Is It Me? Or Has The World Gone Mad?
Amos 1:3 – 2:3
In another sermon that I preached from the book of Amos I wanted us to look at how God calls us and how we should respond when He calls us. Tonight, we will continue from the book of Amos. Our text this evening is quite a long reading—chapter one verse three all the way through two verse three.
Tonight we’ll be looking at people who lack moral guidance and need God in their lives. The title of the sermon is “Is It Me? Or Has The World Gone Mad?” Before I get into that I want to share a quick story.
You may have heard this one before. One day, an atheist was walking through the woods, admiring evolution and all that evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” Behind him, he could hear rustling in the bushes. Out from the bushes came a grizzly bear and the man took off running followed closely by the bear. The man tripped and fell. Then just as the bear raised his paw to strike the man, he shouted “God, help me!” All of a sudden everything stopped and a voice came from heaven saying; “You have dismissed me all these years. Now, all of a sudden, you ask for my help.” The atheist thinks for a moment and said “Well, yes I would be a hypocrite if I asked for your favor right now, so instead, may I ask, could you make the bear a Christian? That’s a fair compromise, right?” Suddenly life re-starts, the bear puts his paws together and starts to pray “Dear heavenly father, thank you for the food for which you have given me, help it nourish me—in Jesus name, Amen.”
The point is that there are people who easily dismiss God, and not just today, we read about the people of Israel who did the same in Old Testament times. As we look around today we see how quick people are to dismiss God. A person might be excused if they were to wonder: Is it me? Or has the world gone mad?
The message delivered by Amos to the people of Israel has a pattern in the early chapters we can follow if we read closely. We can clearly see the patterns displayed in the verses of the book. Tonight we will be looking at Israel’s neighbors, who are Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab and we’re going to be looking at what they had done wrong as nations.
I. Each rebuke for the neighbors of Israel is seen in the verses of our text. These start in Amos 1:3, and continue through to Amos 2:3. The pattern remains the same. Let us look at the first one, this is the rebuke of Damascus which was a big city in Syria. Amos 1:3-5 says, “Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad. I will break also the gate of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord.”
A. Let me break this down, each rebuke starts with “This is what the Lord says.”
B. What Amos is telling Israel is; “These are the words of God. These are not the words of Amos.” This should be the same any of us when we share the gospel with people. They shouldn’t be our words because we can manipulate. When we go to people, we should use the words of God.
C. Amos’s message is aimed at Israel’s neighbors, at first. All of these nations were enemies of Israel and these nations refused to follow and obey God. Just like Israel, in America, we are also surrounded by people who lack God in their lives and have no moral guidance, such people as bullies, gangs, drug users, thieves, terrorists, etc.—the list goes on and on. It is these people that cause the American society to live in fear and misery.
D. As we go into Amos verse 3 the pattern continues. It says “For three transgressions of (Neighbor of Israel), and for four . This is a stylized expression, or idiom, having the meaning of, "for many, and for more than enough.” In other words Israel’s neighbors are committing sin after sin after sin. If we look at the people that surround us we find there are those much like the neighbors of Israel, they don’t think about anyone but themselves and they live the way they want to live. They model how “they think” life should be lived.
E. Amos goes on to say in Amos 1:3 “I will not turn away the punishment thereof” God is saying He is going punish these people for continuing in their sinful ways.
F. Because of that lack of guidance, people don’t see the need for God. Nothing has changed from the day of Amos to the present day. Let me say this, when the Day of Judgment comes these people who spend their lives causing other people to be miserable are going to be punished by God. The pattern is clear.
II. As we read on, the rebuke continues. Amos then tells the people of Israel what sin against humanity each particular neighbor has committed. In verse 3 “because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:” They literally used iron threshing instruments on their prisoners.
A. In verse 6 if we follow it along “because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:” Gaza was capturing people and selling them as slaves.
B. In verse 9 “because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:” “Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,” Tyre had lied and not kept their promises to their neighboring countries.
C. Verse 11 says “because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:” Edomites were committing sins of anger, hatred and rage.
D. In verse 13 we’re going to look at Ammon. “because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:” Ammon wanted more land and was filled with greed.
E. Then Amos 2:1 says in regard to Moab: “because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:” Moab were disrespectful to its neighbors people and their traditions. To pursue the dead, even to the point of violating the corpse, is a mark of extreme hatred. Unrestrained hatred will not stop with death.
III. If we look at all of the sins mentioned that the neighbors were guilty of, all of them are sins against humanity. Just like now when many people are causing other people to live in fear and misery. We see it happened all over the world, and they are doing it over and over again.
A. Let’s try to put this into a more modern perspective and explain what type of people I am talking about. Also let us look at the type of sins they are committing. Today’s society scares me. Society has become erratic and random. There seems to be a rage building up through the youth of today.
B. There are some places where if you looked at someone in the wrong way, the chances are you’re going to end up in a fight. Some people look for any excuse to start a fight. Some people look for any excuse to pull out a knife or a gun. Drive-by shootings, the blind shooting of houses are becoming commonplace in some areas. We live in a world that is becoming very quickly, un-civilized.
C. I read a story not too long ago about a woman that was attacked by a gang aged between 10 and 13. The attack was totally random and out of the blue, she was making her way home when she passed this group of kids. Since they were quite young she didn’t feel threatened, but as she was passing these children decided to attack her. She said “I can’t believe that children could act like a pack of wild animals.” If you teach children they evolved from animals eventually they’re going to start acting like animals.
D. Romans 1:28-31 – “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:”
IV. This sounds a bit like the society we live in today, doesn’t it? Doesn’t this sound like the US? In fact, doesn’t this sound like the earth in 2017? Paul is warning us here to be careful of the world and its lack of morals. It might look like fun to some people that don’t care about one another, but isn’t this just like animals? Animals have no real morals. They live for food, power and territory. If we live without God in our lives we are going to end up acting like animals. What is unfortunate and sad is that a some people find strength in these things.
A. I look back to the recent riots around the US. The police couldn’t use any kind of force to stop these. Look at all the young people that are out there involved in this. Not many years ago physical punishment was abolished in schools and now parents have to be careful how they go about disciplining their children. Power is slowly being taken away from the parents and authorities and is being put into the hands of children.
B. Has anyone here seen the film “A Bugs Life?” It’s a story about a misfit Ant called ‘Flik’ that gets kicked out of the ant colony and ends up with a bug circus. The ant colony is having problems with a group of grass hoppers and the leader of the group is called ‘Hopper’. Hopper uses scare tactics to get the ants to gather food for the grass hoppers, but Flik, the misfit ant tries to stand up against the grass hoppers. One of the grass hoppers turns to Hopper and say’s “It’s just one ant, why worry about just one ant”.
1. Hopper’s words in reply make so much sense. If you’ve seen the film you’ll remember this scene. He throws a seed and hits one of the grasshoppers on the head.
2. Hopper said, “The ants out number us, one ant we can deal with, maybe two or even three ants, but what happens when the whole colony join together?”
C. What actually happens when groups of people without the morals and judgment use numbers to wield power? The riots and looting that happened around the US in the last few years demonstrate just a minor sign of what can happen.
D. Let me ask: Is it me? Or has the world gone mad?
E. Please don’t think I’m talking about all young people, I know there are still youngsters in the world that have moral standards. Let me tell you about a man that collapsed the other day. The man fainted as he came out of his front door onto the porch. A passing person who saw it dialed 911. When the ambulance arrived, the man regained consciousness and the crew checked him over. They asked him if he knew what caused him to faint. “It was enough to make anybody faint,” “My son asked for the keys to the garage and instead of driving the car out, he came out with the lawn mower!” Some times you will see the unexpected.
V. We see more and more people that are lacking moral guidance, discipline and direction in their lives. Some people just don’t care about other people at all anymore. They may know how they should be acting but all they care about is themselves.
A. Paul goes on to say in Romans 1:32 – “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” “They know God’s law and the punishment for disobedience. Yet, not only do they continue to do these things, but they even approve of others who do them.”
B. Let us think about evil leaders and dictators such as: - Adolph Hitler; Saddam Hussein; Bin Laden; Col. Kaddafi and so on. These people gained followers because their ideas and plans seemed radical and rebellious. People like to follow things that involve chaos and approve their actions no matter far from God they are.
C. Again, is it me? Or has the world gone mad?
D. Then in Amos we get to how God will punish the neighbors. Amos 1:4 – “I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.”
1. In verse 7 “I will send fire on the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses”.
2. In verse 10 “I will send fire on the walls of Tyre that will consume her fortresses.”
3. I think you can see what’s going to happen. In verse 12 “I will send fire on Teman that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”
4. What do think this one’s going to be? Verse 14 “I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah that will consume her fortresses amid war cries on the day of battle.”
5. Amos 2:2 “I will send fire on Moab that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.”
E. These verses all say “God will send fire upon them”. We know this is judgment talk. I found this interesting, because Jesus tells us in Matthew 13:41-42 - “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” , Jesus is saying that all of these things that cause us to sin are temporary. They won’t last and all of the people that continue to base their lives in these things are going to perish. Revelation 21:8 – “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral person and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” For those that continue to live in sin, when judgment comes, they are going to be punished with fire and brimstone.
F. I heard a story about a man who had this crazy dog. He would always bark and snarl at every passing person and would try to go after other dogs. One of the neighbors put together a petition in an attempt to get something done about the dog. He said to another neighbor “Please sign our petition to get rid of that dog, it just terrorizes the neighborhood and the kids are scared to go out and play just in case it gets loose and bites them”. However the neighbor said “But it’s got a lovely set of teeth”
VI. The sermon that Amos is preaching is to the people of Israel, but I have a question, why is Amos telling the people of Israel about their enemies? The people from the neighboring countries weren’t there in Israel.
A. Why am I preaching this sermon to you about what’s going on outside? I’m sure none of you are committing physical sins against humanity. The sermon is not directed at you. Why did Amos do that? Is it possibly so we can get the people we are preaching to involved, get them to listen by saying how God is going to punish the people we hate and detest? Thank God it’s them not us, right?
1. A boxer is always taught to keep watching both hands, but also keep using the jab to distract their opponent from expecting the next punch.
2. A magician uses one hand to distract their audience while the other hand is doing manipulation for the magic trick.
3. In football a team will try and run the ball to one side, but when their opponents are expecting them to come one way they end up miss-directing and going another way.
4. Misdirection—I believe this is the technique that God used through Amos.
C. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43–46 – “You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” ”
D. What Jesus is saying here is if we only love the people that love us what good is that? Isn’t that the same as the rest of the world? All people love people that love them. As Christians we have a call to be different from the rest of the world. I think what Amos’s message was supposed to be doing was to get God’s chosen people to look inwards, to remember who God is and to show the people of Israel that sin is sin no matter who is committing it. Jesus tells us to love our enemies in other words “Love the sinner, but hate the sin”
E. Jude 22–23 – “Be merciful to those who doubt, 23 snatch others out of the fire and save them, to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
F. Do we see sin as God sees sin? Do we have compassion for the people of the world? Are we going to go out and tell them about Jesus and how His blood has the power to redeem them from their iniquities? Or are we going to be like Israel and be happy that these people are going to be lost forever? Because God IS going to punish all people that dismiss Him and the gospel. If we don’t show them or tell them, we can be as guilty as the people of the world. We would be letting people die spiritually and letting them go to hell instead of showing them a way to live.
VII. Romans 1: 16–17 - “I am not ashamed of the gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.””
A. Paul tells us not to be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God, not for just me, you and everyone here; Paul tells us that it is for everyone that believes. Romans 10:11 says “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Paul is quoting there from Isaiah 28:16, and reiterates Whoever believes in God won’t be disappointed. Jesus said in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I don’t think anyone will be disappointed in everlasting life.
B. Paul goes on to say in Romans 10:12–13 “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, 13 for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” See there is no difference between us and those that live in sin. In fact Paul said earlier in the same letter Romans 3:23 - “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Paul then says in Romans 6:23 - “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but we received the gift of God which is eternal life because of what Jesus has already done for us.
How can unbelievers call on Him, if they do not know who He is? Paul continues in Romans 10:14 - “How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Paul’s telling us here that believing comes through hearing and it is up to us, as believers, to share the gospel. If we don’t share it how will people believe and come to know God? God is going to punish these people partly because we haven’t fulfilled a commandment of God. I believe that if we aren’t willing to share the gospel, we are also guilty of crimes against humanity, not a physical crime, but a spiritual one. Because that is exactly how we should view sin as a ‘spiritual crime.’
Let us think about Romans 1:16–17 again - “ I am not ashamed of the gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.””
Is it me? Or has the world gone mad? Everyone needs moral guidance and God in their lives. As believers we have the power from God to make a difference in the world, so let me encourage us to use God’s power to “keep making the difference.” God bless.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
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