The Lord’s Hope in Amos - Preached at Sunset Canyon Baptist Church on February 7, 2016.
Scripture: Amos 9:11-15
Father God, be with us today. Bless and keep Lonny and his family as they come home from the panhandle and bring them back safe to us. Bless also Dr. Faulkner as he brings the message in the 11:00 service. We are yours, make us believe it to be true. Take my words away and let Yours come forth. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
Peyton Manning – Stud
Peyton Manning is a stud. For those not involved in sports, he is a professional football player, a quarterback, will play in the Super Bowl today (Super Bowl 50). (By the way, I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl) He plays for the Denver Broncos and will be going against the Carolina Panthers. I will tell you what a stud is in a minute, but I will also say that I wasn’t impressed with Peyton early on. Not because he wasn’t good, but because he wasn’t flashy. He played for the Tennessee Volunteers back in the middle 1990’s, and was good enough to set all kinds of records for the Vols, and he won numerous prestigious awards. He also received his undergraduate degree after his junior year (a BA in Speech Communication) - (You see why I didn’t like him – he was good at everything!).
To speed this up, he was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the first overall pick of the 1998 NFL draft. He would start as a rookie and go on to play for the Colts for 13 full seasons before being sidelined by a neck injury, which cost him the entire 2011 season. After recovering from the injury he joined the Denver Broncos for whom he has played since the 2012 season. Excluding the year lost to injury, Manning is now playing in his 17th NFL season.
Manning has had an extremely successful career, and is frequently referred to as one of the greatest passing quarterbacks of all time.
Among others, Manning has been named the NFL's most valuable player a record five times (four times as a Colt, once as a Bronco), has been named to the Pro Bowl 14 times (a record). He holds the NFL record for career touchdown passes and career passing yards, achieved in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
I have to say that Amy likes Peyton, and that has rubbed off on me. Actually, as I have grown older (and presumably wiser), his attributes also attract me (though maybe for different reasons).
So why is this relevant to my message today? Let’s get into Amos and find out.
Old Testament – First of all, is there continuity in the Old Testament with the New Testament? It seems that one thing to tackle, before we talk about the minor prophet Amos and his book, is whether the Old Testament has anything to do with us Christians (being all about Jesus and the New Testament view of God). I think it is the partial revelation of God into this world, written with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and blessed by Council or Synods in the 4th and 5th century A.D. I say it does, and will get into that as I go.
Amos – background
Amos was an unusual character. He was from Tekoa in Judah, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Though he was a prophet, he was only a prophet for a time (rather than a full-time prophet, which in the 8th century B.C. was a paid profession), and went to Israel (the northern kingdom) from Judah (the southern kingdom) to preach his sermons. He was told to go into Israel by Yahweh (or God) (7:15). Amos means “burden bearer,” and he prophesied probably in the 760’s B.C. He was the first of four prophets that we have record of in that time (Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah). His preaching did not go over well in Israel, and was especially so with Amaziah (the royal priest) and King Jeroboam II (King Uzziah was in Judah at that time).
It was a time of peace and prosperity within Judah and Israel (or shall I say partial peace, because they had just come out of a war with the Arameans and were about to be conquered (in around 725 for Israel by the Assyrians, and Judah in 586 B.C. by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar). Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon were all relatively weak during this period, and Jeroboam had succeeding in subduing the Arameans, Israel’s most powerful enemy. There was no Israelite-Judean war at this time, either. In the time of Amos’s prophesying, Israel reached what was probably its height in economic prosperity.
There was also an increase in religious activities – shrines at Bethel, Dan, Gilgal, and Beer-sheba had constant streams of worshipers bringing growing numbers of sacrificial animals (which God, interestingly disapproved of).
Still, the period was characterized by moral and spiritual decline and by social upheaval. The rich oppressed the poor, indulged in extravagant lifestyles, denied justice to the poor, and engaged in immoral sexual activities (2:6-8; 4:1; 5:11-13).
It was to this people that Amos preached his poetic rant about the Lord’s judgment on Israel. For eight Chapters, Amos railed on Israel for all these and more, preaching judgment that was about to be unleashed by Yahweh for not keeping to the covenant.
Was their hope for the people of Israel?
Strong Leaders Never Lose Hope
Speaking of hope, there is a story a great, never-say-die general who was taken captive and thrown into a deep, wide pit along with a number of his soldiers. In that pit was a huge pile of horse manure. “Follow me,” the general cried to his men as he dove into the pile. “There has to be a horse in here somewhere!” I read that somewhere, and it probably isn’t true, but as a Marine I laugh at it. Sounds to me like an Army general...just kidding...
Peyton Manning – injury and beyond
Back to Peyton: Although quarterback’s do have injuries as time comes and goes, Peyton had a serious neck injury in 2011 (actually some people say it had gone on for a number of years before requiring neck surgery). After a May surgery, he was unable to complete his throwing motion, and his arm strength had significantly diminished. Further, based on an MRI, doctors told him that he needed spinal fusion surgery and that, at his age, they could not guarantee his return to the NFL. He had the surgery on Sept 8, did not play at all during the 2011 season, and the Colts (as they do typically) released him.
Sounds like football is done for Peyton Manning. But he persevered. Through a time when he couldn’t throw a ball 5 feet, he came back painstakingly. If you want human drive as a topic, talk to Mr. Manning. He kept his perspective, thinking of Cooper, his older brother who had a promising career as a wide receiver taken away before college due to a diagnosis of career-ending spinal stenosis.
But he also kept his values right. From a 2013 article on Manning, in the Washington Post by Sally Jenkins: Compared to being a father, a football comeback seemed like a vanity project. “I don’t want to be selfish,” he told Archie. Devotion to parenthood had been his father’s greatest talent, and Manning wanted the same for his family. “I’m not sure it would have been as easy if I wasn’t coming home and playing with them every night,” Manning says. “The one year the Lord took my greatest physical gift, he gave me the greatest gift you could have in children. So that was a real equalizer. And I would take that trade any day of the week.”
It’s that kind of attitude that makes me admire him...
But let’s get back to Amos and the scripture. It’s at the last of the Book of Amos, Chapter 9:11-15.
Scripture – Amos 9:11-15
Amos 9:11-15New International Version (NIV)
11 “In that day
“I will restore David’s fallen shelter—
I will repair its broken walls
and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be,
12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that bear my name,[a]”
declares the Lord, who will do these things.
13 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills,
14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.[b]
“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.
The Word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God) Thanks be to God.
Before I talk about the verses, some things that need to be said:
(1) Messianic hope in the Old Testament is, according to one scholar, essentially universal. Amos is no exception.
(2) And reading from J. A. Motyer, who says in his book The Message of Amos: In this connection Amos has shown us two things...(read from p. 207) “In this connection Amos has shown us to things: these are people who have been delivered from the presence of sin: the curse has been removed and throughout the whole realm of God nature flaunts the fact that sin is gone; secondly, these are people who have been delivered from the power of sin, for their lives are never now blighted by the frustrations of their hopes. What they plan they achieve. No alien force can rob them of their prize.”
Verse 11 Amos is talking about a new Davidic reign sometime in the future. The shelter, or “booth” of David, is probably talking about the Feast of Booths, in which the King took his place functioning as the priest, between the Lord and Israel. Therefore, this is talking about a mediator who will be acceptable to the Lord and whose presence will bring safety and refreshment to his people.
Verse 12 Edom was a particularly bitter and constant foe to Israel throughout her history. Edom is used also to be synonymous with “all the nations,” meaning eventually Gentiles. It was also used symbolically by the prophets as an embodiment of the hostility of the world to the kingdom of God. Therefore, the overthrow of Edom means a real and complete end of all opposition, and completes the Davidic idiom, because David had conquered and held Edom. Therefore the fall of Edom is one of the signs of the Messiah.
Verse 13 talks about agricultural bounty that will be more than ample. This is common for an agrarian society, and means economic prosperity will again be theirs. But it also speaks of a divine presence, a Messiah, a second David and a second Adam, ruling in a restored Eden.
Verse 14 Bring his people back from exile (which hadn’t happened yet), and repossession of the land. Remember that Yahweh is the agent, not the people. Compare this to Chapter 5:11 (“built houses...but shall not dwell in them...have planted vineyards, but...shall not drink their wine”) to 9:14: house shall be built and inhabited; vineyards planted and enjoyed!
Verse 15 No second exile/captivity will occur. Once the payment for sin is made, it is done. That is the future! But are those Amos words, or the Lord’s. To be final, they must be Yahweh (or God’s) words, and so they are: “says the Lord Your God.”
So what about continuity. In Acts, James (the brother of Jesus) is speaking to the Council of Jerusalem, and used this passage 9:11-12 (in the Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Old Testament) to make a scriptural justification for the decision that the Gentiles were eligible for co-equal membership in the things of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:12-19). If you look there (after this), you will see that the words are different. That’s because of translation!
9. Is there hope?
Amos was talking to a people who had a tough road ahead of them. People would die, men, women, and children were exiled and the ones who remained were under Assyrian rule. Yet he told them of a day when all would be made new. When the suffering that they would see would go away and all would be joyous and wonderful.
When you look at Israel at that time, it looks like America today, from my eyes. Is there hope for America? With the coming of Jesus, we get a different look...a look at the spiritual side of the issue, not land and economics...but it still looks the same. We have work to do to get the word out about what a difference a life with Jesus makes in this society.
10. Lance Armstrong lie
I was watching TV the other night and a documentary came on called the “Lance Armstrong Lie.” It was, for me, painful to watch. I don’t know how many of you remember Lance Armstrong and what he meant to cancer survivors, Austin, and Texas. He also had a foundation, Livestrong, that some of you have heard of. A side note is that he was once a client of Brown McCarroll, my old law firm, and I am friends with his lawyer, Bill Stapleton (though it’s been a while, so maybe we’re just acquaintances now). What got me was the seven back-to-back Tour De France wins after he got treated for cancer, and him saying he was doing it clean! Only to own up to it after the fact. Is that life in this age? That a fairy tale is too good to be true?
11. Payton Manning Christian
You may have guessed this, but Peyton Manning is a Christian. He believes his actions are the proof, so he isn’t as obvious about as Reggie White, the longtime player for the Green Bay Packers is, but he says this about it:
Like my dad, I make it a point when I speak to groups to talk about priorities, and when it’s schoolkids, I rank those priorities as: faith, family, and education, then football. For me generally it had always been the big four: faith, family, friends, and football. And I tell all of them that as important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth. My faith has been number one since I was thirteen years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: “If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven?” Cooper was there and Eli [Peyton’s two brothers] but it didn’t hit them at the time the way it did me. It was a big church, and I felt very small, but my heart was pounding. The minister invited those who would like that assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did. Then he invited us to come forward, to take a stand, and my heart really started pounding. And from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.
But I got up and did it. And I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since. Some players get more vocal about it—the Reggie Whites, for example—and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian...
... My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I looked for half my life ago. I think God answered our prayers with Cooper, and that was a test of our faith. But I also think I’ve been blessed—having so little go wrong in my life, and being given so much. I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.
12. Hope in our lives
J.A. Motyer has something to say about hope in Amos (p. 207). “Is it not too idealistic to be real, too good to be true, too impossible ever to be achieved? No, because this is not a vision of what would be ideal, nor even an aspiration after it, but a pledge from God that it will happen.” The last phrase says it all: “Says the Lord Your God...”
13. We as believers
We have a lot of work to do to get this nation back on track, but I have a question: Is that really our purpose? As Baptists, we have a general proposition that the church is the church and the state is the state, and they shouldn’t intermingle. Wherever you stand on that issue, I think we should be in a position to witness. To love God and our neighbors, like Lonny has been talking about. Like The Art of Neighboring talks about.
It seems that hope is our key to victory. Like hope that Amos spoke of (and wrote about), Christians have a purpose (hopefully) in their walk and peace where others don’t. To put it simply, we have God and the non-believer’s don’t. If we can remind each other of this, I will bet we will have a better walk with the Lord as the body of Christ.
And what about non-believers? Why don’t we walk with them, outside of these walls, and offer them a hand, a shoulder to lean on, justice when they’re oppressed, money when they’re short, or someone to cry with.
It seems that is what Amos was talking about, and it’s good to look at the future that’s ours with Jesus as our Savior. May God make it so in our midst? Let us pray...
14. Prayer: Father God, you are so wonderful. You create a bridge through Your son Jesus to have a relationship with us. Don’t let us forget that once you were removed, and only let you Spirit talk to some, while on this side of Jesus you let all who surrender have a relationship with you. Let us celebrate it and carry with it a burden: to witness to others what a difference you have made. It’s in Jesus name I pray. Amen.