Seek Me and Live: Hear the Lion Roar (Sermon)
Seek Me and Live: Amos-1
TITLE: Hear the Lion Roar
TEXT: Amos 1:1-2:16
TASK: To warn all concerning God’s judgment against sin.
TEACH: During the dark days of WWII Walter Luthi of Basel preached a series of sermons from the book of Amos which were translated into English and published in London in 1940 under the title “In the Time of the Earthquake.” Luthi began his book by saying, “It is earthquake time again.” Later he said, “Amos spoke God’s word to earthquake men….in all places and to all time.”
Such words suggest the relevancy of the book of Amos to our time or to any time. Amos lived in the time of the earthquake, just as the Northern Kingdom of Israel was coming to a close. Amos appeared to understand where others failed. He saw the link between the earthquake and the Northern Kingdom coming to a close. It was during this time, Amos heard the Lions roar of God’s wrath and the ominous creaking of the earth prior to the earthquake which signaled God’s judgement.
We too, live in an earthquake age. I’m not speaking literally, even though they do occur, but the age of God’s terrifying judgment. The nations rage, but the Lord “roars.”
TRUTH: Recognizing the significance of God using individuals in unexpected ways. Very little is known about the man -Amos. He is never mentioned by any other biblical writer. All the information we have about him comes from this little book. The name Amos probably means “burden” or “burden-bearer.’
Amos lived in Tekoa, a village in Judah about 11miles south of Jerusalem and 18 miles west of the Dead Sea. Amos is called a shepherd and herdsman. Although Amos was a shepherd and one who performed menial tasks, he was no means uneducated. His formal training might have been nil, but he was a keen observer of the ways of God and men.
Amos lived and worked during the reign of Uzziah, King of Judah (783-742) and Jeroboam II, king of Israel (786-746). For almost 40 years these two strong kings ruled the sister states side-by-side, each pushing his country’s boundaries out to include the territories which once belonged to Israel under David and Solomon (2Kings 14:25-28; 2Chron. 26:6-15).
Many of the surrounding cities were required to pay tribute to Israel and Judah. Both Kingdoms collected tolls from the caravans that passed through their lands from Egypt and the Red Sea to Syria and Mesopotamia. During this time, they moved from a agriculture way of life to a commercial way. This established the wealthy upper class.
The new wealthy class built winter houses and summer houses (3:15) out of hewn stone (4:11) elaborately adorned and decorated. They had coaches inlaid with ivory, covered with the finest imported silk (3:12; 5:11), upon which they reclined while eating prime cuts of meat, drinking wine out of bowls, and listening to strains of varied music (6:4-6).
But the presence of great wealth did not mean that there was no poverty in the land. As a matter of fact, the extremely rich had obtained much of their wealth by their merciless oppression of the poor. The rich trampled on the poor. They used false weights and measures in their business transactions. Yet, the people of Amos’ day considered themselves very religious, especially the rich.
What was God going to do in the face of Israel’s sin? Would He ignore it? Would He wink at it? Or would He stop turning away the punishment of Israel? The whole burden of the message of Amos was that her day of grace was over. The end had come. And of course, the nations was shocked by the indictment given by the mouth of Amos.
I. The Author of Divine Judgement
a. Yahweh is the covenant name of God and the character by which He dealt with His people. The roaring of the Lord may precede judgement or blessing. However, in this passage the verb warns of imminent danger. It signifies the kind of roaring that a lion does when it is about to attack.
b. God is the author of divine judgment because of His sovereign authority and perfect justice. In His role as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, God sets the standards for righteousness and holiness. He is all-knowing and all-wise, understanding the hearts and intentions of all people.
c. God’s divine judgement is not a result of arbitrary decisions or unjust actions. Instead, it is a reflection of God’s nature and character. He is holy, and His judgment is always righteous. His judgements are motivated by a desire for justice, love, and restoration. God has the ultimate authority and power to judge all creation. He is the perfect Judge who will hold every person accountable for their actions.
d. It is a terrible introduction; for Yahweh will roar aggressively like a lion about to pounce on his foe, and he will thunder with such devastation that forest and meadow alike will languish and dry up.
i. Amos expressed the judgment of God as a lions roar. Amos was a shepherd and no doubt had experienced the chill which come to the spine of shepherd at the roar of a lion. It spoke of tragedy and danger to the shepherd and His flock.
II. The Cause of Divine Judgement
a. This messenger formula introduces a long and powerful poem and recurs at head of each stanza. The poem announces Yahweh’s indictment and judgement of eight Syro-Paelstinian nations. “Transgression” the deliberate breaking of God’s law. God’s states “for three transgression and for four,” this is simply poetic language describing infinite number of their transgression.
b. Notice that every transgression is social in nature. It is against people created in God’s image. Sins against humanity. A failure to love their neighbor as themselves. Thus, they broke covenant with God by harming people created in His image.
1. “Damascus because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.”
i. Threshing board was about seven feet long and three feet wide. A flat board with pieces of bone, rock, iron attached to the bottom. It would have been pulled by oxen as the farmer stood on top. Brutal form of death, comparable to impalement, are being skinned.
2. “Gaza because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver from Edom.”
i. Gaza stands as representative of all Philistia who are to be punished for their rebellious acts. They have sold God’s people to Edom. By taking their relatives into slavery, the Edomites have violated their covenant heritage with Israel.
3. “Tyre because they delivered up a whole people to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.”
i. Tyre was blessed by God with a far-flung mercantile empire. It was further blessed with a covenant of ‘love’ and ‘brotherhood’ between David and Hiram, and between Solomon and Hiram -a relationship that may well have continued. Yet, Tyre did not keep covenant faith -Tyre did not remember its covenant with God’s people. Rather, it sold them to Israel’s real brother Edom who, devoid of family affection. Kings who entered into covenant together styled themselves brothers.
4. “Edom because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity.”
i. Edoms wrath tore at Jacob repeatedly throughout their history. Here Edom is condemned not only for receiving the Israelites as slaves from Philistia and Tyre, but also for pursuing them with the sword. Edom has not abandoned its anger, but rather harbored and kept its wrath and loved it.
5. “Ammonites because they ripped open pregnant women in Gilead.”
i. Since the Ammonites were blood relatives of Israel, the Lord did not allow Israel to have any of their territory of Israel, the Lord did not allow Israel to have any of their territory, for he himself had given it to them as a possession. The Ammonites were unmindful of the gift of God. They repaid his kindness to them by recurrent attacks on his people. They sought only to expand their own territory, and even cut open pregnant women to do so. Their barbaric behavior was rejection of Noahic Covenant (Gen. 9:6).
6. “Moab because he burned to lime the bones of the King of Edom.”
i. Ancestral Moab was the grandson of Lot by incest with his older daughter. Moab had committed a frightful offense, diabolical in its intensity. It had carried its unbrotherly hostility against Edom to the furthest extreme possible. By burning the bones of its king, it indicated a desire for complete destruction of the peace and even the soul of Edom king for eternity.
7. “Judah because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have kept his statutes, but they have been led astray by the same lies after which their ancestors walked.”
i. Despite God’s many blessings, however, Judah broke covenant with God. Judah led Judah away from God’s commands, apparently convincing them that the curses God threatened (Deut. 28:15-68) would not come to pass and that their bests interest lay with him. The false god’s they followed were actually demons.
8. “Israel because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals -they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge, and in the house of their God they drink wine brought with fines they imposed.”
i. The Lord’s indictment now turns, no doubt unexpectedly, against Israel. The Israelites might have thought the mighty poem complete, with the seventh oracle against Judah delivering the ultimate blast against a rival nation. But it was not so. If the Lord’s judgement seemed complete with that oracle, it is made perfect with this one. A series of indictments comes forth, and the first is not light.
ii. God’s people had been given a unique privilege. They had received the law of God, which included very particular instructions with regard to justice and care of the poor. Care for the poor was a redemptive act. Yet, they did not keep the Lord’s covenant, so they are faced with God’s judgement. They were guilty of both social injustice and sexual perversion. They recline in sexual sin with the cloaks they stole from the poor.
III. The Means of Divine Judgement
a. The phrase “So I will send a fire upon…” is repeated no less than 7 times. The question I believe we should answer is why does God liken His judgements to fire? Fire was a major instrument of divine judgement in the ancient Near East. It was often used in warfare and was especially considered a means whereby God purged away rebellious people. However, in a sermon by Thomas Boston he expounds as follows.
1. Fire is very dreadful and terrible to men’s thoughts. How dreadful was the fire of ` Sodom and Gomorrah.
2. Fire is very painful and tormenting to which hells torments are compared.
3. Fire is of a discovering nature. It enlightens men’s eyes to see those things that they did not see before.
4. Fire is of a devouring nature. It consumes completely. Men may stand before natural fire, but no man has ever been able to stand before the devouring fire of divine wrath.
5. Fire is impartial. It makes no difference between rich or poor.
6. Fire is violent and irresistible.
IV. The End of Divine Judgement
a. What ultimate end does God have in mind in the sovereign exercise of His divine judgement?
1. That He may give evidence of His sovereignty and that they may know He is God alone, who reigns overall.
2. That the world may stand in awe of Him and that they may learn to fear and tremble before Him.
3. To express and make known His power, justice, anger, severity and indignation against sinners and their sins against humanity.
4. That they may cease from sin, receive instruction, and return to the Highest.
5. That He may try them and make a fuller discovery of themselves to themselves. Wicked men will never believe their hearts are so base, and strong in lust apart from judgement.
1. We must see every person as created in God’s image.
2. We must recognize our responsibility to pursue justice and treat others with compassion.
Remember, we too live in an earthquake age. Hear the Lion Roar, pursue justice and correct oppression. Or we too will be caught up in the divine judgment of God.
 Ralph Smith, The Broadman Bible Commentary: Amos (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972), 85.
 Thomas Edward McComiskey, The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1992), 340.
 Ibid., 348.
 Ibid., 351.
 Ibid., 355.
 Ibid., 358.
 Ibid., 361.
 Ibid., 365.
 Thomas Brooks, The Works of Thomas Brooks: Vol. VI (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980), 18-20. The descriptions of fire were taken from the works of Thomas Boston in a sermon entitled ‘The Late Fiery Dispensation.’