Lesson 6

Pass Over or Pass Through?

(Amos 5)
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Introduction: A recent study of the youth of the Church showed that a disappointingly low percentage had confidence in their salvation. Our lesson from Amos this week will not help bolster those numbers. Hebrews 4:16 instructs us to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we might receive mercy and find grace." Amos gives us the counterbalance to this - that we need to examine our relationship with God before we confidently approach Him. This reminds me of a study of the math skills of American youth. They thought they were great in math, but they scored at nearly the bottom of the "industrialized" nations. Perhaps we are fooling ourselves about our relationship with God. Let's jump into Amos' bath of cold water realism!

  1. Passing Through


    1. We ended last week on a positive note: that God was looking for His people to return to Him. Let's continue with Amos 5 by reading verses 16-17. Where will there be crying in the future? (Amos says everywhere: in the public squares and streets of the city and in the vineyards of the farms.)


      1. What is the cause of this crying? (The Lord says that He is "passing through your midst.")


      2. If Jesus walked into your home or your church today, would that be "good news?" (I would love it!)


    2. Read Amos 5:18. What reaction would the people have to the Lord coming? (According to Amos, they are just like me -- they think they would love it.)


      1. Will they love it? (No. Amos says, "woe" to them and says it will be a dark day, not a day of rejoicing.)


    3. What so you see as the problem with God "passing through their midst?" (Our lesson points to the angel in Exodus 12:12 passing through Egypt to kill their firstborn sons.)


      1. Let's look at Exodus 12:12-13. What made the difference between God "passing through" and God "passing over?" (God "passed over" the Israelites who put blood on their doorposts. The plague did not touch them.)


      2. Let's skip ahead for just a little bit and read Amos 5:21-22. Two questions: What was the "blood on the doorpost" that saved God's people from the plague of Egypt? Doesn't Amos 5:22 show that they still relied on the blood? (An explanation for the "blood on the doorpost" is found in Exodus 12:21-23. They were to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood on the doorframe to their home. However, Amos 5:22 reveals the people were still sacrificing animals. Since they were going through the same motions, the failure must have been one of the heart. They no longer relied on God - as opposed to their idols. We will discuss this in more detail later on.)


    4. Look again at Amos 5:18. Is the "day of the Lord" something more than God just passing through? (2 Peter 3:9-11 leaves no doubt that the "day of the Lord" is Jesus' second coming.)


      1. Since in Amos' time Jesus had not yet come the first time, what do you think the term "day of the Lord" meant to his listeners? (It meant a day of God's justice for the enemies of God's people. A day of reckoning See Obadiah 1:15-21)


      2. Why should those listening to Amos not look forward to the day of the Lord? (They did look forward to it because they thought God would destroy their enemies. However, the sad truth was that "God's people" were His enemies.)


        1. How can we avoid being so deceived? How can we clearly see our relationship with God?


  2. The Bad Bear Day


    1. Have you heard of having a "bad hair day?" A day when things are just not going right? Let's read Amos 5:19. What does the man think when he enters his own home? (That he is safe. The danger to his life, the lion and the bear, are outside.)


      1. Is there any safety?(No! If we do not have the right relationship with Jesus, the "day of the Lord" will not be a day of rescue, it will be the day that we are snake-bitten!)


    2. How do we avoid having a "bad bear day?" How do we avoid getting bitten by a snake when we think we are safe? Read Amos 5:20-23. Do you find an answer in those verses to avoid being snake-bitten?


      1. Years ago I had a neighbor who had a series of relatively minor problems hit him all at once. He told me he felt like he had a "dark cloud" hanging over him and he wanted to talk to me about religion and going to church. Will going to church make things right with God?


      2. Let's dissect verses 20-23 a little more. What good things are being done by the people:


        1. They are showing up at "church";


        2. They are bringing offerings to God;


        3. They are asking for forgiveness of sins; and,


        1. They are praising God in songs.


      1. What could possibly be the problem? Don't you encourage believers and unbelievers to do all of these things?


    1. Read Amos 5:24-26. This explains what is wrong and what God wants done. What is God's point in verse 25? (This is a reference to the Exodus. God miraculously freed His people from the Egyptians, but they (His people) refused to trust Him to lead them into Canaan. God said the people treated Him with contempt. ( Numbers 14:11) The point is that sacrificing to God (attending religious services, bringing offerings, asking for forgiveness) means nothing to God if you do not trust Him and treat Him with contempt.)


      1. What is God's point in verse 26? (This follows from the "contempt" idea. The people who would not trust God, trusted idols they had made with their own hands. This goes back to our earlier discussion. Since the people trusted in themselves and their idols, their worship of God was superficial and meaningless.)


        1. The NIV slides over an important point. The Hebrew refers to "Malkkem" which means "king." But, it also is a reference to "Molek" or "Molech" which Strong points out was the chief deity of the Ammonites. (Ironically, when Stephen quotes this text from Amos in his last speech before he is stoned (recorded in Acts 7:42-43), the NIV translates it as "Molech" -- not king.) What does a reference to Molech bring to your mind? (Most references to Molech in the Old Testament refer to people sacrificing their children to this god!)


          1. Is that one of our sins? Do we sacrifice our children to the gods of money and ease?


    2. What is it that God calls for His people to do in Amos 5:24? (God calls for justice and righteousness in His people.)


      1. Let's stop just a moment. What does idol worship, or self-worship have to do with justice and righteousness? (True justice, true righteousness depends on the attitude that there is something above you. If every decision turns on what benefits you the most at the moment, justice is sadly lacking.)


    3. Friend, have you given your relationship with God a close look? Do you depend and trust God or do you depend and trust in yourself or what you have made (like your money)? It is hard to be honest with yourself, but God calls on us to soberly consider the question.


  1. Next Week: "At Ease in Zion."

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Lessons on Amos

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