July 15 – Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Amos 7:1 – 15
Grace and peace to you as you learn from God’s past about your future, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever found yourself negotiating with God? You find things going wrong in your life and you come to understand that your sins and the sins of others are the cause these problems, so you start negotiating with God so that the consequences aren’t so bad. Abraham negotiated with God for Sodom and the life of his nephew Lot’s family. Moses negotiated with God for the people of Israel. King David tried to negotiate with God after his sin with Bathsheba, for the life of their son. Many men and women of God have found themselves in bad situations and have come to negotiate with God with some surprising results. So, what kind of results have you gotten with your negotiations with God?
Negotiations, this is what we are dealing with today in the book of Amos. Amos was a shepherd for a camel herder and a farmer of figs in the southern town of Tekoa, which is south of Bethlehem, when God called him to the northern trips of Israel to proclaim God’s Word to the people of Israel. Now the people of Israel at that time were enjoying years of political stability and prosperity, but they had forgotten God and had replace God in their lives with other idols. So Amos was sent to tell them what was going to happen to them if they continue on this path away from God. In many ways, the people of Israel at the time of Amos were just like the people of the United States of America today or the people of Colorado or the people living along the 285 Corridor. Amos came to the people of Israel and proclaimed God’s judgment on their sins and then God shows him three visions of what He was going to do and Amos negotiates with God for the people of Israel and in many ways, for each of us today.
We are told, ‘This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, He was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings.  When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”  The Lord relented concerning this; “It shall not be,” said the Lord.’ (Amos 7:1 – 3)
God showed Amos in the first vision, that He was planning to send locust upon the Israelite fields, like He had done to the Egyptians. Ruining the crops and leaving the people with a famine. Why would God do this to the people of Israel? Because they thought that they didn’t need God in their lives to provide anything for them, they could provide all that is needed on their own. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the people of our world? Who do people trust today? They trust in themselves and the commerce and products that the United States produces and trades for. Honesty very few of us give thanks or thought at all about God daily providing for the food and commerce that we use and expect to have. In fact, if you were to ask someone, “Who gave you the food that you are eating today?” most of us would say the grocery store provided it or the farmer, but in reality, all that we have and consume comes from God in some way or another. What would happen to your life if all the crops were ruined and all the shelves of the grocery store were empty? We are just like the people of Israel, we could not stand on our own because we are so small. We have no power to stop a disaster like that, so we need to rely on God grace and mercy to take care of us. We are too small to take care of our selves.
Amos knew that if we were judged by our thankfulness for what we received we would be ruined and even more, dead in our sins. That was true for Amos’ time and that’s true for our time also. But God is merciful and doesn’t give us what we deserve, but instead He relents and give us His love, grace and mercy.
God shows Amos a second vision, ‘This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land.  Then I said, “O Lord God, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”  The Lord relented concerning this; “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.’ (Amos 7:4 – 6)
On the day of judgment all the world will be destroyed by the judgment fire of God and all those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be sent to the living hell of the eternal fire that will always be burning but never consuming. This is what our world is headed for even though the majority of the people along the 285 Corridor or in Colorado or in the United States don’t believe that this will ever happen. Are you ready for Judgment Day to come or are you negotiating with God as Amos did in his time by saying, “O Lord God, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
The United States was built upon our forefather’s belief in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and until the 2000th census the majority of the people in the United States believed and attended some form of a religious organization. How can the people of the United States stand in the presents of God’s judgment today? They can’t without faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, so like Amos we need to negotiate with God for more time to encourage all the people we know and meet to come to the grace and mercy of God’s love for them. Yes, Amos’ time was just as desperate as our time is today, because the Judgment Day is coming and when it comes if we don’t have Jesus by our side and in our hearts, we will not be able to stand but we will live in the pain of a burning hell forever, without God’s Love, Grace and Mercy forever.
So where is the hope for all our negotiations with God? In God’s third vision to Amos we are given that hope. Amos tells us, ‘This is what God showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.  And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them;  the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”’ (Amos 7:7-9)
(Show a plumb line.) You don’t see plumb line around very much in our time unless you are involved with the building of the brick or rock wall. The plumb line that God has set in the midst of us is His Word and the Apostle John reminds us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1- 4, 14) God sent Jesus Christ to dwell in the midst of us so that we could see the light of God’s love. God’s love took Jesus Christ, His only Son, not only to be in our midst to live a perfect life, but by His death on the Cross of Calvary He paid for all our sins and then He rose from the grave, after three days, so that we can now be build up as the house of God living stone formed to be His temple. The Apostle Peter tells us, “As you come to Jesus, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4-5)
It is the plumb line of God’s Word that enables us to be built straight walls for the house of God, through the Holy Spirit working in our lives, to be His Church with Jesus Christ as our cornerstone. All other ways of building up our lives only lead us to be laid waste by God in the end, but with Jesus Christ as the plumb line that shows us God’s love and brings us God’s grace and mercy we are built up as God’s holy Temple. With Jesus Christ as your plumb line in this world you are going to find that others who will want to silence you or stop God’s Word from showing the people of the world their sins and the destruction that God has planned for them without faith in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Oh, the people of the world will ask us to do what Amaziah ask Amos to do, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there,  but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” (Amos 7: 13 – 14) The world and the devil doesn’t want God’s Word to be in their life because it will bring to light the darkness of their deeds and the judgment that is awaiting them. No, they would much rather silence God’s Words of Love, Grace and Mercy than to let them be hear and the Holy Spirit go to work in their lives. Yet God’s Word is the very words that shows us our sins and also shows us our need for a savior that will bring us from the evil of this world to the perfect righteousness of God’s love, grace and mercy given to us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Like Amos we are just the ordinary people of this world, but we are called to, ‘Go, prophesy to the people wrestling with God’s Word.’ The world might not want you, but the world needs you to proclaim God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can go to work in our lives and bring us to faith and the only way to everlasting righteousness through Jesus Christ. Don’t let people perish, negotiate with God to allow you to share the Word of God with others so that they can come to know the salvation of their life found in Jesus Christ before it is too late. Amen.