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Big Idea: What you are seeking in life will determine your actions and fruit
It’s now fall - we’ve finally turned the corner
It’s rainy
The clocks were turned back and almost everyone has adjusted
Thanks to Ben Box for preaching last week
I hope you were all edified and built up by his teaching on Psalm 47
The most important question ever asked
Mark 15:12
“Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
What should I do with Jesus - this is the most important question that any person could ever ask themselves or answer because it is what our eternity hinges on
The second most important question ever asked
John 18:4
“Whom do you seek?”
Who are you looking for?
We’re about to come into the Christmas season and all over the place you may see plaques and wall hangings that say “wise men still seek Him”
Tonight we’re going to see Amos extend the olive branch to the Israelites as three times he tells them to seek the Lord and live
What we should come to realize is that:
What you are seeking in life will determine your actions and fruit
say that again
Let’s read the Scripture together and then we’ll open in a word of prayer
Read Amos 5:1-17
Death of a Nation
Amos 5:1-6; Luke 13:34; 2 Samuel 1:19; John 14:6
These verses represent a lament for the nation of Israel
Laments are the same thing as our modern day eulogy
Laments are common in Scripture
There’s actually a whole book that is Jeremiah’s lamentation over the nation of Judah
And Jesus pronounces a truncated lament over Jerusalem as Luke records for us in Luke 13:34
Amos has been going at the Israelites a little bit - he’s dismantled the religious system, their social justice system he’s even taken on the prominent women of the society
Amos begins this third sermon with the words “Hear this word”
Repeatedly throughout this book he is trying to get the Israelites attention
Each time he has gone on to shock them with what he has to say
Amos 3:1 - he says that the Lord has spoken a word against the sons of Israel
Amos 4:1 - he pronounces a curse against the women of the city
He now shocks them by pronouncing a dirge - a eulogy - over the house of Israel
In ancient times when someone died grieving encompassed the life of those affected - they would tear their clothes and shave their heads and go about in sackcloth
You could picture Amos here appearing at the religious festival in Bethel that he had just derided in his last sermon striding through the streets clothed in sackcloth, trailed by professional mourners that he would have hired for the occasion...
In the height of Israel’s military and economic prosperity Amos is lamenting the death of the nation
He is much like the Scottish preacher who one morning stood up in front of his congregation and preached a funeral sermon.
Without mentioning the name of the church, he extensively described why and how the church had died.
At the end of his sermon he said, “The church of which I have been speaking is this church!
And death will surely come unless we ask the Good Lord to revive us and give us a new beginning.”
The pastor’s text was from Revelation 3:1, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”
The nation of Israel thought they were alive and well protected but Amos is pronouncing them to, in reality, be dead
He says that the nation of Israel has fallen - she will not rise again
This is the language of the battlefield where a soldier has fallen and has been left behind by his comrades to rot
David uses this language in his eulogy of Saul in 2 Samuel 1:19
Amos shifts now to the prophetic - looking into the future 30 years - and forthtelling that the losses experienced by the nation of Israel will be 90% casualties
Amos 5:3
No one would invest in a stock that had a 90% loss rate
Not many people would follow a sports team that has a 90% loss rate - unless you’re from Cleveland or San Francisco
Yet the losses experienced by Israel will be 90%
There is some hope here however - yes 90% is bad, but it’s better than 100%.
God is telling them that while their punishment will be devastating it will not be total - there will still be a remnant
And He extends an olive branch to those who would listen and tells them how this will be effected
Amos 5:4
“Seek Me that you may live”
This is the only solution for what ails mankind - to seek the Lord
There is no other way
John 14:6
Jesus entire ministry was built on this concept of seeking the Father through Him
Amos again takes a shot at the false religious practices of the Israelites
Amos 5:5
He tells them not to go to Bethel or to Gilgal
Gilgal is the location where the Israelites first crossed into the Promised Land
It was here that Joshua circumcised the nation and built an altar to the Lord
The important thing to note here is that the Israelites were practicing religion as they thought best
Just like the peasants of the 16th century blindly following the precepts of the Catholic church in buying indulgences to spring loved ones from purgatory
These men and women were practicing a religion that they thought would bring them to God
False religion or religion falsely done is fruitless
But it couldn’t because they were seeking a god of their own making, they were mixing the purity of the Law with pagan customs and they were seeking Him on their terms rather than on His
They thought they had to add something to God to make Him more interesting or acceptable
Like the pastor in New York who recently rode his bike and jumped 1000 Bibles and then through a wall of flames as a “stunt to spread the message of the Christian faith”.
How often do we come here and do the exact same thing - ok God I’ll worship you today as long as you make my aching knee feel better or take this bill away or for whatever reason
Or we’ve made a God in our image that we come and worship but we’re not willing to submit to the God that is taught from the Scriptures
It’s easy to take Jesus as savior as long as that’s all He is - but when we have to actually bow the knee and make Him Lord we don’t like that God
We like the God that has a wonderful plan for our life, that’s going to fix every problem and clear every hurdle because ultimately that plays right into our narcissistic tendencies to make it all about us
What we don’t know how to handle is a God who permits things like Sutherland Springs Texas to happen - how do we serve that God?
A God Worth Seeking
Amos 5:7-9; Job 38:31
Amos starts off this short section by hammering those who would pervert the justice system turning justice into wormwood - a bitter herb that made food inedible and water undrinkable
Amos says that there is no justice or righteousness in the land highlighting the social injustices being perpetrated upon the poor
Then Amos shocks us again by breaking his train of thought and launching into a hymn that would have been sung in the temples
This almost seems not to fit
If you cut out verses 8 and 9 and just went to verse 10 Amos’s tirade runs unchecked and seems more cohesive - yet this is the central point that Amos is attempting to get across
Twice he has told the Israelites to seek the Lord and he will now use one of their own hymns to remind then who they should be seeking
He who made the Pleiades and Orion
He who spoke all of these things into being - Amos uses two well known star clusters to demonstrate the majesty of God’s creation
These same constellations are mentioned in Job 38:31
He created them ex nilho - from nothing
We have made a lot of inventions but we’ve never created something out of absolutely nothing
Russ Millers talks last weekend were interesting - as he demonstrated the centrality of the flood narrative to the truth of Scripture and this is another - our God made everything out of nothing
Nothing cannot make anything - it’s simply unscientific to suggest that nothing - not even air existed - could make something
Yet God made everything
He turns the darkness into light and darkens day into night
Even the phrase Amos uses points to the futility of the Israelites efforts
Our translation says changes but the root word for changes is the same as the word translated turns in verse 7
Amos is saying you take pride in your power and ability to pervert justice well let me show you what real power is - God can take the night and turn it into day
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