MAJORING IN THE MINORS: AMOS
June 20-22, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Amos 7:10-16a
AMOS: HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD!
1. One vocation.
2. Of many vocations.
3. Our vocation!
Amos 7:10-16a (NIV 1984) “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: " 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.' " 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." 14 Amos answered Amaziah, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 Now then, hear the word of the LORD.”
Go away! You hear that sometimes. When a child or an adult is having a hard day and just wants to be alone to collect themselves they might say that. Go away! Sometimes it happens for more serious reasons. If you are known at work as the one who stands up for what is right your co-workers might tell you to go away or more likely when they see you coming their unholy huddle will break apart and they will go away from you. It appears that many of the people of the United States are starting to say that to Bible believing Christians. Just go away! I say that because the current trends are astounding with the numbers of those identifying themselves as Christians in America dwindling at a rapid pace and the number of those identifying themselves as deliberately non religious growing by leaps and bounds. At a recent conference the speaker brought to the forefront what we kind of already know. In America, every viewpoint and belief system is to be respected and tolerated except for the voice of the Bible believing Christian. “Go away! We don’t want you here. We don’t want to hear what you have to say.” Now while we might want to stamp our feet a little bit and say, “Fine. We will and see how you like it when you have to answer to God,” there is a better way. We learn it from the prophet Amos.
He served God a time when things were going pretty good for people in the nation of Israel. The nation had recovered from a recession of sorts that God had sent as a call to repentance. They were making good money. Beer and wine flowed freely. The people felt self sufficient, smug and apathetic to the true God who had blessed them. The morality was crumbling. Any of this sounding familiar? Still God was faithful. He sent Amos to call the people back to them. Here’s some tidbits of what God had him say. Amos 2:“This is what the LORD says: "For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. Amos 4: Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, "Bring us some drinks!" Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. 5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings-- boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do," declares the Sovereign LORD.” God was not happy.
But the people didn’t listen. So God had Amos announce some consequences. The king would die. The country invaded and destroyed. That’s where our text picks up. “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: " 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.' " 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.” Go away! The priest representing the religious establishment. The king was involved. They all wanted Amos to go away. But he didn’t. Why not? Amos answered Amaziah, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 Now then, hear the word of the LORD.” Amos could not and would not go away because he was a prophet. That was his vocation. The job the Lord had called him to do. Speak God’s words. Hear the word of the Lord. Kind of like a pastor’s job. God wanted the people of Israel to hear His words. He picked Amos to tell them. That was his vocation.
But it wasn’t his only vocation. Before being a prophet Amos had been a shepherd. He also was an arborist. Why? Because God wants sheep tended and taken care of. He wants trees taken care and fruit cultivated to feed people. I’m guessing Amos was just as faithful at those jobs as he was as a prophet. Amos had many different ways of serving the Lord. So do you. Have you ever thought about your vocations, your ways of serving the Lord? Everyone has them. Most have several. Being a child is a vocation that serves the Lord by respectfully obeying parents. A student is a vocation that serves the Lord by learning. A teacher teaches. A nurse attends and gives care. Mechanics fix. Police officers protect. Parents raise children. Organists play. There are many vocations.
But no matter which vocation you are in, our vocation in every vocation is the same. Hear the word of the Lord. It’s why the Lord has us here. You heard what Jesus told us. You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth. We are needed. You heard how Paul encouraged Pastor Titus to teach. Everyone in their own vocation, young, old, husbands, wives teach, train. Hear the word of the Lord. You in your vocations. Us together as a congregation. Hear the word of the Lord. We might feel like shutting up and going away. Amos might have too. There are people in our country who need us. Not everyone will listen. But some will. By showing our neighbors our willing and cheerful obedience to God we are saying “Hear the word of the Lord. His ways are right.” When asked about abortion or any kind of sex outside of one man one woman marriage we can say it’s wrong because God says so. Hear the word of the Lord. But like Amos we are not here just to teach morality. We are really here to draw people to Jesus, to find a way to talk about the Savior. He is our only way to heaven and theirs too. Live your faith and you will get your opportunities. Recently I spoke with a young man, went through our school, now serving Jesus and us in the United States Marines. That’s his vocation. He told me of the conversations he gets into. “You really believe that stuff? Yes I do. The Bible is true.” He confessed he’d picked up bad language. “Why do you talk that way if you are a Christian?” You are right he tells them. I need to change but that’s why I need Jesus.” He thanked me for the training we gave him so that he has confidence to say “Hear the word of the Lord.” In every generation training our youth is so important so they carry out our vocation in every vocation.
Now the sad truth is that the people Amos spoke to didn’t listen and are lost. There was nothing he could do to make the message more appealing or argued better. Rejection was not on him. It was on them. Sadly some of the people you and I witness to will also reject. On the last day they will not be able to call God unfair. He will say, I sent you … But there will be others who will be snatched from the fire because we didn’t go away. We didn’t stay quiet. We weren’t nasty belligerent jerks but by quietly living our faith while in our other vocations we gained opportunities to say in our own way, “Hear the word of the Lord!” The Gospel will work. People will be brought to faith in Jesus. They just need to hear the word of the Lord. Amos teaches us it’s our vocation. Amen.