- Amos began by declaring a word of judgment over the nations that surrounded Israel. But it didn’t take long for him to turn his focus to Israel (2:4). They were guilty of a shallow religiosity filled with idolatry and hypocrisy.
- Although, thus far, they have failed to respond to the seven calamities with repentance (4:6-13), maybe the direct message through Amos will get their attention.
Read Amos 5:1-5
- His prophecy has been building and it culminates with lamentation.
- The lamentation is over the whole nation, and they would all hear Amos’ call to repent. But only a remnant would ultimately respond (5:14-15).
- This afternoon we will look at that call from two angles.
- Both the call to repentance and the acceptance of that call should proceed from a sincere heart.
- Outline from New Bible Commentary:
- Affirmation of Disaster (1-3)
- Appeal for Reformation (4-5)
Affirmation of Disaster (1-3)
- v.1 Amos transitions to lamentation as if the Lord’s judgment had already fallen upon Israel. Israel’s death is so certain Amos begins mourning her passing.
- v.2 Israel is pictured as a virgin, in the prime of life, left for dead. She is killed just before enjoying the blessings of marriage and motherhood.
- v.3 90% of the troops will be wiped out Almost, but not quite military annihilation.
- There is a general pessimism and despair about life that is different from lamentation.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That’s for all ages. The younger you are the higher the ratio. It is 4th for those under 55, and 2nd for those under 35y/o. And for every successful suicide there are 25 attempts.
- Suicide has increased 24% in the past 15 years.
- What can bring hope in so much despair?
- We must express our own lamentation and listen to the lamentation of others.
- Moses, Jesus, and Paul all expressed lamentation. They wept over the lack of faith they witnessed. They confessed painful despair over the unwillingness of people to repent.
- While the Church must call people to repent, I wonder how often our lack of compassion hinders or even discredits the call.
The call to repentance should proceed from a heart that is sincerely broken.
Appeal for Reformation (4-5)
- v.4 Repentance is available until judgment has fallen. The Lord is ready to forgive.
- God promises life to all who turn away from false worship and seek to worship God on his terms.
- v.5 “Seek me…do not seek Bethel.” They must cut themselves off from their idolatry.
- They went to Bethel frequently, but fellowship with God was lacking (4:4). Their devoted search was nothing but empty ritual.
- How does a person seek God? Is everyone seeking God? Is anyone seeking God? If no one seeks after God how will anyone live?
- Should Amos become “seeker sensitive” (offering free iPads to all who seek God)? Amos has done the opposite. He didn’t cater to Israel’s sensitivities. He boldly called them out.
- Seeking God after hearing Amos would point to the Spirit’s convicting work in their lives. They would seek God out of brokenness and desperation.
- It is easy to focus upon outward obedience. As long as we do what’s expected, no one will suspect how shallow our worship is.
- God rejects such worship.
- Israelites could’ve shown their repentance by returning to Jerusalem. That would show God was more important to them than their differences with Judah.
- Attending church, going through the motions, is not worship. Repentance will take many forms, but it involves heart-felt affection for God.
So seek the Lord!
- The promise of eternal life is offered to all who seek God. That begins with recognizing our sin. We are blameworthy. We deserve judgment.
- Do you really believe that? Do you really think you deserve eternal punishment? Are you that bad?
- We need to accept our sin for what it is. We need to accept what our sin deserves. Only then will we truly appreciate the incredible offer to “Seek the Lord and live!”
- God satisfied that offer when he sent his only Son to seek and save his lost sheep, by laying down his life for them.