John is baptizing in Jordan and he is calling people to repent and to live differently.
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”
Justice and Righteousness on the Pathway
Keys to a Future With God
Intro: Did you check your horoscope this morning? Did you consult your tea leaves this morning? Did you phone into your psychic before you poured your coffee? Why not? You don’t trust them? You tried them before and they let you down like a cardboard box does when you sit on it?
Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. While I don’t put any stock in the horoscope or psychics once in a while they can make sense. Tea leaves and horoscopes can only make guesses as to what the person they are talking to wants to hear. A psychiatrist will be more accurate about your future than a horoscope. The horoscope in the newspaper or an app is cheaper but you get what you pay for.
The leadership of Israel probably consulted a fortune teller about their future. Some of their priests concurred with the soothe sayers and were confident that their future was secure.
Amos comes to speak to Israel and he speaks the truth of God to them. Amos was an honest fortune teller. That is the difference from a fortune teller and a prophet. A prophet tells you the future God has for you, not the one you want to hear. Amos simply told the future of Israel that God told him. Not only did Amos tell them their future he told them how to create another future based on the promises and leadership of God.
Let’s look at Israel’s future and then let me show you how you can have a eternal future than your horoscope or psychic know nothing about.
14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
And thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you,
Just as you have said!
15 Hate evil, love good,
And establish justice in the gate!
Perhaps the Lord God of hosts
May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, the Lord,
Amos starts out telling them of an alternative future than what God has said was going to happen. It is a conditional future based on seeking God and doing good. They thought God was on their side but He wasn’t but if they will turn and live differently then God would really be with them. But right now God is their supremely powerful judge with a strong sentence for them.
Here is their future and God is counting on Amos to be honest with the people in delivering God’s message to them.
“There is wailing
in all the plazas,
And in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
The plaza was for shopping, hanging with friends and street entertainers.
When God acts there will be distress
and despair. “Oh no! Oh no!”
They also call the farmer
And professional mourners to lamentation.
Mourning is to be done at funerals or at wakes not in the field. Things are going to be so bad that professional mourners and farmers will be mourning away from actual funerals.
17 “And in all the vineyards there is wailing,
Vineyards are for celebrating and drinking with friends but they will be turned into places of wailing.
Because I will pass through the midst of you,” says the Lord.
In Exodus 12 there is the account of the first Passover as God prepared Israel for their departure from Egypt. The Israelites were to put the blood of a slain spotless lamb on the top and sides of the door into their homes. At the first Passover the Lord passed over all homes that had blood on the door post and the mantels and spared the lives of all the first born in their homes. But now God is passing through Israel. They will experience pain and anguish that the Egyptians faced when they didn’t believe the future Moses told them that was going to be theirs. The angel of the Lord passed through the Egyptian homes but passed over the Hebrew homes. But now the angel of God will pass through the people of Israel who will not repent and return to the Lord.
18 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,
For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
**My wedding was the worst day of my life except for what this afternoon is going to bring me. Really, our wedding day should be the greatest today in our marriage. We look forward to it with great anticipation. But what happens on that day decides what kind of a day it is. For some it is a day of tragedy. Like this couple I read about this week.
A young couple who got married in Iowa and went to Florida for their honeymoon on the beach. They met at church as they worked together leading children’s worship. They dated many years and the planned a great wedding and reception. They went to Florida for the honeymoon they planned so long. While on there they went to the beach for some swimming and fun in the sun. While swimming the couple got caught in a rip tide. They wife was a better swimmer and tried to save her husband of 3 days. He panic and nearly drowned his wife she had to move away so as to not drown with her husband. The life guards got to him but not in time and he died. If she remarries I hope she can look to her next wedding day like she did her first one.
Israel always looked forward to The Day of the Lord. The way that we look at the second return of Jesus. Amos told Israel that theirs was not going to be as they thought. It will be a day of devastation and wailing. Jesus return will be awesomely good for all who know Jesus but for those who don’t it will be filled with fear, dread and anguish. The people of Israel still thought the Day of the Lord was going to be awesome but it will be like this…
19 As when a man flees from a lion
And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.
Thinking that the Day of the Lord will be a party when you have become an enemy of God is like getting free of a lion only to meet a Grizzle Bear. Or running from wolves only to get to the safety of your home and getting bitten by a snake.
This is the stuff of horror movies. The evil thing has just been killed and so the heros of the story sit down on the couch to relax and they hear the familiar sound of their nemesis – Oh no! It’s alive.
No! The day of the Lord will not good. The Day of the Lord is a day of accounting with God.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?
Amos says, “Wake up, People!!!” God says to Israel…
21 “I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
The jig is up, God says. I know your attitudes when you worship. They have to be asking; I thought you wanted us to do those things. No! I wanted you to really worship. Worship in such a way that you realized how I wanted you to live. I know what you did this past week and you come to worship without confession or repentance. Just like us, God has better things to do with His time rather than to meet us at church and watch us go through the motions of worship – Why don’t you just stay home?
But God, I thought you wanted us to come to church and when we are there to sing songs, listen quietly and act better-than-thou? No He wanted Israel and us to …
24 “But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
God says this is what He wanted always from the time He delivered them from Egypt until the Son of Man would come to earth. Even in their wilderness wanderings Israel struggled with obedience.
25 “Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? 26 You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.27 Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.
Stephen quoted these verses when he was speaking to the High Priest just before he was stoned to death in Acts chapter 7.
God is saying, Did you bring sacrifices to me alone when you were in the wilderness? No! Now like then you carried the idols of other god’s. Molek and Rephan two of the gods Stephen mentioned in Acts. Now you are going into exile.
Israel didn’t turn to the Lord when Amos told them their future but listen to how you can have a bright future with the Lord. Based on what Amos told Israel and what Jesus shared when He walked this earth we can have a hope for an eternal future that is sure.
Turn to the Lord
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior – turn to the Lord today. If you relationship is kind of so-so turn to the Lord today. When you turn to the Lord as you turn you are going to bump into Him. That is how close His forgiveness is. That is how much He wants to meet you when you turn.
Admit that you are not going where you need to be going and make a 180 and start going with the Lord.
Worship and Know The Lord
Second of all get to know the Lord. Your worship and your relationship with God will become more vital everyday as you seek God and He seeks you. Seek the Lord is such a way that you are with the Lord on Sunday and it is no different that your other six days. The only difference that you will find is that on Sunday you are with your church family.
You don’t need to join 5 Bible studies; one will do. Have a personal time of prayer and Bible reading everyday. Find someone who will challenge and encourage you in your walk with Christ.
Prepare for worship on Sunday by worshipping during the week. Anticipate gathering with your friends be prepared to share how God blessed you and be willing to sharing the hard times or failures you face during the week. Worship really becomes worship when we come with a reason to praise and to pray.
Demonstrate a Relationship With the Lord
Richard Johnson- 12 Keys to Spiritual Vitality – Time is running down. The moment we are born start a march to death. Every day we are that much closer to death. This can be frightening however there are many things we can do to make it a positive thing.
God says to us, If I didn’t give you the gift of aging, your life would make little sense, because you would take the face of the world. You would come to believe that you were your body and nothing else, that you were not who you really are. I gave you the gift of aging so you would know you have a limited time now but an eternity to spend afterwards. Let’s do things that always matter.
God Israel was accused of not caring about others. They were more concerned about their own lives which led them to abuse their fellow Israelites.
Jesus saves us and calls us to demonstrate our relationship with Him by how we relate to and serve others. We serve others by giving and helping others. You demonstrate your commitment to Christ and others by the way you generously give to the different ministries that we support.
We also demonstrate who God is as we interact with integrity towards our bosses, employees and others we meet daily. The scripture I read and the beginning reported John the Baptist’s response to questions the people asked Him.
If you have two tunics and someone needs one give it to them.
If you have food and can share so do so.
If you are a tax collector and take was is required to take more.
If you are a soldier don’t take advantage of people and be happy with your wages.
Use the principles from your study of the Word of God to help you in your everyday life to interact with people like Jesus would interact with others. Learn Gods Word and learn how to put the truths of God’s Word into action in your daily interactions with others.
The God we serves provides for us. He walks with us. He protects and comforts us. He wants us to care for others, I mean really care for each other. He wants us to treat each other with kindness, compassion. To look for ways to help others.
Challenge: If we turn to the Lord, Worship Him and demonstrate that we know God in our daily lives we will have a bright future and it will be spent with the God who loved us into heaven.
If that does’t excite you today you do need to turn to the Lord. If you have not worshipped today, trust Lord this week and I guarantee that next Sunday you will celebrate with new enthusiasm and intensity. If you are not already thinking about ways to demonstrate your love for God by doing something for someone else this week you need to ask God for eyes to see people as He sees them.
Amos was honest with Israel about their future and God’s Word is honest with you today about the future you can have. Don’t leave today without asking Jesus to help you find your future with Him.