Powerful Opposition to God’s Word

Amos 7:10-17

Important to keep in mind: God has plan to redeem his people from ruin and God’s plan is their only hope. Not simply an us vs. them / insiders vs. outsiders scenario. Is opposition to God’s Word in culture… obviously. Less obvious, opposition in the church – may appear to focus on particular issues, but at root is rebellion against God. Scenario here far more than Amaziah duking it out with Amos over finer points of doctrine. Is in reality spiritual warfare at highest levels of religion and culture.

Primary players appear to be Amos and Amaziah – prophet of God and priest of Bethel. Are other far more powerful forces at work in conflict that continues today. Will be helpful to review some details about setting of this confrontation… Bethel.

First identified as place of worship when Abraham first pitched his tent (Gen. 12:8; 13:4) between Bethel and Ai (about 2 miles apart). At that time, was called town of Luz. Later, on day after Jacob’s dream about the ladder, he set up his stone pillow as an altar, called the place Beth-el, “house of God”. God himself even referred to it: Gen. 31:13 “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me.” After conquest of Canaan, ark of covenant rested there for a time. Bethel one of three cities that made up Samuel’s annual circuit. By time of Elijah / Elisha was location of prophet’s school. Long history of legitimate worship of true God.

All changed at time of Jeroboam I, divided kingdom. Re-purposed for another use – designed to preserve loyalty of ten tribes to Jeroboam. Feared would be lost if annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem continued. Jeroboam set up golden calf at Bethel, also at Dan (1 Ki. 12:28-33); came up with own worship rituals to mimic God-ordained ones. Jeroboam established idol-worship (high places) elsewhere in northern kingdom, assigned Bethel as religious center. Bethel once pleasing to God now place of idol-worship for nearly 200 years.

This the place where Amos was sent to declare God’s intention to judge his people for their sinfulness. Not content to nibble away around fringes, appealing to those dissatisfied with status quo. Instead went right to the top, the leaders most responsible for inciting Jewish people to sin against God. Are biblical and historical parallels later in lives of both Daniel and Jesus, for example. During British history from time of Henry 8th to Elizabeth 1st, monarchy had much to say and do in matters of religion. But now to Amaziah and Amos.

Interesting contrast between words of Amaziah and Amos – the priest sounds more like a politician. Amos regularly refers to God in his declarations, frequently as source of what he says, the one under whose authority he serves. Nothing even close to that in Amaziah’s speech; in fact, he speaks as mouthpiece for king rather than God. Quite ironic since name means: “Yahweh is mighty”! A case where individual didn’t live up to billing although name expressed the truth.

A. Amaziah to the king v.10-11

accusation

conspiracy – implication that Amos was acting as spy or subversive from Judah, attempting to undermine authority of government

charges Amos with disloyalty to the king and fellow Jews, seeking to promote own agenda to somehow make a living

hate speech – saying things that would cause harm to others, threatening with captivity, destroying morale of people

is very telling that Amaziah does not criticize Amos for prophesying against his idolatry – for some reason leaves religion out

accuracy

no, Amos didn’t say that – prophecy against house of Jeroboam, Amaziah spun into personal attack on the king – better reaction

yes, he did say that – God had indeed declared Israel would be taken into captivity – Satan at it again, mixing truth and error

Satan and evildoers less concerned with accuracy than making their point – evident right from Garden, distorting God’s words

accomplishment

turn spiritual / religious issue into political / social – favorite and effective tactic when allowed to persist: one deals with beliefs, other with facts… and must be kept separate

if political, then law has somewhat to say, can be resisted with force and frequently uncomfortable consequences

pit state against church

should be working toward compatible goals in different spheres – state restraining evil so church can “function”, church training citizens to be useful to state

B. Amaziah to Amos v.12-13

cops an attitude

can’t tell for sure – threatening or dismissive – neither one proper response from priest toward prophet of God

leave before you get hurt – implication being for Amos to stick around… not good for his health and well-being

“run along little man” – go peddle your wares, earn your bread elsewhere – assumes Amos doing for money, probably no concept of him having divine call to prophetic ministry

pretends authority

speaks as though he could command God’s prophet – never works that way: OT prophet always has latest word from God, often intended to correct priestly wrongdoing

people misbehaving, priests going along or unable to change popular direction, God sends prophet with stern warning

tries to reverse roles

legitimate speaker was Amos, not idolatrous priest – priest acting as servant of state, prophet serving as faithful messenger

spins the attack

attack on king’s religion an attack on king – it really was even though Amos didn’t state it that way: disaster would come on Jeroboam’s dynasty, not necessarily him personally

special problem when king “established” the religion – Bethel, place of worship the king’s sanctuary, the king’s home

Amos’ criticism of idolatry really a direct challenge to one who set it up and promoted it – God certainly saw Jeroboam as responsible for sinfulness of nation

C. Amos’ defense v.14-15

motivation

already employed in vocation – was professional in agriculture and animal husbandry, likely the vocation he would return to

didn’t need to be prophet for profit – and… not professional prophet, didn’t go to prophet school, belong to prophet’s guild

mandate

Amos’ mandate from Yahweh, not Jeroboam – was covenant God who took him out of his profession, redirected in ministry

obedience obligatory, not optional – king’s request could be resisted or rejected…maybe, God’s mandate never

message

like mandate, from Yahweh – when God truly calls someone from established vocation into another, especially public ministry, God supplies all the need

if Yahweh says “prophesy”, will also say what to prophesy – clear that true prophet was really only God’s mouthpiece

Ex. 4:15-16“So you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And as for me, I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you both what you must do.He will speak for you to the people, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were his God.”

D. Amos’ declaration v.16-17

outranked

priest no match for Sovereign Lord – here’s what you said, now hear God’s response… and brace yourself, it ain’t gonna be pretty – God will have the final word

no match for faithful servant of God – consequences strong and certain for those who oppose word of God, esp. those who should be promoting and proclaiming it

overcome

His wife will become a prostitute (cf. the curse in Deut. 28:30). – one of “covenant curses”, often result of warfare: rape, pillage, plunder; could be “necessary” for support after men died in battle

His children will be killed (see the curses in Deut. 28:32, 41; 32:25). – especially true of adult sons when land is being invaded

His personal property will be given to others (see Deut. 28:30; also Lev. 26:32). – Amaziah’s position not enough to provide guarantees either for his person or his possessions

He will die in a pagan land (see Lev. 26:38–39). – would be carried off into captivity along with fellow countrymen, never to return

The nation will go into exile, as Amos earlier announced (Amos 5:27; 7:11). – almost an “oh, by the way, what I said about the nation… that still holds.”

outcome

God’s just purpose for his enemies – God fully justified in destroying those who persist in rebellion against him – still less onerous than what awaits for eternity

God’s redemptive purpose for his people – God did not intend to destroy the remnant, those who remained loyal to him

God had two-fold purpose in bringing judgment by way of captivity: show his power in preserving the faithful, show his power by converting foes into friends

Conclusions

No matter how things appear in either church or state, God is ultimately in control and will carry out his ordained purpose

Primary resource for defense and support for the church must be God, not civil government – both are under God’s authority

God’s people in every generation need those who will speak with prophetic voice, declaring absolute truth even when unpopular

Must remember – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Eph. 6:12)

is a spiritual battle, must use spiritual weapons – souls of men, women, boys, girls at stake – God wins, he will build his church

 

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