Lesson 5

"Seek the Lord"

(Amos 5)
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Introduction: Recently, I've seen a number of programs about the "plastic surgery" performed on a number of people. I've seen people who had the fat sucked out of their middle, fat cut out of their eyelids, fat pumped into other places and the skin tightened on their face. Why do people pay a lot of money for this? Because they prefer the look of youth over age. Perhaps we do not like to look old because it reminds us that we are closer to death. Amos gives us a formula for life that does not involve moving our fat anywhere, so let's give it a closer look.

  1. Seek Life

    1. Read Amos 5:1-3. The original Hebrew in verse 2 is written in a form that you would use at a funeral. Of what does verse 2 remind you? (It reminds me of someone who is so old and weak that when he falls down he cannot get up by himself. One of the fears of age is (v.2) to have no one to help you.)

      1. If we are looking at old people, why call them "Virgin Israel?" (This sets up the contrast if it is a reference to youth. What was formerly young, is now about dead.)

      2. Does verse 3 suggest that death for Israel is a matter of old age? (No, although verse two sounded like we were speaking of old age, verse three makes clear that the source of the problem is not age but combat. You march out to war with 1,000 soldiers and come back with 100 alive. This is not death from natural causes.)

    2. Read Amos 5:4. What is the solution to the problem of death? How do the people avoid their own funeral? (Seek the Lord and live.)

      1. Is that our best solution to the problem of aging?

        1. Is that our solution to the problems of war?

        2. Is that our solution to the problems of sin?

    3. Read Amos 5:5. Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba were all famous places in the history of Israel. Bethel was where Jacob had the dream of the ladder between earth and heaven and committed his life to serving God. (See Genesis 28:11-22) In Beersheba, Abraham was recognized as having God with him ( Genesis 21:22-33) and Jacob was promised by God to become a great nation ( Genesis 46:1-4). In Gilgal was the memorial to God's people crossing over to Canaan ( Joshua 4:19-23) and where God reinstituted the covenant symbolized by circumcision. ( Joshua 5:2-9)
      1. Does it encourage you to visit places where God moved mightily in the past? How about recalling times when God worked in your life? (If you read Joshua 4:5-6 God specifically commanded that a stone memorial be set up at Gilgal so that in the future people would be reminded of His great work and the obedience of the people.)

      2. How about national monuments: does it energize you to visit great national historical places and think of what happened many years ago?

      3. Why would God say not to go to these places that had such great history and significance for God's people? (Most commentators I consulted said that they had idols at these locations. That is the simple solution. The J.A Motyer commentary on Amos, however, suggests a more complex answer: these ancient shrines of what God did in the past for His people could not substitute for a living relationship with God. Therefore, God says, "Don't rely on history with Me, I want you today to have a living relationship with Me.")

      4. If Motyer is right, do you see this attitude as a problem today? I have heard worshipers say they like the kind of worship or the kind of hymns that they remember from when they were children. Is there a danger that this kind of sentimental worship will cause us to lose sight of the Living God?

    4. Read Amos 5:6. What options did the people have? Are those the same options open to us today? (Seek the Lord and live or reject Him and burn. These are rather stark alternatives!)

      1. We started out in the introduction talking about the path to life. Is seeking God the only sure route to eternal youth and life? (The answer to our march towards death is not found in the offices of plastic surgeons or gyms, it is found in a relationship with the Living God!)

  2. The Power of God in the Face of Evil

    1. Read Amos 5:7-9. Compare how the wicked change things with how the power of God changes things? (This is a great text. It says the wicked turn good things into bad. But God turns the night into day and He decorates the darkness of night with the light of the stars! God evaporates the waters of the sea and then returns them to earth as rain. God does not, however, respect the power of man.)

    2. Read Amos 5:10-11. Will God allow the wicked to enjoy the "fruits" of their labor? (God exercises His power to deprive the rich of their unjust wealth.)

    3. Read Amos 5:12-13. Verse 13 goes against my nature. When I was a kid I fought the "bully" and now I defend in court the "little guy" against evil. Does verse 13 suggest a different course? (This text certainly made me pause. I don't think Amos is telling us, as a general principle, to sit quietly in the face of evil. Instead, he is saying that the evil among God's people was so great, the injustice so pervasive, that the prudent just kept their mouths shut.)

  3. Seeking God

    1. Read Amos 5:14. In Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus tells the story of the shepherd that went on a search for the one sheep out of a hundred that was missing. This suggests that God comes searching after us. However, Amos 5:14 seems to say we need to seek God first. How do you reconcile the parable in Matthew with this verse in Amos?

      1. Is the formula, seek God and then He will be with us? (All of Amos so far is about God pursuing His people to have them return to Him. However, we always have to make the decision (v.14) to "seek good." When we make this decision, then "God Almighty will be with you.")

      2. Let's be practical. What does it mean in your place of work to "seek good?"

        1. What does it mean in your home?

        2. What does it mean with your neighbor?

        3. What does it mean at church?

      3. Notice the last part of verse 14. Verses 11-12 described the evil actions of these people. Were they aware of the extent to which they had wandered into evil? (Apparently not! Verse 14 tells us that they "say" God is with them even though they pursue evil.)

        1. How do you explain this? (If you do a word search in the gospels for the word "blind" you will find that Jesus often describes false teachers as "blind." The problem with sin is that it dulls our senses. We cannot see how evil we are.)

          1. Could you be suffering from this same type of delusion? ( Revelation 3:14-19 describes the "last day" church of Laodicea. Their problem is, in part, that they are "blind" (v.17) and they are in desperate need of "salve to put on your eyes, so you can see" (v.18).)

            1. Where can we get this eye-opening salve? ( Revelation 3:18 tells us that we can only "buy" it from God.)

            2. It is strange to hear that we have to "buy" something from God when we know grace is a free gift. What do you think Revelation means when it says to "buy" this eye salve?

              1. Let's give Revelation 3:18-19 a close look. What is your sense about the meaning of "gold refined in the fire" (v.18) and its relationship to verse 19? (If you look at the "big picture," it seems to say that God uses difficulties to help us see our true condition. We "buy" eye salve when we go through trials.)

    1. Read Amos 5:15. What prescription does God give for the people to follow? (Hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts.)

      1. Hating evil and loving good are emotions or attitudes, not behavior. How can we import new attitudes into our live? (This is the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts.)

      2. Court justice is not an attitude. It is not something that an individual can do. What would you do to try to satisfy this requirement? (I love the way God lays this out. He tells us first that we need to have our own hearts converted so that we love good and hate evil. Next, He tells us that we have a responsibility to ensure that the "rule of law" exists in our courts. This not a call for us to individually mete out justice to wrongdoers, but rather is a call to make sure that the structures for a just society exist. It is a call to every Christian whose heart is converted to be "politically" and "socially" aware.)

    2. Friend, do you love good and hate evil? Can you trust your heart to know? God calls on us to turn to Him. In His presence we can see more clearly the way to life. Will you seek Him today?

  1. Next Week: Pass Over or Pass Through?

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Lessons on Amos

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