The CCN Sabbath Worship.
by Pastor Don. Roy Hemingway.
Gooooooooooooooooooooood morning brethren, peace unto you and the grace of our lord Jesus be with you. May the Almighty God of hosts stay ever with you this morning and thank you, for joining us here at ‘The Church of the Christian Nation’ for worship and praise. Let us begin as is our tradition every day here at the Nation, by reading from the word of God. Amen.
The Gospel according to….
Amos 3. 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
1 Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
3 Can two walk together, unless they be agreed?
4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth where no trap is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?
6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, unless He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.
8 The lion hath roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken! Who can but prophesy?
9 Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod and in the palaces in theland of Egypt, and say, “Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof and the oppressed in the midst thereof.
10 For they know not to do right,” saith the Lord, “who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.”
11 Therefore thus saith the Lord God: “An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be despoiled.”
12 Thus saith the Lord: “As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out, that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed and in Damascus on a couch.
13 “Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob,” saith the Lord God, the God of hosts,
14 “that in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground.
15 And I will smite the winter house and the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end,” saith the Lord.
Sabbath Morning Prayer.
Lord God, we thank you that it is your will to strengthen us through your presence, through Jesus Christ, the leader of our common endeavour, where Jesus is and remains victor among all on earth. Our souls need strength and our hearts need confidence so that in our time we can draw near to you and to your kingdom. Bless us with the Holy Spirit whenever we begin to grow weary. Your Holy Spirit can give us the strength to believe and hope, the strength to see the salvation that is coming to give joy to all the world. Be with is this day and always. In Jesus we pray. Amen.
A Lesson for the learning.
(1) Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
(2) “You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
(3) Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
(4) Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?
Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
(5) Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?
Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
(6) If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?
If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?
(7) Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Prophecy is both practical and positive, not all gloom and doom. Most of prophecy begins negatively but ends positively because God is confident that what He prophesied will accomplish His end, which is always good! Much of the thrust of Amos is an education for catastrophe. Amos followed Elijah about 90-100 years later. During that period, Israel’s sins continued to mount horribly. Despite this, they became very wealthy and self-indulgent, even oppressively so.
Religiously, they were trying to walk a tightrope between God and Baal. They were behaving and worshipping like Baal worshippers but doing it in the name of the Lord. Does that not sound familiar to an informed observer of our modern, American scene? People in high places are claiming we all worship the same God; they say the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are the same!
Amos, a Jew from the southern kingdom, was sent by God to preach against the sins of the northern ten tribes. In those from the north, there would be a natural resistance to such an arrangement. The first thing Amos needed to do, then, was establish his authority to preach against them.
The prophet begins in the first two verses with a “thus saith the LORD,” providing the foundation for all that follows. He sets out two things that construct a basis for what he says. First, God and Israel have a special relationship: “You only have I known.” This phrase indicates a very close bond, as in a marriage, from which ensues the sharing of life’s experiences. This ties what Amos would say to correct them to their responsibilities within that close relationship.
Second, he makes a veiled warning, contained within the next five verses: Amos’ words carry authority. Israel had better heed because his words are not idle. He establishes this through a series of illustrations posed as challenging questions that can logically be answered only one way. His aim is to awaken them from their spiritual lethargy. It is as if he is saying, “Think about the practical ramifications of this.” What follows is a general pattern of God’s operation in His people’s behalf.
First: People traveling in the same direction toward exactly the same destination would hardly meet except by appointment. It is no accident that God and Israel have this relationship. This also applies on a smaller but more immediate scale: Amos has been sent by appointment, and he does not speak promiscuously. He is there by no accident. His utterances are not his own words; they began with God, who sent them because the close relationship is seriously threatened.
Second: Lions do not roar unless they have taken their prey because they do not want to scare their intended prey away. Israel is God’s prey, as it were, and He is not roaring yet. This means, “Take heed! He is stalking you, and you are in mortal danger. Punishment is imminent, at the very door. Beware, for the margin of safety is very slim.”
Third: One cannot snare a bird unless a trap is set, and then something—in this case a bird—has to cause the trap to spring shut. This illustration is declaring a cause-and-effect relationship, meaning, “Israel, you are already in the trap, and you, through your conduct, are just about to spring it shut on yourself. Your sins brought this warning, and punishment will follow if you continue sinning.”
Fourth: All too often, the alarms go off, and then people take notice. “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Amos is declaring that God is involved in His creation; He has not gone way off. The Israelites must not allow themselves to be self-deceived. God is managing it, governing it. His warning of impending calamity would not come if they were not deserving of it. They have been flippantly careless and have no one to blame but themselves.
Fifth: It is illogical to think that God would punish without first warning His people. It is an aspect of His mercy. We can infer that Amos did not choose to be there before them. God appointed him to this task and “caused” him to speak. It is from God that the authority for the prophet’s message emanates.
An important overall warning from Amos for those of us who have made the New Covenant with God is that great privileges must not be abused, or they will bring great penalties. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). Our great privilege is to have access to Him and His Spirit, and therefore have a far closer relationship with Him than Israel ever had under the Old Covenant. Israel’s sin was first neglecting and then departing from God and the relationship. This in turn produced great moral corruption through self-serving idolatry, illustrated as and called “fornication” in other books.
The overall effect of these sins produced a careless disregard for the simple duties people owe their neighbours, as well as oppression of the weak. Amos speaks strongly against public and private indifference toward the keeping of the second of the two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-40). When these are considered, we see that he is truly a prophet for our time, when public morality has fallen so low. We need to heed His words seriously because our cultural circumstances parallel what Amos confronted in his day.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
May God bless you all and ‘The Church of the Christian Nation’, Amen.
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