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These are the Days of Amos…

15/04/2019

Amos Survey 2

Text  Chapter  4-6

What was it like to live in the days of Amos, in Israel. Using Amos chapter 4-6, let’s conduct a survey of the state of that society:-

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1. Their Indulgent Lifestyles.

This was a time of great prosperity in Israel, but when sinners get power, or wealth or position, we/they over-exert their authority over those who are poor, powerless and lowly.   They will use force, oppression and even slavery to build their wealth even more.  Amos 5:10-12   Look at how they are described in chapter 6:4-6. It’s a life of pure decadence and self indulgence. Amos is especially scathing of the women who live materialistic lives…

  • How they got their name.  Amos likens them to ‘the Cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria.’  Amos is a farmer, and he knew that Bashan was famous for its rich pastures and its well fed large, heavy cattle, who benefited from its abundant grasslands. Also, because they were so large and heavy, they were known to be unruly and difficult to handle.  They were hard to enclose, and would break through hedges and would eat pasture that was not theirs,  That’s how these people had become rich; their wealth was obtained at the expense of others.  They oppressed the poor and crushed the needy.
  • How they lived at home.  They overturned the natural order of marriage, by ordering their husbands to bring them their wine, in effect to be their servants.  They, of course, spent their days in idleness and luxury, and drunkenness.
  • The result of such a lifestyle.   In v2-3, The inevitable result of this kind of heartless materialism, is to come to a terrible end.   These women and their spoilt children would be among those who are led away by the nose, joined together by chains, attached to the cartilage of their noses.   

Why will God judge them for their sinful lives, and why will he punish them?  V2 gives us the answer.  The Lord God has sworn it by his holiness.   The God who created us is a holy God and it is because of his holiness that he requires and demands that these wicked people be justly punished for their deeds. Amos 6:1

2. Their Idolatrous Worship.  4:4-5

Not only was the economy of Israel corrupt, but their worship was corrupt.  Outwardly, they still owed allegiance to YHWH, but because the northern kingdom of Israel was separated from the southern kingdom of Judah, worship could no longer be centred in Jerusalem, as it was in the days of David and Solomon.  The northern kings established two national shrines of their own at Bethel and Gilgal.  Neither of these shrines were spiritually wholesome. Amos condemns the worship that takes place there…

  • Go to Bethel and Sin. Amos 4:2-5  Their churchgoing was sinful, and it was getting worse, not better, -but they loved it.  People LOVE false religion!   
  • Don’t go to Bethel at all!  In Amos 5:4-6 he warns the Israelites that instead of desiring the depraved worship of Bethel and Gilgal, they should seek the Lord, and find life in him, for Bethel and Gilgal shall perish, like all false religions do.
  • Yet they refuse to listen.  4:6-13. Amos has a great sense of humour.  He tells that that there’s some good news and some bad.  The good news is that God is going to help them with their personal dental hygiene!  The bad news is that He’s going to do it by taking away their food!  Without all that nasty food decaying their teeth, they’ll be much better off, dentally.  So God is chastening them, to bring them back to him.  He does that by:-
    • Drought.  He withholds the rain, just at the time when the crops need rain most.  Then he allows it to rain in one region but not in another so that all the people rush to where the water is, only to find when they get there that the rain has stopped and there’s no satisfaction, v7.
    • Crop failure.  He sends mildew and blight upon the crops, so that the harvests fail.  Just when the gardens were flourishing and the crops looked promising they were blighted or eaten by locusts.  V9.
    • Plague.  Human plagues, like the ones that were endured by the Egyptians, when they had felt the heat of the terrible wrath of God.  And wars and border skirmishes that took away the lives of young people, leaving their corpses rotting in their camps.  V10
    • Destruction.  V11. It seems that God removed some people, (cf Sodom and Gomorrah), training down punishments upon the disobedient, and yet sparing some others, plucking them as brands from the burning, so they wondered why they were spared in some awful human tragedy, while others were taken.

Yet in every case, when warned of their behaviour, and given opportunity to repent, they refused to do so, for over and over Amos repeats the phrase, ‘Yet you have not returned to me says the Lord.’  So, because they have continued to sin wilfully, they must prepare to meet God.  4:12. GOD HATES FALSE WORSHIP.  Amos 5:21 God wants righteousness and justice.

 

3. Their False Expectation.

There is one more thing that we learn from Amos, about the society of his day. It was eagerly expectant. The economy was booming, the shrines were full of worshippers, there’s only one thing we all want now, and that’s for the Day of the Lord to come! Strange as it seems, these people who got rich quick by oppressing poor people, and who thought that the worship of a holy God could be mingled with the depraved sexual antics of the Baal worship of the pagan nation, were actually waiting for the Day of the Lord!  5:18,  Maybe they had a false expectation though.  Maybe they thought that the day of the Lord was to bring them even more prosperity, and victory over their foes.  

  • The reality.  Amos is going to disillusion them.  5:18,   In this sense the ‘Day of the Lord’ is going to be a day of national distress and defeat, nothing to look forward too, for a foreign nation will invade the land, at the Lord’s behest, and will destroy Israel.  6:14, 
  • The terror.  There will be no escape.  You can’t run from God.  When the Day of the Lord comes for all of us, there will be nowhere to hide from his terrible wrath.  5:19.   There is no escape.  

So we have seen something of what it was like to life in Israel in the days of Amos.  The people were wealthy and oppressive and nasty, they loved their false, self-satisfied religion, and yet they thought that God had something good in store for them, when in reality all that faced them was judgement and certain death.

© BobMcEvoy April 2019

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