Prepare to meet your God!
Amos 1 - 11
A slogan from a cartoon world? the man with the sandwich board, proclaiming that the end is nigh? No - there is no danger of reducing Amos to frivolity!
1. A Message for a greedy society from a God of holiness. Amos 4 1-5
It is the leafy suburbs; the ladies’ luncheon; plenty of interest in this month’s speaker, the new prophet who is causing a stir; Amos gets up, looks at the fashionable clothing and sparkling jewellery and begins...
’You cows of Bashan...who oppress the poor and crush the needy’.
He is not attacking them for being rich, but for how they got their riches - the callousness, the indifference, the self-centredness. There is not the brutal desperation of poverty here; this is all for luxury. ’...and say to your husbands “bring us some drinks!”...’ God’s judgement is fearsome (4: 2,3). It is hard not to wince as you read it. There was no danger of Amos being invited to speak there again.
(Is our society different? Is the ‘I’m-all-right-Jack’ mentality a thing of the past? An Australian MP recently asked:
‘When will we wake up to the linkage between our greed economy and the moral breakdown in society and the family?’)
2. A Message for a Deaf Society from a God of Warnings. Amos 4: 6-11
A series of sound-bites; newsflashes from recent months and years:
4:6 Famine - bread runs out in town around the country
4: 7-8 Drought - severe water shortages; no hoses, no tap water.
4:9 Crop Failure - harvests ravaged again this year.
4:10 Disease - statistics of those infected soar.
4: 11 Fire - blazing fires destroy many square miles.
Amos makes clear that these were not just accidents -’I gave you...I withheld...I sent...I struck them down...says the Lord.' These are God’s warnings to his people.
‘Yet you have not returned to me’.
Five times this sad ending is repeated. The heartbreaking cry of the anguished lover who has tried everything.
(Our God has not changed (see Luke 13: 1-5). Has our society? Have recession, drought, Dunblane, brought us nearer to repentance? Has a declining divided Church?)
3. A Message for an Unprepared Society from a God we must Meet. Amos 4: 12, 13.
Therefore (because of their greed, deafness and refusal to turn back to God)
this is what I will do to you (not give up like some frustrated parent despairing of their child, but act in judgement, destroy your security, send you into exile)
and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.
(They are not ready; they do not really know their God; they think he wouldn’t; they think he couldn’t. But see 4: 13).
Israel and her God must meet and all that is left to be decided is whether it will be in war or peace. The New Testament gospel carries a similar warning too. Acts 17: 29-31.
The author of this exposition, Hugh Palmer, is on the staff team of Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield.
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