Return to the Holy One


Amos- 3


TITLE: Return to the Holy One

TEXT: Amos 4:1-5:4

TONE: Warning

TARGET: God’s Elect

TASK: To warn God’s elect of the consequences of failing to return to God.

TEACH: In the parable of the Prodigal Son, is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. The parable shows that even when we wander away and live sinful lives, God's doesn't diminish His love for us. He eagerly awaits our repentance and is ready to embrace and forgive us when we turn back to Him. It is a reminder of God's desire to reconcile with us and the invitation for us to humbly come back to Him.

TRUTH: How are the poor oppressed in our day? Let me provide a few examples.


1.        Economic exploitation: low wages, unfair labor practices and lack of access to employment opportunities.


2.        Limited access to basic needs and services: They may lack access to the essentials for basic need like nutrition, clean water, adequate housing, healthcare, and education.


3.        Social exclusion and stigmatization: Often they are discriminated against and marginalized.


These are just a few examples. Our responsibility is to love and minster to the poor not oppress them or allow them to be oppressed.


I.                             Gracious Proclamation to Correct Oppression (vv.1-2)

a.        The word “hear” is in the masculine, even though it is addressed to women. The conclusion of the verse is clear that the cows of Bashan are the corrupt and voluptuous women of Samaria. These words describe the influential women of Samaria as sleek, well-fed cattle grazing on the hillsides, overlooking Samaria.[1] They are indicated for oppressing the poor.



Illustration: Juxtaposition with the “Good Samaritan.”





II.                         Gracious Revelation to Correct Sinful Worship. (vv. 3-5)

a.        Now in the passage of Amos which lies before us we read that the Lord God has sworn by his holiness (4:2). The point, of course, of swearing ‘by’ something is to add the note of assurance to the oath. It is equivalent to saying: ‘The oath I make is as certain as is the existence of that by which I make it.’ This consideration alone gives tremendous weight to the passage in which such an oath formula is embedded. [2]


b.        One who in the totality of His nature is unutterably and perfectly moral. It is a violent oath. It appeals to that which is inmost, highest and most all-pervasive about God. What can it be that so moves Him? A society and a religion organized on the basis of human self-pleasing, for this reason God has sworn by His holiness.


c.        He thoroughly rebukes their religious hypocrisy. But with biting sarcasm Amos exhorted Israel to go to Bethel and to Gilgal in order to sin[3] Bethel was the chief sanctuary in the North and Gilgal is where the memorial stones were set up when they crossed the Jordan. Amos exposed their hypocrisy and exposed their worship as a sham. The oath is, they will be judged for this by God, “behold the days are coming.”


Illustration: An example of the holiness of God concerning His promises can be found in the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. In this account, God visits Abraham and tells him that Sarah, who was barren and well beyond child-bearing age, will have a son. This promise is important because it is the foundation of God's plan to bless and multiply Abraham's descendants, ultimately leading to the fulfillment of His covenant.


The holiness of God is demonstrated in this story through the fulfillment of His promise despite the seemingly impossible circumstances. Sarah laughs at the idea of having a child at her old age, but God responds by asking, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). This question highlights God's divine power and showcases His holiness in keeping His word. Of course, this is a positive example, yet the same is true concerning God’s oaths of judgement.


III.                      Gracious Acts of Discipline to Transform (vv.6-11)

a.        Amos lists God’s mighty acts of power and the reason for them.


b.        Finally, God totally overthrew some of their cities with the same burning devastation He had wreaked on Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Gen. 19:23–29; Deut. 29:22–23). So thorough had been the destruction from a military siege that certain cities had ceased to exist. The whole nation had come perilously close to obliteration, barely escaping like a burning stick snatched from the fire. But this too had proved futile.


c.        4:12. Therefore, because Israel had resisted these chastenings and had continued her sinful rebellion, God would pronounce her sentence of doom. This is what I will do to you refers to God’s devastating sweep through the land as predicted in 3:11–15. The nation was commanded to get ready for this terrifying moment—prepare to meet your God, O Israel.[4]


Illustration: In the story of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, God's judgments through the plagues serve as a display of His holiness. Each plague showcases His supremacy over false gods, His perfect justice, and His desire for repentance and deliverance. These judgments reveal God's righteousness and His commitment to upholding what is good and right. Ultimately, His holy purposes in judgment are centered around displaying His glory and delivering His chosen people from bondage.


IV.                     Gracious Appeals to Save.  (vv.12-13, 5:1-15)

a.        This” refers to his personal visitation: “Prepare to meet your God” this is a powerfully haunting statement, which evokes the image of the holy God entering into the midst of Israel in order to destroy them.


b.        Ironically, Amos indicates that now they are to prepare to meet God for punishment, not blessing. And the previous sample punishments (4:6-11) do not come close to what is now coming. This time the Lord’s visitation will bring the nation to an end.[5]


c.        The final verses of this chapter serve to place emphasizes upon the weight of what’s being said. Amos does it in the form of a doxology. Amos refers to God as the “God of hosts.” ‘Hosts’ (tseba’ ot) refers to armies evoking militaristic imagery regarding God’s coming.


d.        Repeatedly, we read the repeated call to “seek the Lord and Live.”


TAKE-AWAY: Prepare to meet God.


1.        Seek the Lord

2.        Seek Justice and Righteousness

3.        See the Futility of Hypocrisy

[1] Thomas Edward McComiskey, Vol. 1 The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1992), 392.


[2] J. A. Motyer, 92.

[3] Donald R. Sunukjian, “Amos,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1436.


[4] Ibid., 1437.

[5] Michael G. McKelvey, Expository Commentary: Daniel-Malachi (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 333.


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