Text: Amos 5:4-20
All of us have an assumption that God is on our side. We all believe that. We all assume that. And we may even be able to find some verses to help us think that. The Lord through Amos preaches to Israelites in Bethel who have the same beliefs that God is on their side. They have the scriptures. They attend religious services. They feel like things are OK. And if God were to rebuke them, it would surely be for someone else. But if God has promises, they’re for me. If God is talking about faithful people, that’s the group I’m in. And if God is talking about unfaithful people, that’s someone else. Better yet, whoever is bringing that message to us is obviously an obnoxious, arrogant, lunatic, since we’re all good.
Notice the instructions to “seek” in 4, 6, 8, and 14.
The Lord, through Amos, commands Israel to seek the Lord. And it would be in this search that Israel would find life. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ told the Jews by your own profession eternal life is found in the scriptures, and those same scriptures speak to you about me. John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. In other words these scriptures pointed you in my direction, but you didn’t like God’s way of having life.
Exclusive search (vss 4-5)
- If you’re still going to Bethel you’re not seeking the Lord (vss 4-5)
- Exclusive in the sense that God says if you seek Bethel while calling on my name, you’re not seeking me.
- Exclusive in the sense that God says if you continue to enter Gilgal while using my name, you’re not seeking me.
- Exclusive in the sense that God says if you’re passing by Beersheba you’re not seeking me.
- Quit going to the house of other gods
- Imagine a young woman getting engaged. Date is set. Wedding arrangements made. And the groom to be finds out his potential bride is also engaged to several other guys.
- 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (The priests were fed by the altar God set up. The priests were fed by the worship of God. Now Paul applies this to Gentiles. The idol or the god is what feeds the Gentile.) 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
- Can’t find God because you keep searching for that big paycheck.
- Can’t find God because you keep looking for that special relationship.
- Double minded – James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Righteous search (vss 6-7)
- …ye turn judgment to wormwood… leave off righteousness in the earth.
- The idea of someone in power perverting judgment or getting away with things we wouldn’t get away with is a bitter pill to swallow. But they got their way (at least now). As much as you want some crooked politician to go to jail, that crooked politician doesn’t want to go to jail and will do what they can to avoid it. And when they get their way, you see how justice is perverted.
- But look, don’t you take God’s words and ignore them so you can get your way? Don’t you leave off righteousness pretty regularly so you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of your flesh. Don’t you leave off righteousness on a daily basis so you don’t have to confront the world?
- So you get frustrated with people in power who pervert judgment and leave off righteousness to get their own way, but fail to see how often we do the same thing.
- God says if you’re going to leave off righteousness in this earth, you’re not looking for me. You’re looking out for your own good. So don’t claim to be looking for me because you’re not.
Faithful search (vss 8-13)
- You sit under the watchful eye of a God of order who put Orion in the sky and has kept it there for thousands of years.
- You are at the mercy of the God who made light and darkness. People navigate by the stars for years because the stars are predictable.
- You ignore an unchanging God. Stars for thousands of years doing the same things they’ve always done since God put them there.
- You enjoy the elements of creation by a loving and warning God.
- Amos preaches to people who look to creation for answers instead of the Creator.
- False science
- Then in verse 10 he makes the contrast of people looking at the stars for answers when you have a representative of God in your midst, even at your gate. Truth is they’re not looking for answers, everyone is looking to make a name for themselves just like Babel.
- Public ministry
Good search (vss 14-15)
- Notice how this search is carried out, hate the evil, love the good…
- Establish judgment in the gate – Put judgment right in front. Make it clear.
- Or establish judgment in the ear gate
- Eye gate
- Mouth gate
- Do you want to find the Lord? Do you want to learn His works? Alright, then establish judgment in the gate and watch.
Wailing wall (vs 16)
- …wailing… in the streets – Public wailing. Commercial activity will cease and entertainment will turn to grief.
- Revelation 18:19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
- …call such as are skillful of lamentation and wailing. – Funeral Directors. It will be big business for the funeral homes.
- …in all vineyards shall be wailing… – Areas of fruitfulness and source of joy will be grief stricken.
Presence of the Almighty God (vs 17)
- …for I will pass through thee…
- Not because God left, but because He has now showed up.
- So these Israelites were proud to have God on their side and told the Gentile nations to just wait until God shows up and takes care of business. Israelites who made much of having the scriptures that no other nation had, but had no regard for what they said.
- Take the scriptures and put them in a glass case so you can be holy. Forget what they say about being holy. Cheat your neighbor. Swap wives. Lie and decieve. Then pretend that because you have this book in your house that you are somehow holier than thou.
- I wonder if we really want God’s presence here.
Dark day of the LORD (vss 18-20)
- Darkness is how the day of the LORD is described.
- Isaiah 13:6, 9 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. … 9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
- Jeremiah 46:10 For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.
- Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
- Obadiah 1:15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
- Then the shock is to find out that God is not on your side. God has blessed, God has given gifts to people who have never been on His side.
Romans 2:5-9 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile…
Now you heard how God defined people searching for Him.