April 15, 2002

LifeWay Family Bible Series for April 28

Worst case scenario: God says 'See you later'
___bluebull Amos 8:1–9:15
___By Barbara Kent
___University Baptist Church, Fort Worth
___Could anything be worse than being uprooted from one's home and exiled, being struck by financial disaster and ruin, seeing all you have worked for swept away, or of not having enough to eat?
___Amos said there is something worse. In chapter 8, verses 11-12, he said the Lord was going to withdraw from his people. He was going to withhold his word from them. The people would yearn for a word from the Lord, but they would not find it.
___As fearful as it is for a sinner to stand in the presence of a holy God, it is more terrifying to have the Lord turn away and withhold his presence and his word.
___The people of Amos' day repeatedly rejected God's plea to return to him, to repent of their sins, to turn from their wi
cked ways. They had turned a deaf ear to God's pleas. In chapter 8, they were given one final warning.
___It begins with another of Amos' visions, the vision of a basket of ripe fruit. This vision symbolized the judgment that was to take place. The opportunity for Israel to repent had passed.
___Read verses 4-6 and make a list of the charges against the people. Then read verses 7-10 and make a list of what the Lord was going to do in response to their sins.
___None of those things would be as frightening or as disastrous as God's abandonment of his people, of his withholding his word from them (v. 12).
___Judgment impossible to escape
___Chapter 9 begins with a panorama of a people scurrying in every direction to escape the judgment they realized was inevitable. What is pictured in verses 1-3 would be comedic if it were not so tragic. There is no escape from the judgment of the God whom they had scorned and rejected.
___Who is this one whom they have rejected? Verses 5-6 are a doxology, a hymn of praise to the Lord. This is the third such hymn of divine sovereignty, the first two being in 4:13 and 5:18-19. The two previous doxologies celebrated the Lord's power to create and control the world of nature. Here Amos moved on to the idea of the Lord's power to control in a destructive way, so that his judgment is inescapable.
___Verses 7-10 reflect a sad, sad situation. They indicate that the Lord announced to Israel that his special relationship to them was over. He would continue to deal with Israel, but he would treat her like any other nation. Read this verses and weep. And take warning. No one treats the blessings of the Lord with contempt and escapes the consequences.
___Promise of blessing_in the midst of judgment
___This is the word we have been waiting to hear. The sword of God's judgment gives way to the trowel of reconstruction. It is the message of hope in the midst of the darkness. David's house would be restored. When did this happen? Perhaps the New Testament gives us an insight. James referred to 9:12 at the Jerusalem conference (Acts: 15:14-18) in which he saw the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church as part of this restoration Amos prophesied.
___These verses may be the most difficult to interpret in all the book of Amos. We may not be able to speak with certainty as to their meaning. However, we can be sure that God's promise of restoration of David's kingdom was real and trustworthy.
___The restoration of David's realm was the first promise (vv. 11-12). The second promise in verses 13-15 was the return of material prosperity. The crops would be bountiful. The Lord would again relate to his people in mercy. They would eat well from their gardens and enjoy the wine from their vineyards. God's presence would never depart from them.
___What should we learn from Amos?
___The book of Amos might have been written for our day. The wickedness of the people in that day is repeated in our own day. Disregard for God is rampant in our land, indeed, even in our churches and houses of worship. Mistreatment of the poor and oppressed is all around us. Injustice is practiced from the lowest to the highest courts. Greed is everywhere and treated as though it were a virtue instead of a vice.
___What would Amos say to us if he were suddenly to be transported into our day? Would the words he delivered from the Lord be repeated? Would he find us guilty of the same sins? What would/should our response be to the message of Amos? Perhaps it is time for us to heed his message and to return to the Lord, confessing our own sins which are so like those of the people of Amos' day. May God give us grace to do so.
___Questions for discussion
___bluebull What is the worst thing you have lived through? Did you recognize God's presence during the ordeal?
___bluebull Why response does God make to sin today? Why does God act as he does?
___bluebull What does Amos have to say to people of today?

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