Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

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“Do two walk together,
unless they have agreed to meet?” [1]
God had blessed His ancient people.
However, despite His rich blessings, they chose to rebel.
God makes it clear that He is left with no option except judgement.
The question selected as the text for the message today, is actually one of a series of questions the prophet asked of the people.
Look at the full account of questions posed to the people.
“Do two walk together,
unless they have agreed to meet?
Does a lion roar in the forest,
when he has no prey?
Does a young lion cry out from his den,
if he has taken nothing?
Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth,
when there is no trap for it?
Does a snare spring up from the ground,
when it has taken nothing?
Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?”
[AMOS 3:3-6]
Let’s look at each of these questions, answering them as we read them.
“Do two walk together,
unless they have agreed to meet?”
The obvious answer is, “No, assuredly not!”
“Does a lion roar in the forest,
when he has no prey?”
Again, the reader who is even somewhat conversant with the lions of the Judean desert would respond, “Of course not.”
“Does a young lion cry out from his den,
if he has taken nothing?”
Yet again, the expected answer is, “No, emphatically no.”
Just so, the next two questions, included for emphasis demand that the reader respond with a resounding “No!”
“Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth,
when there is no trap for it?
Does a snare spring up from the ground,
when it has taken nothing?”
At this point, there is a change in the questions asked.
Almost without warning, Amos changes the question to one which anticipates a positive response.
“Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?”
Of course, those living in the city would be fearful should the warning trumpet be blown—it would mean an enemy had been sighted.
Then, the prophet poses a final query that again demands a positive answer.
“Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?”
When disaster strikes a city, God has permitted it.
There is a progression from a general question that seems almost innocuous or academic, to a question concerning meeting two animals, to a question of birds and a human trap, to a final climactic question concerning confrontation with Holy God.
The theme developed as each question is posed in turn is disaster—especially for the one confronted by the question.
In this message this day, I am focusing on the initial question.
It is the most general of all the questions.
Bear in mind, however, where God’s interlocutor is moving.
He is warning Israel of a disastrous meeting because they have rejected God.
The questions posed could readily be applied to the western world in this day.
FOUNDATIONAL TRUTHS — Some years ago, a fellow pastor asked why I had not attended any ministerial meetings in the community in which we lived.
I knew him to be a good man who loved God; I knew that this pastor wanted to honour the Lord God.
I also knew that he was terribly frustrated that his congregation was scarcely interested in the things of the Word.
When he approached me with his question, I asked if he truly wanted to know my reason, or whether he was merely making polite inquiry.
He assured me that he genuinely wanted to know why I had not accepted any of numerous invitations to attend a ministerial meeting.
I asked for a copy of their doctrinal statement.
After skirting the issue for some time, he finally terminated the conversation by stating that I was judgemental.
He assured me that the ministerial did have a doctrinal statement, but he was uncertain if he could get a copy immediately.
We discussed this matter for over four years, and he never did produce a copy of the doctrinal statement by which the ministerial agreed to co-operate.
Eventually, he resigned his charge and moved to a distant city where he now pastors.
We still see one another occasionally.
Oh, his successor took up the effort to extend invitations when he had ceased.
It is meaningless to say, “Well, we agree to the Apostle’s Creed” (or the Nicene Creed), if that Creed is then interpreted in such a manner as to neuter its intent.
It is common for Ministerial Associations to agree to the position that members believe the Bible “as interpreted by Jesus.”
This allows sufficient “wiggle room” to permit anyone to claim to be a Christian without holding to Christian doctrine.
On one occasion a fellow pastor invited me to a special meeting that was to be held at one of the larger churches in the community.
The churches were uniting for what was called a night of prayer for Christian unity.
I assured him that I did pray for Christian unity, but I would neither promote the meeting within my congregation, nor would I participate.
He feigned shock, asking why I would be so adamantly opposed to such a “good” activity.
I asked if a particular pastor would be participating, receiving his assurance that she was co-operating.
I then inquired about another pastor within the community.
Again, he assured me that she also would be participating.
I commented that his answer provided sufficient reason for my negative response.
The former denied the Bible to be the Word of God and openly denied that Jesus is very God.
Moreover, she commended setting apart to pastoral ministries people who were living in open defiance of godliness.
The latter agreed with the former in denying the virgin birth of Christ and the miraculous.
Neither believed there was any such thing as salvation.
“Brother,” I gently asked, “do you believe as they believe?”
He assured me that he did not so believe.
“Well, here is the problem.
I stand on Sunday morning and declare ‘hell hot, eternity long, sin black, Christ the power of God and salvation by faith in Him.’
Then, you would have me on Sunday evening wrap my arms around these two critters and say, ‘These are my sisters; we worship the same god and believe the same things.’
Isn’t it logical that engaging in such action that is obviously contrary to what I preach will only serve to confuse my people?”
Now get this!
He said, “Mike, I agree with you; but if I took that stand it would cause problems with my deacons.”
In other words, he was quite prepared to be orthodox in the pulpit and heterodox in life.
Were his position the exception, it would be serious enough.
However, it is increasingly apparent that this is the majority position defining contemporary Christendom.
The Faith has become eclectic; it has transmogrified into a pragmatic belief system in which the professor espouses whatever is necessary for momentary peace.
Today, the teaching of the Word is treated much as one might approach a cafeteria meal.
We take a little of this, because it is easy to digest.
We take some of that, it will keep us regular.
We’ll fill the plate with some of that because it is so sweet and pleasant.
We won’t have any of that, it is tough to chew and will upset the stomach.
And we will sprinkle a little pixie dust over all to make it palatable.
This cafeteria approach to religion lends horrifying insight into the present condition in which the Faith exists in light of a parable that the Master told his disciples on one occasion.
Jesus said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.
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