Hear This Word – God is Calling

Amos 3:1-15

Three “sermons” begin with “Listen up” – 3:1, 4:1, 5:1 – “hear this word”. Listen up, God is calling; Listen up, You are Too Comfortable; Listen up, Your Illness is Terminal. God through his prophet calling to his people yet again, giving opportunity / incentive to return from lawless ways to him. Is an incessant refrain that began in Garden – “Adam, where are you?”. Continued until time of Jeremiah’s accusation – so hardened and insensitive to sin, no longer knew how to blush. No longer a sense of shame when confronted with their sinful rebellion against God. Not there in Amos’ day but well on their way.

Significant segment of American society rapidly following same path – seeking to redefine right and wrong, increasing disregard for rule of law, seeking to serve self-interest without regard of cost to others. Moving toward danger point if John Adams was correct:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

Same holds true for God’s “constitution”, the 10 Commandments summarized in the two – are only effective in governing a genuinely “moral and religious people”. Jews determined they were capable of self-governing, attempted to do so. In process, deceived selves into thinking everything was ok. Means Israel’s blindness not new in Jesus’ day – John 8:32ff “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”And persists still… Rom. 11:7Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

Shouldn’t be too hard on Jews – all mankind made out of same stuff. Redeemed from Ruin – brought ruin on themselves, in face of God’s persistent discipline. Only hope is in God making first move to redeem. But first… disciplinary action that would follow clear and repeated warnings – God would make clear why judgment was coming, why it was justified, at same time leaving door open for repentance.

A. God called Israel v.1-2

whole family = Israel & Judah

Amos’ target audience northern 10 tribes, Israel, yet Judah guilty also – entire nation practicing things displeasing to God

several things added to insult against God – Jews had received blessings / benefits from God unlike any other people

was God’s doing that they were a “family”, under God’s protecting and providing care as children to a Father

was God’s delivering hand that brought them out of slavery and to place promised to them – something no one else could do

was God who condescended to enter into covenant with them only – outsiders could participate in covenant… when they became Jews

in face of all this, Jews by action had rejected covenant terms, at same time expecting to keep all of covenant benefits

God makes clear – he initiated covenant, he established terms of covenant, he would act in accordance with terms… whether people agreed or not

judgment is unavoidable – Heb. 12:6ff

if they diligently obeyed, blessings promised Deut. 28:3-14; if did not obey voice of God, curses promised Deut. 28:16-68

God’s faithfulness required he do as he promised… either blessing or cursing, as situation warranted – only thing in question: timing

God not automaton, mechanically following hard-coded program – is loving Heavenly Father, devoted to doing best for children

in face of Israel’s contempt, God would remain faithful to his covenant, going above and beyond to draw people back to himself

B. God called Amos v.3-8

parables – cause and effect – obvious answer, not the answer that applies to Israel

are kinds of questions that lead to a response – does this effect have this cause – Amos’ audience readily agree in principle, not so quick to accept God’s application of principle

their mindset typical of those who profess Christianity but show no evidence of saving faith, claim all is good with God when really isn’t

answer to first 5 (v.3-5) – obviously not! to last #6 – of course! #7 – yes, no, wait, what??

1 – of course not, if different destinations/timing/route would never meet or travel together

2-3 – lion, even a young one knows enough not to scare off his prey; waits until success before announcing

4 – if no trap, no bird will be caught; if no bait, bird will not give second glance

5 – takes something to spring trap, animal must get close enough to set it off

6 – yes, if there really is a genuine alarm sounded people will at least check it out

7 – calamity on enemies, of course from God; on us, must be our enemies, not God

but how about God’s application to Israel?

1 – you say we’re agreed but we’re not: claim to be following God, but God says otherwise

2-3 danger is imminent, but you don’t sense it: they get the point but fail to see personal application

4 – you will blindly walk into trap of own setting: don’t recognize danger in path before them

5 – you think you can walk on the edge without falling in: do think they recognize some danger, confident they can avoid

6 – you believe is really nothing to fear: yeah, heard air raid siren but it’s only weekly test, doesn’t mean anything

7 – God is love, he won’t bring calamity: may be true for Israel’s enemies but definitely not for her, besides, he promised

final: God has spoken, prophet must deliver, people should respond

God never acts to discipline / in judgment without giving warning – if you doubt that, check out his record

just as surely as people fear roar of lion, so certainly has God spoken… and his prophet must speak – not optional

equally certain God expected particular response from his people – heed his warning, repent of sin, turn back to him and avert his promised judgment

and, God being God, knows his people will continue on own course until pain/suffering gets unbearable, feel like they have no other option than to cry out to God

C. God calls witnesses v.9-10

Philistines and Egyptians – their oppression nothing like what Israel brought on herself

people cried so loudly, even God said “I’ve seen how severely the Egyptians opppress them” (Ex. 3:9) God finally sent Moses as appointed instrument to lead out of slavery in Egypt

Philistines continually did their part to oppress Israel from time of Judges on – Samson raised up to deal with them

Israel by disobedience, despising God and his laws, following idols and their own way brought even worse oppression on themselves – their own sinfulness

she’s clueless to her true condition having gone her own way – chosen to follow gods made in her own image

enslaved to sinful desires and gods that cannot help, yet self-assessment comes back impressively positive

sees herself as on fast track to overwhelming success – just need little more work, few more breaks, some more time

meanwhile on path of self-destruction, plagued with destructive violence, pervasive robbery, all in environment of oppression

has been practice for long enough has a completely distorted sense of right and wrong – have turned God’s standard on its head

same can be said for USA – avarice, ambition, revenge have brought greater oppression than King George III

like Philistines / Egyptians, genuine Christ-followers should gather on hills around the nation – observe from Biblical perspective

too easy when spending large amounts of time “down in the streets” to not see big picture from God’s POV

America’s biggest problem not the two contenders for top public office – they are candidates made in our own image

problem is what that image reflects – avarice, ambition, revenge that is result of worshiping idols, putting trust in wrong things

to the extent that USA mirrors ancient Israel, similar fate awaits – a people who, having turned back on God run headlong into sin

lure of satisfying sinful desires coupled with Satan’s deceptive tricks mean likely little hope for recovery for our nation

that’s ok, Christian’s hope is in God who takes perfect care of his faithful remnant and God will continue to use remnant as instruments in saving individuals out of reprobate masses

D. God calls for judgment v.11-15

judgment is inevitable

if God is truly holy, just, righteous, he must deal with problem of evil – if credible threat of consequences changes behavior, great!

God is committed to bringing about his good purpose and will use whatever means necessary to: make it happen, remove room for excuse

Trent, inmate – in max, suicidal, only had Bible; tired of throwing Bible around and yelling at God, opened up to Jer. 4:18Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart.”

escape is possible… but difficult

will likely include painful losses – when God decides to act, will not hold back; will not overdo it… will spare a remnant

and don’t even think about trying to find refuge with false gods – they will be no help at all: horns of the altar cut off (14)

God’s supremacy demonstrated

will clearly show to all that he is God over all other gods – all will know that only source of hope is in true God, not idols

every cause for boasting removed/destroyed

will also be clear that no one can deliver themselves from God’s judgment – only by his grace that any are delivered

Must keep in mind – the redeemed remnant (two legs or piece of an ear) those who repent, those who remain faithful. Judgment only falls on persistently rebellious. Even purpose of judgment to bring about repentance from those who will heed. Not a matter of if, rather when God will bring down judgment on this nation. May coincide with Second Coming, may take place before. Either way, we have absolutely nothing to fear – if God has redeemed us out of our ruin, we are perfectly secure in his keeping.

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