Become Ripe For Victory

Amos: Justice and Righteousness on the Pathway Become Ripe For Victory Amos 8:1-14 August 25, 2019

Intro:  Summertime is a time of waiting and harvesting. For me waiting for someone else’s produce to be harvested.  In the late spring and early summer, strawberries are ripe. That means it is strawberry shortcake time.  Then it is time to harvest radishes, green beans, and tomatoes.  A big slice of tomato on butter bread is so good.  That can only be topped by and with bacon, lettuce and mayo.  Next harvest is later in the summer when Blackberrys and peaches ripen.  Then it is time for blackberry and peach cobbler.  It is then appropriate to harvest the vanilla ice cream to top the cobblers. What comes next it is time for the apple harvest with apple cider, apple butter and hot apple pie.  Then quickly follows the second ice cream harvest to match the apple harvest.

Harvest time is a great time to eat some very special desserts.  But it is harvest time only when the produce is ripe.

Hold that thought about ripe fruit a little longer.  God shows Amos one more vision about what is about to happen to Israel. 

Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. He said, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,” declares the Lord God. “Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence.”

God shows Amos a bowl of ripe fruit and ask him what he sees.  Amos says I see a bowl of ripe fruit.  He says in Hebrew, that he sees Ketz, a bowl of ripe fruit.  To which God says, now is the time of Kitz for Israel. Kitz means the end or the end has come. Did you hear the difference. I know, right.  There is only a little difference but that difference made all the difference in the world to God.  For Amos there were going to no more visions. For Israel, no more warnings.  God is about to act.

This passage drew my mind to Genesis 6 where God has had it with the human race.

Gen 6;3,5-6

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

There was no need to judge all people because of Israel’s sin unlike in the time of Moses.  None the less Israel and its people were going to get the message that God was God and they were not. Now is the time for God’s judgment to begin.  There will be wailing and then silence.  Just like God sent the rain on the earth and destroyed all mankind judgment has come again this time only on Israel. And there was silence.

Did you notice that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord?  In Noah’s day, God gave people a long time to repent and to turn to the Lord.  They did not and perished.  Noah remained faithful and God spared him and his family.  He spared us and we are able read God revealed plan for a redeemer to come through the Hebrew people.

Here is our good news today.  There is a time that is ripe for destruction and there is a time for a harvest and for us a time for victory.  I will show why Israel was ripe for destruction and what we can do to be ripe for victory.

Learn the Mind of Christ

Paul asks in I Corinthians 2:16; “Who has the mind of Christ, so as to instruct Him. But we have the mind of Christ.”  While we cannot instruct or teach Jesus anything, we do have access to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  We need to know Him and we can, as we trust, study and fellowship with Him.

But, this is why Israel was ripe for judgment…

 Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land,saying,

“When will the new moon be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,
To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with dishonest scales,
So as to buy the helpless for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals(Amos 2:6),
And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

As you hear this can’t you almost hear the excitement of the business leaders in Israel as they looked for and dreamed about making money by taking advantage of their fellow citizens?

God says they simply walked all over the needy so there would be no one who trusted God.  They were anxious about making money.  They couldn’t wait until the New Moon Festival was over so they sell grain. They waited for the Sabbath horn to sound the end of the Sabbath so they could open their shops.  When they did, they cheated everyone they could.  The made bushel baskets hold less produce – yet it would cost more. They fixed the scales.  They added filler so that the scales would show an inflated weight.  When their customers couldn’t pay, they would give them the produce but those people would become their slaves.  This is the second time in this book that the phrase “selling the needy for a pair of sandals” was used.  God was tired of His people being treated this way.

These leaders took advantage of others whenever they had the chance and to make sure they could they created the opportunities to do so. They were ripe for destruction.

We don’t need to live this way.  Jesus us instructs us to become ripe for victory.  We need to learn of Him and learn through Him from His Word to us.

It is necessary for us to learn how to live and act like Jesus.  I do think that it appropriate to ask; “What Would Jesus Do? And then do that. 

The book “In His Steps” written by Charles Sheldon is a great read about a town who practiced “Doing What Jesus Would Do.”  While the town in the story is fictional, one cannot read this book without thinking, this could really happen.  If I would ask myself WWJD before and while making decisions Jesus would really make a difference in the world.

What is that makes you obey?  What is that makes you stand up for others? What is that makes you do the right thing?  Is it the lawyers? The laws? The money you can make? You don’t want to be embarrassed?

Jesus should be the only One we want to please Jesus.  We need to be learning to lean on and trust Jesus in new ways every day. We need to be spending time in the Bible, God’s Word and we need to be praying.  When we learn as we are leaning on Jesus we walk our pathway in a more meaningful way.  In all we do we are walking with and for Jesus, with the awareness, that we are God’s partner in all we do.

This makes us ripe for victories. There is something else we need to learn and this is…

Forgiveness Over Failure

In Israel the daily and weekly sacrifices for sin and God ‘s blessing became a waste of time at the temple.  The worshippers did their duty and brought the lamb but it was obvious by their lives they did not seek or receive forgiveness.  Their music was hollow.  Their sacrifices we meaningless and they repented of nothing.  Listen to what God thought of it…

 The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob,
“Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.
“Because of this will not the land quake
And everyone who dwells in it mourn?
Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile,
And it will be tossed about
And subside like the Nile of Egypt.
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord God,
“That I will make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
10 “Then I will turn your festivals into mourning
And all your songs into lamentation;
And I will bring sackcloth on everyone’s loins
And baldness on every head.
And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son,
And the end of it will be like a bitter day.

In the end Israel will be devastated.  They will lament. They will mourn as if they had lost their only child. But their refusal to repent of their refusal to follow God in their daily lives destroyed their lives and their country.

Hear this very clearly.  Sadness, mourning and seeking sympathy does not equal repentance.  God wanted repentance that was reflected in their daily lives.  What is it that the Lord requires?

Micah 6:6-8

With what shall I come to the Lord And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

This is what God requires of us.  This starts with repentance and ends with actions. He wants humility, action and for us to walk with Jesus. 

This is a popular verse for those who think that all God wants is social justice.  He does want us to do help and care for others who can’t stand up for themselves, but there is one thing before and one thing afterwards.  He wants us to bow before Him.  To repent, regroup and recommit.  Then in all we do to walk humbly in a relationship with Him.  We cannot stop at only one of these for we will never truly be following Jesus.

I think as parents we can relate to this a little bit.  We ask our kids to do something (clean up there room, clean up the yard after the dog), and they won’t.  We threaten them and they do it for one day.  We can get them to do anything with any consistency.  Then we say, “When will you do things because they need to be done and you take responsibility for your own stuff, out your own personal pride?”

The only difference from what God wants and what we want as parents is that God wants us follow Jesus as a result of being forgiven and restored.

This has been what God has been seeking for Israel all of this time.  Simply to take what God has called them for, equipped them to do, and laid out for them to practice and just to do it faithfully.

They escalated their behavior to the point of not only disregarding God but disregarding each other.  Demonstrating no respect, caring or decency toward each other.  If we will not respond to God’s calling in our lives, we do what we want and continue to drift further and further away from God’s precepts until we don’t look or act like we are under God’s authority.  We have removed Him from our lives.

That is why God is doing what He is doing.  They thought they had escaped God’s mighty hand and they had not.  God says He will not forget their deeds.

There is good news when we repent.  For when we repent, God says very plainly in  Psalm 103:12-14-

12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

God calls us to be perfect like Him but He knows without Jesus it is impossible.  He holds us to the standard of trusting, following and being faithful.  When we fail He is still with us.  If we are with Him He will lift us, so that we can seek victory once again.  He may remember our failures but only if we refuse to follow.

To be ripe for victory, It is so important for us to…

Seek Time With Jesus

Seek the Lord and remember that it says in Hebrews 12 – that God chastens and teaches those He loves.

What a sad day when God quits speaking to us.  When He quits challenging us.  We He quits sending events into our lives to strengthen us.  When that day happens, it is a day that God has turned His back on His children.  Whom the Lord loves He chastens?

11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.
12 “People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,
But they will not find it.
13 “In that day the beautiful virgins
And the young men will faint from thirst.

The day after the last day is not the day to realize why you are thirsty.  God is removing His hand off of their lives.  They will notice His hand is not on them and will seek a Word from God and it will not be there.

The lack of thirst for the Lord happens by filling our lives with things that don’t matter.  Letting other interests dictate our thirsts.  I have to work more, I have homework to do, I have practice to attend, I have to have some leisure time, my kids’ schedules are so demanding, I have to take care of yard work.   I can catch up with the Lord without being at church, I can read my own Bible and have prayer time. 

But then we don’t.

Then we won’t.

Then we can’t. 

Then we don’t even think about God in our lives.

I have seen this happened to many a teenagers that have been in my youth groups. No one was encouraging them to attend or they kept away from anyone who would encourage them to attend church. After graduation they decided to make their own decisions – and decided not to attend.  At first they just didn’t go to church.  Then they didn’t follow Jesus.  Then The fact that they were not following is why they are not following.  They didn’t put themselves in a position to hear.  They hadn’t learned how to hear and they continues to thirst for something but they couldn’t quench that thirst for themselves.

14 As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria,
Who say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’
And, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives,’
They will fall and not rise again.”

For those that think some special activity or addiction will satisfy, think again.  Amos said that those who go to worship a false god will discover that their god is useless and they fall and cannot rise.

Only look to God.  He has made a way to return and that is through Jesus Christ.  When we confess our sin and our need for the Savior, God begins to change our life patterns.  He once again can be that for which we thirst.  In Him we can find victories. Then we become ripe for God’s power, presence and victory through our life.

Challenge: What happens when a church is full of people becoming ripe for victory?  The church comes alive.  People begin to be born again.  We serve others and find ways to serve even more.  Then our work life is transformed, Our family life is transformed.  All aspects of our life are transformed.

Learn the Mind of Christ

Receive Forgiveness over Failure

Seek Time with Jesus

Will you be ready for Jesus to work in your life?  Respond to Him today.