they could prove that it was killed and not stolen by himself or others
This required that the animal in question - the sheep or Israel - would actually have to be killed
The Lord is telling them that there would be nothing left of the nation - except a leg bone or an ear
There is a promise here - that there will still be a remnant
God always leaves himself a remnant
When the king of Assyria surrounded Jerusalem God promised through Isaiah
‘Then this shall be the sign for you: you will eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the Lord will perform this.
After Elijah had his showdown with the false prophets of Baal and Jezebel sought to kill him
Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
God will leave a remnant for Himself
But He will still judge them
He reminds them of who they are calling them the house of Jacob
He has removed the power of their fortresses and will now remove the safety of religion in the temples and around the altar
On the same altar in Bethel where sacrifices were made to God sacrifices were made to ba’al
Cutting off the horns of the altar is significant because when a criminal was fleeing justice if he could get to the altar and hang on the horns he would be safe but that safety is removed
Finally God will remove the last place for people to hide - their homes
When the fortress is gone and the church is gone the last sanctuary for the people would be their homes
The Israelites actually had large, prosperous homes
Archeology has dug up sections of Samaria where there were large, opulent homes with ivory inlaid in the furniture and walls and then sections where the homes were little more than shacks
But even these beautiful homes would not hide them - I guess they hadn’t devised panic rooms yet
And all of this would take place at the Lord’s declaration
So what does all of this mean for us?
One question I always try to ask myself when I write a sermon is why did Jesus have to die in order for this sermon to make sense
And the truth is - He is the only one who has never oppressed another person, has never forgotten who He was and who God was
He’s the only one who can stand against all of these accusations
And yet He didn’t
He died - as a lamb led to slaughter - to provide us the way out of the certain judgement that awaited us all
And, if we’ve put our faith in Him, we are the remnant
We haven’t departed from the truth, we still preach the Word
But as we look around and as we see what goes on in our churches and our society it should break our hearts
And force us to speak out -