Is This Not So, O Sons of Israel
Last week we left everyone in a bad place
Amos has just pronounced judgement on all the nations surrounding Israel and Judah
Then he moved to Judah and finally to Israel itself
There is a progression to the oracles from those nations that weren’t directly connected to God to those that are - those who didn’t have a covenantal relationship with God to those that did
A change is evident in the level of accountability in these oracles because both Judah and Israel have received the covenant stipulations in the Torah and are not just dependent on conscience to develop their sense of right and wrong
Another interesting point to mention is the utter sovereignty that Amos ascribes to God through these oracles
J.A. Motyer writes this:
It is the crowning evidence that Amos is speaking of the God of the whole Bible, the God of the Bible-loving Christian, that in the name of his God he faces a whole world, in all the reality of its cruelties, its unresolved injustices, its privileged and under-privileged peoples, and submits it totally and without reserve to the sway and judgment of the one and only God. … Feel the weight of the monotheism of Amos! When he reviews the world of the have-nots, the nations who have never received any revelation of Yahweh (1:3–2:3), he takes absolutely no cognizance of the fact that each worshipped a god of its own. Such information was quite irrelevant. It was not to that god that they were answerable, nor could that god save them in the day of Yahweh’s wrath. There was only one God over the whole earth, and to him they must and would render account.
“But much more is it the message of Amos that this truth has its foremost and more abundant application to the people of God themselves (2:4–3:2). To whom much is given, of him much shall be required. Judgment will not only come to but will begin at the house of God, and will be manifest there in a seemingly pitiless and all-destroying intensity.”
Tonight we’re going to look at how Amos finishes out this oracle against the nation of Israel
He’s going to shift gears on them a little bit
Instead of merely proclaiming judgement he’s going to remind them of who they are and what God had done for them
First he’s going to talk about God’s provision in Amos 2:9-11
Then he’s going to reveal Israel’s rejection in Amos 2:12
And finally God’s reaction in Amos 2:13-16
Let’s read the text and then explore what it has to say to us today
Amos 2:9-11; Genesis 15:16; Numbers 13:29, 32-33;
Amos starts off his recounting of God’s provision in an interesting place - with the destruction of the Amorites
The Amorites is a blanket way of describing all of the Caananite people groups
They had inhabited the promised land from the time of Abraham
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
Amos uses the two strongest and most massive of the native trees in the region emphasizes the stature of the Amorites and draws a clear picture for the Israelites in their mind
These are the people that the spy’s gave the report about when they returned and influenced the Israelites not to enter the Promised Land
So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
God reminds them that He destroyed this people before them with a complete and total destruction
fruit above is a reference to the seed that would allow the tree to survive through generations - destroying the seed would allow no possibility of future life
the root below is a reference not only to the population but the entire civilization that had been established - blotting out all memory of them as if they had never existed
Much like the Anasazi people who disappeared from the southwestern United States in the 12th or 13th centuries
Amos reminds the Israelites that it was not their impressive skills or abilities that defeated the Amorites it was God’s sovereign action on their behalf
The exodus was the singular event that defined the Israelite nation
Amos now turns to this event to remind the Israelites of God’s gracious provision for them in rescuing them from bondage in Egypt
It is a common occurence for the Jews to remind each other of the Exodus
The Psalmists refer back to the Exodus
He wrought wonders before their fathers In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
“I, the Lord, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
When Israel went forth from Egypt, The house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary, Israel, His dominion. The sea looked and fled; The Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, The hills, like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, before the Lord, Before the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of water.
Stephen referred to the Exodus in his defense before the Sanhedrin
This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.
The Exodus points to the deliverance of His people from bondage
The Israelites took a 4 day journey and turned it into 40 years
They were on the very cusp of entering into the Promised Land when they believed the stories of the 10 spies over those of Caleb and Joshua and refused to enter in to the land God had promised to give them
Despite everything they had seen in Egypt and on the shores of the Red Sea they still doubted
As a result they lost the opportunity to enter in to the Promised Land
So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.
Yet God still provided for them
manna from Heaven to feed them
Water from the rocks to give them drink
A pillar of fire to lead them during the night
A cloud to lead them during the day
He protected them from their enemies -
The Lord heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. Thus the name of the place was called Hormah.
But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”
The Nazirites and Prophets
The Nazirites and Prophets
It is interesting that these are the groups that Amos is guided to as an example for the people
This points to the fact that the priesthood was utterly corrupt and therefore a poor example for the people
The nazirite vow was established in Numbers 6
Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the Lord, he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. ‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. ‘All the days of his separation to the Lord he shall not go near to a dead person. He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord.
They were to be an example to the Israelites of what a holy life looked like
The two Nazirites that Scripture gives us as examples are Samson
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
and Samuel (although Samuel was also a prophet)
Prophets were sent to the Israelites to call them back to their covenantal obligations to the Law and to the Lord
Through these two offices God provided for the Israelites a model and guidance for life in their land
God says “is this not so” - this is a rhetorical question because none of these provisions could be disputed
How does this affect us today - can you see God’s provisions in your life through this oracle?
He defeated an enemy in the Amorites that the Israelites could not have defeated on their own
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He rescued us out of bondage through the power of His Son’s shed blood
He is even now leading us through the wilderness of this world on our way to the promised land
He has provided us with His Gospel as well as mighty men of the faith that we can listen to and learn from
Have you submitted to His provisions for your life?
The provisions found in the destruction of the Amorites, the Exodus and in the Wilderness were irrefutable
But Israel still found ways to reject God - the same way they always had - they attacked His teaching and His teachers
This was not new - it had happened during the Exodus
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
During the time of the Judges
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This was the pattern that went all the way back to the Garden of Eden when the Serpent attacked what God had said
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
This group of Israelites had corrupted even these examples of pure living
They’d forced the Nazirites to compromise their vows by making them drink wine
They’d forced the prophets to stop speaking
In effect this was telling God we don’t want to hear from You anymore - we’re good without You
The same thing is happening in our day and age
Churches have given over to the world’s standards - compromising what has been given down to us in favor of looking like the pagans
Bible teaching pastors have been replaced by zip-line riding, Spiderman dressing clowns who do nothing but entertain and exegete the latest Disney film rather than the Bible
A.W. Pink said this
“The vast majority of the churches are in a sorry state! Those that are out-and-out worldly are at their wits end to invent new devices for drawing a crowd. Others which still preserve and outward form of godliness often provide nothing substantial for the soul; there is little ministering of Christ to the heart, and little preaching of sound doctrine without which souls cannot be built up and established in the faith.
The great majority of the churches summon some professional speaker to the aid who puts on a high-pressure campaign and secures sufficient new ‘converts’ to take the place of those who have lapsed since he was last with them.
What a farce it all is!
A.W. Pink died in 1952.
Paul warned us that it would be this way
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
It’s also in the way that we worship, pray and think about God
When we worship are the words that we sing solely about what God is going to do for us without ever recognizing how beautiful, amazing and glorious He is?
How have we rejected God - even by saying thanks for dying for me but I’ll take it from here....
We may not like the reaction
God’s reaction to the Israelites is a promise of destruction
He says He is weighed down beneath them - as a wagon weighted down when filled with sheaves
God is using an easily identifiable metaphor for them to demonstrate that the weight of their sin is beyond what He is willing to bear - that now there must be a reckoning
The context seems to support this best
He says that flight will perish from the swift, that the stalwart will not be able to stand, that the mighty man will not save his life
There will be no escape - you can’t run fast enough, you’re not strong enough to withstand it - even those who would be like the mighty men of David will not be able to stand
There is a finality to these statements - they will happen.
Unlike the other oracles where it is translated that the Lord says - here the word is declares.
Conclusion and Application
Conclusion and Application