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10.18.20 The Godly Nation Amos 9:11-15 Sermon Summary

by on October 19, 2020

Since June I’ve been sharing from the Minor Prophets. They’re referred to as “minor’ because they are short. They appear at the end of the Christian Old Testament. They were written and revised in three periods and contexts: 

8th Century Northern Kingdom of Israel, threatened by Assyria

6th Century Southern Kingdom of Judah, threatened by Babylon

5th Century addressing the fallout

Each week I’ve shared select verses because of repetitive verses and some particular history that we don’t know or that doesn’t readily apply to our day. Still we listen for God’s “Word for today; for us,” and I encourage you to read each Minor Prophet in its entirety. 

So in June and July we looked at Habakkuk, Hosea, and Malachi related to the sins of the nation of God.

In August we listened from Jonah on the topics of prayer and faith.

In September we started Amos and looked at spirituality and repentance.

Beginning next week and until Advent we will hear from Haggai on reconstruction and from Micah on hope.

This is my final message on Amos. In it we’ll revisit some topics from weeks past and re-envision with the Minor Prophets what it means to be a “godly nation.”

All of the prophets accuse the “godly nation” but the nation did not listen. What were some of the charges? 

The catch all accusation is idolatry. Literally it is the worship of other gods which is prohibited in the second commandment. But it is figurative of unfaithfulness in general, compared to an adulterous spouse, trusting anything other than God.

For example, for safety the unfaithful nation trusted military might and unholy alliances with other nations.

For power the unfaithful nation trusted political manipulations, religious and political collusion, and bribery in the courts.

For wealth the unfaithful nation trusted dishonest business practices, legal exploitation of the poor, and taking in pledge the only coats people had for protection and keeping them overnight.

There were other criticisms. The unfaithful nation failed to take care of vulnerable people or limited their rights. In particular are mentioned widows who have no husband, orphans who have no father, and aliens who have no land or come from a different heritage.

“Choose life” God said to the newly forged godly nation. But not all lives were flourishing. Not all lives mattered the same. The evidence was an uneven distribution of resources. People of privilege ignored the disadvantaged and arrange to never see them, both physically by living apart from them, and philosophically by blaming them for their disadvantages. 

The godly nation forgot their own humble beginnings and became prejudiced against other nations. They had a presumption of divine favor and that was perhaps the root of it all. “We are chosen,” they said of themselves. But if God is sovereign then ALL nations are chosen. So says Amos, “Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel, says the LORD. Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, [“Yes, exactly—we’re your chosen ones!”] AND the Philistines  from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7)

But it goes further: “The eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the LORD.” (Amos 9:8)

Like many of the prophets, Amos speaks of a “Day” of redemption and the “raising up” of the house of David. Except in our passage Amos calls it a “booth.” It’s the same word as the shade shelter Jonah made for himself as he waited for Nineveh to be destroyed. It refers to a human-made, temporary, and fragile structure.

Perhaps Amos is reminding us that nothing is “too big to fail.” “All things are subject to judgment,” Amos is saying to us. Still, on that “day” God will, “Repair its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in days of old.”

And so “the booth” will be rebuilt and “all nations” will call upon the name of the LORD. Amos’ vision is of perpetual abundance: “The time is surely coming” he says. No later than the harvest is complete than the plows are back in the ground. When it’s time to sow next season’s seed they will just be finishing production of last year’s crop.

When God restores the fortunes of his people they shall rebuild and live, they shall plant and reap.

And only after the charges of the prophets are rectified can the unfaithful nation once again be the godly nation. 

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. Amen.

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