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Where is Your Security Found?

Amos  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:55
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Introduction

This is the final sermon that is recorded for us in the book of Amos
The book has been broken down into three sections - the oracles, sermons and next we will get into the visions that Amos had
For the delivery of this final sermon Amos was back in Samaria the seat of power in the nation of Israel
Again Amos’ sermon is not a study in how to build an effective ministry - as were the sermons of many of the prophets - he wouldn’t have built a Saddleback out of his preaching he most likely would have found himself out back
Throughout the book of Amos and throughout these sermons Amos has exposed the areas which the Israelites were trusting in for their security revealing them to be inadequate and really no match for the Lord and what He had planned to bring against the nation of Israel
The question we should ask ourselves tonight as we look at this passage is where is our security found?
If the Israelites had followed the laws of Moses and kept their eyes on God then He would have blessed their nation
It was when they took their eyes off of Him and looked at themselves feeling self-justified that they left His ways resulting in their being cursed and exiled

Distinguished Men?

Amos 6:1-3; Mark 6:31-32; Luke 13:1-5
Amos starts off by saying Woe to those who are at ease in Zion
He is speaking not to the Northern tribes but to those who were in Jerusalem
While much of what Amos said was to the injustices taking place in the Northern tribes of Israel, he did not leave out those who had remained with Jerusalem when the nation split
We observed when we started this study that this book was spoken to the Northern tribes but written down and read among the southern tribes - it contains warnings for both
Here Amos is warning them because they are at ease - that they are at rest
There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking a rest
Jesus said “come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”
In Mark 6:31-32 Jesus calls His disciples aside for a period of rest
The twelve had just returned from having been sent out and now Jesus wants to give them a chance to rest
So there’s nothing wrong with taking a rest when it is warranted
But these that Amos is addressing were resting in the misguided notion that because they were in Jerusalem - the City of David - and were God’s chosen people that they could rest and do as they pleased because He would protect them and their city at all costs
They believed that God would be faithful to His promises that a seed of David would always sit on their throne and that He would never let Jerusalem fall
This condemnation would have been good news for the residents of Samaria to hear because of the internal strife between the southern tribes and the northern tribes
Both looked down on the others because they both felt they had maintained the true allegiance to the Law of Moses and were worshipping as God had intended them to
But Amos doesn’t leave them alone - he now turns his attention to those in Samaria as well
The same woe that he had pronounced over Zion for their lackadaisical attitude he pronounced over those who felt secure in their mountain fortress of Samaria
Their city sat high atop a mountain and should have been impregnable to invaders
James Montgomery Boice describes Samaria this way “
When I visited Samaria, I was struck by its natural military advantages. It is high on a hill. The hill has steep sides. The ancient town was protected by thick walls that could hardly be approached even with a battering ram due to their high elevation. The only approach was by a winding road that made its way up one side of the hill and entered the city through a set of multiple fortifications.”
It reminds me of the city of Kamakura in Japan. There’s a shrine there that used to be the center of Japanese political power in the 12th century. You approach the temple down what seems to be a broad walkway but what happens as you near the temple is that the walkway imperceptibly narrows so any approaching army would have been bunched up and made it harder to attack the temple.
The Samaritans placed their faith in their military forces and fortifications for their security the same way the Israelites of the southern tribes placed their faith in their status as God’s “chosen” people living in His “chosen” city
Instead of relying on the God who had rescued them out of Egypt, sustained them for forty years in the wilderness and then driven out the lands inhabitants before their very eyes to give them a place to live, they were trusting in their own works to sustain them
Preaching on this passage Charles Spurgeon described them this way “He that trusts in his own works leans upon a broken reed. As well attempt to cross the storm-tossed ocean upon a child’s paper boat or mount to the heaven of God in the philosophers balloon - as well attempt to put out the fire a blazing prairie by carrying in your hand a little water scooped from the neighbouring stream as hope by any means to get rid of thine own iniquities by doing better, or of thy past sins by future holiness.”
But of course it wasn’t these men who had witnessed all that God had done for them - those were their ancestors, the less civilized ones who were wandering in the desert.
Oh how time dulls the memory
Yet how often do we react the same way - having lunch with some friends recently we were discussing our kids who were sitting a few feet away. They were commenting on how much energy and exuberance my children had compared to the youthful aloofness often exhibited by their teenagers. I think God gives us children to show us what our Christian walk is like
When we were young, new Christians everything was exciting - we couldn’t wait to get into the Word and dig out every new discovery. We actively sought out people to share our faith with because we were so blown away by what had happened to us. And then after a few years we forget that excitement - we reach our teenage years in our faith and think we know better than God and that we can manage things on our own
Oh that we would all maintain the faith of our spiritual childhood - and while we should certainly grow in knowledge - keep the excitement and freshness of what Christ has done for us
Every morning when we look at the cross and remember that just the sins of the past 24 hours are enough to condemn us to hell forever that excitement and newness of our relationship should be renewed
But Amos doesn’t stop there and neither can we...
He moves on to the distinguished men of the nations - each thought they were the foremost of nations so Amos can be addressing both those in Zion and those in Samaria here
I almost wonder reading this if there isn’t the hint of sarcasm in Amos’ voice as he speaks these words - calling these men distinguished
They would have been distinguished - he’s addressing the political leaders, the spiritual leaders to whom the nations would come to for guidance
But they have abdicated their responsibilities preferring to rely on false hopes rather than fulfill their roles that God had given them thinking they were better than or safer than other nations
Amos tells them to go look at the cities of Calneh and Hamath - each formerly great cities that at that moment were subject to Israel - and then to go down to Gath and view what had happened to that city another city that at that moment was subject to Israel
Did they think that what had happened to these cities could not happen to them?
It is just like Christ says to His listeners in Luke 13:1-5 - essentially don’t think that this can’t happen to you as well
In our modern day context we could look at the hurricanes in Florida and Texas or the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland and realize that we are no better than the people who lost their lives there and at any moment we could be in the same situation as they are
These verses should also serve another warning to us - these distinguished men that the nations were going to for counsel were anything but distinguished
As we look around there are very few distinguished men left - either in the political realm or sadly in the church
It seems when it comes to politics generally our voting decisions focus around who is the least bad candidate rather than whether the available choices are actually worth following
In the church the situation is even worse - where the men should be prophets (not in the sense of telling the future or telling someone how God is going to prosper them) but speaking from the Word of God and explaining it to their listeners, they talk their own ideas or made up schemes rather than the truth
Some of you even attend places where this takes place - if you go in to a “church” service and the person talks for almost 30 minutes without ever opening the Bible or actually getting to the Scripture you’re in the wrong place

Life of Leisure

Amos 6:4-7;
Amos is going to demonstrate the life of ease
When the poor could barely afford to feed themselves or keep themselves out of slavery, the affluent those who were charged with caring for the poor were reclining on beds lined with ivory
The phrase to sprawl on their couches is more than to just lay around being lazy - it speaks to being sprawled out in a drunken stupor unable to rise or to be productive in any way
The general populace in Israel would eat meat about 3 times a year at one of the national festivals
This shines a bit of light on to why the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son was so upset that his father killed the fatted calf for his brother’s return. That is not to vindicate him of his selfishness or self-righteousness but it does demonstrate what a big deal killing the fatted calf was
Yet these distinguished gentlemen were eating of the lambs of the flock and the calves from the midst of the stall - what we would call veal today - without any sensitivity or care for the disparity between the classes
They would even compose themselves songs thinking themselves to be like David
I doubt these were spiritual songs that brought praise to God but what a high opinion that had of themselves to think they were like David
I heard recently about events that are sweeping that nation that center around hymns and beer - two things that really don’t mix well - where people gather for an irreverent yet spiritual evening of singing hymns and drinking beer
They say that the events originated with a foul-mouthed, tattooed Lutheran pastor in Denver but I think they started right here in Samaria about 2700 years ago.
Amos says that not only are they drinking but they’re drinking out of the sacrificial or ceremonial bowls
Two things here - the first is the sacrilegious act of drinking wine from the bowls meant to be used within the temple for religious services honoring God and second that their tolerance and appetite had built up so greatly that they had to use bowls rather than cups to drink out of
Yet the most damning statement of the entire section has not even come yet - they do these things while the house of Joseph goes into ruin around them
Their society, both the justice system and the religious system of the nation, was crumbling around them and they weren’t doing anything about it
Much like Nero who allegedly continued to play his violin as Rome burned these men are partying and carousing as their society burns around them
They didn’t learn anything from Solomon who had everything - wisdom, money, wives - and who tried everything only to realize that it was all vanity
And yet in many ways we are in the same condition - we may not be sprawled out on couches in a drunken stupor - but we are ignoring the conditions around us as our society and our church go into ruin
What an impact would there be if each of us looked around and found one area that we could serve more in the church
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t times where it’s all that we can do to just show up and that’s it - but if all we’ve been doing is showing up for years then we’re watching our home go into ruin and doing nothing
We may not be able to influence public policy or change on a national scale - but what if each of us committed to sharing the Gospel with one person per week - what a change that could make
Amos says that these men will be the first to be led off into exile or to be killed when the day of judgement comes

The Lord Speaks

Amos 6:8-14;
The Lord weighs in on what has been happening
He swears by Himself - assuring that what he says will happen will take place
God says that he loathes the arrogance of Jacob - both the southern and northern tribes - because they put their faith in their own works rather than Him and He detests their citadels - both their military fortresses and their false religious practices and therefore He will remove His protection and deliver up their cities
This next section relates a story that will take place during this defeat to demonstrate the totality of the destruction that will be brought on Israel
If there are 10 men in one house they will all die alludes to the totality of the destruction that will take place - not only that all 10 men will die but that there will be only one home for them to take shelter in
The man’s family member will come in to carry him out and inquire as to whether there is anyone else in the house - the answer is not only no but an emphatic admonition against mentioning the name of the Lord
It’s almost as if they don’t want God’s name mentioned because they think that the very mention of His name will bring His attention back to them
They will know that it is the Lord who brings the destruction upon them and will fear His continued attention.
His destruction will fall on the great and the small alike - everyone is complicit in the ruin of Israel and none will escape His judgement
Amos asks two rhetorical questions to demonstrate the futility of the Israelites current society
Who would run a horse on a rock shelf
or who would plow rock with oxen
My uncle owned a 150 acre farm in Ohio and for many years he grew corn and hay but never once did I see him try and plow up a rocky shelf that sat not far from the farm house - he knew that it would be futile and the Israelites knew the same thing in their day
They know the right things to do when riding a horse or planning fields yet they have failed to apply this same common sense to their treatment of people
Again Amos says that they have turned justice to poison and the fruit of righteousness to wormwood - highlighting their utter corruption as a society
Despite their military victories that God provided for them including victories over Lodebar and Karnaim, they still failed to recognize who the true victor was and who provided them the victory
And so the Lord says that He will bring an unnamed nation down upon them and they will be afflicted from the entrance to Hamath in the North to the brook of Arabah in the south

Conclusion

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