In the book of Amos, we have the written record of his prophetic ministry in which he proclaimed God’s judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel. Have you thought about how difficult a task this was? People want to hear good news, especially about their future! But Amos was charged with delivering a very unpopular message. We, too, have an unpopular message to deliver. People in our culture don’t want anyone to tell them what to do, especially God and those speaking for him. Yet we must speak. How can we in the face of determined resistance? Obviously we need some motives that spur us on. Let us learn from Amos at this point.
Amos 3:7-15 ESV
7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The Lord GOD has spoken;
who can but prophesy?”
9 Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod
and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt,
and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria,
and see the great tumults within her,
and the oppressed in her midst.”
10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD,
“those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”
11 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“An adversary shall surround the land
and bring down your defenses from you,
and your strongholds shall be plundered.”
12 Thus says the LORD: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.
13 “Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob,”
declares the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,
14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions,
I will punish the altars of Bethel,
and the horns of the altar shall be cut off
and fall to the ground.
15 I will strike the winter house along with the summer house,
and the houses of ivory shall perish,
and the great houses shall come to an end,”
declares the LORD.
I. The power of God’s message
A. The source of the message is the Lord and not the prophet (3:7; cf. 2 Pt 1:16ff).
1. This is a recurring theme in this section (3:11,12,13,15). God’s authority is the bedrock on which every ministry of the word rests.
2. The judgment that would come on Israel would arrive because the Lord planned that judgment. He let people know this by telling it to his prophets. The actions that God is doing in our age are a fulfillment of prophecy. The Lord told us what the last days would be like, so we should not be surprised when history looks like prophecy (2 Tm 3:1-5; 2 Pt 3:3; 1 Jn 2:18-23).
3. We do not have to be confused about what God’s will is. It has been revealed for us in the Bible. The question is “do we search the Scriptures intently to find out what God’s will is?”
B. The imperative behind the message—it must be delivered (3:8). Compare 1 Cor 9:16; Ezk 2:5-7
1. We must deliver God’s message because we are his servants.
a. A servant does what his master desires (cf. Lk 6:46).
b. I think that this is the first time that this idea (of the prophet as God’s servant) was used in redemptive history. When we come to the New Testament Scriptures, it is an important concept. [Add references.]
2. We must deliver the message because of the nature of the message (Jer 20:9). It is like the roar of a lion in the preacher’s ears!
a. The clarity of the servant’s perception of the message will show itself in the urgency of his presentation.
b. “I find, and this is somewhat of a confession as well as an exhortation, that my own words mock me too often when I preach – when I can say the word ‘hell’ and not feel the horror of it; when I can speak of heaven and not be warmed with a holy glow in the light of the fact that this is the place my Lord is preparing for me.” [Martin, “What’s Wrong with Preaching Today?” p. 10]
II. The theme of God’s message
A. The Lord points out two ways that his people were engaging in evil.
1. The sin of materialism (3:10,15) – It had so captivated them that they did not understand anything else. This is an example of being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Heb 3:13). We must guard our hearts. Since we have a material aspect to our being, we can be tempted to seek satisfaction in material things.
2. The sin of false religion (3:14) – Notice the reference to Bethel (cf. 1 Ki 12:25-13:6). God calls his people Israel to account for their religious error. It was their glaring sin because it was against their relationship with God. This was a root sin of many other sins in Israel.
Apply: We must find “root sins” (1 Tm 6:10) and strike at them.
Apply: We must make sure that we have correct beliefs from the Scriptures and seek to practice them.
Comment: Note God’s complete seriousness at this point. Amos uses the longest form for God’s name in any place in the Scriptures!
B. We must learn from Israel’s errors.
1. Time goes on, but the human heart remains in the same swamp of evil. “Progress” in humanity is merely “refinement” in the way we sin, either in the manner of our sinning or in the objects of our lusts.
2. Hardness of heart is shown in the refusal to hear God’s warning.
III. The judgment in the message
A. Other nations are summoned to see Israel’s punishment (3:9).
1. We should learn from the sins of others and not repeat them (1 Tm 5:20).
2. Notice how low the people had sunk. All knowledge of how to please the Lord had left them.
B. The judgment would come through the agency of a conquering power (3:11).
1. Amos didn’t name this power, but it was Assyria. It was fulfilled within fifty years from the time of Amos’ ministry.
2. We must “get into” the Bible as a life situation. How would you react if God suddenly announced that our country was to be destroyed?
3. Only a remnant would escape (3:12; cf. Rm 9:27; 11:1-6).
Pastor Dave Frampton
When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church