Amos: Justice and Righteousness on the Pathway
God’s Expectation’s: Part 2 Amos 2:4-16
June 30, 2019
Intro: Do you have your plans made for this Thursday? You know the 4th of July. My granddaughters should be alive on the 300 anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. If Jesus delays His return that long. Our freedom didn’t come easy we had to fight for it. We even fought for other people’s freedoms. Some we were praised for and some vilified for.
How many just wars have we fought as America? The Revolutionary war? The War of 1812? The Spanish American War? the Civil War? World War 1, 2? Korean conflict? The War in Vietnam? Operation Desert Storm? Operation Enduring Freedom?
We are going to have differing opinions about these wars because we were not involved in the making of the decision to go to war. And we don’t trust our leaders to always make the best decisions.
Thankfully when God acts against man He is always just. His decisions are true and right. We know that He has used every bit of diplomacy to bring mankind into relationship with Himself. This is very true as we see in the book of Amos.
Last week we looked at God’s expectations for all people as God is about to bring judgment on the nations around Israel and Judah. We also looked at God’s expectations for us. We are expected to follow Jesus because we are believers. We are supposed to demonstrate God’s justice and mercy on the pathway we walk every day.
Today we will see what God has to say to His people in Judah and Israel. He has a word for everyone here in this building today also. Let’s dive in.
God’s Expects us to…
Walk Faithfully Until The End
4 Thus says the Lord,
“For three transgressions of Judah and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they rejected the law of the Lord
And have not kept His statutes;
Their lies also have led them astray,
Those after which their fathers walked.
5 “So I will send fire upon Judah
And it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.”
Judah is accused of disobedience. You may think that it is not complete disobedience? Well, any disobedience means we are not obeying God. Let’s not be like children and argue that point.
The people of Judah picked up for themselves the sin of believing lies that move them away from God. Amos was not giving them a pass on what their fathers did. Not at all. He just pointed out that they sinned just like their fathers did and they refused to follow God’s expectations for them.
What were the laws they broke? I’m sure they would have loved to respond to Amos – what laws did we break? Maybe we can justify ourselves. Maybe we have a good explanation. Maybe it was the circumstance or situation. So, what did we do?
I don’t know how we get here but we do. We look at our relationship with Jesus through a check list. I did this. I always do that. I would never do that. And Jesus asks, are you experiencing the abundant life I said could be yours? It is duty, service and relationship that God wants for us. Those all have to go together.
I believe it is fair to say that Jesus makes a covenant with each and every person that comes to Him in faith. We may not understand all of it at first but we must never forget that we said, “Yes Lord!” when we came to Him. That “Yes Lord!” is the is also like what John the Baptist said in John 3:30 – “30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
When we come to Christ it is to a life-long commitment to follow Him and to become more guided by Him in all we do. We must learn to trust and rely upon Him and that will lead us to worship and celebrate His goodness in our lives.
Listen to this from Deuteronomy 7:9-11 – Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. 11 Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
God looks very harsh in these verses and sometimes people will say that they like Jesus better than God. Jesus is God and God loves us which is why we talk about the love of Jesus. But there is no separating the two.
Let me say that God is very serious about sin and He was very serious about what He was doing through Israel. Never ever forget that the consequences of sin are huge. God’s redemption of all people began to be unfolded in the Garden of Eden. For more that 5000 years God was laying the foundation for Jesus to come to earth, to die for us and to be resurrected to make our redemption possible. Never ever miss how much God loves us and the great measures He went through to redeem us. When God says, ”He repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.” Know that our redemption was not cheap. It was not easy. It was absolutely necessary. God is the God of the universe and He made the world; He runs the world and we don’t understand it all. He wants us to know Him, trust Him, rely upon Him and find joy in following Him.
Judah was not following God faithfully. They were playing games with worship and in their daily lives. They were not relying on
God and it was God that was sustaining them even through their rebellion. They thought they had God fooled. Just so they would know that it was God that was protecting them. God is going to remove their Citadels- (a strong castle in or near a city, where people can shelter from danger, especially during a war:). Their protection from outsiders will be torn down. That thing that they thought would protect them was going to be destroyed. They thought their citadels protected them and thus didn’t have to rely upon or trust in God for protection. That was going to be gone and God’s deliverance was not going to be there for them.
Repent and return to the Lord is their only hope. Have they drifted so far that they have forgotten how to repent?
Amos brings God’s message to Israel.
God Expects Us to…
Relate To Each Other According to His Word
In Leviticus 19:2 Moses tells the Hebrew people to be Holy for God is Holy and then gives a long list of laws about how to treat each other in everyday exchanges with each other.
I guess some believers think that the less they know the less God expects of them. I think the less we know and seek to know the more life pushes us around. The less we know the less God can impact our lives. The less we know the further we drift from God’s plan for our lives.
These are the accusations that God is bringing against Israel.
6 Thus says the Lord,
“For three transgressions of Israel and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 “These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless
Also turn aside the way of the humble;
And a man and his father resort to the same girl
In order to profane My holy name.
8 “On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar,
And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
What happens when people think the run the world is that they have placed God way down the list. They answer to no one and they can make the laws work for them. That is what Israel was doing.
If an Israelite(righteous) needed money or owed a debt they could become indentured servants to the one they owed the money to (i.e. another Israelite). They were not to be treated as a slave but as more of a servant. Their pay went to the one whom they owed the money. Every 7 years their debt was forgiven and they were free of the debt (Exodus 21:2).
But what was happening here is that the one who was owed money would sell the Israelite indentured servant to someone else and then the 7-year rule was not in effect anymore. It was still in effect but they that made the decisions so they could abuse the system and the poor had no way to defend themselves.
In the United States a person cannot be thrown in jail for owing money. They can be put in jail for failing to keep a contract to pay a bill. That happens in St. Louis City. Someone gets a ticket and because they don’t have the money for the ticket they don’t appear in court. Next, they get arrested for not appearing in court and now are placed in jail. Now they have a record and it may affect them finding a job. It is a fine line that gets crossed.
The wealthy don’t want to help the poor so they move the needy out of the way so they don’t have to help. The humble may refer to the needy. These may be taken to court because they can’t provide for themselves. If they are criminals then the poor don’t have to be helped. The wealthy want the poor to fail big time so they don’t have to help them. That is what verse 7 is speaking about: “These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless”. If the poor are respected in the Temple and in the streets the Hebrew people are required by God to help. The wealthy get around these laws.
This is one we have to be careful about. Who don’t we have to care about? The homeless? The mentally ill? The single mom with 3 kids from 3 different dads? The white-collar worker who lost her job?
Moving on. It appears that when Israelites women became indentured servants they were ending up as concubines for the family. Thus, the father and the son abused the Israelite women. That was strictly forbidden. But when you hold the power you do what you want and if enough people do wrong no one will speak up about it.
The poor would lose their clothes as pledges, their freedom and their livelihood. Rather than helping the way God’s law laid out how to care for the needy, the wealthy would abuse the poor and worship like they were God’s best friends. The poor were unclean and couldn’t even worship because of this abuse.
I think we do that by expecting people in our community, with their messed-up lives, to join us and sing songs that they don’t know with music styles that they aren’t even familiar with. Sitting in pews, not able to relax, not knowing our routine. We who know Jesus say, “I want it my way!” and you can only have it this way. I am guilty of not planning to make God’s Word understandable to people who have never read the Bible. That doesn’t help people feel welcome when they come. That doesn’t help them hear God’s Word.
The last accusation against Israel was that they tried to defile and hogtie the Nazirites. The Nazirites were set apart for God for the benefit of the Israelites. They spoke for God to the people of Israel. The leaders would put pressure on the Nazirites to violate their oath to God. When they couldn’t defile them, they told them they couldn’t preach God’s Word.
While I have not been told not to preach, I have received a few suggestions about what I need to do and not do. I try not to get to bothered about those suggestions because I would rather you feel comfortable enough with me to tell me than just discuss it with each other and form a lynching party. God help us if we decide that we want a watered-down gospel to be preached. We must hold tight to the Word of God.
God says to Israel this is how you act even in the face of your history of My deliverance and protection.
9 “Yet it was I
who destroyed the Amorite before them,
Though his height was like the height of cedars
And he was strong as the oaks;
I even destroyed his fruit above and his root below.
10 “It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
And I led you in the wilderness forty years
That you might take possession of the land of the Amorite.
11 “Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets
And some of your young men to be Nazirites.
Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the Lord.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’
God says to Israel; you know what I have done and yet you refuse to follow me. You refuse to rely on Me. You are my stewards of a great message for the world and you refuse to surrender to me.
13 “Behold, I am weighted down beneath you
As a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves.
God seems to be stressed about Israel’s sin problem, their rebellion and their lack of concern for each other. This passage makes me think of Jesus’ words in the Matthew 23:37, when He cries out, “37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
God’s desire is not to punish us. His desire is that we walk in His love. That we learn to enjoy His promises in our daily lives. That God is all we need as we learn to trust Him. That is the last thing that He wants to happen.
At critical times God acts swiftly (i.e. when the Hebrew people built the golden calf, when they argued about Moses authority from God, and in the book of Acts when Ananias and Sapphira tried to lie to God and were killed). But most of the time we see in scripture that God is very patient before He sends judgement. It had been 200 years rebellion against God that led to the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel. Many generations had rebelled against God and now was the time that God would act in a powerful what in the life of Israel and Judah. First Israel and then Judah put judgement did come.
14 “Flight will perish from the swift,
And the stalwart will not strengthen his power,
Nor the mighty man save his life.
15 “He who grasps the bow will not stand his ground,
The swift of foot will not escape,
Nor will he who rides the horse save his life.
16 “Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked in that day,” declares the Lord.
The swift won’t outrun God’s judgment,
The strong won’t prevail.
The mighty men won’t be strong enough to save his own life how could he help Israel?
The archer can’t even shoot enough.
The brave will drop their armor and run away.
The bottom line – don’t play with God. He is serious about sin and our redemption. If we are hindering people from coming to Jesus because of shallow or weak faith God wants that to end. If our attitudes make us satisfied to take care of only my needs God requires repentance. God expects us to surrender to Him. Because He has this expectation we must surrender, obey and follow Him in all we do. Let me add we must be diligent about spiritual growth.
Challenge: God expects believers to walk faithfully until the end. He expects us to relate to each other according to His Word. Both of these expectations are to be carried out on the pathway we walk every day. We need to walk faithfully because we are to demonstrate God’s justice, mercy and righteousness before all people.
Do people on your pathway have a better understanding of God’s love and desire for them because they know you? That is what God expects from us. Commit today to live it out this week!