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Prepare to Meet Your God - Amos 4:6-13

Amos  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:33
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Amos 4:6-13 Prepare to Meet Your God 2020-08-09 Turn back to the Lord We’re studying the words of God, spoken through the prophet Amos. But this morning I want to begin by looking to the book of Deuteronomy, where God gives covenant blessings and covenant curses to his people, Israel. Blessings if they obey and walk with him, and curses if they leave him, and walk in sin and the worship of the false gods of the nations around them. Deuteronomy 28:20-35 This is only a sampling, but representative of what we read about in Amos 4. The people of Israel were in covenant with God, and were to relate to the world around them in such a way that it was a reflection of their relationship to God. But what we read in Amos is that they no longer related to the world in this way. Instead, they adopted the world’s ways and the world’s worship. Did Israel believe what God had said? Passage: Amos 4:6-13 Do we believe what God says? Does God say what he means? Does he mean what he says? We are in covenant relationship with God, bought with the blood of Christ, washed of our sins, adopted into his family, and called to walk in his ways. As our Father he loves us, which sometimes means he corrects us, disciplines us, to train us up to walk properly, worthy of the gospel and as ambassadors of Christ. This passage should serve to warn us, comfort us, convict us, and turn us, that we might draw near to God. With Intent to Turn Them (vv.6-11) 1. v.6 “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities…” - As we work through vv.6-11 we see 5 ways that God worked to try and draw Israel back to him and away from their false gods and false worship. First, God says he gave them clean teeth and lack of bread. Two ways of referring to famine coming upon them. 1. Notice the wording of this, that God didn’t withhold, but gave. This will challenge our perspective of God’s goodness and provision in our lives. God never fails to give any good thing to his children. Even a lack of bread and food can be rightly understood as a gift from a giving God. Rather than grumbling about our lack, we can ask, “What has God given in this lack I’m experiencing? What is he doing, or how is he working in and through this difficulty?” Ultimately, his desire is to draw us to him. 2. vv.7-8 “I also withheld the rain from you…” - This is the second warning God gave to the people of Israel. 1. Leviticus 26:18–19 “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.” 3. v.9 “I struck you with blight and mildew…” - The third warning God gave, yet there was no return to him. 1. Haggai 2:17 “I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord.” 4. v.10 “I sent among you a pestilence…” - The fourth warning. As the warnings continue, they seem to increase in intensity. We also have the introduction of moral evil with young men dying by the sword, rather than the natural evil like drought, blight, and locusts. 5. v.11 “I overthrew some of you…” - The fifth warning, similar to Amos 3:6 “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” 1. Once again we read the same refrain, “yet you did not return to me.” God was acting in these troubles with intent, that the people of Israel would return to him. This wasn’t the cruelty of God, but his kindness, which leads to repentance. 2. I ask you, does this contradict your understanding of God and of Scripture? What about Romans 8:28–29 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Millard Erickson, in writing on the presence of evil in the world and how we understand good and evil, writes, “We are inclined to identify good with whatever is pleasant to us at the present and evil with what is personally unpleasant, uncomfortable, or disturbing. Yet the Bible seems to see things somewhat differently… This then is the good: not personal wealth or health, but being conformed to the image of God’s Son, not our short-range comfort, but our longterm welfare.” 3. Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” 4. Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.” 5. I can imagine the people of Israel thinking Amos was just a bit radical. After all, they were religious. They made regular thank-offerings and freewill offerings, offered tithes every three days, and gathered in so-called worship. In their minds, their sin probably wasn’t all that bad. But while they maybe weren’t murderers, their lack of righteousness and justice toward others was leading to a positive harm in their community and was an offense against God. Notice that in their list of offerings in 4:4-5 there’s no mention of the sin offering. Where was their acknowledgement of need for God’s mercy and forgiveness? Even their own pastor, Amaziah, tells Amos in chapter 7:12-13 to stop preaching and prophesying. But God wasn’t calling other nations to return, but calling Israel, his chosen people. 6. Here, now, I want to perhaps change the way we’re looking at this passage. Are we looking into this passage as the inspector looking into the microscope, trying to examine, diagnose, and understand, but unaffected personally? Rather, I’d like us to see ourselves as under the microscope, not examining the guilt of Israel, but allowing God to work through his Word to examine us. There is a world-wide pandemic, upheaval around injustice and racism, tropical storms battering the shores of our nation, even a wildfire burning just over the hill from here. Furloughs, warnings of upcoming furlough, crop damage, underemployment and unemployment. I’m not saying these are all judgements from God for sin, but they should cause us to examine ourselves, and should serve to draw us to the Lord. Psalm 139:23–24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Stubbornness Meets Judgement (v.12) 1. v.12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel…prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” - Even though we’re not told precisely what God would do to them, we have strong indication in Amos that they could expect to be overthrown and taken captive, even like we read in 4:2. 1. What should they be ready for? A meeting with God. This wasn’t an invitation to a ball; get dressed up and be ready to be treated like royalty. No, this was more of an invitation to a brawl; strap on your helmet and put in your mouthguard. Because they continually refused to return to the Lord, the Lord would come to them in judgement. This was their own doing, and their own choice. God provided them plenty of warnings and ample opportunity to turn from their unrighteous ways and begin walking in ways of righteousness and justice. But, whether it be by deliberate refusal, neglect, or procrastination, their refusal to return would bring about their own judgement. Who were they contending with? Look to v.13. The Great and Awesome God (v.13) 1. v.13 “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought…” - This God they were contending with was a great and awesome God. Things seen and unseen, from mountains to wind to the thoughts of men, are all within the creative and ruling power of God. What should be the joy of the morning, the start of a new day, is turned to darkness, and God treads on the heights of the earth. He is awesome and powerful. 1. Isaiah 40:12 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” 2. The chapter ends with what almost seems to be a reminder of who Israel is dealing with. Not golden calves or Baal or any number of other false gods, but the LORD, God of hosts. This is Yahweh Elohim, the God of a heavenly army. This is a God of power and might, and one who called Israel to him in covenant relationship. Yet they refused, and worshiped false gods, and ignored the kindness of God in his attempts to turn them. And because they were stubborn and would not turn to him, he would come to them in judgement. Conclusion: This is where righteousness and justice must begin, with a view of God so great, so high and undiluted, reverential and full of awe, that we would flee in dread if it weren’t for his invitation to come in faith. Romans 2:3–11 “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself— that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”
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