Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SERMON: A shepherd with a Godly message

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Herald | 3/15/2013

Amos was the shepherd-prophet of the Old Testament who denounced the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel for their idol worship, graft and corruption, and oppression of the poor.

Although he prophesied to the Northern Kingdom, Amos was from Judah, which was in the Southern Kingdom. He came from the village of Tekoa, which was 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Amos’ background is listed in Amos 7:14-15 when Amos answers Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, who questions Amos’ authority in Israel. Amos answers, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Amos was the shepherd-prophet of the Old Testament who denounced the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel for their idol worship, graft and corruption, and oppression of the poor.

Although he prophesied to the Northern Kingdom, Amos was from Judah, which was in the Southern Kingdom. He came from the village of Tekoa, which was 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Amos’ background is listed in Amos 7:14-15 when Amos answers Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, who questions Amos’ authority in Israel. Amos answers, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Amos began his ministry by issuing harsh words of judgment against the six nations surrounding the lands of Judah and Israel. He tells of God’s judgment against Judah, Israel’s sister nation to the south. Since Israel was bitter toward all of her neighboring nations, as well as Judah, her sister nation, this forecast of doom was well accepted. Israel had broken her covenant with God, however, and judgment awaited.

Amos then begins a vivid description of God’s judgment against Israel. Amos says Israel will be judged because of her oppression of the poor, worship of idols, the people’s rejection of God’s salvation and the defilement of the Lord’s holy name. Amos made it plain that Israel would be judged severely unless the people turned from their sin and looked to the one true God for strength and guidance.

God, through the prophesying of Amos, tells the people in Amos 4:12, “Therefore this I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” Israel was not ready to meet her God and, even after the prophesy of Amos, there is no record that Israel ever changed its ways.  About 40 years after Amos prophesied, Israel collapsed when the Assyrians overran their capital city of Samaria and carried many of the leading citizens away into captivity.

The book of Amos underlines the principle that religion demands righteous behavior. Authentic worship results in changed behavior, seeking God’s will, treating others with justice and following God’s commands.

Perhaps Amos’ most famous words come when he says, “Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24). Are we ready for that?

 

David Bilderback: A Ministry on the Holiness of God.

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