Celebrate the Church of Christ! (Amos 9:11-12)
Celebrate the Church of Christ!
The church of Christ is God’s favorite institution. It is not the oldest institution; the family is the oldest. But the church of Christ is God’s favorite institution. Jesus shed His blood for the church of Christ (Acts 20:28). Every spiritual blessing is found in the church of Christ (Eph. 1:3). Salvation is found in the church of Christ (2 Tim. 2:10). It will be the church of Christ which Jesus hands over to the Father for eternal, safe keeping (1 Cor. 15:24). We cannot over-emphasize the importance of the church of Christ to God the Father.
For that reason, it is important for the church of Christ to exist in Swartz Creek, MI. That’s why it is so important for the church of Christ to exist anywhere and everywhere that humanity lives.
I cannot overemphasize how important the church of Christ is to God and how important it ought to be to you and me in our lives. The church is so important that several prophets talked about the coming of the church hundreds of years before it was established. Today, I want to focus on one of those prophecies, as we conclude our study of the prophet Amos.
We have had two studies on Amos earlier this year and we covered the first six chapters. Let me briefly walk you through those first six chapters to remind you of what Amos’s message was. In chapters 1-2, Amos rebuked the sins of God’s people, which was divided into two nations at that time: Israel and Judah. But he also rebuked the sins of the non-Jews in the nations surrounding Israel and Judah: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab.
Amos criticized God’s people because they were not trusting and obeying God and God’s law, the Law of Moses. Israel was worshipping idols; they were also going through the “rituals” of worshipping God according to the Law of Moses, but their hearts weren’t in it. They lived their personal lives any way they wanted and they did not care about people around them, specifically the poor and the needy. Israel also did not care about those comparatively few Israelites who were faithful to God and trying to tell their neighbors that they needed to repent of their sins and get their lives right with God.
God punished Israel a lot (chapter 4) but they did not repent. God told them to seek Him and live, but they did not. So, God promised that He would send them into exile (6:7). It was the ruthless and cruel nation of Assyria who was going to invade Israel and carry them off into exile, which happened about 30 years after Amos preached. Amos did not know exactly what was coming but he knew it was going to be bad. But if Israel would repent, their exile would be much more tolerable than if they continued to refuse to repent.
With that background, let us finish our study of Amos as the prophet leads us, 700 years before Jesus came, to anticipate the establishment of a new people of God, the church of His Son, Jesus Christ…
THE MESSENGER - 7:10-17:
In the first nine verses, God gives Amos three visions of the coming destruction on Israel. First, God shows Amos a locust swarm that would devour all the crops of Israel and leave them without any food. Amos begged God to change His mind (7:2-3) and God did.
In the second vision, God told Amos that He would send fire from heaven, as He had done in the past, and burn Israel and her cities and crops to the ground. Amos begged God not to do that and God changed His mind again (7:5-6). Family, never get the idea that you and I can’t change God’s mind through our prayers!
The third vision was a plumb line. You use a plumb line to get an exact center. But, in Amos’s vision, notice that when God measures His people by His exact standard, God’s people come up short: 7:8-9. Destruction is coming. Amos was able to put off two different punishments from God by his prayers, but the wickedness was too severe, too extreme, so God was still going to punish Israel. You would think that this message would soften the hearts of the wicked nation. But no…
In 7:10-13, a priest from Bethel named Amaziah does not like Amos. Amaziah is a false prophet. If you remember, I compared Bethel to Las Vegas in an earlier sermon. Bethel was the “Las Vegas” of idolatry in the days of Amos. So this false prophet wants to court favor with the king and the people, so he tells them what they want to hear. In this case, Amaziah sends a message to the king, King Jeroboam II, saying that Amos was conspiring against the king and the nation could not tolerate Amos’s preaching any longer. In verse 11, Amaziah tells the king that Amos was predicting his death and that Israel would go into exile. In fact, there is no record of Amos predicting the king’s death but there is a record of Amos predicting the exile.
Apparently, King Jeroboam II did not believe Amaziah because in verse 12, Amaziah changes his tactic. He tries to intimidate Amos into leaving Israel and fleeing south, to the land of Judah. Amaziah says, “Go, preach there! Don’t preach in Bethel! It’s the city of the king!”
Amos responds in verses 14-17. Basically, Amos says, “You know what. I’m not a preacher. I’ve not been trained as a preacher; I don’t get my living by preaching. I’m just a farmer. But I am faithful to God and when God sends me a message, I’m going to share it whether you like it or not!” But, God was not going to leave Amaziah alone for preaching error in God’s name.
In verse 17, Amos tells Amaziah that his wife would become a prostitute in the city because she could not make any money doing anything else. Amaziah’s children would die by the sword, probably when Assyria invades. Amaziah’s land would be divided up and given to other people. And Amaziah himself would die on “unclean soil,” that is, in a foreign land. In the land of Assyria. And, to emphasize his overall message, Amos reiterates at the end of verse 17 that God’s people were going to be going into exile!
That’s the messenger. Now let’s look at the message:
THE MESSAGE - 8:11-14:
At the beginning of chapter 8, God gives Amos another vision, this time of a basket with summer fruit. In Romania, we had seasonal fruit and seasonal vegetables. They were not like the United States where you can practically have any kind of fruit or vegetable any time of the year. Romania had seasonal fruits and vegetables. In the same way, Israel had seasonal fruits. This basket was filled with fruit for that season. The time would come when those fruits would not be available anymore. In the same way, God tells Amos that the time has come for Israel to be disciplined for her sins; she would be carried into exile.
Notice in verse 5 that people in Israel were anxious for the “new moon” to be over, a celebration dedicated to God, so they could get back to making money! They were anxious for the Sabbath to be over so they could get back to making money! You see, worship was not what was important to them; they were only going through the motions. Their heart was not in their religion. They were just thinking about money. Money, money, money.
God was fed up with their self-centeredness so in verse 9, God used what we call “apocalyptic” language to talk about the downfall of Israel: “the sun will go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.” That did not happen literally. It was God’s way of saying, “Things are going to be bad.”
I want to draw your attention to Amos’s message in verses 11-14… “The days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.” God had already sent famines of bread and water to try to motivate Israel to repent, but they refused. So, what does God decide to do? He’s going to stop communicating with them! He is not going to “waste His breath” anymore in trying to get Israel to repent. He’s going to wash His hands of them!
Can you imagine what life would be like if the Bible were not respected as well as it is in our country? Can you imagine what life would be like if nobody tried to live as Jesus tells us to live? Can you imagine a country in which the “golden rule” does not have any influence whatsoever? Because we are ignorant of history, we don’t know what life was like without any influence of Christianity at all - but you just have to look at Muslim countries and Communist countries and atheist countries like North Korea to see what life is like without any message from God!
When God sent His people into exile in Assyria, He did not send a prophet with them! No prophet preached to God’s people once they got into exile. They were all alone.
The result of living without a message from God is found in verses 12-13. People stagger from sea to sea, from north to east, wandering here and there like drunks, seeking the word of the Lord, but they would not find it. God would stop communicating with them! And their children will suffer for it. Their “beautiful virgins” and “young men” would faint from thirst because there is no “living water” to satisfy the needs of their hearts!
To remind Israel why God was going to punish them, in verse 14, Amos brings up their idolatry. Israel was “swearing their oaths” by the “guilt of Samaria,” with “guilt” being used as a metaphor for their idol god, their golden calf they had built and was worshipping. The parallel word is “god” in the next statement, the “god” or golden calf built in Dan and in Beersheba. Those gods, whom Israel was worshipping, would be destroyed by the invading Assyrians and they would not rise again!
Idolatry is sinful in all of its forms, in all those who practice it. So, we’ve seen the messenger and we’ve seen the message. But, we need a word of hope! Let’s look at the mystery…
THE MYSTERY - 9:11-12:
In the first half-a-dozen verses, God warns Israel that there is nowhere they can flee to avoid God’s wrath. He says “You can flee into Sheol, but I’ll find you and bring you out! You can flee into the sky (“heaven”), but I’ll drag you down!” Notice in verse 8, God promises that He will destroy the sinful nation, the sinful kingdom of Israel - but here’s the word of hope: “Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord”
No, God is going to weed out those who are faithless to Him, those who are disobedient and who don’t trust God to do what God commands to be done. He’s going to shake them in a sieve (ver. 9) and He will weed out, filter out, those who are not faithful to Him.
Then, with the remnant, God will re-establish His people and here’s the most important (perhaps) note in Amos’s preaching, verses 11-12. In that day that God filters the people through the sieve, with the faithful, God will raise up the “fallen booth” of David and wall up its breaches. He will raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old.
Since Amos mentions King David, who had been dead for 200 years, we know that this is a Messianic prophecy. Amos is talking about rebuilding the dynasty, the kingdom, the nation of David once the Son of David, the Messiah comes! That was an exciting announcement for the faithful in Israel. Despite the exile, despite all the punishment God would inflict on Israel, God had not forgotten the promise He made to David in 2 Samuel 7. God would send the Messiah and He would rebuild the people of God…
But then there is some surprising news, some confusing news in verse 12: the new people of God would posses Edom and “all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this.” In other words, this new nation, this rebuilt nation would not be like before - it’s going to be a universal kingdom! It would not be just Israel but it would include Edom and Tyre and Gaza, and all the other nations that Amos had criticized in chapters 1 & 2!
Before we look at the “mystery” solved, I want to point out here too, that Amos said that “all the nations would be called by the name of God.” Keep that in mind…
The Mystery Revealed - Okay, let’s pull back the curtain of history and see how this prophecy was fulfilled, how the mystery was revealed. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and revealed Himself to be the Messiah, the Son of David (Matt. 1:1). He promised to set up His kingdom (Matt. 4:17) and He did, on the Jewish day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2.
At that point, the gospel was preached only to Jews. But in Acts 10, the first non-Jew, named Cornelius, was baptized for the forgiveness of sins and he was added, he and his family, to the church of Christ. But there were issues with the non-Jews coming into the church because they had not been circumcised as the Law of Moses required.
That problem became so intense - the idea that non-Jews had to follow the Law of Moses to be saved, along with obeying Christ - that the apostles of Christ called a large gathering of Christians in the city of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. In this meeting, some Jewish Christians who had been Pharisees when they were still Jews by religion, stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the non-Jews and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses” (15:5).
Then, Peter rehearsed what God had done through him with Cornelius and his household (15:7-11). Paul and Barnabas rehearsed what God did through them as they traveled on their first missionary journey (15:12). That journey is recorded in Acts 13 & 14.
Finally, the brother of Jesus, James, stood up and, I want us to read Acts 15:13-19. James quotes this text in Amos 9:11-12 and he says that this passage is fulfilled in the church of Christ. Family, we are the “fallen tabernacle of David,” which was rebuilt by the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I, as Christians, are the fulfillment of a prophecy that is over 2,500 years old! The church of Christ, in Swartz Creek, MI has been in God’s heart for well over 2,000 years!
And the “name” which was called over the nations once the tabernacle was rebuilt? Obviously, it is the name “Christian,” the name you and I carry when we are baptized into Christ. We carry His name with us wherever we go as our lives reflect His teachings.
That’s why, family, that the church is so important. Church is not just a place where you come to get away from the world for an hour. It’s not a place where you punch your spiritual “time clock” and then go away and forget about it for the next six days!
The church is the body of people who worships God together and assembles to pray together and enjoy life together. We commune at the Lord’s Table together but we also eat potluck meals together. And we share the message of Christ, with each other, and with the lost who need to hear and obey it.
Take home message: We are the people of God! Amos would have loved to have been a part of this body of people. Let’s love and respect the church of Christ as the Lord intended.