He Is God...And We Are Not
Happy New Year. It’s good to be back with you and to be starting a New Year together.
Tonight we’re going to come to the end of the journey that we’ve been on since early September - we’re going to wrap up the book of Amos.
It’s been a rough journey - Amos had a lot of really hard things to say to the people of Israel and some of them have been difficult for our modern ears to hear. We’ve seen God’s utter sovereignty over every event that takes place - whether for good or evil.
Tonight he is going to reach the crescendo that he has been building to throughout the book. What we’ve seen throughout this book is that the people of Israel had forgotten who God was and who they were.
We have done much the same today.
I used this quote earlier in the series but I think it is a great summation of where we stand not only as a society but is many ways as a church. It is the now late Dr. R.C. Sproul answering a question at a question and answer session. The question asked was Since God is slow to anger and patient, then why when man first sinned was His wrath and punishment so severe and long-lasting?
That God’s punishment for Adam was so severe. This creature from the dirt defied the everlasting Holy God, after God had said the day that you shall eat of it you shall surely die. And instead of dying that day, he lived another day, was clothed in his nakedness by pure grace, and had the consequences of a curse applied for quite some time, but the worst curse would come upon the one who seduced him, who’s head would be crushed by the Seed of the woman, and the punishment was too severe? What is wrong with you people? I’m serious. I mean this is what’s wrong with the Christian church today. We don’t know who God is and we don’t know who we are. The question is why wasn’t it infinitely more severe. If we have any understanding of our sin and any understanding of who God is - that’s the question.
In this passage tonight Amos is again going to remind us, through the vehicle of one final vision, Who God is and who we are - but he doesn’t simply leave the Israelites there and he’s not going to leave us there either. Tonight there will be a promise at the end that we can take heart in. Lets look at our passage for tonight.
Read Amos 9:1-15
He is God Almighty
He is God Almighty
Amos 9:1-6; John 3:19; Luke 12:3; Genesis 3:8; Joshua 7:19-21; 1 Samuel 28:8; Psalm 139:7-12; Revelation 6:12-17
This vision starts out differently than all the others - in the first two visions in Amos 7:1-6 Amos is shown the calamity that God intends to send on Israel. In the second two visions God shows Amos an illustrative item - first a plumb line and second a basket of fruit - that illustrates the judgement that is about to come. In this final vision Amos sees God Himself standing by the altar. There are no more intermediaries, there are no more illustrations - the Lord Himself will visit this judgement on His people.
And look where He is standing - He is not in the public square or the palace of the king - He is standing next to the altar in the sanctuary.
Ultimately it is not the pride of the leaders in their national accomplishments or the mistreatment of the poor by the upper class that moves God to action - it is the perversion of His name and His statutes in the religious centers of the nation that provoke Him.
It is the mixing of the pure covenant that He had instituted and made with His people with the pagan religions and practices of the societies surrounding them.
It was the false prophets who continuously proclaimed peace, peace and prosperity and good for the people when there was none to be found.
The same is happening today. In churches across the nation and right here in our city there are speakers who claim to be prophets who give false hope. Take note of the role of a prophet in the Bible - it was always to call the people back to God when they had wandered away from Him. While their messages may have held a note of hope, theirs was generally a message of judgement and destruction for a people that had not followed the precepts of God. Beware of these self-proclaimed modern prophets who do nothing but proclaim good tidings and good things and never once call the nation back to repentance.
And there will be no where to hide from God
As a child I would often try to hide things from my parents - I would go into the hall closet to eat candy. Or hide toys under the blankets and then after lights were out I would pull them out to play with them. Yet I would get caught. One time I had this three foot tall Godzilla that I took to bed with me and when I was caught with it I tried to tell my mom that Godzilla just wanted a kiss good night.
We try to do the same thing to God. We conceal our deeds thinking He wont see them. We hide in our rooms and look at images on our computers we shouldn’t. It is interesting that most of our illicit deeds happen at night. I’ve always said that nothing good happens after midnight a maxim that certainly holds true.
We try to hide because we would rather live in the darkness - it’s more comfortable there
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
But nothing can ultimately be hidden from God
Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
This is nothing new - it’s been going on since man first sinned in the Garden
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
It followed the Israelites to the Promised Land
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
It is a desire that plagues both the small like Achen and the great - king Saul went to consult a medium
Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.”
Our passage exposes the futility of trying to hide from God
There is no where we can hide - whether in the depths of hell or the heights of Heaven. On the summit of a mountain or the depths of the sea. Not even captivity among a foreign nation will protect the Israelites from God’s judgement.
These people who compared themselves to David should have actually read his songs:
Psalm 139 tells eloquently of the omniscient eye of God - in fact this passage is almost a direct quotation of that psalm
But men continue to try and hide themselves from God. And they will continue to. We should take heed to Amos’ warnings though as another day is coming when we will not be able to hide
Even now men are preparing for this day
There is a company called Doomsday Bunkers that is offering Survival Condos.
The offer several options - a 3600 sq ft bunker (two floors) will only cost you 4.5 million. An 1840 sq ft bunker will set you back 3.0 million. For those looking for a bargain and embracing the tiny home lifestyle, a 920 sq ft bunker is going for the paltry sum of 1.5 million dollars. This is their sales pitch: “Act now because this is a very limited opportunity to get total “life assurance” for you and your family in the event of just about any major crisis.” The only total life assurance that can be found is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ - because there is no hiding from God.
And there’s no hiding from Him because He is God. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. He’s the Creator of the whole place.
Amos inserts a fragment of a well known hymn about the Lord here - highlighting and emphasizing His power as Creator.
He touches the land and it melts
He raises up the Nile to flood yearly and then subsides it into it’s banks
The bedrock passage highlighting God’s sovereignty and man’s powerlessness is Job 40:6-14
He builds His upper chambers in Heaven and the vaulted dome over the earth
He call forth the waters and then pours them back onto the earth
The Lord is His name
There really aren’t any words that I can add to these to make Him more glorious or wonderful in your eyes - but it makes me want to cry out with Paul
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
And look at the end of verse 4 - it says I will set my eyes against them for evil and not for good. You will never see that verse on a coffee cup or in anyone’s journal as a life verse - and remember that the same God who prompted Jeremiah to say that I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not to for calamity to give you a future and a hope” is the same God who prompted Amos to write that I will set my eyes against them for evil and not for good.
Which now leads us to who we are....
We are not
We are not
Amos 9:7-10; Ephesians 2:1
Amos pronouncement of destruction on the land would have been met with outright rejection and responses by the religious and cultural elite of society
Just as the vision of the plumb line in Amos 7 brought about a response from Amaziah the priest, so this final oracle would illicit a response - but this time Amos doesn’t have to answer for himself - God does it all
Part of Israel’s problem was that they viewed themselves as better than other nations because they were the covenant people of God so they believed that God would always be on their side - that He would favor them.
When I was in the Navy there were often times that sailors would be ingratiate themselves to leadership hoping to get better treatment. They hoped that they would get favorable treatment because they were close to the Chief or Division Officer. I always held those Sailors who could be perceived to be in a favored position to a higher standard. By nature of their covenantal position to God the Israelites didn’t realize that they would be held to a higher standard by God - they thought they were safe and that anything they did would be forgiven.
God’s response here tells them that in reality they are no better than the other nations - that He acted sovereignly apart from any merit on their part.
Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt - the exodus story was a clear example of God’s work on behalf of the Israelites and the event that the nation pointed to as the event in their history that made them God’s people - and yet they were not the only nation that God had provided and exodus story for. Two other nations, the Philistines and the Arameans - two bitter enemies of the Israelites - also had exodus stories.
Not once during the Israelites exodus did they ever succeed under their own power - in fact any time they attempted to work on their own it was an abject failure. And yet now they look around at their prosperity and prestige and the nation thought they’d achieved it on their own.
God says behold - the eyes of the Lord are on the sinful kingdom - the nation of Israel had repudiated the laws and ways of God. The nation was now worthy only of destruction - and it would be a total destruction. These are among those who Paul referred to in Romans 9:6-8. But it will not be all of Israel - as promised throughout the Old Testament God will retain for Himself a remnant. He will shake the house of Israel as grain shaken through a sieve. The good grain will sift through and the pebbles and chaff will remain and be cast away. These are the sinners who will die by the sword - note it is those who say “the calamity will not overtake or confront us”
It is those who think they are safe and secure in their religion that will be met with disaster.
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
Where are we as this New Year starts? Are we in the faith - looking solely to Christ or would we be counted among the chaff if we were sifted tonight?
There is hope for Israel and there is hope for us if we are found to be in Christ.
Restoration of His people
Restoration of His people
This small section actually seems to break down into to different prophetic utterances. The first has to do with a Spiritual restoration and the second with the physical restoration of the nation of Israel.
By the time of Amos the Davidic dynasty that had been promised to remain on the throne of Israel was in a shambles - following Solomon’s rule his son Rehoboam’s poor decisions led to the split of the Kingdom into northern and southern realms.
The statement that in that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David is a direct reference to the Davidic line ruling over the nation. The house of David had fallen apart. The word here for booths could also be translated as David’s fallen tent.
2 Samuel 7:8-17 lays out the promise of God to David that he will always have a descendent on the throne of Israel. In those days the concept of a house was embodied within the person of the ruling member of the house - in his actual body. So this prophecy that God will raise up the fallen booth of David is a restoration of the royal Davidic line. It is through Christ that this prophecy comes to fruition. He is the fallen booth of David - a ruler from the Davidic line that has once and for all repaired the breaches in the Kingdom and restored it. He possesses the nations - this is the verse that James refers to in Acts 15:16 to demonstrate the inclusion of the Gentiles into the New Covenant.
This is the Spiritual restoration of the people through the New Covenant of Christ’s shed blood.
The second section discusses the prosperity and restoration of the people of Israel to the physical location of Israel. The start of this prophecy demonstrates that there will be incredible agricultural production in Israel. When the 12 spies initially went in to the promised land they returned with stories of a land that flowed with milk and honey, that produced bunches of grapes such that it required two men to carry them. But years of neglect and spiritual decline had led to famines and the introduction of want into the nation - where the poor couldn’t feed themselves and were sold into slavery. But this promises a return to the days of surplus. That the reapers will not be able to take in all the crops before the plowman begins the next round of planting. In Israel the grape harvest happens in early September with plowing starting in early October. The harvest will be so great that they will not be able to finish in time.
The people will be restored to the nation - which happened in 1948 and they have been rebuilding cities ever since. The door was just opened in the last few weeks by President Trump for the capital to be moved back to Jerusalem.
The most beautiful promise is that He will plant them on their land and they will not be rooted out again. This seems to point to now that Israel is returned to their land that they will never be rooted out again. Much like the promise to Noah that God would never again destroy the world by a flood - incidentally this is another example of the world’s attack on the truths of the Bible. What is the danger of global warming according to the scientists that believe it? That the polar ice caps will melt raising the sea level around the world and flooding the earth - if God’s promise to Noah in Genesis 8:21 is true then there will never again be a global flood. This promise says that now that Israel has been restored to their land that they will never again be rooted out.
Now why is any of this ancient prophecy important? What does it mean for us today? The first and foremost is that we should always remember who God is and who we are. That He is high and holy and that we - without His intervention - are exceedingly sinful and deserving of judgement. The sins of Israel are the sins of humanity - taking advantage of those lower than us on the totem pole of life, taking inordinate pride in things that really aren’t that important and finally consistently trying to supplant the grace of God in our lives so that we can be saved by our own efforts rather than the blood of Christ. But the beauty of this book is found in this last chapter - that God will reserve for Himself a remnant, that they will be saved by His hand, that He will restore the house of David through Christ and that this promise is not just for Israel but it is for all nations. And we can have faith that His words and promises are sure and that just as He is sovereign over the judgement of apostate nations, He is also sovereign over our salvation and holds us in His all mighty hands.