Family Bible Study lesson for April 7: Warnings of Disaster
March 21 2002 by James Baldwin , Amos 1:1-5; 2:4-8; 3:7,13-15

Family Bible Study lesson for April 7: Warnings of Disaster | Friday, March 22, 2002

Friday, March 22, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for April 7: Warnings of Disaster

By James Baldwin Amos 1:1-5; 2:4-8; 3:7,13-15

The Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, told a story of an actor dressed as a clown waiting backstage for his cue. The clown discovers a fire burning out of control, and rushes onto the stage to warn the audience. The audience, however, thinking the clown is only part of the play, roars hysterically at his antics. The more desperately he tries to convey the urgency of his message, the more amused the audience becomes. By the time they realize the warning is real it is too late to escape.

Amos must have experienced some of the same frustration as he ventured into the land of Israel to tell the nation that they were standing in the path of God's judgment.

Proximity of Judgment (Amos 1:1-2) Amos was a shepherd of Tekoa, a small village in the southern kingdom of Judah. God called him from his simple, rural lifestyle to preach to the neighboring nation of Israel that judgment was coming from the Lord. Amos used language from his own experience as a shepherd to convey the urgency of the warning. When a lion roared every living creature nearby would flee for its life. Thunder in the distance was a certain indication that a storm was coming. Preparations had to be made quickly or the storms would sweep away all that was valuable.

Pronouncement of Judgment (Amos 1:3-5) Amos began his "hellfire and brimstone" message of the coming destruction on Israel's neighbors. We can imagine the "amens" as he pronounced judgment on all the neighboring nations. Because God is Lord of all creation, He stands as rightful judge over all people. Even the heathen nations who did not have the Law of Moses to guide their behavior knew enough to be held accountable for their sins.

Centuries later the apostle Paul would express this same truth and proclaim, "They are without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20).

Grounds for Judgment (Amos 2:4-8) Amos then "leaves off preaching and goes to meddling." He turned his attention to the sins of Israel, and dared to proclaim judgment on God's chosen people. God's charges against the people of Israel covered three basic areas.

1. They ignored the needs of the poor. While much of the nation enjoyed a period of great prosperity, others were unable to provide the basic needs for their families. Corporate executives demanding golden parachutes, while laying off thousands of laborers, runs parallel to the situation in Amos' day.

2. They corrupted justice toward those who were oppressed. The rich and powerful always seemed to come out of court smelling like roses. Hmmm. Sound familiar?

3. They also had so perverted their religious practices that they no longer were recognizable to the God who established them. In our desire to be relevant to the unchurched we have to be sure we haven't lost the message of Christ that sets us apart from the world.

Forewarning and Scope of Judgment (Amos 3:7, 13-15) Amos made it clear that his message came directly from God. Left alone, he would have still been tending his sheep and sycamore-fig trees (Amos 7:14). Judgment on the nation was certain. The individuals who heard the message still had time to repent and save themselves from the coming wrath of God. God promised to destroy their houses of worship and their homes. All their wealth and luxurious living would do them no good once the axe was laid to the trees. History tells us that the nation of Israel did not heed Amos' warning. Jerusalem was destroyed and many of its wealthiest and most powerful citizens were taken into exile.

Clearly the warning for us is to examine our behavior in light of God's word. It is easy for us to ignore the injustice and inequality of wealth caused by government policy. We can throw up our hands and feel helpless to change the nation. We need to remember that in a democratic society we are not without a voice. We can influence our society. We also need to remember that Jesus challenged injustice one person at a time, and changed the world one heart at a time. Why not let Him change our nation beginning with us?

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3/21/2002 11:00:00 PM by James Baldwin , Amos 1:1-5; 2:4-8; 3:7,13-15 | with 0 comments
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