Amos 3:8 The lion has roared- who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken- who can but prophesy?
God was roaring then and is surely roaring now like a lion at all the evil and wickedness of men and nations. The day of judgement is surely coming!
Last week we saw that God’s judgement was going to fall on the pagan nations around Israel. We saw that ignorance of God’s Law is no excuse! Both Leaders and People will be subject to judgement. God is angry about offences against basic human rights. Brutality. Slavery. Treachery. Revenge. Genocide. Sacrilege. Sins against people, against innocents, against even the unborn and the dead. So many examples of man’s inhumanity to man in the time of Amos and just as much today!
This week God’s message through his prophet Amos is directed against the two kingdoms which made up the nation of Israel, Judah in the south where Jerusalem was and then Israel in the north where Amos was preaching. If ignorance is no excuse then, Judah and Israel had even less than no excuse – because they were God’s chosen covenant people. They had received the Law of Moses. Their sins were even worse – because in sinning against God’s Law and breaking his commandments they were deliberately and knowingly rejecting God Himself.
ISRAEL IS CONDEMNED FOR REJECTING GOD’S LAW
4 This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, 5 I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”
The fire of God was waiting to fall on the southern Kingdom of Judah for rejecting God and breaking His Laws.
I’m not saying that Britain is or ever was a Christian nation – but at least there was a time when most of our leaders and our politicians cared about what God revealed is right and wrong in the Bible. There was a time when most of them “feared God” and knew they would be accountable to a higher authority for the laws they made and the policies they followed. Those days are long gone!
But last week we saw that nations are judged even if they don’t know God’s revealed Law. How much more will a nation be judged if they DO know God’s Law and then reject it! For centuries Britain and America have acted as if they have a “special relationship” with God. I am NOT saying that specific events are “the judgement of God” on USA or UK – but I am saying that both nations have turned away from the one true God by their actions. We have rejected the Law of God. they have not kept His decrees. We have worshipped false gods, and so God’s judgement will be against our nations. If there was ever a time when honouring God and obeying His Law brought prosperity to Britain or to USA, that time is long past!
God spells out to his chosen people Israel the ways they have rejected him. And we must be ready to put our hands up and admit that our nation had rejected God’s Laws in much the same way!
6 This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.
Israel was exploiting the poor and needy – trampling the poor and denying justice to the oppressed. And the rich nations of the world have been doing these things to the poor nations for centuries and only now the church and the world is beginning to wake up to these sins. The problem is that injustice and exploitation are so much part of the fabric of society that we don’t even realise what we are doing is wrong.
Wasting our resources on trivial entertainment while half the world does not have reasonable sanitation and a billion people do not have safe drinking water and around the world every fifteen seconds another child dies from water-borne diseases.
The United Nations judges a person to be in poverty if they are living on less than around a dollar a day. Still we who are so rich insist on paying as little for our food as possible so those third world farmers who are producing our food are left trapped way below that poverty line. That’s what’s called the “free market”. God calls it exploitation – “trampling on the heads on the poor as upon the dust of the ground.”
So much of our consumer culture can be summed up in just one word – greed! Christian businessman Sir Fred Catherwood once said, “Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.”
Exploiting the poor and the weak. This sin is international but we even see it within our own society. The treatment of migrants and refugees is as bad as the way those in the benefits trap are treated.
It has been said that the Referendum decision to leave the European Union was due in part to people who felt left out of the prosperity which belonging to Europe is supposed to bring the United Kingdom. It is being said that Donald Trump owes his election victory in the United States to “a coalition of the forgotten,” rural and working class people who felt left behind by the liberal coastal elites. There is inequality and injustice in the USA and there is even inequality and injustice in England, where benefits claimants and migrants are demonised by the media and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider and wider.
They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. We rich nations have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees – in all the injustice we have permitted and perpetrated. And Amos makes very clear to us, God is angry!
7b Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.
Incest may not be a problem we are aware of in this country although the statistics of the instances of child abuse are appalling and tragic. But just about every other form of sexual sin seems to be widespread. Just as our nation seems to be waking up to social sins of injustice and exploitation, it seems to be turning a blind eye to immorality.
Adultery seems almost to be the “norm”. Couples living together without getting married certainly is. Homosexuality is not merely tolerated but advocated and even promoted. The false god of “political correctness” is worshipped. In the areas of sexual morality they have certainly rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees.
I saw a fascinating news report this week.
Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year, reflecting what it called a “highly-charged” political 12 months.
It is defined as an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.
Oxford Dictionaries’ Casper Grathwohl said: “Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time,” he said. “We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and again in July when Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. … I wouldn’t be surprised if post-truth becomes one of the defining words of our time.” BBC News website 16/11/16
Emotional appeals over-riding objective facts. We are indeed living more and more in a “post-truth” world!
And while the world around us had turned more and more against God and His laws, the church has fallen more and more silent. Worse than that, certain sectors of the church and certain prominent churchmen have gone further and replaced the Word of God the Bible with “situational ethics”. The words of Romans 1:32 are exactly right. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them.
And while the church is busy compromising, this actually encourages the world around to run further and further away from God
8 They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines.
The press and the TV news are always full of scandal stories. Corruption in politics. Corruption in big business. Corruption in the police and in the courts and in the justice systems of many countries although mercifully not this country. And in some places corruption has been part of the institutional church for centuries. What worries me is that the people who care most about all this corruption seem to be the newspapers and the media who can get good stories out of it. If only politicians and businesses were as zealous at rooting out and dealing with corruption, it would be much less of a problem.
It’s all just greed in another form of course, mingled with dishonesty. And whilst the church over the years has tried to speak out about some kinds of sins, usually the personals sins, issues like integrity and justice have hardly ever been mentioned.
REJECTING SPIRITUAL THINGS
10 “I brought you up out of Egypt, and I led you for forty years in the desert to give you the land of the Amorites. 11 I also raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men. Is this not true, people of Israel?” declares the
LORD. 12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
Israel had its special relationship with God. And their greatest sins were the ways they turned away from God and rejected God.
Nazirites were religious Jews who took special vows dedicating lives to God, shouldn’t drink wine. But in Amos’s time they were pressured to break their vows, tone down their commitment!
Even churches give impression that extremes can be bad – too much prayer, too much commitment, too much holiness are frowned upon.
Revision of blasphemy laws to protect ALL religions – political correctness once again. Risk that such a law would make it illegal to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to be saved – because that would offend followers of “false gods” Time may come when it is illegal to proclaim Jesus is Lord. Blasphemy Laws designed to prevent people rebelling against God turned on their head to prevent Christians from proclaiming the truths of Scripture and the gospel of salvation!
Prophets – speaking for God – silenced!!
Silences in the world around – sometimes silenced by the church!!
Rejecting God’s Law. Injustice. Immorality. Corruption. Rejecting spiritual things completely.
JUDGEMENT IS SURELY COMING
4 This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. … 5 I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”
9 ¶ “I destroyed the Amorite before them, though he was tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks. I destroyed his fruit above and his roots below.
God has destroyed nations before and He will do so again!
13 “Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain. 14 The swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength, and the warrior will not save his life. 15 The archer will not stand his ground, the fleet-footed soldier will not get away, and the horseman will not save his life. 16 Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,” declares the LORD.
Judgement came on the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the form of the invasion from Babylon. Judgement may come on nations today in this life in all kinds of ways as the Lord withdraws His blessing and protection from a nation as they reject Him and His Laws. And of course judgement awaits every person in the life to come.
But what about Christians who reject God and disobey His Laws, and teach others that it is alright to do the same. They will also face God’s judgement. But as Amos warns us about judgement, what form will judgement take for those who claim to be Christians.
1. Not everybody who claims to be a Christian is truly born again. Many will have a terrible shock when they stand before the judgement throne of God, politicians and businessmen and church leaders alike when they face His condemnation for the sins they have led others into.
1 John 2:3 ¶ We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
3:6 No-one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No-one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what isright is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
So if a person who claims to be a Christian is persisting in sin, they need to look very carefully at their life. Are they really saved? If they are – why do they still wilfully continue to disobey God.
But then there are true Christians who fall into sin. If this happens I want to reassure you – as I was saying this morning, once saved always saved. God will not abandon you. God will not reject you. Just confess and receive God’s forgiveness, and start afresh with God.
But true Christians who sin will face judgement. They will have to live with the consequences of their sins. If they have broken the law of the land they will still have to face the just penalties. And then in heaven we will all have to face God’s judgement on the lives we have lived.
1 Corinthians 3:11 ¶ For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly
stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
God is angry. He is angry with nations and he is angry with individuals, for rejecting His laws, for injustice and immorality and corruption, for rejecting spiritual things and pursuing greed. The Lion has roared. Who will not tremble!