What Amos can teach America
Who was Amos?
Amos was a farmer and shepherd who lived during the 8th century before the birth of Jesus. He came from the town of Tekoa in Judah. Tekoa was about 10 miles south of Bethlehem.
Amos became a prophet who was set by the Lord to warn a kingdom and a king.
That kingdom was the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel had split up into two kingdoms, the northern and the southern. The ten northern tribes took the name Israel, while the two southern tribes were called Judah. The king of the Northern Kingdom at that time was Jeroboam.
The Lord sent Amos to the Northern Kingdom to warn the people and rulers there. So Amos left Tekoa, and headed to Bethel in the north, with words from the Lord.
At that time, Israel was prosperous, powerful, and at peace – or so things appeared. The reality was far different.
The Northern Kingdom had been ruled by a series of wicked kings who promoted idol worship and oppressed the poor.
The times were evil. The people had abandoned their love for the Lord and for other people. The rich cheated in their businesses, lived in extravagant luxury, and oppressed the poor. There was no justice in the courts unless you were wealthy, powerful, or well-connected.
A form of religion flourished, but it was dead. God’s word was not being preached.
They kept rejecting the warnings that Amos and other prophets gave them because they couldn’t believe that God was angry with them. After all, weren’t they performing their religious ceremonies? Hadn’t God blessed them with material prosperity?
Things had gotten so bad that the Lord was about to punish the kingdom by bringing in a powerful army - the Assyrians - to conquer Israel and bring them into exile.
First, though, the Lord would use Amos to warn Israel of the coming judgment, and to plead for a remnant who would turn away from evil and return to Him.
4 Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, 5 saying,
"When will the new moon be over,
Amos's Israel versus America today
In Old Testament times, God chose one special nation out of all the nations to be His standard-bearer. He chose the descendants of Jacob, who became the twelve tribes of Israel.
Today, God does not work through a nation. Instead, he works through a body of believers from every nation and ethnicity. That body is the body of His Son Jesus Christ, also known as the church.
So certain things are very different today than they were in Amos’s time. And the United States of America is certainly a very different kind of country than the Northern Kingdom was.
We don’t have a king. We are a republic. Sovereignty rests with the people.
And there are many other differences as well.
But God has established timeless principles for nations to follow.
And according to these principles, the USA today is not so different from the Israel of Amos’s day.
Amos speaks to America
Even though Amos lived thousands of years ago, he has a lot to say to the United States today.
What can Amos teach America today? Here are eight important things:
1. Wealth and power are not necessarily signs that God is blessing the nation.
The USA, and especially her political and business elites, need to take heed of this warning. Most Americans think that everything will be fine as long as we maintain our standard of living and have a strong military. We learn from Amos that these things can be taken away from us in an instant.
Now thankfully, the Lord treats us in grace. That means He blesses freely as He sees fit without regard to merit. And the Lord has graciously blessed the United States throughout the 240 years of her existence.
Historically, the Americans have been a virtuous people. That's because a significant share of the people heard the word of God and kept it. As a result, the Lord has been able to use the USA to accomplish great things. The nation was willing to sacrifice for the good of others, defend freedom - especially religious freedom, and protect the Jewish people.
Our wealth and power were a gift from the Lord that has enabled us to continue to pursue these good things. However, past performance is no guarantee of future results!
2. Religious observance is not true worship of the Lord.
Today, a big danger in our country is that people will mistake cultural Christianity for the real thing. Great music, religious ritual, and displays of piety are no substitute for learning God's word and hungering for righteousness and justice.
3. Sexual perversion and mistreatment of the helpless are signs of a wicked nation that has turned against God.
Sexual immorality is at an all-time high in the United States. Religious leaders are by no means immune. Every sort of sexual perversion is practiced, and most receive the hearty approval of the cultural elites. Indecent acts are sanctioned by the government, and some are even enshrined into law!
At the same time, the gap between rich and poor is widening. Greedy, unprincipled people acquire obscene amounts of wealth, power and luxury, while ignoring the needs of the poor and powerless. The powerful pervert our justice system and control our politicians.
These things ought not to be!
God will avenge the poor, the needy, and all people who are abused and robbed and denied justice.
4. An apostate nation persecutes men who preach God’s word, not realizing that this will cause a terrible famine.
The United States of America is increasingly hostile to Christianity. The teachings of the Bible are condemned as hate speech. Pastors who preach Christ are vilified, while those who flatter the world are celebrated.
12 "People will stagger from sea to sea
There is a glut of bread and meat and delicacies. Nevertheless, there is a famine in the land. For man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Stomachs are full, but hearts are famished.
There is only one cure for our nation’s diseases – a remnant of believers in Christ who preach the gospel and support sound Bible teaching. But the nation as a whole keeps rejecting that cure.
5. Wicked nations have wicked rulers.
No comment here. Politics and the pulpit don't mix. There are many possible applications - unfortunately.
6. A wicked nation forgets the blessings and deliverances of the Lord.
Today I can hear the Lord saying to America:
“It was I who gave you this land, from sea to sea, filled with fertile soil and good harbors and two oceans of protection from enemies.”
“It was I who gave you a new birth of freedom after your terrible Civil War”.
“And it was I who, in June of 1942, produced the miracle at Midway that turned the tide of war in the Pacific”.
“It is I who continue to protect this nation from all of your enemies bent on destruction.”
“And it is I who still sends you preachers and ambassadors, begging you to be reconciled with Me.”
7. After a series of warnings and entreaties, the Lord will eventually destroy the wicked nation that does not return to Him.
The United States faces threats from powerful enemies. It is frightening to consider what could happen to us if one of them ever defeated our nation in a war.
8. The LORD will preserve His faithful people.
In our country today, God’s faithful people are His adopted sons and daughters : believers in Christ and members of His Body.
Let us pray that our country heeds Amos’s warnings, returns to the Lord, and is spared the horrible judgments that befell the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
In His grip,
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