Saturday, December 03, 2011
NO ESCAPE CLAUSE
AN OVERVIEW OF AMOS
Shabbat Shalom family, all praise and esteem be unto our Creator and King, יהוה of Hosts is His Name!
In a world where seemingly anything goes and almost anything has become acceptable by society at large, true worship and obedience unto יהוה is very rare. Sin or rather lawlessness is rife and even some of the most sincere proclaiming believers have been led astray under the wormwood of rotten doctrines of man that hold claim to a hope that is simply false and is based on the assumption that they have escaped judgement, despite their continued wilful disobedience to the Torah of יהוה as they wilfully despise the Truth and even those who bring the Truth substituting their lives with feel-good theologies of man that do not line up to the clear plumb-line of the Word of Elohim. In a message tonight called, “No Escape Clause – Sin Brings Judgement!” I would like to give you an overview of the book of Amos with the hope of stirring you to dig deeper into this fascinating book that is a very clear picture of what is going on today as well as they clear warnings of what still lies ahead for those who persist in sin, yet assures the restoration and establishment of the righteous that יהוה Himself will bring about. There are many great lessons to take form this small book of 9 chapters, yet having an overview assists in understanding in a greater measure the very clear message that is here for us to heed and proclaim, as we do our utmost to continually seek יהוה and live.
So for the purposes of tonight I will not be reading every chapter but running through systematically the overview of what is being presented and what it means for us today – as I go through this book in a summarised manner you can perhaps flow through each chapter with me in your Scriptures as you look at many key words or elements that collectively summarise the message of this book!
The setting of this book is as follows:
Amos was a herdsman from Teqowa, which was a small town in the hill country of Yehuḏah, and was called by יהוה to announce the coming judgement of יהוה upon Yisra’ĕl, calling them to repentance and turn from their sin and idolatry. These events took place shortly before the Northern Kingdom of Yisra’ĕl went into Assyrian captivity, and Amos being raised up as a prophet was an act of the kindness and mercy of יהוה to a people who had continually shunned and disobeyed Him and His instructions. Amos means ‘burden’ or burden bearer and Teqowa means ‘stockade’ or giving a picture of ‘sheepfold’ and comes from the root that means trumpet. I find this very interesting as יהוה took a shepherd who knew how to count and look after sheep, from a place that can, at its root, mean “trumpet” to proclaim His Word to a people who were headed for destruction:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 58:1 “Cry aloud, do not spare. Lift up your voice like a ram’s horn. Declare to My people their transgression, and the house of Yaʽaqoḇ̱ their sins.”
This is exactly what Amos was called for!
He prophesied while both kingdoms of Yisra’ĕl prospering greatly and were expanding their territories, having taken hold of many important trade routes. As prosperous as they had become they were at the same time becoming more corrupt in their government and exploited the poor and needy, and most of all, had forgotten that they were a set-apart people unto יהוה. Although they were seemingly very ‘religious’, it was all superficial. Yehuḏah was under the reign of the wicked king Reḥaḇ’am and the northern tribes were under the reign of a terrible and wicked king Yaroḇ’am who had introduced his own form of worship systems and build many altars of many of the high places and syncretized pagan worship practices with an attempt at claiming to worship יהוה.
Amos comes to announce 8 burdens or oracles of judgement against the surrounding nations climaxing with judgement against Yisra’ĕl. In these 8 oracles to the nations and Yisra’ĕl we see the repeated phrasing of יהוה toward each nation, “For three transgressions… and for four, I do not turn it back” Some translate this to mean 3+4=7 and therefore sin has reached its fullness – which can be yet in the Hebraic min 3 or a threefold repetition also suggests finality – e.g.: Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 21:27 “Overthrown, overthrown, I make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes to whom it rightly belongs – and I shall give it!”
So here in Amos, 3 transgressions represents already the fullness of transgression and so for 4 – that is to even go beyond the limit signifies a wretched excess which cannot continue and יהוה would not turn back or relent”
1 – Dammeseq (1:3-5): Capital of Syria and means ‘silent is the sackcloth weaver’ – a pretty arrogant name that proclaims that they will never mourn – picture of rebellious pride that יהוה will destroy. יהוה gave Yisra’ĕl into the hands of Aram to discipline them and when Yeho’aḥaz cried out to יהוה He delivered them from Aram yet Aram had decimated Yisra’ĕl with great cruelty and brutality and enjoyed it and for this judgement was now decreed! (Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings 13)
2 – Azzah (1:6-8): Capital of Philistia – this was a centre for slave trade based on the Mediterranean Coast and they had enslaved Yisra’ĕl and deported by selling them into slavery to Eḏom.
3 – Tsor (1:9-10): Capital of Phoenicia. They had delivered up many of the exiles to Eḏom and had broken a peace treaty.
4 - Eḏom (1:11-12) He relentlessly pursued his brother with the sword, having intense hatred and no compassion but rather holding on to his wrath forever – we still this very clearly today as the ‘Eḏom’ spirit of lust for flesh and world dominance holds intense hatred toward the True set-apart ones of Elohim! Botsrah here has prophetic end-time significance where יהוה has a slaughtering in Botsrah. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 34:6/63:1).
5 – Ammon (1:13-15) they devastated Yisra’ĕl and took the territory of Gad by killing pregnant woman.
6 – Mo’aḇ (2:1-3) they desecrated tombs of Eḏom, showing disrespect by burning the kings bones to lime.
6 oracles of Judgement given to the surrounding nations – and I firmly believe that each one has significant relevance to end-time prophecy of the outpouring of the wrath of Elohim when he sends His fire and Judgement.
We now move to the words against Yehuḏah and Yisra’ĕl:
7 – Yehuḏah (2:4-5) they had rejected the Torah of יהוה, did not guard His commands and were led astray after the inherited lies of their fathers. The lies of the fathers are still causing many to forsake the Torah today and as a result many do not know how to guard His commands. This is very interesting to see how this was way before the Babylon captivity, where they would later inherit more lies!
8 – Yisra’ĕl (2:6-16) Under the reign of Yaroḇ’am Yisra’ĕl had gone further and further away from obedience to the Torah. They had become immoral, were riddled with idolatry and injustice prevailed as the poor and righteous among them were traded for the love of money and enslaved as the wicked grew in power ruling with wickedness and corruption. The moral values and instructions of Torah had been forsaken and immorality reigned as father and son shared women, and they forsook the Torah by taking garments in pledge and lying on them by every alter – outright abominations in the face of יהוה.
Pretty much sounds a lot like society at large today – immoral, corrupt, blasphemers, showing no justice or any standards of righteousness. And this is what a shepherd from Teqowa was to now speak against Yisra’ĕl.
The following 3 chapters in essence contain 3 messages of condemnation and pending judgement given by Amos to Yisra’ĕl. A key phrase seen in these 3 messages at the beginning of each chapter is, “Hear this word…” And clearly the same message is clear today – “Hear this word!!!” – He who has ears let him hear…!
These were not ‘nice ear tickling words’ – these were heart cutting, bone cutting sermons that Amos gave – words that need to be spoken today to get a lost and deceived people to return to יהוה.
Message 1 (Chapter 3)
The message is clear – judgement should be no surprise and was now decreed! They stood guilt of idolatrous and immoral living. They were violent and gripped by materialism and in the process had taken their eyes off of יהוה. יהוה always reveals His secret to His servants the prophets – they had been told – this proclaimed judgement was not without notice, yet they very easily disregarded the Truth for selfishness and pride. They were a called out nation, chosen form all the clans of the earth – to walk with the Creator and with great privileges of being a chosen set-apart nation comes great responsibilities – to walk in the Truth and shine His light. So Judgement was deserved as they had strayed and ignored the prophets who spoke in the past! It is no different today – most people do not understand any of the writings of the prophets and hence the need for us to study and dig and understand what He is saying so that His people can turn back and walk humbly in obedience before יהוה.
Message 2 (Chapter 4)
Judgement decreed could have been avoided through repentance – yet they refused to. The words are very abrupt and in your face – Hear this word you cows of Bashan! This is basically saying to those who think that they are well off and living in luxury – getting fat through the oppression of others. They were going to be exiled for their lustful living and their hypocritical worship. We see sarcasm here as יהוה taunts them to continue in their sick and twisted forms of worship that they had instituted through much of Yaroḇ’am’s wicked regimes of worship, making them bring tithes every 3 days – perhaps Yaroḇ’am’s substitution for the 3 pilgrimage festivals that were meant to take place in Yerushalayim. They were burning thanksgiving offerings with leaven which is strictly prohibited according to Wayyiqra/Leviticus 2:11 “No grain offering which you bring to יהוה is made with leaven, for you do not burn any leaven or any honey in an offering to יהוה made by fire.”
They were proclaiming loudly their voluntary offerings so all would know that they were giving. Pretty much sounds a lot like much of the sick and twisted forms of worship happening today by many man-made institutions. יהושע tells us that when you do a kind deed that you should not sound the trumpet like the hypocrites do to receive the praise of men – do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing – for the Father sees what you do in secret and He will reward you openly – His blessing will be evidenced and seen in your life!
יהוה relates to them 5 historical scenarios of how they had been stubborn and stiff-necked despite the discipline He sent:
1 – The Discipline of Famine – they had no food and still did not repent
2 – The Discipline of Drought – rain was withheld as a result of disobedience yet they refused to repent
3 – The Discipline of Disease and plagues on their crops – yet they refused to repent
4 – The Discipline of Defeat in war – leaving the smell of dead bodies in their midst – yet they refused to repent
5 – the Discipline of Devastation and destruction – like that of Seḏom and Amorah – rescuing a remnant – yet they still did not repent!
In Ḥazon/Revelation 9 & 16 we see too that many will too sadly not repent, even after many will be killed by plagues – they will not repent of their idolatry and whorings and will even blaspheme Elohim for all their sores and pains!
Sin brings Judgement and their refusal to repent would bring on that Judgement and in 4:12-13 they are told basically this: “prepare to meet your Maker and you will realise His capabilities – יהוה of Hosts is His Name
Message 3 (Chapter 5)
Message 1 – Judgement should come as no surprise; Message 2 – You refuse to repent; Message 3 – Judgement will be severe – for those who persist in sin and do not heed the warnings of these messages!
Judgement is deserved for those failing to seek יהוה and His Righteousness! The emphasis in this 3rd message is simply this – you know you have been wrong – don’t be stubborn any longer – seek יהוה and live – as simple as that! Avoid idolatry and the corrupt practices established by Yaroḇ’am (a picture of institutionalised religion). Flee false teachings and vain traditions that have simply become wormwood that rots away the core truths and kills off the life source of His Truth through twisted counterfeit teachings. Seek that which is good and hate evil. The call here is clear – get rid of the wormwood – and seek the Truth – love the Truth and get the Word – His Torah established in you and hate that wormwood which has poisoned. Some still need to chuck out much wormwood teachings, DVD’s, books and resources that are not good! Judgement has been decreed with much emphasis on the severity of it – from chapter 5:16 to the end of chapter 16 this severity of the times of judgement that is coming is described:
1 – Times of extreme mourning (5:16-17)
2 – Times of extreme darkness (5:18-20)
3 – Times of exposing hypocrisy and false religious systems (5:21-27)
4 – Times of rebuking false securities (6:1-14)
In essence there are 2 great woes here – a woe against perverted religion and all right-ruling that has been turned into poison and a woe against complacent pride and those who are settled on their dregs turning the fruit of righteousness in to wormwood!
Chapter 7-9 – FIVE VISIONS
In the last three chapters Amos has 5 visions:
Vision 1 – Swarming locusts (7:1-3) This is a picture of devastation that was decreed and Amos cries out to יהוה and intercedes – יהוה then relents and says that it shall not be
Vision 2 – Consuming Fire (7:4-6) This was a vision of destruction and again Amos intercedes and יהוה once again relents and says it shall not be.
Vision 3 – Plumb Line (7:7-8) This is a picture of Righteousness and Right Ruling exposing the wickedness and crookedness of all that they have done – יהוה was setting a plumb-line in the midst of His people and no longer would He pardon them for their unrighteousness! No more pleading ignorance – He has given us His Torah and The Torah was made flesh and יהושע was set in our midst and dwelt among us to show us the way – there is now no excuse – we follow Him or face the judgement of lawless living!
Ma’asei/Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed, having given proof of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
High places will be destroyed and all religious and political structures will be demolished having been revealed as crooked by the plumb-line of His Word. Amatsyah the corrupt priest told Amos to shut up and leave and Amos stands up and stands firm to the call of יהוה. He may have not had all the education of the priest – yet He knew the Truth and stood firm not cowering under the assumed position of a man who was nothing more than a false priest that was conformed to a twisted religion set up by Yaroḇ’am.
Vision 4 – Summer Fruit (8:1-14) The fruit was ripe for harvest and the fruit of their rebellion and disobedience had now reached its fullness and was clearly evident in how they were living:
1 – They oppressed the poor and needy
2 – They had disregard for the Sabbath – and couldn’t wait for Sabbath to be over so they could start trading again! They saw the Sabbath as a burden when we are told that we are to delight in His Sabbath – all of it!!! So many are still the same today – they have no delight in His Sabbath and even some who claim to keep His Sabbath have not their minds on the Sabbath but rather on what will and must happen after the Sabbath – that is a ‘gathering of sticks on the Sabbath’ mind-set! That is many take the Sabbath to prepare for the week ahead and this is a disregard for His appointed Day of immersing in Him!
They abused the poor in order to make wealth – we see it today by many who are peddling the Word for profit and deceiving many for self gain:
Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 2:1-3 “But there also came to be false prophets among the people, as also among you there shall be false teachers, who shall secretly bring in destructive heresies, and deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 And many shall follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of, 3 and in greed, with fabricated words, they shall use you for gain. From of old their judgment does not linger, and their destruction does not slumber.”
Their unrighteous fruit is bringing upon them imminent judgement!
Vision 5 – יהוה standing at the slaughter place (9:1-0)
This slaughter place being spoken of here I believe is the idolatrous slaughter place in Bĕyth El and here is a picture of יהוה coming to tread down the slaughter places and destroy all who have followed the false worship practices and no one will be able to escape. The lawless cannot hide – no matter where they try to hide or under what they try to hide. יהוה will sift the nations and not one of the righteous will be lost. All the lawless are going to die.
Mattithyahu/Matthew 13:41-42 “The Son of Aḏam shall send out His messengers, and they shall gather out of His reign all the stumbling-blocks, and those doing lawlessness, 42 and shall throw them into the furnace of fire – there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Mattithyahu/Matthew 13: 49-50 “Thus shall it be at the end of the age: the messengers shall come forth, and separate the wicked out of the midst of the righteous, 50 and shall throw them into the furnace of fire – there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
It is not all doom and gloom – there is also contained here at the end of this book the promise of restoration. Yes, יהוה will destroy all sense of security that many have in order to bring them back to Himself. There are so many forms of false security today – people put their security into their false religions, in their jobs or social status, in their insurance policies, in their stocks and possession etc. These are all going to come crashing and those who do not put their hope in the Master and Completer of our faith, יהושע Messiah, will die!
However the Promise to those who seek Him and His Righteousness living according to the plumb-line of His Word will see and witness and be a part of a wonderful restoration, where the Booth of Dawiḏ will be raised up, having Messiah reign in our midst and there will be abundance, rebuilding and a permanent possession of the Promise given to the Covenanted people of יהוה.
This is an amazing book that carries great insight and instructions for us today – it also brings reproof and correction and training in righteousness that we are to heed and in a nutshell it speaks the following:
יהוה rules over all – He is יהוה of Hosts and Yisra’ĕl, His called out and set-apart Bride was to shine His light in a dark world, yet they failed as they allowed the darkness to cause the light to be diminished through corruption, idolatry and rebellion and as a result judgement was decreed, leaving a remnant that would be established and rebuilt and our call today is to heed these messages Amos gave, cling to יהוה and continually seeking Him and His righteousness, overcoming so that we will have life in abundance in Messiah, and we can hold on to that hope right now and I believe that the remnant sifting is taking place and יהוה is calling forth many to speak His Truth and intercede for many who have been deceived into following lies, as many of us were. But remember this – being a part of יהוה’s people does not exempt one from judgement!!!
There is no escape clause when it comes to sin and lawlessness – Judgement is coming – may we be a people who seek יהוה and live:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek יהוה while He is to be found, call on Him while He is near. 7 Let the wrong forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to יהוה, who has compassion on him, and to our Elohim, for He pardons much.”
This book of Amos is alive for us today – may we be the Amos of our day, willing to bear the burden of interceding and calling a people back to יהוה, aměn!