Lesson 4

Lord of All Nations (Amos)

(Amos 1-2)
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Introduction: When my children were very young we played a game called "Roar." I would hide and then roar like a lion. (Well, a little bit like a lion.) The children would then try to figure out where I was hiding. Since their sense of sound direction was not very good, the result was often humorous. I would be very close to them, roar, and they would run the opposite direction. Our lesson this week is about God "roaring" His message to pagans and to His followers. Are we like children, misunderstanding God's direction? Do we fail to follow His instructions for living? Are we "tone deaf" to God's roar? Let's race into our study of the book of Amos and see what we can learn!

  1. First Roar


    1. Read Amos 1:1-2. Some background is important here. The great nation built by King David and King Solomon split. Of the twelve tribes, the ten northern tribes seceded from the nation because of over-taxation. The Northern Kingdom was called Israel and the remaining two tribes were Judah. Judah had Jerusalem within its territory, so it retained the center of worship. This was a problem for Israel, so it set up its own two centers for worship. Amos is a shepherd living in Judah.


      1. To whom is Amos delivering God's message? (To Israel.)


        1. What issues does that raise in your mind? (A "foreigner" is telling us what to do! We got tired of the southern kingdom telling us what to do with regard to taxes. Now they send a shepherd to tell us what to do!)


      2. From where is God roaring and thundering? (From Jerusalem.)


        1. What issue does that raise in your mind? (This suggests that our alternative worship sites are not acceptable. Another attack on our decision-making.)


      3. What does that fact that God's messages are compared to roaring and thundering suggest? (God sounds unhappy. He wants this message to get through to the people.)


    2. Read Amos 1:3-4. What is odd about this first message? Where is Damascus located?(Damascus is located in Syria. This is not a message directed at Israel.)


      1. Gilead was the land of God's people. What do you think God means by "threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth?" (The words "sled" and "sleigh" are related to "sledge." It is something without wheels that you pull along the ground. The mental picture I get is long metal spikes sticking down from a wooden platform. Imagine dragging that over people.)


        1. How would you describe that in today's terms? (He really ripped me up! It would means some serious abuse.)


      2. What is the lesson here? (God cares about how His people are treated. God will repay.)


      3. What do you think about that kind of "roar?" (Great news!)


  2. Second Roar


    1. Read Amos 1:6-7. What is Gaza? (The land of the Philistines.)


      1. We didn't comment before on the phrase "for three sins...even for four." What does that mean? (God is not punishing for one or two sins. These people are repeatedly involved in the sin mentioned.)


      2. What is the sin that is involved here? (Human trafficking. Slavery. The Philistines took God's people and sold them to Edom. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary called the Edomites "Judah's bitterest foe.")


      3. What lesson for today do we find? (Human trafficking is a serious issue today. Beyond human trafficking, this would condemn mis-using anyone, violating their free-will.)


      4. What would God's people think of this roar? (They would cheer. It is a good roar!)


  3. Inward Roar


    1. We examined the first two roars. There are five other roars, seven in all, which are directed towards the sins of the pagan nations who lived near God's people. These roars often dealt with sins perpetrated against God's people. Read Amos 2:4-5. Against whom is this roar directed? (Judah! God's people. Amos's people.)


      1. What are their sins? (Rejecting God's law and following false gods.)


      2. For many years I wondered about "idol worship." No one I knew worshiped idols. How could such a historically successful campaign by Satan simply disappear?


        1. People would say that a nice car or house was "idol worship," but I knew that was nonsense because no one thought their car or house was a god. What do you think?


      1. What is at the heart of idol worship that makes God so unhappy?(Relying on something we have made rather than relying on Him.)


        1. Consider your life. What do you (or could you) rely upon instead of God? (The favor of your boss, your intelligence, your education, your money, your position, your good-looks, your personality. The Bible teaches us to be good employees, not to criticize our boss, to be prudent and skillful. The problem lies in relying on these things.)


          1. How would your life change if you truly simply trusted in God? (It is liberating!)


  1. Israel Roar


    1. Read Amos 2:6. Who is the target of this roar? (Israel! Let me give you some more background. The ten northern tribes that constituted Israel have done very well. They have expanded the nation to about the borders of the days of King David and Solomon. They are prosperous and satisfied with their alternate religious system.)


      1. Who is being sold? (The righteous and the needy.)


      2. This is an odd grouping. What do you think selling the righteous means? (This sounds like bribery. The unrighteous person pays the judge to buy a favorable verdict against a righteous person.)


      3. What about selling the needy? What does that mean? (Read Leviticus 25:39-41. People would sell themselves for a pittance.)


        1. What application would you make for today? (Don't take advantage of needy people.)


    2. Read Amos 2:7. What is meant by "trample on the heads" of the poor? Do you think they are actually walking on their heads? (The reference to denying justice and "heads" suggests that the poor are discouraged by the lack of justice available to them. Instead of being encouraged that they can do better, the poor are lead to believe they must forever be poor.)


      1. Why does God say that His holy name is profaned by sexual immorality? (God is holy. He takes His law seriously because it reflects His character. Thus, sin is an offense to Him.)


      2. J.A. Motyer's commentary on the "father and son use the same girl," statement is that Amos is not discussing some family perversion, but rather describing the system of temple prostitutes. Israel, like some of it pagan neighbors, had incorporated sex as part of its worship service. "Worship" by having sex with these "holy women" violated God's clear commands to His people.


    3. Read Amos 2:8. Where does this sin take place? (In the place of worship.)


      1. Read Deuteronomy 24:12-13 and Exodus 22:25-27. Should these lenders be sleeping on garments taken in pledge? (No. God says return the garment to the borrower before evening.)


      2. Is this just a matter of failing to follow God's rules on loans? Is this a technical failure to follow regulations? Or, is something more serious involved? (This is grace. People come to the temple to receive forgiveness of sin. The original idea of the ten tribes in setting up their own place of worship was to worship the true God. Sin was forgiven at the temple. Grace was given. These people now sleep in the temple on garments that show their lack of grace towards others.)


        1. What is the application for us today?


    4. Friend, we rejoice when we see others "get what they deserve." Have you seriously considered your life? Have you thought about how your sin offends God. Have you considered that judgment is not just for others? Jesus offers us salvation by grace alone. Will you determine today to honor God's law and show grace to others like God shows grace to you?


  2. Next week: Seek the Lord and Live! (Amos)

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