The End Is Coming

Amos 8:1-14

Would have been super easy for God’s prophet to pitch the whole business. Amaziah’s reaction to Amos’ ministry not encouraging. Not so much because he pushed back… rather what he took issue with, how he deflected core of Amos’ challenge, spun it into something different. Amos clearly articulated God’s message to his covenant people, laid out sins of cruelty, arrogance, disrespect for God and his laws, self-centeredness and idolatry to name a few. Amaziah totally disregards just criticism of Israel’s profound sinfulness, accuses Amos of treason: personal attack on the king, trying to undermine his government. Is like trying to have meaningful conversation with someone, they keep changing the subject. What’s the p oint of even trying, when those who need to change refuse to engage on the subject?!?

Just as Amos persevered with declaration of truth regardless of Amaziah’s antics, so God perseveres with two more visions to encourage the prophet. This one, fourth in series, more explicit – God no longer threatening judgment, is now promising it will come. Final version even more moving, God reveals himself as sovereign agent responsible for Israel’s coming judgment. Clearly Amos got the message right, had right audience, had kept right relationship with God – rewarded by blessing of more encouragements. Hard message to hear, yet hearing / seeing God always rewarding.

In response to Amos’ pleading, God relented regarding first two judgments. No prayer, no relenting about the third. Here God unequivocally declares the end is coming, for certain. Once again, God makes clear why judgment more than justified. God supplies graphic picture of just how horrible the end will be. Then, will draw some conclusions applicable to our circumstances.

A. the end declared v.1-3

ripe fruit = ripe for harvest = ripe for judgment – its character is determined, cannot be changed

people still not getting that they just as deserving of God’s judgment as all their neighbors – if they do get it, are stubbornly resistant

imagery of summer fruit powerful one for Amos, given 1st vocation – he understood precisely what God intended

ripe fruit once picked must be used quickly or will rot – only short time until good for nothing, if can’t be preserved must be discarded or rot will spread

God’s longsuffering has ended

same kind of declaration made before… to Noah – Gen. 6:3And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

to withhold consequences for too long enables / encourages sinful behavior to not just persist, promotes escalation

regardless of human outcome, God will be glorified – by grace and mercy in those rescued from ruin, by justice in rebellious

God speaking to Amos about “localized” display of justice; same principle applies locally elsewhere, other peoples and nations

true globally also – time is coming, big Day of the Lord, “no longer overlook their sins” (NET); must be prepared, others warned

end of Israel as autonomous self-governing people

Sargon, then Sennacherib overrun northern kingdom 722 BC; signaled beginning of end for entire nation, finished 586 BC

God allowed Judah to continue longer because were some godly kings among the rest – not so for 10 tribes

once period of Babylonian captivity began, monarchy ended, never restored even though people returned to land

some brief periods from 538 BC and 135 AD had some freedom to self-govern but only until power structures around changed

violent and tragic end

had plugs in ears, hands over eyes, stubbornly refusing to heed God’s messenger – looking only at indicators that pointed to good times

would be absolutely unprepared for shock of God’s judgment when it came – totally not on their radar at all

“the songs were the choral music,with which they counterfeited the temple-music, as arranged by David, praising (they oould not make up their minds which,) Nature or ” the God of nature,” but, in truth, worshiping the creature.” Pusey

judgment would be met with disbelief, denial until no other option but to acknowledge tragedy and wail over destruction

nightclub, June 2016 – gunman – 49 dead, 53 injured; party at converted warehouse, Dec. 2016 – fire – 36 lost lives

would be devastating loss of life, security, possessions, future – had hardest time to believe God was responsible

B. the reasons given v.4-6

main problem: oppression

working every possible minute to get ahead at expense of poor and needy – not accidental, were very intentional in actions

targeting those who had few resources, little or no ability to push back – in debt to corner store, could get credit nowhere else

had no one to be their advocate, perhaps did not realize full extent to which were being defrauded – trapped in spiral of increasing debt, decreasing resources, no hope ever for relief

in behaving this way, were violating both tables of law: sinning against both God and fellow man – enslaving others for own gain, not trusting in God’s provision

by no means the only problem – kind of character that is demonstrated that way influences other parts of life; just an obvious example of what was wrong

motive: impatient greed coupled with disrespect of God’s law

couldn’t wait for weekend to be over so could return to profit-making – practiced externals but with rotten heart, wrong motives

in church every Sunday, eagle eye on the clock, first to holler if preacher goes past the hour by 30 seconds: “cutting into my time”

did not view work restrictions on Sabbath and other religious holidays as blessing from God, intended to prevent from workaholism

instead, were nuisance regulations intended to limit profit-making abilities and opportunities – God stealing from them!

and… believed they knew best what was best for them – even if God did exist, everything they desired was permissible, regardless of any divine or human laws

method: dishonesty

two methods of deception: two sets of weights and measures, diluted product quality

would buy large measure with light shekel, sell small measure for heavy shekel – cheating other party both times

add threshing floor sweepings to grain – increase weight for no cost; add water to wine – increase volume for no cost

same size box and price but less cereal; same price entree, fewer ounces of steak, more lettuce in salad; roll back odometer

important note: God not against profit-making, see parable of talents; God is revolted by dishonesty

expects mankind to manage created order, receive tangible reward for doing so – value added should yield higher price

dishonesty not only problem with interpersonal relations – were being dishonest with God also, and… things lead to things

C. the end described v.7-14

earthquake (7-8)

would seem like earth itself revolting against sinful behavior – heaving and rolling like stormy ocean, swallow up evildoers

people are resilient, can handle a lot – all bets off when earth starts shaking… especially when is God’s hand moving it

darkness (9, 12)

wandering around in darkness, purposely avoiding the light – sea to sea, north to east, to and fro, not south (Uzziah)

small demonstration of what end will look like – things we count on for stability, measuring time shaken up by God himself

funeral (10)

will be no escape, all who God intends to feel weight of his anger will experience his judgment – will be harsh but perfectly just

every cause for pleasure and rejoicing turned to mourning – since God will do this, matters not if they believe Amos’ warning

famine (11, 13-14)

futility of seeking help/relief – God will be silent

“If this is the way prophets, duly commissioned and entrusted by God with His word, are to be treated, then Yahweh will stop sending them. There will be no prophets to bear the word, and without them no word will be available to the leaders of the nation. That dearth, which is more serious and potentially worse than a famine of food and a thirst for water, will usher in the age of ultimate doom, because without access to the word of Yahweh, the nation will be irretrievably lost.” (P. 716) Andersen and Freedman

is this why so many churches without pastors, communities without churches? people refused to listen, God stopped sending

call out to Yahweh, he does not answer; call out to all the gods, desperately hoping at least one will answer

call out to Yahweh as if he is bystander, not one responsible for calamity because of their sin… still in denial

D. conclusions

God not patient forever

in Noah’s day, Israel’s day, other days and on Great Day – God’s longsuffering will end, justice take prominent place – should live in light of that truth

conservatism not enough

can be good, better than some alternatives, still not up to God’s standard; course corrections that come with change of president are good gift from God but… no time to relax

expects godly people, requires godly church

call is there for all to follow God – some will, many will not, Christ will tarry until last lost person is saved, added to church

those churches that have lost first love should remember Christ’s warning: “repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place; unless you repent.” (Rev. 2:5)

Perhaps one of darkest portions of Amos’ ministry – little hope held out to hearers that might turn out different way. Most troubling, “They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.” What hope can there be for place where God cannot be heard? Behooves us, knowing the end is coming, carry God’s word into dark corners. Be faithful witnesses as long as God gives breath and opportunity.

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