Minor Prophets Major Messages #2 Message of God’s Judgment
Text: Amos 1:2 7:1-9, 8:1-3, 9:1-10
Introduction: Two small town justices of the peace each get a ticket for speeding. Since there is no one else in town to try their case they decide to try each other. The first JP stood before his colleague. "How do you plead?" "Guilty, your honor." "Very well since this is your first offense, I'll let you off." "Thank You, Your Honor."
The second JP took off his robe and walked before the bench the first put his on and took the bench.
"How do you plead."
"Guilty, Your Honor."
"Very Well that will be a $200.00 fine. Please pay the clerk on the way out."
The 2nd JP couldn't believe it. "Wait a minute! I let you off and you fine me $200? What is that all about?"
The 1st JP said, "Yes you're right, but there entirely too much of this going on. This is the second case of this kind to come before the court this morning."
This morning we will talk about two aspects of the judgment of God, when it falls and when it is withheld. Turn to Amos chapter 7 as we look at how Amos postponed God's wrath upon Israel. As we consider “God’s Message of Judgment”
Amos was written about 760 BC and from the chart you can see he was a contemporary with Jonah and came a few years before Hosea. He is a pre-exilic prophet, a native of the southern kingdom of Judah but most of his sermons deal with the northern kingdom of Israel. He was a shepherd from Tekoa in the desert of Judah and also a gatherer of wild sycamore figs.
The first chapters of the book deal with prophecies against the neighboring kingdoms, then an indictment of Judah in chapter 2. In chapter 3 he begins preaching against the sins of Israel and the king Jeroboam. Chapter 5 and 6 are a lamentation, weeping over the sins and doom of Israel. The we come to chapters 7-9 which sets Amos apart from the other minor prophets due to the Five Visions God gives him of Israel’s coming judgment. It is those visions we will look at this morning.
Judgment Postponed - Amos 7:1-6
1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings. And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD. Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
When Amos sees the first two visions; a vision of devouring locust vs.1, and then a vision of a terrible fire or drought upon the land in vs. 4, he calls out to God and begins to intercede for the nation and the people of Israel. Amos 7:2 O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
Amos prayer causes God to hold his judgment. Amos 7:6 The LORD repented (relented) for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
Amos prayed, not because Israel did not deserve the judgment and punishment of God, but because he was motivated by the love for his people and nation. He was a man of tender heart and though he could see the sin and knew it should be punished yet that tender heart prayed for God’s mercy and for God to wait in pouring out his wrath.
Today we as Christians should be able to understand the place that Amos helped in his work for God and his love for those caught up in sin. We like Amos know that God is Holy it is His very nature.
Psalms 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalms 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
Isaiah 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Because He is holy He must judge sin.
Psalms 5:4-5 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Yet God, also because of His nature, His character, is a God of love and He seeks a way to postpone judgment and to forgive it.
Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
1John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
If you are under the judgment of God, the penalty of your sin may be reserved in your life because of someone's prayers. Your parents, mother, father, a friend, a church member, maybe someone you even consider an enemy. Because of those prayers you have not fallen under the full condemnation of the wrath and judgment of the holy and righteous God of Heaven and Earth.
By this same truth we as Christians, must ask ourselves, “Are we praying, are we interceding for someone today? Who do we fervently pray for that is lost and under the judgment of God and we are the one standing in the gap between God’s punishment and that person?
Do you realize how powerful just one person's prayers could be? Amos saved his nation from the horror of a plague of locust and a unrelenting drought that would have starved tens of thousands. We don’t have the visions and instight of an Amos or Joel, but we have the same means of intercession, we can pray for our lost family members, pray for our those caught up in sexual perversion, pray for those being destroyed by drugs and alcohol, pray for our lost city, our sinful state, our rebellions nation. Pray for time to be given, pray for God to hold back His wrath.
Illustration: Abraham pleads for Sodom - Genesis 18:23-32
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure (suppose, perhap) there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. …Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. … Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. … Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.
As Abraham had done for wicked Sodom and Gomorrah and as Amos did for Israel, we should be doing as God’s people today. It may be one of our greatest task along with carrying the Gospel. Intercede for the lost, pray for those who don’t deserve it. Pray for God grace to give time.
Pray because as we will see, God will withheld His judgment but He will not wait forever. And he will not wait forever because the punishment of sin is justified.
Judgment Proven Amos 7:7-9
Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
This is the third vision, the vision of the plumbline. Amos sees the Lord standing upon a wall, with a plumbline in his hand. He is using the plumbline to measure the straightness, of the wall. The plumbline is God’s standard, His law and the wall is Israel. And according to God's standard for righteousness, Israel was a crooked wall ready to fall down.
God would no longer wait to judge the idolatry, harlotry, oppression, and child sacrifice of those who used to call themselves, Israel, a prince with God.
The vision Amos saw that day must was unarguable, God was saying this is the standard, this is what is right and Israel has rejected that standard and made itself into a wall that must be taken down.
God still holds before us a plumb line today. It is just as undeniable in telling us what the standard of God is. That plumbline is the Bible, God’s Holy Word. It shows us what is straight, what is righteous in the eyes of the one who is still our Judge, God our creator.
How does our life stand next to God's plumbline, the law? How does our nation, church or community measure beside it?
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet
God’s Standard in the New Testament
Romans 3:19-21 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
How does our life measure up to the perfect line of God’s law? It doesn’t it is just as crooked and ready to fall down as the nation of Israel was in the days of Amos. And that means, unless something can be changed, that judgment is coming.
Illustration: Faberge and imperfect eggs
You have probably heard of the famous Faberge eggs that the jeweler and artisan used to make for the Tsar of Russia. Fabulous, priceless works of art in the shape of an large egg covered with diamonds, gold, silver and designed with clockwork mechanisms or miniature carriages, animals or portraits of the royal family nested inside the outer egg. They are truly stunning and like nothing else ever made.
It is said that the creator of these masterpieces, Peter Carl Faberge, was a perfectionist and once he had designed the piece it would be turned over to his workshop to make the different parts. Faberge would daily inspect each piece to make sure it was up to his standard of perfection. Sometime, the piece would be almost done, the jewels, the gold, the mechanism all assembles and Faberege would come by on inspection and see something that did not meet his standard. He would then take the beautiful but flawed work of art to an anvil, he would pick up a huge hammer and then in the eyes of those who had worked so hard, he would pound the piece into broken pieces and bits of its components. If it did not meet his standard, it was destroyed.
If Faberge’s standard shocks us, then imagine the standard of God as He judges sin. If Faberge’s destruction of a flawed jeweled egg seems terrible to us, then try how terrible the judgment of God on sinful human beings.
There are two visions left and they are the worst because God has said, “there will be no more time, there will be no more relenting. My judgment will come.”
Judgment Proceeds - Amos 8:1-3, 9:1-6
8:1-3 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
9:1-6 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good. And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD (Jehovah) is his name.
God tells Amos in these visions that Israel has reached the point of no return. Like the last basket of harvested fruit at the end of summer, there was no more time left. Israel had season after season to turn back to God, but neither the nation nor the kings that led her, would repent, and now God's punishment would be unleashed.
In the first chapter of the book, Amos tells us how close the punishment was
Amos 1:2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
He compares God’s coming punishment like the roar of lion just before it leaps upon it’s prey, brings it down and kills it.
Punishment of Sin.
Listen carefully, This is what the Bible without a shadow of doubt says, to us as it did to Israel, If you refuse to repent of sin, then God will come against you. When you hear the roar of the lion of God’s wrath it will be too late.
There is an old Gospel song says, "You may run on for a long time, let me tell you God Almighty's going to cut you do. You may throw your rock and hide your hand, working in the dark against your fellow man. But one of these days mark my words, that's all brother you'll run no more.”
Romans 2:2-6 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
If you are lost and have never confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, then the God’s standard, God’s plumb line tells us that the judgment of God hangs over you.
Illustration: The sword of Damocles
An old Greek story of king Dionysius of Sicily, who placed Damocles, his guest at a banquet in the seat of honor and then suspended a sword hanging in the rafter and pointing downward at the guest. Damocles could not bear the pressure and finally asked to be moved. I often think of that story and the judgment of God, that hangs over all of us. What prevents the sword from falling? I may be the pray of someone who loves you and is praying for you. But what happens when God says the sin has gone on too long. There is only one way of removing the sword hanging over all of us, only one way to remove the judgment of God and that is to repent and accept the gift of Jesus death on our behalf. He took on himself the judgment of our sin and if we put our faith in his sacrifice, there is no more dread of God’s wrath or judgment.
Conclusion: Is God withholding judgment?
Are you alive still this morning because of the prayers of someone on your behalf? Has you mother been praying, your dad, your friend, your Sunday School teacher? The prayers can only postpone God's righteous judgment, can only give you time to accept Jesus Christ as your savior. We are all measured by the plumbline of God’s holiness and Word and none of us can measure up. Our only hope is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Will you this morning? Will you before it's too late?
And Christian, child of God, this morning who are you praying for? Who are you standing in the gap for? Like Moses, Isaiah, Amos are you answering the call to hold back the wrath of God upon those around us? Are you praying for the lost, are you sharing the one great hope of salvation?
Church Member are you praying for Calvary Baptist Church? Are you interceding on her behalf before God? We need his power, we need his wisdom, we need his love are you seeking these things for this Lord's house?
And for all of us have we prayed for our nation? When will the number be reached and the Lord’s judge fully falls upon America because of it's sin and iniquity? Will you commit yourself to pray for our nation?