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This year I want to look at the Hope of Christmas through the eyes of what we call the Minor Prophets.
There is nothing that gives hope and builds faith like promises and prophecies being fulfilled.
There are actually 12 minor prophets, minor not because of quality but for quantity.
These 12 prophets functioned in the Old Testament as the 12 Apostles functioned in the New Testament.
Prophets were the Messenger and Ambassadors the nation of Israel.
The Apostles were the Messengers, Ambassadors, and Foundation of the New Testament Church.
“It is not a coincidence that the number of writing prophets in the Hebrew Bible (fifteen: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve) matched the number of patriarchs and tribes (fifteen: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes).
The prophets were a mini-Israel calling back the larger nation to its covenant Lord.”
What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared about: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible (The Author of the Twelve Compiled Twelve Prophetic Writings into a Single, Unified Book)
With Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, the book of the Twelve provides theological commentary on Israel’s checkered history (Genesis–Kings), while also pointing ahead to a brighter day.
Jenkin Loyd-Jones says,
“The pathway of history is littered with the bones of dead civilizations … most of them have rotted out before the barbarians battered the gates.
They had rotted with outward corruption and dishonesty and the search for kicks.”
The average age of a civilization is around 200 years.
Civilizations fall not from without but from within.
Arnold Toynbee said,
“19 out of the last 21 civilizations have destroyed themselves.”
Israel, the Northern Kingdom falls into this category.
She began in 922 B.C., she died in 721 B.C. with the reason being moral and spiritual corruption from within.
Before Israel was destroyed and Judah enslaved, at the height of wealth, worship and wickedness, God sent Amos and Hosea to Israel and Isaiah and Micah to Judah.
The PREREQUISITE for Christmas:
The Setting of Amos
The name Amos means “burden” or “burden-bearer.”
Amos was from Tekoa, a small village 10 mi.
south of Jerusalem.
He was the only prophet to give his occupation before declaring his divine commission.
He was not of priestly or noble descent, but worked as a “sheepbreeder” (1:1; cf. 2 Kin.
3:4) and a “tender of sycamore fruit” (7:14) and was a contemporary of Jonah (2 Kin.
14:25), Hosea (Hos.
1:1), and Isaiah (Is.
Amos lived during the economic and military splendor of Uzziah (783-742) in the South and Jeroboam II (786-746) in the North.
It was a time of peace and prosperity.
However, an increase in wealth leads to increase of wickedness and immorality.
It was a time of bullheadedness.
Judah rejected the laws of God, Israel followed the evil ways of Jeroboam, so much so that Hosea said,
Amos dealt primarily with the sins that accompany wealth.
The people were self indulgent, drinking wine in bowls, building summer houses, and anointing their bodies with the finest oils (3:15; 6:4–6).
They were unconcerned for the poor (6:6) and loved money so much they were cruel to them when it was profitable (2:6–8; 8:5–6; 5:12).
Added to indulgence and injustices were drunkenness (2:8, 12; 4:1; 6:6) and immorality so debased that a father and son would take turns with the same girl (2:7).
Isaiah summed up these people’s philosophy,
Isaiah 22:13 (KJV 1900)
13 And behold joy and gladness, Slaying oxen, and killing sheep, Eating flesh, and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (22:13).
Oddly enough this was also a time of external zeal.
Worshipers flooded the sanctuaries (Amos 4:4) in the North and the Temple (Isa.
1:10–15) in the South.
These who were rotten to the core were also religious to the core.
Because of this, the prophets all agree it was a time of peril.
The God who cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly (Isa.
1:5), would raise up a nation (Assyria) to punish them (Isa.
1:7–8; Amos 5:27; Micah 4:10; Hos.
He had promised this long before through Moses on the borders of Canaan (Deut.
Israel had less than a half century to live.
What did God say to them?
Turn from the setting to …
The Summons of Amos
In these bleak rugged mountains from the village of Tekoa, just 12 miles south of Jerusalem, looking down on the Dead Sea, Amos had a panoramic view of his world.
The lonely hours keeping sheep and caring for sycamore trees, a poor type of fig eaten by the poor, gave him time to think and commune with God.
The sight of worshipers going to Jerusalem and to Bethel, ten miles to the north, enabled him to see the soul of his countrymen.
The sight of unjust judges, uncaring rich, starving peasants, and pitiful slaves enabled him to see their rotten hearts.
And one day, when he could take it no more, God called him to preach and sent him to the North to deliver his message.
Amos goes to Bethel where King Jereboam worshipped and declared,
In other words, from the lowest point to the highest point, the judgment of God will be felt.
He attacks the sins of Israel’s neighbors (1:3-2-5) and then he attacks the sins of Israel.
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel did not like the message and when Amos predicted Jeroboam’s death (7:9), he couldn’t take any more.
He sends a message to Amos to go back to Judah and earn his preaching money there (7:12-13)
In this summons and courageous response we need to see that wherever there is a wrong that needs to be made right, this is our call from God.
Where a burden needs to be lifted we find our call from God.
Where a human being needs to be helped, we find our call from God.
We evade the will of God by “looking” for the will of God and “praying” for the will of God, when His will for us is all around us.
The Good Samaritan didn’t have to pray about whether or not to help the victim beside the road.
In that man’s wounds he saw God’s will.
The Sins by Amos
1. INJUSTICE to the Poor (2:6–8; 8:5–6).
As the merchants and farmers grew wealthy they cared nothing about the poor, in fact, they mistreated them.
He said they “sold into slavery the poor who cannot repay their debts; they trade him for a pair of shoes.
They trample the poor in the dust …” (2:6–8, LB).
The poor had no help from the courts because the rich easily bribed the judges at thee gate (5:12).
With no fear of punishment the merchants with their false measures and incorrect scales cheated the poor (8:5–6).
Money was their god.
Money meant more to them than people.
Greed, however, is at its ugliest not when a vile creature pulls a knife to steal a purse, but then nice, moral, honest people refuse to share with the poor.
Jesus said nothing about the men who beat and robbed the traveler on the Jericho Road.
But He condemned the preacher (priest) and song leader (Levite) who passed by on the other side.
The Bible says,
Psalm 37:21–22 (KJV 1900)
21 ...But the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.22
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth;
And they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
“… the righteous is generous and gives, for those blessed by the Lord will possess the land.
But those cursed by Him will be cut off” (Ps.
“It is well with the man who deals generously” (Ps.
I know there are abuses in our welfare system.
I know we encourage many to laziness.
But I also know that because of our taxes many who cannot buy food, eat and many who cannot afford medical help are treated.
I believe one reason God blesses America is because her government and her churches and her charities reach out to help the poor.
2. IMMORALITY in the Home.
Amos mentions sexual immorality in only one verse but that verse speaks volumes.
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