God Sees the Heart





TITLE: God Sees the Heart

TEXT: Amos 5:16-6:14

TONE: Warning

TARGET: Believers

TASK: To warn believers of actions that harden the heart.

TEACH: 1 Sam.16, when the prophet Samuel is sent to anoint a new King of Israel, he goes to the house of Jesse. One by one, Jesse’s sons pass before Samuel, and each time Samuel assumes that the eldest son, Eliab, is the chosen one due to his impressible appearance. But God says to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God knows the heart and eternal character of a person. David was chosen not because of his outward appearance or status, but because his heart -the heart of a shepherd.


TRUTH: In two celebrated speeches Amos continued to speak against Israel’s twin evils: ardent worship with a corresponding concern for justice (18-27) and opulent indolence without an appropriate awareness of pending calamity (6:14). The two section begin by highlighting a common theme: Israel’s misguided sense of security, whether in the supposed victories that the day of the Lord would bring (5:18) or the alleged impregnability of Mount Samaria (6:1). Both sections end by threatening a common fate: exile (5:27) and invasion (6:14).[1]


I.                             God Sees the Heart of Ignorance.

a.        “The day of the Lord” is a period of time during which God judges His enemies and establishes His kingdom on earth. It’s the answer to our prayer “Thy Kingdom come.’ The people Amos addressed saw ‘the day of the Lord” as a time of great deliverance for the Jews and terrible punishment for the Gentiles.


b.       Amos looked ahead and gave three descriptions:

1.        “A day of despair and mourning” (5:18).

2.        “A day of darkness” (v.18b, 20).

3.        “A day of doom” (v.19)


c.        They had a false hope. They were ignorant of their true spiritual condition.


Illustration:  In the early 20th century, a group of mountaineers set out to conquer the formidable peak known as K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Equipped with experience and a strong desire for adventure, they thought they had the skills and knowledge necessary to reach the summit.


As they began their ascent, the mountaineers encountered various challenges, like unpredictable weather conditions and treacherous terrain. However, their confidence remained unshaken, and they continued pushing forward, convinced that their determination alone would be enough to overcome any obstacle.


Despite their skill and preparation, the group failed to acknowledge the early warning signs of an impending disaster. They dismissed the concerns of experienced climbers who had noticed alarming changes and conditions that hinted at an oncoming storm.


Blinded by their determination to reach the peak, they ignored the advice and continued their ascent. But as the storm intensified, their situation became dire. Caught in the merciless grip of high winds and freezing temperatures, the mountaineers struggled to stay alive.


Realizing their mistake, one of the climbers made the difficult decision to turn back, despite being close to the summit. He recognized the importance of prioritizing safety over personal achievement. Unfortunately, the others were unwilling to abandon their pursuit, believing they could still reach the summit and overcome the odds.


Tragically, the storm proved too powerful, and all the remaining climbers lost their lives in their relentless pursuit of the summit.


They failed to see the warning signs. In the same way, there are warning signs on the Christian journey.  Warning signs of a hard heart.


II.                         God Sees the Heart of Formalism.

a.        Excessive adherence to prescribed forms. It refers to a concept that refers to a focus on the outward forms and ritualistic acts. The emphasis being placed on the art of worship, rather than the heart of worship.


b.        God’s will is that they hunger and thirst for righteousness, not merely go through the religious motions. Israel worship had become dry and stale. The Bible warns against such practices in many places:


Isa. 1:13 – “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies -I cannot endure iniquity in the solemn assembly.”


Isa. 29:13 – “Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lips service, but they remove their hearts far from Me and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by route.”


Illustration: Imagine a beautiful garden with lush greenery and vibrant flowers. From afar, it appears to be a flourishing and thriving space. However, upon close inspection, you notice that the flowers are artificial, made of plastic and arranger meticulously to mimic the appearance of real flowers.


The garden represents a picture of religious formalism. The outer façade may appear appealing and seemingly fruitful, but upon closer examination, it lacks life, authenticity, and genuine growth. Just as the plastic flowers cannot bloom or bear fruit, religious formalism lacks the true essence of spirituality.


In this scenario, individuals may go through the motions of religious practices without a sincere heart and genuine faith in their actions. They may attend religious services regularly, say the right prayers, and perform rituals diligently, but it becomes mere routine and tradition without true devotion and connection with God.


c.        The dangers of religious formalism are: (1) False sense of security, as individuals may feel that they have fulfilled a religious duty, thus, pleasing God. (2) It can lead people to become prideful and judgmental, looking down upon those who do not adhere to their specific religious practices or traditions. It can foster a legalistic mindset, focusing more on external do’s and don’ts rather than the heart transformation that comes from a genuine relationship with God. (3) It fails to bring true spiritual fulfillment and transformation. Just as the plastic flowers in the garden cannot grow or produce fruit.


Application: (1) Learn to see the poor as God sees them.


III.                      God Sees the Heart of Indifference.

a.        This describes an attitude or perspective in which an individual or society displays a lack of interest or concern towards true spirituality. It is a state of apathy.


Numbers 32:6 –“But Moses said the sons of God and the sons of Reuben, “       ‘Shall your brothers go to war which you yourselves sit here.”


b.        Amos here is referring to the socioeconomic status is evident by the fine furniture they have. Only the every wealthy would have beds, as most population would have slept on floor and mats. Yet the issue may not be the bed, but the cost of the bed. But they were not indifferent to things of luxury.


Illustration: Imagine a ship lost at sea with no caption, no crew, no destination. It drifts aimlessly, at the mercy of the wind and currents. The sails are tattered and torn, the deck is neglected, and the very structure of the ship begins to deteriorate. This ship represents religious indifference.


It is a state of apathy and disinterest towards matters of faith and spirituality. Just as the ship lacks direction and purpose, individuals who embody religious indifference have no sense of meaning or understanding of the deeper questions of life. As times goes on, neglect takes its toll of the ship. The sails become ragged, unable to catch the wind, rendering the ship powerless. Annother danger is the gradual deteriorations of the ships structure. The lack of care and maintenance causes vulnerabilities, weakening the integrity of the ship. In the same way, religious indifference can erode one’s moral compass and ethical values.


The author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”


Application: (2) Learn to treat the poor as God treats them.


IV.                     God Sees the Heart of Hardness.          

a.        This forms the center of a chiasm that began in verse 1 and go thoughts verse 14. The scene is difficult to understand. The ruins may be due to an apparent earthquake or to the devastation caused by an invading army. Apparently, relations are searching through rubble for the dead in order to burn the corpses either to avoid an epidemic or as an expression of mourning.


b.        “We will not mention.” This statement may have been motivated by a superstitious fear that the Lord might return with more disaster or it may express deep frustration. Whatever the cause or fear we see hardness of heart.


Ps. 95:8 – “Do not harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness.”


Pr. 28:14 –“How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”


Pr. 29:1 – “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”


c.        Do you shy away from readying your Bible? Has your prayer life plummeted into almost nonexistence? When was the last time you shared the gospel with anyone? Do you have unbroken patterns of sinfulness in your life?


Illustration: Imagine a hot desert environment, barren of any life, with the hot penetrating sun beating down on it. It’s landscape is void of growth. While the desert has the potential to flourish and bloom with the right conditions, yet it resist the rain. Just like a person with a hard heart, they resist spiritual growth and remain trapped in a state of emotional and spiritual drought.


Relationships with others suffer just as the desert lacks community and thriving ecosystem. The hardened heart lacks empathy and compassion, rendering the individual cold and distant towards needs and feelings of others. Without the capacity for deep connection and understanding, relationships become strained and devoid of genuine warmth and love.


Application: (3) Learn to care for the poor as God cares for them.


V.                         God Sends the Heart of Affliction.

a.        “The Lord…” was sending an unstoppable foe who would ‘oppress’ the nation from the northern border to the southern border “valley of Arabah.” This means the judgment would be comprehensive.


Ps. 102:10 –“Because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath; for Thou hast lifted me up and cast me away.”


Heb. 12:3-17 –“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?


              'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

                nor be weary when reproved by him.

              For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

                 and chastises every son whom he receives.'


It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."


Illustration: Imagine a skilled potter working in their studio, surrounded by clay pottery and tools. In front of the potter is a flawed and misshapen vessel, representing a person who has strayed from the path of righteousness or is in need of correction.


The potter begins to carefully examining the flawed vessel, taking note of its imperfections and weaknesses. In the same way, God, in His wisdom, observes the areas in which His children have gone astray or need improvement. He recognizes the need for correction and growth and holds a genuine desire for their spiritual well-being.


With skilled hands, the potter begins to inflict necessary pressure upon the clay, bringing about discomfort and even pain. This pressure protects the vessel from weakness and prepares it for its intended purpose – to hold and pour out blessings into the world. Similarly, God afflictions are not meant to harm or destroy but are carefully applies to encourage growth, strengthen character, and align individuals with His plans for their lives.


TAKE-AWAY: (Rev. 2:4-5)


1.        Remember from where you have fallen.

2.        Return to your first love.

3.        Repeat the works you did at first.


TIE-UP: What does God see in your heart?

[1] David A. Hubbard, Joel and Amos: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 25, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 187.


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