Date: September 17, 2020 (Midweek Service)
Bible Text: Amos 3:1-10 | Steve Damron
Series: Transcribed Sermons
The Privilege of Salvation
What are you holding back?
The Path of Iniquity
The Punishment of Iniquity
You Reap what You Sow!
If you have your Bibles this evening, we will be looking at Amos. The Book of Amos. If you have been continuing with our Bible reading, we just finished through Amos. Now it's starting to click along and by the end of September, we are in the New Testament. And then we will be done soon. All these little books we are knocking them out. Like, you know, a book a day. You know, reading Ezekiel, I did not think we would ever get through it. I kept on thinking I just read that. Just read that. But now we will be looking at Amos chapter three, Amos chapter three.
Amos is an interesting book. And, we will talk a little bit about, some of the background of it, but we enjoy great, privilege as people in America. We have religious light, civil Liberty, private wealth, national power, commercial prosperity, but privilege, privilege involves responsibility. As you follow history, naturally in history, there should be periods of great scientific advancement, great commercial prosperity, and you see that through history. But what you also see through history is that the seasons of commercial prosperity and scientific advancement seemed to also bring a great forgetfulness of God. And there are multitudes who habitually forget that they are dependent upon God. God who forms their plans and who should be very involved in their inquiries and calculating their gains. And they go through all of life. It seems, forgetting that he is the one that brought prosperity to them.
This is what I want to look at this evening in Amos chapter three, so let's read in verse one. "Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." And then there are some well known phrases found in Amos chapter three. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" And then through this, you will see a couple of phrases, but God through this in verse one, he says "Here" and in verse 13, he says "Here ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord God, the God of hosts, That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord."
Heavenly father, I pray that as we consider this idea of that privilege brings responsibility, and Lord, we have a great privilege being in America, a great privilege being here at our church, and the things that we get to participate in, and the knowledge that we get. But Lord there is responsibility with that. And I think sometimes we become like the children of Israel and we become apathetic. We become just casual with our Christianity. We start thinking that maybe it was our good thoughts. It was our good initiative, our good education, our good forethought and vision of the future that has brought this prosperity and blessing. But Lord, it is because of you. I pray that as we consider this chapter this evening and consider some thoughts that you would help us to pause before, even these coming weeks, and help us to understand that we have with this privilege, a responsibility. Responsibility to share Christ with others, a responsibility to be praying, a responsibility, Lord, to bring others to Christ. I pray that this message Lord would weigh upon our hearts. Always Lord, I ask you to do that, which I cannot do, and that is speak to hearts. We ask and claim your power in Jesus name. Amen.
Amos was from the Southern kingdom. You find that in verse one of chapter one, "The words of Amos, who was among the herdman of Tekoia, ..." Tekoia was a desolate country. It was south of Bethlehem. His hometown was located about 2,700 feet high, kind of west of the Dead Sea. This Tekoia, sloped down to the wilderness of Judah and ran down to the Dead Sea. And you see that he was a pretty humble guy, you see that in chapter seven. Look at chapter seven and verse 14 it says, "Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet,..." So he was not brought up in a prophets home. It doesn't seem to indicate that he went to school. They would have schools for the prophets and it does not seem to indicate that he went to the schools of the prophets. He says, "...neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of Sycamore fruit." Both of these indicate lowly professions. He was actually in the field with sheep as a hired hand. He was not able to hire other people to watch his sheep. And then he was a laborer gathering fruit from the orchards. And so this is what you find from Amos. The book of Amos, If you know the history, this was during the time of Jeroboam. And so the kingdom was kind of split and you had a Northern kingdom and a Southern kingdom. The Northern kingdom was called Israel and the Southern kingdom was called Judah. And what is interesting is that Amos was from the Southern kingdom, but God called him to go to the Northern kingdom to prophecy. And because of his background as a herdsman, because of growing up in kind of this wilderness setting, he was a pretty rough cut guy.
You will see, as you read through the book of Amos, and we have done that this past week, as you read through the book of Amos, what you found is he did not hold any punches. He came straight at the children of Israel and he was very clear cut on what God was saying. If the prophet Amos would come to our world today, he would feel like nothing has changed. He lived at a time and if you go back to this time, the Northern tribes and the Southern tribes at this time were experiencing a little bit of a difference. They were not in wars right now, they had been experiencing decades of prosperity. When normally a lot of their energies, a lot of their resources were going to fight wars. Well, now those resources and energy that could be taken and that could be put into their land, it could be put into making more money. And so when Amos comes on the scene, both the Northern tribes and the Southern tribes were experiencing a lot of prosperity. So Amos would probably feel at home today. Also, there was radical change going on. He lived at a time when the society was changing radically. If you know a little bit about the history of Israel and Jeroboam. Jeroboam, what he did is the children of Israel had split basically into a Northern kingdom and a Southern kingdom. And so Jeroboam said, wait a minute. You know, these people they are supposed to come down to Jerusalem all the time. Why don't we split and we will have kind of different places of worship. But that was against God's plan.
And so there was this idea of convenience. There was this idea of, Hey, you know what? Let's, be a little more casual in our worship. Let's not be so demanding on people. Sounds like today. Both Israel and Judah were at peace with their enemies. Both kingdoms were experiencing prosperity. A new wealthy merchant class was developing. British poet, Oliver Goldsmith, wrote this in 1770, he said, "Ill fairs the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay." And that is what Amos found. Amos found that the wealth and the prosperity and the merchant class and having everything convenient had created a soft religion. And that's what we are experiencing today. A soft religion, a religion that wants convenience, a religion that even, even in good churches, when you ask a little bit of somebody, they are like, Oh, I don't know. I mean, Hey, you know what, and they will always put it in. In fact, the world does this, 'kids first.' You know what? That is creeping into our churches and now parents think kids first. Oh, I can't go soul winning - kids first.
Oh, I can't do some things - kids first. And some of you, what you have done is in the name of convenience, you have adopted the liberal ideology of the world and you are throwing your kids in front of God. And that is a convenient religion. It's a religion of you first. It is a self-centered religion, it is not a God centered religion. And what will happen oh, those kids, they will come back. They will come back and they will prove who the God is. You are teaching them right now, teaching them that you are first and they will grab that ideology. Author, William Barker pens, the following thoughts about religion and wealth. And he says, "we are all caught in a trap. It goes like this. Our religion promotes the good character qualities of hard work, thrift and honesty. Hard work, thrift and honesty usually mean that a man gets ahead. Getting ahead, involves making money. Making money implies success and luxury. Success and luxury can come between the man and God though. This means that you and I are put in a dangerous position. We are successful people. We are reasonably well off. We are tempted to love our luxuries more than our Lord. Thus, our faith produces some dangerous possibilities for the material success that comes from our hard work and frugality and honesty is hard to control. In fact, it can lead us wanting more and more using others and forgetting God. This can happen to the congregation of a church and this evening, that is what I want to just consider.
I want to consider three simple things out of the text of Amos chapter three. First in verses one and two, "Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you. O children of Israel, ..." What is interesting to me is it says, against the whole family. God, when he tells Amos to address the Northern, he says, it's the whole family. It is all of you Israel, it is the North and the South. You are all together in this. Sometimes we like to split it up and say, well, that is their problem. Well, God says, it is all of you guys. And how does he say this? He says, in the end of verse one, because all of them, he brought up out of the land of Egypt. And I want to apply it to us as Christians.
So first of all, what I see is the privilege of salvation, and that's what he reminds them of. He reminds them that he had brought them out of Egypt. And if you and I are going to understand the privilege that we have, it goes back to the idea that God saved us. He saved us. We find that concept in the New Testament in first Corinthians chapter two. In first Corinthians chapter two in verse seven, it says, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery..." Now remember that idea of mystery in the New Testament is the idea of the gospel or the church. It can be either one. Normally it is one of the other, and in this case, he is talking about the mystery of salvation, the gospel, what is that mystery? "...even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." So he is going back and saying that mystery was not revealed during the time of Christ. It was after that, that this mystery came, this salvation through Jesus Christ, as he died on the cross for our sins. And then he rose again, it brought in this new covenant for us. That is the mystery.
But look at verse nine, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." If you go down to verse 14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." What a privilege salvation is. In this mystery, Paul talks about it in the book of Colossians 1:26. He says, "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints." And this mystery is that salvation is brought to you and I. That is the privilege that we have. And that is what we need to remind ourselves of, is that we do not deserve this salvation, but it is a privilege that we are in the family of God. What a privilege it is to be saved. What a privilege to know your sins are forgiven. Your place is reserved in heaven. You are a child of the heavenly King, a Prince for whom the son of the King gave His life. He gave His life for you and He gave it all for you. What are you holding back then?
That is what, Amos now is asking us. And through the prophet, he is coming to us now and he is saying, wait a minute, you are the children of God. You are my family. Do not forget that. That is a privilege. With salvation comes a responsibility. And this is presented over and over in the New Testament. Numerous commands appear in the New Testament regarding a Christian's responsibility, from sharing the gospel in Matthew 28 to continuing to do good in II Thessalonians 3, to praying in Philippians 4. However, in I Corinthians 15:58, we are reminded of this, "Therefore, my beloved brethern..." And what is it there for, it is there because of "Oh death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through (who) our Lord Jesus Christ." That's the privilege.
And you know what he says, because of that, t "Therefore... be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." What the privilege, the privilege should remind us that we have a responsibility. God saved us and he did not save your soul to sit in a pew and do nothing. He saved you to go and do something for the Lord, to share his wonderful message of salvation. Why, as we have been talking on Sunday mornings, why, because the end is near. And as the end is near we ever should be sharing the gospel more and more. We should not be holding it back. Why? Because those that do not receive Jesus Christ are doomed, doomed to go through that tribulation. Doomed to end up, if they last through the tribulation, doomed to end up at the great white throne. And there to sit there and to say, what have you done with Jesus? Your name is not found in the book of life. We need to understand that we have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to share. So the first thing that I see there is a privilege of salvation.
Then notice there is a path of inequity. There is a path that Amos shows back in our text in Amos 3:3. There is a path notice in verse three, the path is no agreement. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" There is a pastor, that was sharing a little antidote and he was saying, that this was many years ago. He said he had just gotten out of his car and he just noticed, a fairly young, newly married couple. They were kind of bouncing down the street, and he just paused. It was kind of making him feel good. As then he watched and they were holding hands. And all of a sudden he saw the wife, chuck the hand, look at the guy, turn around and march off. And he was like, well, I guess two can't walk together unless they be agreed. Theyare obviously not agreeing about something right now. And you know what? That is the same that is true with you and I, when it comes to God. That is what Amos is saying, two people can't walk together unless they are agreed. And you can't walk with God and hang onto your sin. You can't walk with God and be contrary to his Book. Two can't walk together when there is no agreement. That is the start of a path of iniquity. If you start saying, you know what, you know, I know that is in the Bible, but hey, that is Old Testament. Oh, I know,--wait a minute. It is the Bible,-- no agreement.
Then look at verses six through eight. Actually, it starts in verse four and this is, no hearing. Okay. Look at what he says. "Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey?" Then it talks in verse five, "Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him?" A gin is a trap, not alcohol, that is a trap. "...Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?" So he is talking about noise, a lion roaring, a bird that has a snare, he is talking about a trumpet being blown. And what is a trumpet being blown for-- to warn. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." And so what is he saying? I send prophets, that are roaring, that are trumpeting. They are sounding it out, but you are not hearing. You are not hearing. The path of iniquity is no agreement. That means you are not in agreement with the word of God that is being preached. You are not in agreement with God himself and his holiness and his attributes. Then you are not hearing. What are you not hearing? God says, I have sent people. Here is Amos. I have sent him before you. You are not hearing it. It is a great privilege to have God speak to us, but it is a great responsibility. If we do not open our hearts to hear his word and obey him, we are in great danger of hardening our hearts and incurring God's wrath.
You will notice this idea of hearing, notice in chapter 3:1, "Hear this word..." Then in 3:13, "Hear ye, and testify..." Chapter 4:1, "Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan..." Chapter 5:1, "Hear ye this word, which I take up against you. Chapter 7:16, "Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord..." Chapter 8:4, "Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy..." What is Amos telling them? Listen, listen. You know what? When we come to the time that we are reading in our own private life, do you pause before and say, God, open my heart to hear. Remember that is what Christ told his disciples all the time. He, that has ears to hear, let him hear. You are like obviously, if I have ears, I am going to hear. No, that is what he is saying. You have ears, but you are not hearing. So there is a difference, isn't there. You can hear, but you also get to listen, don't you. And that is what Christ was saying.
In Bible history and church history, both reveal that God can and does use a variety of people to minister to his people. He used an educated man, like Moses and a humble shepherd, like David, a priest like Jeremiah and a common fishermen like Peter, James and John. Charles Finney and C.I. Scofield were basically educated lawyers while John Bunyan was a mender of pots and pans. God calls and he equips and he uses all who will surrender to him. God then brings them to people and says trumpet my word. But you know what the job of the hearer, the job of the person in the pew is to hear, to hear.
The path of iniquity in Amos, chapter three, we see no agreement, we see no hearing, and then look at verse nine and 10. "Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, "Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof. For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces." They have no testimony. If you study this out, what he is asking is Ashdod was a Philistine city. So what he's telling them is, Hey, the Philistines, and even those in Egypt, come on over and look at Samaria and notice how they don't even know what to do right? You know what happens when you say, you know what? I am going to do, what I want. You end up, the way you go down that path. There is no agreement, no hearing. And then all of a sudden you have no testimony, even in the world. Even in the world, you do not even have a good testimony. You know the world knows, and the world holds us to a high standard. They do. And rightly so, you can get mad about using a double standard. It is a double standard, but their father is the devil. Their father is a liar. Father is the accuser of the brethren. So it is no shock that the world is filled with gossip. It is no shock that the world is filled with filth. But you are no longer a child of the devil. You are a child of God. It is a privilege. So walk like it and act like it. We see that he called for the Philistines and the Egyptians to witness what was going on in Samaria. It is a shame when the world is looking into the church house and it is filled with sin and wickedness. And that's what Amos is calling out to these children of Israel.
But notice the last thing is the punishment of iniquity. Notice in the text, you go down to verses 10, "For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; an adversary there shall be round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled." In verse 10 and 11, you will notice that in verse 10, what were they doing? They were robbing, right? So guess what happens to them--they are getting robbed. You know what the punishment is, you reap what you sow. You reap what you sow. They had robbed and stolen from one another. And now they would be facing this same punishment. But now from a pagan nation, from this writing, I think it was 50 years. It may be a little shorter, a little longer, but it was right about there. From this writing, they were in wealth and prosperity. They think everything is going great. We do not need God. And guess what happens? The Assyrians came down, swooped in and destroyed them. Oh, beware of living in your prosperity and saying, Hey, I do not need God--Punishment.
Then in verse 12, notice, "Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria..." It is interesting, this is actually a reference to Exodus chapter 22. And if you know, they were shepherds, they took care of sheep. And so let's say that you were taking care of sheep and maybe some others, and maybe somehow, another persons sheep got in your mix or, whatever. And a lion came in and ripped up the sheep. What you had to do was verse 12, you had to bring a piece of ear or two legs back. And you had to show that a lion had done that and that you were not just a sheep thief. All right. That is the reference there. It is interesting because remember Amos uses a sheep reference because guess what, he was a shepherd, but he says, guess what is going to happen to you. Lions are going to come and devour you. You know what God can do to you, a lion, for us as Christians what does that seem to indicate in the New Testament? Satan. Did that happen in the New Testament. Oh, remember Paul. He delivered somebody over to Satan. You want to go your own way and say, hey, you know what, I can do what I want. And God can let the lion come and devour you. That is some punishment.
But notice in chapter 3:14, "That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel:..." So remember the false worship. Worship was supposed to be in Jerusalem, but they had built an altar. There actually was an altar in Dan, and it seems like there is an altar in Bethel but they do not mention Dan, so maybe they combined it. That is what some people think in history that maybe they combined it at this stage all they had was the altar of Bethel, but God, says I am going to destroy it and the horn. Horns in the Bible represent power. And so what God says, the power that you think you have in your religion, I am wiping it out. And the worship that you think you have, it is going to be gone. Your convenient religion, the power that is all there, all that convenience and all that worship is nothing. I am wiping it out. That is what God thinks about convenient religion, about not obeying God's way.
Then in verse 15, "And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and, the houses of ivory, shall perish,..." your possessions will be taken away. I want to close with going to Revelation chapter three. In Revelation, chapter three, we see a New Testament example. I think of a church that had become afluent that had become well-respected and they had forgotten God. At the end of Revelation chapter three in verses14-18 it says, "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of thy mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesave, that thou mayest see." When he tells him there was a sad deception going on in the church of Laodicea, the members of the church imagined that they were rich and they had need of nothing. The members of this church imagined that they were prosperous. The members of this church imagined that they had detained all possible excellence and they were deceived. And he tells them, this is my counsel. They were advised to get true wealth. That was the instruction there "to buy of me gold, tried in the fire." He is saying, get pure wealth, get that, which is pure and right. Then he says, get renewed purity. That is the reference to the clothing. And then he says, get clear vision. And if you are going to get out of this lethargy, if you are going to get out of apathy and I think sometimes we become at ease in Zion. We say, even with all that is going on, all the nuttiness that is going on, Oh, we are all right. Hey, it is really bad out there, but I am still going to church. I am still good.
So have you, have you gone to God about that? Have you sat with Him a little bit? Because if you sit with God for a little bit, I think you are going to find a different answer. What you are going to find is that maybe God is saying to you, you are at ease. You think you have it all. You think you are rich and you are in need of nothing. And you are poor and naked and wretched and blind. And that is many times our heart. One man put it this way. I looked up a farm one day that once I used to own. The barn had fallen to the ground. The fields were overgrown. The house in which my children grew, where we had lived for years. I turned to see it broken down and I brushed aside the tears. I looked upon my soul one day to find it too, had grown with thorns and nettles everywhere, the seeds neglected sowing. The years had passed while I had cared for things of lesser worth. The things of heaven, I let go while minding things of earth. To Christ I turned with bitter tears and cried oh Lord forgive. I have not much time left for thee, not many years to live. The wasted years forever gone, the days I can't recall. If I could live those days again, I would make Him Lord of all.
Do you know what the sad thing is? You can not live them again. So start today. Set aside the apathetic heart. Set aside that idea that I am rich, I have need of nothing. Bow before God again, and say, God, help me to understand the privilege of my salvation and that because of it, I have a responsibility. Heads, bowed eyes closed.