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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
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
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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.
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