Security doesn’t come from earthly wealth but from the Word of God

September 25, 2022

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Treasure God’s Timing

It’s easy to put off. Each of us has important events in our life that we have to prepare for. And it easy and tempting to put them off. For my own part, I never have a strong desire to clean my church office…until it’s Saturday morning and it’s time to write out my sermon. Then is when the delaying and distractions come. This is part of who we are, isn’t it? Each of us has these temptations to delay and distract ourselves when we are faced with important times in our lives. This morning we see a massive example of this. We see the leaders of Israel delaying and distracting themselves in the face of a massive event. In Amos 6, we read: 1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! 2 Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? 3 You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror.” (Amos 6:1–3 NIV11-GKE)

What is the context in these words? For many, many years, the Lord had spoken through his prophets to his people. He had told them that, unless they repented and returned to the Lord, he would send foreign nations to devastate and destroy. Then, he changed the “if” to a “Since.” Since they would not repent and return to the Lord, he would send the Assyrians and eventually the Babylonians to conquer them. And the leaders of the land, the first and finest of the Israelites, what was their response? They delayed and distracted themselves from the truth. And in the words that follow we see the ways they did this: “You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.” (Amos 6:4 NIV11-GKE)

First of all, they sprawled.1 You have to picture this: The Assyrians are just about to come down from the north and destroy the ten northern tribes of Israel. And what are the first and finest of the land doing? They are sprawling on their couches. It’s the sort of lazy lounging that comes when you are bored and far-too relaxed. But Amos follows with another picture of their delaying and distracting: “You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.” (Amos 6:5 NIV11-GKE)

They sprawled. Now they strum.2 This is sarcasm. The Assyrians are just about to descend on them, and what are they doing? They are playing on their harps as if they were David. And even worse, they aren’t even playing well. Instead of producing beautiful sounding songs, they are playing torturing-sounding songs and pretending that it sounds great. And Amos ends with one more example: 6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.” (Amos 6:6–7 NIV11-GKE)

They sprawl and they strum. But with this last example, the Lord takes us suddenly in a shocking direction. We are invited to laugh as how stupid the first and finest of Israel are. We laugh at their sprawling and their strumming. And then we hear of what finally they are doing: stealing. They drink gallons of wine out of bowls. At first, we might think these words are funny. Instead of drinking out of cups, they drink out of bowls. But, my friends in Christ, these are liturgical bowls. These are bowls used in worship.3
Think today of this scenario: People using the communion chalice to throw parties and get drunk out of. They are stealing from God’s people and robbing God of his dignity. With all of that in mind, we can see, how in the last verse, the Lord takes those who were the first and foremost in the land and sends them first as exiles into Assyria.

God had his timing. He let them know that he would come in judgment. And the leaders delayed and distracted themselves. And today is it any different? Jesus tells us that either our death or the last day here could come at any time. The world around us delays and distracts themselves. They entertain themselves so that they don’t have to face the problem of their own sin and the problem of their own death. But, my dear friends in Christ, don’t we too have that same temptation? Jesus holds out to us this fact: our death could come to us at any moment. The last day could come at any moment. But it’s so easy to put that fact off with delays and distractions. And you know your own hearts better than I do. Maybe it’s the temptation to go to sports games far more than you go to church. Maybe it’s the temptation to binge-watch shows on TV and spend no time reading the bible and praying. Maybe it’s being caught up in the never-ending news headlines of trouble and terror out there in the world and forgetting that, at any moment your death or the last day could come to you.

That’s why, when we confront parts of God’s word like this we keep returning to Jesus. Jesus treasured God’s timing. Jesus did not delay our salvation either then or now. We are coming to the close of a church year in a few weeks down the road. But, as we walk through the church year, think of how many times there were obstacles that delayed Jesus’ way to the cross and even tried to get him to deny his path to the cross. And how amazed we are that there were no delays and no denials that Jesus would allow to get in his way. The cross was unavoidable for him. And, far from putting it off, he planned his way to the cross and then payed for our sin there—yes, even our sins, when we delay and distract ourselves from the truth and fact that our death and last day could come at any time.

Jesus did not delay your salvation then. And he will not delay your salvation now. At just the right time he will usher you to heaven. And stop and ponder what that means. When that day comes no longer will your sinful self seek to delay and distract you from God’s timing. And on that day, no longer will there be any injustice. We didn’t have the time to walk through all the book of Amos. But this is a book that cries out for justice. In Amos’ day there were those who were corrupt in the church and in the government and in the leadership in the land. And the Lord was faithful to his promise. He brought justice to his own oppressed people by sending the first and finest away to exile. He brought justice by bringing his own treasured saints to heaven with him. And the same is true today.

All of this then teaches us to treasure God’s timing. I want you to know that the time I spend with you on the weekends and with you in bible study on Thursday nights is the most treasured time of my week. For there, with you, I have these amazing reminders that there’s no need to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to this inevitable moment of our death or our last day. Instead, we welcome it. For Jesus did not delay our salvation then. And he will not delay it now. Amen.

1 ”וּסְרֻחִ֖ים“ (Amos 6:4 HMT-W4)

2 ”הַפֹּרְטִ֖ים“ (Amos 6:5 HMT-W4), ”ܕܢܩ݁ܫܝܢ“ (Amos 6:5 PESHOT-T), “οἱ ἐπικροτοῦντες” (Amos 6:5 LXXS-T)

3 ”בְּמִזְרְקֵי֙ יַ֔יִן“ (Amos 6:6 HMT-W4)

Pastor at Immanuel, Steve Bauer

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