Seek Me and Live: The Lions Roar (Study Notes)

 


Seek Me and Live

 

TITLE: The Lions Roar

TEXT: Amos 1:1-2:3

TONE: Warning

TARGET: Both

TASK: To warn of divine judgment and accountability.

TEACH: Outline provided as a study resource, not actually preached at EFBC. This is from the overflow of my personal preparation for my first sermon in Amos.

 

 

I. The Call of Amos

a. Examining the divine encounter that propelled Amos into this prophetic mission. Amos is generally recognized as the first of the writing prophets in Israel. Although there were other prophets before him, such as Elijah, Elisha, and Nathan, Amos introduced a new element into the OT prophecy. This new element resulted in the collecting and recording of some of his message and experiences and the preservation of them in a book which bears his name. But more importantly, he was the first prophet to preach that spoke of the Northern Kingdoms impending doom.

 

b. 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.’

 

c. 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.

 

II. The Times of Amos

a. The times were good. The times were bad. The times were good because there was political stability and peace. There was prosperity for many and religious observance by most. But the times were bad because the leaders were lethargic (6:1) and unconcerned with the ruin of the peasants (6:6). Prosperity was only for a privileged few, and religious observances were for the most part merely external and perfunctory.

 

b. 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).

 

c. 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.

 

d. 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).

 

e. 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.

 

f. Yet, the people of Amos’ day considered themselves very religious, especially the rich. The temple at Bethel was under royal patronage (7:13). Religious services were well attended (9:1). Pilgrimages were made to Bethel, Gilgal, and even to far-off Beersheba (4:4; 5:5; 8:14). They had splendid festivals and impressive music (5:22-23). However, the Lord despised their feasts and would not accept their sacrifices.

 

III. The Theology of Amos

a. God, Israel and the Nations: God had entered into covenant with Israel by way of divine election. However, for Amos, God was not just the covenant God of Israel, but sovereign Lord over all nations. For is God were not sovereign over the nations, He would not have the right to choose one over another. Amos believed that God was sovereign over all. He chose Israel from all the families of the earth. He delivered His people out of the hands of the Egyptians.

 

b. Amos believed God would hold these nations responsible for their sins and that He is about to enter into judgement with them. Of course, these nations are not in covenant with God, but there sins are the sins against humanity -inhumanity. Their sins can be put together into three categories…

           

            1. Cruelty in war.

            2. Slavery

            3. Hatred

 

c. Damascus had threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron (1:3), and Ammon had ripped up women with child to enlarge their borders (1:13). Philistia and Tyre had been guilty of depriving whole villages of their freedom and of selling the population into slavery (1:6,9). Edom refused to be reconciled to his brother and allowed his anger to tear perpetually (1:11), while the Moabites vented their wrath on the dead king of Moab by disinterring his bones and burning them (2:1). Such sins even among pagans could not go unpunished.

 

D. Amos brought many specific indictments against Israel, but none was more serious than the one expressed in the words, “They do not know how to do right” (3:10). What an indictment against a people of God! Israel should and could have known how to do right. Inf act there is evidence that Israel once had known how to do right. Doing the right thing had become a lost art for Israel. Or, better said a lost heart.

 

e. Evidence that Israel did not know how to do right can be seen in the charges that Amos brought against Israel.

 

            1. They were guilty of walking over “little” people (2:7; 5:11; 8:4)

            2. Buying them and selling them like grain (2:6; 8:6)

            3. Obstructing justice (5:12)

            4. Practicing prostitution (2:7)

            5. Silencing the prophets (2:12; 7:12-13)

            6. Judges were taking bribes (5:12)

            7. Women were hard, cruel, and drunken (4:1)

            8. Their businessmen were unscrupulous, dishonest (8:5-6)

9. They had turned their worship services into mechanical manipulations of `ceremonies to satisfy their own lusts.

 

f. 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. However, there is a ray of hope at the end of the book concerning Israel’s remnant restoration (9:11-15).[1]

 

TAKE-AWAY:

 

1. God does not call the equipped but equips the called.

2. God does not call us to ease but to hard work.

3. God does not call us to lessen the offense of truth but to proclaim it.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Thomas Edward McComiskey, The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos Vol.1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1992). The above outline was edited from commentary notes provided by the cited resource.

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