International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 14, 2015
Purpose: To confess that pride in our piety may hinder our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves
Bible Lesson: Amos 5:14-15, 18-27
Background: Amos 5
Amos 5:14-15 (CEB)
(14) Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of heavenly forces, will be with you just as you have said. (15) Hate evil, love good, and establish justice at the city gate. Perhaps the Lord God of heavenly forces will be gracious to what is left of Joseph. . . .
Amos 5: 18-27 (CEB)
(18) Doom to those who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; (19) as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or sought refuge in a house, rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. (20) Isn’t the day of the Lord darkness, not light; all dark with no brightness in it? (21) I hate, I reject your festivals; I don’t enjoy your joyous assemblies. (22) If you bring me your entirely burned offerings and gifts of food— I won’t be pleased; I won’t even look at your offerings of well-fed animals. (23) Take away the noise of your songs; I won’t listen to the melody of your harps. (24) But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (25) Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel? (26) You will take up Sakkuth your king, and Kaiwan your star-god, your images, which you made for yourselves. (27) Therefore, I will take you away beyond Damascus, says the Lord, whose name is the God of heavenly forces.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For me there is one burning question as I read this passage from Amos. What do we do in our worship service that pleases God?
That is the question that this tree trimmer and herdsman is asking those Jews in Bethel. I can imagine the indignation of the clergy around Bethel, when this layman from the south starts scolding them for their practices, and the way they chose to conduct their worship.
Today, we too need to check our practices and times of worship. Are we guilty of going through the motions only? Does our time of worship make us more loving, more giving, more compassionate, or even more like Christ? Do we come out of our time of worship looking for ways we can improve justice and righteousness? Or are we guilty of making ourselves comfortable and filling ourselves with some sort of self-righteousness?
For Amos, the answer was repentance. The call was for a complete transformation from what they were doing, to yield to God’s call for justice and righteousness. There was nothing about the “joyous assemblies” or “festivals” or even the “offerings” or the “songs” that was pleasing to God. All of those things only contributed to their own pride, and in no way was edifying to God.
Amos, as God’s messenger, was looking for justice and righteousness. The answer to verse 25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?” is “yes.” The Tabernacle was designed to receive both sacrifices and offerings. Moses demanded it, as well as Jehovah God. Now there was more interest in serving foreign gods and kings than in serving Jehovah God.
The cry from Amos fell on hardened hearts, and God had no choice but to bring judgment on the very people He brought out of Egypt. God would bring about the fall of the nation of Israel by the hands of the Assyrians, and they would never recover. They are still referred to as the 10 lost tribes of Israel.
The nation of Judah, the southern kingdom, would also fall into captivity, but after 70 years they would emerge again and bring forth the hope that is in Jesus the Messiah.
The hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” ask this question in the 2nd verse “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle.