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His Strange Deed

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Amos 9

His Strange Deed

September 30, 2007

 

Isaiah 28:21 (ESV)
{21} For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!

What is his ‘strange’ work?  Judgment. 

Amos, the 8th century prophet (760 BC), declared God’s word to the Northern Kingdom when Israel was split in two:  a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom.  That split began in 931 after the death of Solomon.  The first king of the northern kingdom was a man named Jeroboam I.  The years have passed and another Jeroboam takes the throne and like his predecessor is confronted by a prophet – in this case, Amos –

Life is good for the Israelites.  But around the corner, disaster lies ahead of them.  The Israelites, the children of God, the chosen ones, are resting on their laurels; they are complacent; they do not regard the Lord any more highly than they do anything else.  The economy is good; no wars are on the horizon – and they continue the religious traditions of their fathers.

But like the Statue of Liberty – impressive from the outside; but empty on the inside – so too, the Israelites are all show and no action.  Worse than this; they are rebellious, unjust and idolatrous.

There is no concern for God and his word; no concern for the poor in their land; contrariwise, there is only concern for themselves.  Self is god; and God is simply their helper to enable them to do what they want.

But, as we have seen, they still are regular worshippers at the temple shrines.  But things are really dreadful; and Amos now realizes that the time for repentance is past.  They have steadfastly rejected God’s love and mercy; there remains only wrath and judgment - which will be demonstrated in the awful devastation of Israel in 722 BC by the Assyrian Empire.  They do not see any of that at the moment.

All of this brings us to the last chapter of Amos in which we do see a ray of hope – hope for the future which will come from a Davidic king.

In Amos 9, we have God’s Judgment, v 1-10

And we have God’s Blessing in 11-15

In wrath, remember mercy

 

Point One:  God’s Judgment – 9:1-10

Throughout Amos, we have warnings – sometimes they have come as an oracle – a straight statement; sometimes Amos has used satire; other times he has used various visions – all as a way of waking people up to their spiritual slumber.

One member of our household – won’t name her – can sleep through an alarm which is so loud and goes on so long that I sitting downstairs must go upstairs and turn it off because it is bothering me.

On a more serious note, God’s people have become deaf to the Lord’s word, and unresponsive to the many and various warnings of Amos.

A few points about God’s judgment.

1.  It is final:  All the way through Amos, from chapters 1-7, there remains a glimmer of hope – if the people will turn from their rebellion and return to the Lord. 

Amos 5:4 (ESV)
{4} For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live;

Amos 5:6 (ESV)
{6} Seek the Lord and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,

Amos 5:14 (ESV)
{14} Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.

Even in chapter 7 – a chapter we skipped, there is a plea from Amos for God’s mercy – therefore I take it that hope is still alive.

But as we come to chapter 8, God’s patience is finally exhausted, and there remains only judgment for the people –

It is finalAmos 9:1 (ESV)
{1} I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said: "Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people; and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword; not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape.

2.  It is both fair and inescapable:

 

It is fair – v 7-9

 

It is inescapable 2-3

 

Amos 9:2-3 (ESV)
{2} "If they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. {3} If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search them out and take them; and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.

Judgment is inescapable. 

This sentence reminds me of Psalms 139:7-10 (ESV)
{7} Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? {8} If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! {9} If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, {10} even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

There, God’s presence is a comfort to godly people; here it is a warning to godless ones.  They can’t escape.

Years ago, I remember reading a book on evangelism and according to the author, the good news is that God is with us; he won’t leave us alone.  That’s not always good news, if we want nothing to do with him.  It means he is with us both to save and to judge.  What the author didn’t emphasize was the death of Jesus which is the good news of God given to undeserving people like us.

3.  His Judgment is in keeping with his nature

Now, let’s return to Isaiah again:

Isaiah 28:21 (ESV)
{21} For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!

God is utterly just.  We do get what we deserve.  And further, he takes no delight in our wickedness and rebellion.

Ezekiel 18:23 (ESV)
{23} Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

If you look at verses 5-6, you will see that the reason why only God is a just judge is that he, well, he is God.  This world is his.  We too are his; he made us. 

Since he is the creator and has power to carry out what he says he will do – this means that God is trustworthy and we can build our lives on him, and that he will guide us throughout our lives and complete the good works he has begun.

Negatively, it means that as Lord he will punish those who flout his laws and despise his word. 

Ex.  Exodus – vs 5&6.  Salvation for those who trust in the Lord; death to those who reject him.

Verses 7-10 add more reasons for judgment.  One divine government rules over all.

But – there is light.

A few things:  It is true that Amos is full of judgment, but he also offers hope to those who turn to the Lord. 

There is a remnant – a small number of people who remain loyal to the Lord – so the judgment which is on Israel is not on every single Israelite. 

Amos 5:15 (ESV)
{15} Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

The call of judgment has also been a call to repentance:

Amos 4:12 (ESV)
{12} "Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"

Amos 7:2 (ESV)
{2} When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, "O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!"

Point Two:  God’s Blessing 11-15

‘In that day.’  What day does he have in mind?  Let’s wait for a moment on that.

On that day there will be a king – like David –who will repair he ruins; he will rule over the nations (v 12)

Pretty remarkable because this king will gather the ‘remnant of Edom’ – Edom was one of the great opponents of Israel – but this King will end all opposition to himself.

Further in verse 13, the earth will be perfect.  And what might this symbolize?  All is well between God and man.  Nature is there for us, and now all is functioning as it should.

Then in verse 14, the people enjoy all that God has destroyed, and in verse 15 their land, representing the security of all God’s people will also be restored.

God’s blessing is undeserved, it is complete and it involves the whole created order.

When will this happen?

Turn to Acts 15.15

Acts 15:15-19 (ESV)
{15} And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, {16} " 'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, {17} that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things {18} known from of old.' {19} Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God,

The Jerusalem Council is called to figure out what to do with the Gentiles who are becoming believers in Jesus Christ.  Where do they turn – to the scriptures and to Amos 9.11.

Amos 9.11 is referring to the time when Jew and Gentile will both enter into the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So we must then say that the first application of Amos 9 is to us – because of the death and resurrection of Jesus; all who trust in Jesus are the children of God.  We are one in Christ.  While we are different in so many ways, we are all equally children of the living God and we equally share in his blessing of forgiveness and eternal life.

And what we now can experience in this life in part, we will enjoy in full in the new heavens and the new earth. 

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