False Teaching, False Hope, False Gods – Fighting Complacency

Amos 5:18-27

Chapter 5:1-17 first part of Funeral Sermon, this the second part – announcement of impending judgment. Obituary has been read, now the back story on cause of death. Even though a message of doom, Sovereign Lord has spoken yet he will be gracious – judgment will come and God will show mercy to repentant.

Right at beginning of text, Amos zeroes in on what is major theme in Joel: “the Day of the Lord”.

These are the five theological themes, then, in this great topic of the Day of the Lord: a divine reckoning on all countries; a demonstration of God’s supremacy over all nature and nations; an outpouring of the Holy Spirit; a divinely permitted call given by all the nations in which they go up against Israel to settle the Jewish question, but in which God finally joins in the fray as judge of all nations and deliverer of the remnant of Israel; a revived Zion with the Lord personally dwelling in the midst.” Walter Kaiser

Popular view of “yom Yahweh” tends to focus too narrowly on Israel the nation, missing out on additional and significant layers of meaning. Remember – Israel / Zion throughout Scripture have more than nation/city in view. In this case, Israel as in Northern Kingdom had some notions about it that needed correcting, although they would not agree.

Amos’ audience perfectly complacent with their view of things: themselves, their worship, their needs, their neighbors. Can almost hear them say in response to Amos’ preaching: “thanks, I’m good”. Were happy with false teaching that encouraged them to stay the course; content with a false hope based on conditions they were already meeting; satisfied gods of own choosing and design could adequately meet their needs. Amos’ task here to shock them out of complacency… if possible – wake them up to dire need and grave danger.

A. Lament: certain judgment v.18-20

strong desire, craving, longing – strong form of strong word

no question about what they wanted – calling for God to hurry up and follow through on promise; nothing less would satisfy

bad theology – yom Yahweh not a good thing for them – “are you out of your mind?”

read and appreciated part about Yahweh putting his enemies in their place – since they were Abraham’s children, must be taliking about their enemies, too

selective reading of Bible

calling down God’s judgment… on neighbors, not because times were bad – were good, wanted even better, at expense of others

no consideration for true purpose behind “Day of the Lord” and relation to sinful behavior, theirs or enemies

much more case of God as genie in a bottle – called out to do their bidding, improve their living conditions even when that meant destruction of others

should have had Jesus’ attitude: Luke 9:52-56

people did not receive Jesus, James and John “call down fire” – response: “the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

instead failed to recognize when judgment came, would be God’s displeasure with Israel taking punitive form – they would be ones experiencing hardship, would be dark times for them

cannot run

cyclist, bear, meals on wheels – God’s judgment would surround with no way of excape: run from one threat into arms of another

in practice: one ally would turn on them, as Israel runs to another ally for help that one turns into enemy as well

cannot hide

expect home to be place of safety, haven from danger – not so on yom Yahweh… his eye penetrates everywhere

dark time

figurative, yes, but in more than one sense: will be time of reduced economic, political, cultural hopes; no deliverer in sight

period of spiritual darkness – Ezekiel for few years at beginning, Daniel near end, rest of Babylonian exile little heard from God

B. Accusation: Hypocrites! v.21-22

false hope – that hypocritical worship will be accepted

“The second and third paragraphs (5:21–27) deal with two kinds of unacceptable worship: Proper forms of worship are rejected because the worshiper’s life is not characterized by justice or righteous action, and deceptive forms of worship are rejected because the worshiper does not distinguish between proper and improper conceptions of God.” NIVAC

acting as though God’s law could be used as formula, algebraic function machine – put xyz in, turn handle, get abc out w/o regard for anything else

if they went through rituals by the book, God had to accept what they brought, give what he promised in return

not the act alone that comprises acceptable worship

what is declared by word and deed “in church” must be matched “in life” – talking with couple last week, expressed great frustration with Sunday Christians

God’s idea is 24/7 Christians – disciples fully devoted to him all the time, not dividing loyalty between Yahweh and selfish ends

Deut. 10:12-13“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

right worship must come from right heart and have right object

must be genuine believer focused on true God, as he has revealed himself, in all of Scripture

consider example of David – truly a great sinner yet one who had genuine heart for God, see Acts 13:22I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

Israel not significantly different from many professed Christians

prayed a prayer, have intellectual belief in existence of God, confident of eternal destiny… but no saving faith

may be strong sincere faith, yet without adequate foundation – will certainly fail to deliver according to expectations

C. Call for repentance v.23-24

take away the pretense, bring on the righteous behavior

Jesus addressed similar issue, Matt. 5:23-24 – leave gift at altar, go be reconciled, then offer gift: make sure daily life is in order, then come to worship

God not obliged to accept what people call worship

appearance of success not necessarily equivalent to blessing – Israel figured visible prosperity an indicator they were ok, God was blessing

same true today: those who pursue/promote popular form of worship equate large numbers / growth with God’s approval

Israel was most displeasing to God when were most prosperous, had most of what world perceived as evidence of success – has Western church fallen into same trap?

God expects seamless blending between worship and rest of life

yes, God deeply concerned with justice and righteousness, are foundational to life of Christ-follower, yet there is more

these two are broad examples – idea is this: if church friend and work friend each painted your portrait w/o collaborating, would obviously be of same person

not so for Israel – presented themselves in one way to God during worship and other rituals, as someone so different as almost unrecognizable rest of time

D. Accusation: Hypocrites! v.25-26

god shelf – YHWH plus Sikkuth and Chiun

was different competitors for loyalty in desert – that they spent 40 years in desert ought to make clear something was wrong

Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings In the wilderness – were they really offered to ME? were they offered only to ME?

same God by a different name?

perhaps that was logic behind golden calf – just another name / identity / representation of true God

same God but different characteristics?

use same name, call him God, think of and describe him differently from how he is revealed in Bible

Jews of Amos’ day doing same as Rachel (Gen. 31:19, 30, 34) – Yahweh is great, will carry these along just for extra insurance

E. Lament: certain judgment v.27

the God of the covenant will carry out terms of covenant… but not to destroy

because of disloyalty to Yahweh and covenant, would send into captivity, not destruction – God always has redemption of his people in view

the God of armies will ensure their exile

true God, speaking to them through Amos has both will and power to carry out his purpose… unlike their false gods

would learn to their dismay Sikkuth and Chiun were powerless: 2 Ki 17:16they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.”

So what should we observe and avoid?

Be sure own house is truly in order before longing for God’s judgment – ok to want God to deal with enemies, just make sure we’re not among them

Orthopraxy must match orthodoxy – how we live should be consistent with what we say we believe

Be careful of false gods, challenge them in others’ thinking – e.g., “I like to think of God as…” be sure Bible substantiates that way of thinking

Remember: no escape when God moves in judgment – not a problem for those who are his, should bring lost to repentance

Above all, make sure our hope, our devotion focused on Christ alone, and that is how we steer others.

 

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