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Who Are You Seeking?

Amos  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:14
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Big Idea: What you are seeking in life will determine your actions and fruit

Introduction

It’s now fall - we’ve finally turned the corner
It’s rainy
The clocks were turned back and almost everyone has adjusted
Thanks to Ben Box for preaching last week
I hope you were all edified and built up by his teaching on Psalm 47
The most important question ever asked
Mark 15:12
“Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
What should I do with Jesus - this is the most important question that any person could ever ask themselves or answer because it is what our eternity hinges on
The second most important question ever asked
John 18:4
“Whom do you seek?”
Who are you looking for? We’re about to come into the Christmas season and all over the place you may see plaques and wall hangings that say “wise men still seek Him”
Tonight we’re going to see Amos extend the olive branch to the Israelites as three times he tells them to seek the Lord and live
What we should come to realize is that:
What you are seeking in life will determine your actions and fruit
say that again
Let’s read the Scripture together and then we’ll open in a word of prayer
Read Amos 5:1-17
Pray

Death of a Nation

Amos 5:1-6; Luke 13:34; 2 Samuel 1:19; John 14:6
These verses represent a lament for the nation of Israel
Laments are the same thing as our modern day eulogy
Laments are common in Scripture
There’s actually a whole book that is Jeremiah’s lamentation over the nation of Judah
And Jesus pronounces a truncated lament over Jerusalem as Luke records for us in Luke 13:34
Amos has been going at the Israelites a little bit - he’s dismantled the religious system, their social justice system he’s even taken on the prominent women of the society
Amos begins this third sermon with the words “Hear this word”
Repeatedly throughout this book he is trying to get the Israelites attention
Each time he has gone on to shock them with what he has to say
Amos 3:1 - he says that the Lord has spoken a word against the sons of Israel
Amos 4:1 - he pronounces a curse against the women of the city
He now shocks them by pronouncing a dirge - a eulogy - over the house of Israel
In ancient times when someone died grieving encompassed the life of those affected - they would tear their clothes and shave their heads and go about in sackcloth
You could picture Amos here appearing at the religious festival in Bethel that he had just derided in his last sermon striding through the streets clothed in sackcloth, trailed by professional mourners that he would have hired for the occasion...
In the height of Israel’s military and economic prosperity Amos is lamenting the death of the nation
He is much like the Scottish preacher who one morning stood up in front of his congregation and preached a funeral sermon. Without mentioning the name of the church, he extensively described why and how the church had died. At the end of his sermon he said, “The church of which I have been speaking is this church! And death will surely come unless we ask the Good Lord to revive us and give us a new beginning.” The pastor’s text was from Revelation 3:1, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”
The nation of Israel thought they were alive and well protected but Amos is pronouncing them to, in reality, be dead
He says that the nation of Israel has fallen - she will not rise again
This is the language of the battlefield where a soldier has fallen and has been left behind by his comrades to rot
David uses this language in his eulogy of Saul in 2 Samuel 1:19
Amos shifts now to the prophetic - looking into the future 30 years - and forthtelling that the losses experienced by the nation of Israel will be 90% casualties
Amos 5:3
No one would invest in a stock that had a 90% loss rate
Not many people would follow a sports team that has a 90% loss rate - unless you’re from Cleveland or San Francisco
Yet the losses experienced by Israel will be 90%
There is some hope here however - yes 90% is bad, but it’s better than 100%.
God is telling them that while their punishment will be devastating it will not be total - there will still be a remnant
And He extends an olive branch to those who would listen and tells them how this will be effected
Amos 5:4
“Seek Me that you may live”
This is the only solution for what ails mankind - to seek the Lord
There is no other way
John 14:6
Jesus entire ministry was built on this concept of seeking the Father through Him
Amos again takes a shot at the false religious practices of the Israelites
Amos 5:5
He tells them not to go to Bethel or to Gilgal
Gilgal is the location where the Israelites first crossed into the Promised Land
It was here that Joshua circumcised the nation and built an altar to the Lord
The important thing to note here is that the Israelites were practicing religion as they thought best
Just like the peasants of the 16th century blindly following the precepts of the Catholic church in buying indulgences to spring loved ones from purgatory
These men and women were practicing a religion that they thought would bring them to God
False religion or religion falsely done is fruitless
But it couldn’t because they were seeking a god of their own making, they were mixing the purity of the Law with pagan customs and they were seeking Him on their terms rather than on His
They thought they had to add something to God to make Him more interesting or acceptable
Like the pastor in New York who recently rode his bike and jumped 1000 Bibles and then through a wall of flames as a “stunt to spread the message of the Christian faith”.
How often do we come here and do the exact same thing - ok God I’ll worship you today as long as you make my aching knee feel better or take this bill away or for whatever reason
Or we’ve made a God in our image that we come and worship but we’re not willing to submit to the God that is taught from the Scriptures
It’s easy to take Jesus as savior as long as that’s all He is - but when we have to actually bow the knee and make Him Lord we don’t like that God
We like the God that has a wonderful plan for our life, that’s going to fix every problem and clear every hurdle because ultimately that plays right into our narcissistic tendencies to make it all about us
What we don’t know how to handle is a God who permits things like Sutherland Springs Texas to happen - how do we serve that God?

A God Worth Seeking

Amos 5:7-9; Job 38:31
Amos starts off this short section by hammering those who would pervert the justice system turning justice into wormwood - a bitter herb that made food inedible and water undrinkable
Amos says that there is no justice or righteousness in the land highlighting the social injustices being perpetrated upon the poor
Then Amos shocks us again by breaking his train of thought and launching into a hymn that would have been sung in the temples
This almost seems not to fit
If you cut out verses 8 and 9 and just went to verse 10 Amos’s tirade runs unchecked and seems more cohesive - yet this is the central point that Amos is attempting to get across
Twice he has told the Israelites to seek the Lord and he will now use one of their own hymns to remind then who they should be seeking
He who made the Pleiades and Orion
He who spoke all of these things into being - Amos uses two well known star clusters to demonstrate the majesty of God’s creation
These same constellations are mentioned in Job 38:31
He created them ex nilho - from nothing
We have made a lot of inventions but we’ve never created something out of absolutely nothing
Russ Millers talks last weekend were interesting - as he demonstrated the centrality of the flood narrative to the truth of Scripture and this is another - our God made everything out of nothing
Nothing cannot make anything - it’s simply unscientific to suggest that nothing - not even air existed - could make something
Yet God made everything
He turns the darkness into light and darkens day into night
Even the phrase Amos uses points to the futility of the Israelites efforts
Our translation says changes but the root word for changes is the same as the word translated turns in verse 7
Amos is saying you take pride in your power and ability to pervert justice well let me show you what real power is - God can take the night and turn it into day
We might be able to push back the dark by using lights but we can never completely remove it or fundamentally change it - the earth will rotate and darkness will recede and then come back again regardless of our efforts
We didn’t even create the electricity that allows our lights to operate
He who calls the waters from the sea and pours them out on the earth - signifies the rain cycle and points back to Amos had just said to them about God using droughts to reach out to them.
The Lord is His name - it is He who we should be seeking
And as he has done several times Amos reminds them that it is God who brings calamity upon them
It is He who flashes forth with destruction upon the strong and destroys their fortresses
The very areas that Israel has put their most faith in is the area that God removes to make the people look instead to Him

The Lament Continues

Amos 5:10-17; 2 Samuel 1:17-27; Galatians 4:9
We looked earlier at an example of a lament as David grieves the death of Saul and Jonathan
2 Samuel 1:17-27
Read 1:23-27 only
It’s hard to say something bad about someone in a eulogy
Saul had chased and threatened David for more than half his life and here he is lamenting his death - saying he was “pleasant and beloved in life”
I don’t know if I would characterize someone who threw a spear at my head as being pleasant
Adolph Hitler Eulogy:
Now the world will attempt to explain him. Books will be written about him, some praising, others cursing him. People will criticize him, people will pray for him. A great one has left this world, and where a strong, bright light is extinguished, creatures suddenly appear in the twilight that had hidden from the bright light. That is all foreign to us, far from our way of thinking. For this we affirm: We swore an oath to this man and his teachings, we pledged ourselves to him during our people’s dark days, we rose with him to the heights to which he led our people in the brief, beautiful years of peace, and like all good Germans, we stood by him in battle. The world should not appear small and shabby to us because the victors can rejoice. We can confidently leave his judgment to world history. We today cannot decide it.
But will posterity be able to understand him fully? It is hard for contemporaries to pass judgment about someone of their own era, particularly if it is one as unique as Adolf Hitler. Posterity sees the great from a distance, reads his words, reads our words, but it cannot understand the world of our day in all of is breadth. One can only hope that they believe the great words of the great man. “One could give me whole parts of the earth, but I would rather remain the poorest citizen of this state. — I am not so crazy as to want war. — I was a worker in my youth, and have remained one in my inmost being. — We are not fighting for theories, nor for dogmas. It make no difference whether or not we live. The only thing that is important is that our people lives!”
Even this man found it hard to say something bad about the man responsible for more than 40 million innocent deaths
Amos makes no such allowances for the nation of Israel
He seems to make it a habit of shocking the Israelites
They would have expected him to continue with the lament motif and extol the beauties of the nation and their prosperity and lament how such a great nation had fallen
But Amos launches into an indictment against them for mistreating one another seeking dishonest gain
The gate was where all the court cases would have been tried - contracts signed and it was here that the nation of Israel mistreated each other the most
So much so that those who spoke with integrity were abhorred and silenced by the bribery and intimidation of the upper class
They would exact heavy rents and then take their dishonest profits to build houses
Amos demonstrates the futility of seeking profits in this life at whatever cost
This is not to say that we shouldn’t seek to make an honest living and live comfortably within our means - what it is to say is that we shouldn’t constantly seek to get ahead at other’s expense desiring the next big thing
Even though they’d taken their profits and built nice houses and had exquisitely groomed vineyards they wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy them - they would be lived in and enjoyed by someone else
Amos makes one last plea that they would seek good and not evil, that you may live
This is the third time in this short sermon that he’s implored them to do something in order that they might live
vs. 4 - Seek the Lord
vs. 6 - Seek the Lord
vs. 14 - seek good and not evil
The thing is that we can’t seek good and not evil unless we are seeking the Lord.
We are inherently evil from birth (Psalm 51) and dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1) and cannot seek God of our own volition unless His Spirit awakens our soul to our need for His forgiveness and repent our sins to Him
And then we must seek Him and not return to our old ways of trying to do it through our own efforts
Galatians 4:9
Are we now to be perfected by works where we were redeemed by faith?
We cannot be the remnant if we seek to do so

Conclusion

Listen we could come in here week after week and look in to these Words and still some of you would walk away unchanged because, like the Israelites, you think you are seeking the right God or you’re doing it the right way
If we never challenged you then you could walk away in your inoculated state thinking that Heaven was secure for you and that
For some of you it is
But there are some in this room that are just going through the motions checking off their religious boxes without ever actually coming to a point where they acknowledge Christ as both Lord and Savior
Or you’re worshipping a God of your own creation and you’ve missed the true King all together
Brothers there is nothing more important in the world right now than you getting this right.
Whether Christ tarries another 1000 years or another 10 years wont make a difference if you’ve solidified your relationship with Him
Who are you seeking?
Does the fruit of your life demonstrate who you’re seeking?
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