A Time to Keep on Preaching

A sermon idea based on Amos 7:7-17.

I get the feeling that most of the Old Testament prophets would have been fired as pastors of churches in America because of their boldness in calling out the sins of the people to whom they were preaching.

But for Amos, a farmer-turned-prophet, calling out injustice and ungodliness was more important than his popularity rating.

Thus far in Amos’ prophecy, he has preached to the sins and injustices of Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, all of which seemed fine to the audience of Israel. But when his prophecy got personal and pertained primarily to the sins of Judah and Israel, Amos was then a prophet to be opposed.

In this passage, he prophesies of a plumbline (though most scholars agree that the more appropriate translation was some kind of metal) by which Israel was to be judged. And that got the local leaders upset, including Amaziah the Priest of Bethel. His message to the king about Amos was, “the land is not able to bear all his words.”

So Amaziah, with Jeroboam’s permission, was sent back to Amos to tell him to stop preaching!

Amos’ response is inspiring. He declares, first of all, that he was not a professional prophet but rather a farmer-turned-prophet. And he could not disobey God or disregard the calling of God on his life to speak what had been revealed to him.

So what did Amos do, in response to the command to stop preaching about the judgment of God against injustice?

He kept preaching.

His response was:

Amos 7:16-17 NRSV

[16] Now therefore hear the word of the LORD. You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ [17] Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’”

It seems as though, one of the worst things we can do is tell God we don’t want to receive what he has to say about how we’re living.

The New Testament writers handle this subject matter more compassionately than Amos, but their ultimate advice is the same.

You can receive the rule of God (the kingdom of God) in your life or you can keep playing by your own rules. You have the freedom to choose.

One path leads to chaos (judgment) and the other leads to peace. And you are free to choose which you’d like to pursue.

The one thing that is clear is that God’s message will not change. His prophets will not stop preaching. His truth will march on.

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