Concerning Ammon: Cruelty Based on Cupidity

Amos 1:13-15

That cruelty exists is not a surprise. Have probably experienced it, maybe practiced it at some point. If not on another person, perhaps on creature. If not in reality, perhaps in thought! Plays large part in daily news – from various forms in areas of significant conflict – think Syria, Sudan, Mediterranean – to playground bullies. A concept 50 years ago that still had shock value – man’s inhumanity to man – now almost taken for granted. At that time, mindset fueling atrocities of Holocaust and My Lai caused strong reactions. Now gratuitous cruelty gains less of reaction than harm to a dog or whale.

Ammon’s particular behavior displeasing to God not quite at level of gratuitous violence. Ought to give idea about how God views much of what happens in world today… he’s not pleased. So long as we are not guilty, do have cause for rejoicing – day is coming when all wrongs will finally be set right.

Meanwhile, Ammon. Continue circling around Israel and Judah – from Judah’s neighbor Edom to northern tribes’ neighbor Ammon. Perhaps Amos’ audience thinking he would nail Edom, then Ammon, finally Moab. Cool, can handle that just fine. Once again totally ignore any personal application. Not about to happen, we’ll soon find out. We must not be like Israel, though. Issues faced / sins practiced by Israel and neighbors prevalent today. We need to be paying attention. Also need to see what God was doing – warfare between God’s redemptive purposes in Christ and the terrible unrighteousness of sin-habituated men.

A. particular, egregious sin – cruelty based on cupidity v.13

not an unheard of practice in warfare – 2 Kings 8:12; 15:13-16

foreseen by Elisha and Hazael’s atrocities; practiced by Menahem at Tiphsah, border town between Israel and Syria

apparently repeatedly used as weapon of choice more than once by Ammonites – to instill fear in enemies, make conquest easier

two parts – obvious surface reason, underlying motivation

depopulating to make land-grab easier to retain

is one thing to take possession of territory, subdue present residents short-term; need to have long-term strategy

was way to limit ability to revolt, take back lost territory; also incentive for neighbors not to get involved

desire for possessions – rampant materialism

was acquisition of territory at any cost to those who would oppose – Ammon desired more territory, material goods, would do anything to get and keep it

should it surprise given their origin? see Gen. 19:29-38 …and who they worshiped? see1 Kings 11:7

Moab and Ben-Ammi products of incest between Lot and daughters following destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

desire for offspring of higher priority than holding true to universal moral code – willfully rejected right, chose own solution

“there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him”

was probably from Ammonites that Jews learned to worship Moloch – god who regularly required child-sacrifice

referred to as making children “pass through the fire” – large hollow bronze, body of man/head of bull, fire in “belly”

B. consequences v.14-15

read Jer. 49:2-6

not only perpetrators, leaders held accountable for peoples’ actions

Ammon would be laid waste, their god Molech shown to be powerless against true God – see their motivation again:”Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures” (49:4)

so also the leaders: one who accepts / assumes responsibility at same time has some stake in actions of those responsible for

ones at the top cannot rightly hide behind excuse of ignorance – especially in God’s eyes

“Greenberg told Boies he was too busy managing AIG 15 years ago to get involved in the nitty-gritty of an accounting scheme. …Greenberg is accused by New York state of orchestrating two transactions designed to deceive shareholders.”

holds true for presidents in nations that perpetrate evil, executives in businesses that profit from evil actions

Jews guilty too

what was practiced by surrounding nations creeping in to Israel, present in full force in inner city: read Eze. 22:1-12150 years later after Amos’ day

C. today

population control to favor the planet

from US National Library of Medicine at National Institutes of Health, paper entitled “Role of abortion in control of global population growth”

“Human overpopulation is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind global warming, environmental pollution.” “Overpopulation remains the leading driver of hunger, desertification, species depletion and a range of social maladies across the planet.”

“No nation desirous of reducing its growth rate to 1% or less can expect to do so without the widespread use of abortion. …abortion is essential to any national population growth control effort. …Population control is an important but neglected social benefit of abortion.”

are those who ….planned parenthood, sale of baby parts

sacrifice family to favor possessions

Woman A and her husband agreed on the abortion as they already had their hands full financially and time-wise with their two young children. Woman B, however, was just a 20-year-old living in Britain who became pregnant by her boyfriend of six months. As a university student suffering from anxiety and depression – and of the mind to end things with said partner – she decided it was simply ‘not an option’ to carry to term. The third woman, 27, had been with her husband for ten years, but with both in the process of finishing degrees and living with her mother and sister, they felt they had ‘nothing to offer a child right now’.

starve one segment of church family to satisfy another

certainly not as obvious as Ammon’s and Israel’s sin – don’t see the injury and damage in same way when is not physical

principle applies – pursuing what is not God and sacrificing people in the process – happens in lots of ways, many very subtle

draw essential people from one church to feed growth needs of another church

Stealing Sheep: The Church’s Hidden Problems with Transfer Growth by William Chadwick – once part of church growth movement: conclusion – “the church growth movement has succeeded far better in pulling believers from other, smaller churches than in reaching the lost.”

nourish felt needs of one segment while starving needs of another

spoke with individuals from 2 churches w/i past week: 1 from the haves, other from have-nots – haves trying to attract youth with music, have-nots gaining members because have hymns not that music

encourage pursuit of temporal pleasure while sacrificing spiritual nutrition and growth

choosing Saturday for worship so Sunday is free – might slide by sort of if entire day devoted to God… but it isn’t

D. why a problem

wrong on a number of levels, practical and spiritual

giving possessions higher priority than people – what satisfies for short time in place of what has eternal value

showing partiality – this possession, this group of people more important than another, more worthy of investment

disdains eternal inheritance – like prodigal son: I want my inheritance now; not acknowledging value of God’s plan for his people

E. bottom line

what had happened for Israel

Moloch, god of Ammonites, Judg. 10:6; how blinded by sin – assimilating practices, worshiping gods of enemies …starting w/generation immediately following Joshua (Judg. 2:10-12)

had brought in other gods …and become like them – in other words: Psalm 115:4-8 – “Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.”

“The person who has separated himself from God does not recognize (or respect) the image of God in his fellowmen either.” Schultz

worshiping creature rather than creator – territory, man’s acclaim, personal net worth now the object of devotion, not God

for Christian behaving this way: trusting self rather than trusting God

in reality, self-directed idolatry – choosing which god to worship based on desire and felt need, compartmentalizing life and worship

is at root a worship / dedication / commitment problem – failure to have undivided heart/loyalty to God alone

Psa. 86:11Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”

cultural response to someone having issues like Israel/Ammon – musta had messed up childhood (or something else), gave him/her a disorder, needs counseling

best answer “culturally-minded Christian” can give – God can heal if he chooses, may need therapy/drugs for the rest

“biblical Christian” otoh says – not a disorder, is sinful behavior, true help/healing comes through God’s gracious forgiveness after genuine repentance

Two examples of prayer from Bible appropriate for consideration / use here: Luke 18:13 “God be merciful to me a sinner” and Mark 9:24 “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” Unbelief in what? that God’s plan is best, God’s provision is sufficient, God’s path is safest.


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