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Jun 16, 2019

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Passage: Amos 1:1-2:3

Preacher: Tim Badal

Series: Amos

Detail:

Turn to the Old Testament book of Amos. For many here, the book of Amos is completely unknown to you. The only thing you can connect Amos to is he makes great cookies, right? But long before Amos the cookie maker came along,  this Amos was a prophet whom God used in mighty ways to speak both to the people of God and to the unbelieving world of his day. In both cases, he warned them to turn from their sin, pursue God and follow His commands.

One thing I love about our church is that we have an appetite for all of God’s Word. If you were to look up “Amos sermon series” through Google, you would find very few churches that have done a verse-by-verse study of this book. They’re out there, but they are few and far between. We believe all of Scripture is God-breathed. The popular passages, the passages that get preached over and over again, are God-breathed and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man and woman of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

But that is also true of all 66 books of the Bible, including the ones we may never have opened up or taken time to read. As a church, it’s going to be good to remember this as we look at an obscure minor prophet. The reason he’s called a minor prophet isn’t because what he has to say is small, but because the length of his writings is smaller than that of prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, whom we call “major prophets.”

What Amos will tell us today, however, is critical and timely for us, even though he wrote eight centuries before the coming of Jesus Christ. Now, almost 30 centuries later, it’s still very relevant for us in America today. This morning I’m going to give you an introduction, then we’ll get into the first prophetic words Amos gave to the unbelieving people around him. Then next week, we’ll see Amos turning his attention to the people of God. This book will take us all the way through the end of July, so this is our summer series. We’re going to learn what it means when God’s justice rolls and flows like a river.

Let’s turn now to the first verse of Amos 1. Here’s what the Lord says through the prophet Amos:

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

Some of the words I hated to hear growing up was when my mom announced to the three Badal boys, “Wait till your father gets home.” I wish I could say she only said it sporadically, but it was far more frequent than we would have wished. It was the nuclear option for Mom. It meant she had had it with the three children she had brought into the world. It wasn’t a threat, it was a promise, that at a time unknown to us, Dad was going to come home. Then before we could state our case, Dad would be told that while he was working hard at his job, trying to care for his family, his renegade and rebellious sons were causing the love of his life great consternation. The last thing he wanted to do after working a full day was to exert any more energy. But this bad report would bring out his wrath and indignation upon us. Sadly, I saw this cycle more than I wish to admit, yet it took me until adulthood to see that my mom’s words weren’t words of anger and judgment, but opportunity.

You see, as I hear those words uttered by my wife to my children, there’s an opportunity they have. “Wait till your father gets home” is one of those last opportunities to change their ways. She was saying, “Cease and desist. Stop, so my report to your dad when he gets home might be, ‘My morning started out really bad. I was ready to call and tell you that there’s some work to do when you get home. But things changed around by noon. A new tune was being played. A new attitude had been found. What started out as a bad day of sin and disobedience has turned into a great afternoon of obedience and willingness to abide by the rules of the house.’”

Sadly, because of our foolishness, the original Badal boys never understood that. Instead, with fear and trepidation, we would wait until our father got home. Being the son of a man from Baghdad, there were old school ways of addressing issues. I’ll leave it at that, because I don’t want to see my dad go to jail. I’m kidding, by the way. It’s Father’s Day. I love my dad.

When I think about that childhood memory, as I open the book of Amos this morning, I realize that this is exactly what God was announcing to the people of that world. He was doing this, not through the mouth of a mom, but through the mouth of a prophet. Amos was telling the people, “If you don’t turn from your evil ways, if you don’t change course, God is coming. Your heavenly Father is coming, and you are not going to enjoy that time.”

This is a word of warning, judgment and doom. At times the book of Amos is an ugly book, a hard book and not much fun. But it is also a book of opportunity. These are warnings, but they don’t mean that where we are today is where we have to finish. The very fact that God was issuing these warnings of pending judgment and wrath means that the people also had an opportunity to turn around—and that opportunity exists for us as well. Listen to me. We have the opportunity to put our faith in God before it’s too late.

Moving to Amos 1:2, look at what we’re told: “The Lord roars from Zion...”  Do you hear Him? Do you hear that far-off lion’s roar? It’s sending us a warning. “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem;  the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.” We’ll explain that more in a moment.

This example we’re looking at this morning is for our benefit. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things took place as examples for us.” Why do we have Amos in our Bible? “That we might not desire evil as they did.” Paul knew that the heart of human beings in the first century was evil, just as it was eight centuries before him in the days of Amos. And here you are this morning hearing from another preacher who is telling you that in the 21st century, if we’re not careful, evil will lead the way. We need prophets and preachers and priests to remind us that our ways are evil before it is too late, while there is still time to turn and find grace, mercy and love.

There are four truths I want to look at this morning. This is an introduction, and my purpose is to whet our appetite for what we might learn from this book.

The opening of Amos teaches us about the work we are called to do.

First, we’re taught a truth about our own lives regarding the work we’re called to do. Right from the beginning, we see that we’re to read these words from Amos. We know he’s the author. God often used prophets to communicate His messages to His people. And as it happens, Amos was one of the earliest of the Old Testament prophets to write prophetically.

What do we know about Amos? We really don’t know much at all. There was only one picture on his Facebook page. He was good-looking, with a beard, wearing a salmon-colored robe. Some of you are wondering how I know these things. We really don’t know. What we are told is that he was a shepherd who lived in a place called Tekoa. That was probably much like saying Amos was from Hinckley. When you tell people that you live in Hinckley, they respond, “Where?” “Well, it’s not far from Sugar Grove.” “Where?” Then you say, “It’s west of Aurora.” “You mean Iowa?” “No!”

Tekoa was a place about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. That doesn’t seem very far to us, but back then that represented quite a journey. You can visit Tekoa today. It’s south of Bethlehem and if you recall, Bethlehem wasn’t that well known. As the carol writer said, “O little town of Bethlehem.” Tekoa was like a suburb of Bethlehem, if that shows you how small it was. Today it’s a city of about 4,000 people, so it’s still not very large. It has a very country-esque setting to it and this is where Amos was from.

We’re told he was a shepherd. That’s not a regal position in any way. It was a dirty, lonely job. We know that to be true, because in the Jewish Talmud and Midrash, which told of the traditions and culture in those days, it was said of shepherds that they were not to be brought into the courtroom because their word wasn’t good enough to be a witness. You would not go into a social setting and say, “Let me tell you about my son Amos. He’s a shepherd!” That job was pretty low on the career ladder. But it seems that Amos was okay with his vocation. He put in his writings, “This is who I am. I’m among the shepherds of Tekoa.” Turn for a minute to Amos 7:14, where near the end of his prophecy he tells us a little more about himself: “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.”

Wow! That’s still not saying much. He’s saying, “Even though I’m a prophet of God, I didn’t expect to be one. It wasn’t in my five, ten or 15-year plan. I didn’t have the background or training for this. My dad couldn’t teach me. All I am is a herdsman, but when the herd doesn’t need me as their shepherd, I go prune sycamore figs.” This guy didn’t really have much going for him to put on his earthly resume.

This is instructive to us, because it shows us that God is on the lookout for modern-day Amoses. Some of us here may be wondering what we can do for God. “I’m a garbage man. I’m a factory worker. Nobody knows who I am. I do menial work. It might be somewhat important and have some value, but if God is going to change our culture, surely He wouldn’t use someone like me.”

We look at Amos, who was lacking in every earthly status, and see that he was in fact the man whom God chose. As we read his prophesies, we’ll see the abilities that God knew he did have. He had an uncanny ability to express himself poetically in his writings. We wonder how an uneducated shepherd could write this way. He also appeared to have some musical ability, because there were times when his writings almost seem to be songs.

This implies to us that while the world might see us as unimportant, God has gifted us as His workmanship, as His special creations, to uniquely use our gifts to serve others and serve Him, even when the world doesn’t recognize what we do. There are times as well when He uses our gifts in ways we wouldn’t expect. That’s what He did with Amos.

Look again at Amos 7:14. God did not allow Amos to get a big head. Amos said, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.” Then go on. I always say to look for the word “but” in Scripture which indicates that God is about to do something awesome. One of my favorite “buts” in Scripture is in Ephesians 2 where it says that we are children of wrath, but because of God’s great mercy He saved us. What a change! Something radical happened.

In Amos 7:15 there is a “but.” Amos said, “I’m nothing of value or importance.” Then verse 15 goes on, “But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'  Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.”

God wants to take you in your menial and obscure place in the world, in the Tekoa of Fox Valley, and He says, “I want to use you in awesome ways.” I’m personally awestruck—and I’m not saying this in a joking way—by how God decided to choose a no-good student. I was a terrible student. When I say “terrible,” go down four levels of terrible. I was a kid who never could figure out what he was going to do. So I got into the food service business. That seemed to be good enough. I had learned that trade from my dad. I didn’t go to college. When Dad asked me to take over the catering business, he said he wasn’t sure I could handle it. But he was in trouble. He needed help and I was his only answer. I was 18 years old when he asked me to take over his business.

Then some years later, God began to say “but” to Tim. To this uneducated, ill-prepared individual, God said, “I want you to pastor a church.” Let me tell you something. I’ll go back to my local high school, because I still live in the same community, and I will run into my former teachers. They’ll say to me, “We hear you’re the teaching pastor at Village Bible Church. What happened? You couldn’t put two sentences together when we were teaching you.” God happened. God takes the obscure, those who seem to be useless, and He says to them in Ephesians 2:10, “You are My workmanship created in Christ to do good works I’ve prepared in advance for you to do.”

Our job then is twofold. First, we must pray that God will do this in our lives. And second, when God calls us to such things, we must be willing to do what He gives us to do. The call of God can be seen. I don’t know if you saw this earlier, but when Leighton and Jennie were standing up here, those were everyday, ordinary people in our church. But God had an Amos moment with them, telling them, “I want you to go to the Philippines.” They could have come up with every excuse. “It’s not the right time. It’s not the right place. We’re not the right people.” But God had a “but” for the Helwigs and one for your pastor Tim.

You may see yourself as small, but God has a plan for you. Our job is to be obedient to His plan, which involves three things:

  • First, it involves faith. Amos had to believe in God. How could he speak on behalf of a God he didn’t believe in? If we’re going to do ministry like Amos did, we have to believe God is real and that He is Who He says He is.
  • Second, in addition to having faith, we must also be obedient. We must be willing to do what God says. This willingness comes from holiness. How could Amos speak on behalf of God if he himself was living in sin—the same sin he was going to call out? When we’re called by God, it means we say goodbye to the things we no longer should do. We realize we can’t serve God and live like the people we’re called to minister to. That would be hypocrisy.
  • Third, along with faith and holiness, we must have courage. Amos would be preaching a very unpopular message to the people around him. It could have made them angry. They might even have hurt him, as they did many of the prophets. Jesus in fact mentioned that they killed the prophets. Amos needed to have courage to let go of things he had been holding to tightly. He had to say to God, “Use me however You will. I will have courage to do what You’ve called me to do.”

We are called in the same way. But going back to Amos 1:1, remember what this involved. The faith, holiness and courage Amos needed came from his personal experience with God. This shepherd of Tekoa saw God’s concern for Israel. He was so close to God that God began to reveal His plans and purposes to him.

Are you that aware of the plans and purposes of God, not only for yourself, but for the world? If you’re not, it’s probably because you’re not walking in close fellowship with Him, seeking to grow your faith, holiness and courage.

Finally, the thing we need to see here about the work we’re called to do can be found in the name “Amos.” I don’t want to overemphasize this, because I’m not sure God intended this, but I see a cool coincidence in his name. It would be like saying my parents named me Timothy because Timothy was a pastor in the Bible. They had no idea they were naming me what I would become. I was actually named Timothy because I came from mixed race parents, just as Timothy had been. Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother. My dad being from Iraq and my mom being from the United States, that was the connection. They had no idea I would one day become a pastor. Still, the connection eventually came about.

But what about Amos? The name Amos literally means “burden bearer.” He was to carry a twofold burden. First, Amos had a burden for the glory of God, then he also had a burden because of the sin in the world around him. We need to be Amoses in our world today. We should always live corum deo—before the face of God. That should be our burden.

It should impact everything we do. When we talk, we are speaking in the presence of God. We act in the presence of God. Our responses to people—to the good, bad and ugly of life—are responses in the presence of God. This is a burden we are to carry. But also, are we burdened for the sins of the world around us? Are we burdened by what we see today? Are you burdened when you see heartbreaking situations and sin running rampant around you? Are you a burden bearer?

Amos shared what he knew with the people around him, because he bore the burden of God’s glory and the burden of their sin. He sought ways that he, through the power of God, could change it. That’s the work we’re called to do.

The opening of Amos teaches us about the world we live in.

The next thing we see in our text is the world we live in. As we look at the times of Amos, we can see that not much has changed. We’re told in verse two that Amos lived in Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel. This was after the three great Israel monarchs—Saul, David and Solomon—who ruled over the combined kingdom.

After their rules, a civil war caused Israel to be divided. Ten of the tribes became the nation of Israel, or the Northern Kingdom, while the remaining two tribes in the Southern Kingdom became the nation of Judah.

This was somewhat similar to our own Civil War, when the two factions were known as the Union and the Confederacy. At that point there were also two Presidents in our nation, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Their divide also resulted in each having its own currency and its own military force. This can give us a clearer picture of the nations in the time of Amos. They were two nations that nevertheless shared a similar language, history and land.

In Amos’ day, to quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Let’s look first at the best. It was during this season that the combined nations of Israel and Judah experienced their greatest territorial expansion in their history. More than under David or Solomon, the nation grew larger than ever, partly due to their stability. Both kings, Jeroboam and Uzziah, had long tenures of rule, about 40 years each. That provided political consistency and internal calm in their countries.

Second, there was agricultural productivity. Historians tell us that during this time Israel and Judah gathered great harvests. This resulted in the people feeling more and more at ease, that “Happy days were here again.” They were able to “eat, drink and be merry,” because famine, drought and pestilence were not concerns. Life was good.

The agricultural productivity naturally led to economic prosperity. The two kingdoms were at peace with their neighbors for a prolonged period of time, which allowed trade between the countries. As the economy flourished, it gave rise to a wealthy class of people. Many gained possessions and lived in comfort.

Seems familiar, doesn’t it? For the most part, we live in a country where we have political stability. We don’t have coups taking place. We’re not living in Venezuela. We have a rule of law that keeps us stable. When we leave the house, we don’t worry about what will happen. We also live in a time of productivity. America produces more than any country in the world. In our land, money literally grows from the ground. We have natural resources and crops that are second to none. As a result, we also enjoy economic prosperity. We live in the most prosperous nation in the world. We are able to live at ease. These are the best of times.

But for Amos, these were also the worst of times. Amidst all those good things, there was moral decay, which we’ll see as our series progresses. There was social injustice; people treated others like trash. There was political corruption; even though the government was stable, it was also corrupt. And with the people of God, there was spiritual laziness and hypocrisy.

Again, it seems as though Amos is speaking to 21st-century America. We live in economic productivity and prosperity, but also in moral decay, social injustice and political corruption. We are also characterized by spiritual laziness. Oh, how we need to hear what Amos will have to tell us. We need him to wake us up and call us to arms, so we can take the gospel to a world that is lost before it’s too late. Amen?

The opening of Amos teaches us about the warning we must heed.

Next, we have a warning in Amos applying to six different places. First is Damascus in Amos 1:3, then Gaza in verse six, Tyre in verse nine, Edom in verse 11, the Ammonites in verse 13, then Moab in Amos 2:1. These are not the people of God but are pagan nations. Amos opens with these warnings in Amos 1:2: “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”

The roar is the voice of God. It causes the shepherds to mourn. Why? Because a roaring lion is a predator and comes to destroy the sheep. The roar will also wither Carmel. Carmel was a mountain full of lush vegetation and flowers, but it was going to be destroyed. Bad times were coming. In the words of Credence Clearwater Revival, there was “a bad moon rising.” But God was giving the people a warning, like my mom did to her three boys. “Wait till your father gets home.”

In each of these places Amos names, he also identifies a specific sin. Do you think God would bring judgment upon a group of people for only one sin? He could. One sin is enough to send us all to hell. One minor infraction is all it takes to fall short of the glory of God. But as we’ll see in the text, six times Amos uses the same phrase. It’s in verse three first, then it is repeated again and again. He says, “For three transgressions of [each place], and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” In other words, “I’ve had enough. This sin has gone on for too long. It’s got to stop. And since you’re not going to stop it, I will stop it for you.”

What were these sins which God had had enough of? We’ll summarize them down to three now, but we’ll talk more about them in the coming weeks. These unbelieving people were facing the judgment of God for three reasons.

  • First was the sin of cruelty. Speaking to Damascus, Amos says in verse three that the reason judgment was coming was because “they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.” They had gone to war with Gilead, but instead of just taking over the land, they pulverized the people. They had utterly destroyed them. God says, “For that, My judgment is coming.” They were beating the people like they would beat wheat to get rid of the chaff. It says they used sledges of iron, which speaks of the atrocious means by which they decimated people in warfare.
  • Second were sins of commerce. They were doing ungodly business. This sin was applied to Gaza, Tyre and Edom. It says they sold whole people groups into slavery. They tore families apart and sold individuals who bore the image of God as though they were livestock.
  • Third, there were sins of carnage. The Ammonites and the Moabites did unspeakable things. God said of both groups, “They desecrated things that were to be Mine.” In very graphic terms, He said, “You went after the unborn and went after the dead. The unborn are on My watch. The dead are on My watch. You’ve desecrated both the sanctuary of the unborn and the sanctuary of the dead and in this you have reviled Me.”

These three sins caused the Lord to burn in His anger—and these three sins are alive and well in our world today. Take the sin of cruelty. In the last hundred years we have demolished whole cities and countries in the name of war. Do you know what we call this type of war? “Shock and Awe.” Are you kidding me? No, it’s cruelty of epic proportions.

Trafficking of people is more alive and well today than ever before. We treat people like trash. And carnage? What we do to the unborn? God help us! Our governor laughs as he writes the death sentence for millions of unborn. This is happening today, as it was happening in the days of Amos.

Notice what God’s judgment is. Every one of the judgments listed here is fire. Fire purifies by destroying sin. The same fire each of these places would experience is the fire all those who rebel against God will one day experience in hell. God is a God of wrath and judgment. We need to think seriously about the reality that people in our world are going about their lives under the wrath and indignation of God—and He is roaring, “Judgment is coming! Turn from your wicked ways, or there will be fire in your future.”

Is that a burden you and I carry, that people we work with, the people we live next door to, the people we engage life with on a daily basis are under the judgment of God? We hear the lion roaring. We know that at a time unknown to us that Jesus will ride on His horse called “Faithful and True” and He will destroy the enemies of God (Revelation 19:11). We know that to be true, but we go about our day as if peace is at hand. We need to be like Amos—burden bearers of that truth—because God is coming and He will not be mocked. Men will reap what they sow.

The opening of Amos teaches us about the way we must go.

Finally, there’s a way we should go. God isn’t speaking to us in this text. I don’t want to draw too many applications here, because this was written to a specific group of people at a specific time. It was written to unbelievers. God says, “Because of your sin, I’m going to judge and punish you.”

That’s not true for us. Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1 tells us. What truth do we have? As we hear the lion roaring in the world, in fear and trepidation of the lion we know to be strong and ferocious, should we not stop and confess our own sins? Should we not stop trifling with God but instead see Him as an all-consuming fire? Should we not run to God to seek His forgiveness for our sins, for our lackadaisical spirituality, for our willingness to partner with the world instead of partnering with Him? The roaring lion should call us to change.

But here’s the great celebration we can have through a terrible passage of Scripture. That Lion Who was roaring will one day be known as the Lion of Judah Who will become the Lamb Who would be slain. The ferocious Lion would be a Lamb Who would go to the cross on our behalf, so that we would not be devoured by the Father’s punishment, but instead we would experience salvation. Many of us have done this.

But there are many, even some in this room today, who hear the roaring of the Lion and turn a deaf ear. That Lion is coming and He will do one of two things. He will come to protect or He will come to destroy. The Bible says there will be a day, which may be yet today.

The book of Amos calls every one of us, whether believer or non-believer, to get on our knees and seek forgiveness from the God of the universe Who is promising judgment and punishment upon all those who rebel against Him. “Wait till your father gets home” is a word that should resonate in our hearts and should motivate us to live differently as a result.

 

 

Village Bible Church  |  847 North State Route 47, Sugar Grove, IL 60554  |  (630) 466-7198  |  www.villagebible.org/sugar-grove
All Scriptures quoted directly from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.  
Note: This transcription has been provided by Sermon Transcribers (www.sermontranscribers.com).