Sermon on Amos 6:1-7
Text: 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. 4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. 5 You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. 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.
Two little boys were overheard boasting about how much money their fathers made. One little boy, whose father was a teacher in one of our grade schools, told the other boy that his father made a million dollars a year. His friend was dutifully impressed and said that the first boy must be able to get whatever he wanted. The first boy replied, “No. He gives it all to the church.” This little account may make us smile, but it reminds us that children, especially little boys, seem to boast about what they can do. Their boasts often stretch the truth. In our text for this morning, the leaders of the Jewish people were doing some boasting of their own. The Lord talks about such boasting in Jeremiah 9:23, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.” Using that verse as our theme this morning, we want to study FOOLISH BOASTING. 1. Let Not The Strong Boast Of Their Strength. 2. Let Not The Rich Boast Of Their Riches. 3. Let Us Boast That We Know The Lord.
Usually, the Northen Kingdom of Israel is the focus of Amos’ prophecies. In this section, both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah are addressed. God speaks to them saying, “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!” (Verse 1) Zion and Mount Samaria were the capitals of these two nations. God describes them as men of the foremost nation. They were called this because, out of all of the nations, God had chosen them to be his own. He had given them so many blessings. He had protected them and blessed them. The greatest blessing was that the Messiah would come from them. The people of Israel came to them for judgment in disputed matters and for help in trouble.
However, in spite of this exalted status, God pronounces woe on them. The reason for this was that they were confident in their own strength as a nation. They were living in relative peace. There were no nations threatening them. They said, “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?” (Verse 2) They encouraged anyone who would listen to them to compare the greatness of their nations to the heathen nations that were around them. From north to south, from east to west, they were a great and powerful nation. They had nothing to fear. They were strong nations.
To this the Lord said, “You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror.” (Verse 3) These leaders had put off the day of disaster, by not thinking about it or pretending it didn’t exist and would not happen to them. Throughout the book of Amos, the prophet pointed out the many symptoms of their lack of faith. They oppressed the poor. The courts were slanted toward the wealthy, who would bribe the judges. Amos had, also, spoken of the judgment that would befall them, unless they repented. The leaders didn’t think that it would ever happen to their great nations. In spite of the threat of invasion and captivity, they thought that such a thing would never happen to them. They were too strong. When the Lord, in his good time, sent the Assyrians and Babylonians, they would see just how weak they really were. The Lord was admonishing the strong not to boast of their strength.
That same admonition needs to be heard by us, as well. First of all, we have the privilege of living in one of the greatest nations on the earth. We are one of the major players on the world’s stage. We live in peace and security. We thank God for those men and women who defend us against all threats, both foreign and domestic. However, we need to realize that we cannot always depend on our nation’s strength. After all, look at how many nations, who have preceded ours, were, at one time, one of the most powerful nations on the earth. Now, however, they are merely part of the world’s history, having been replaced by another nation that was more powerful than they. We pray that the Lord would continue to keep our country strong and secure. However, we know that this strength does not come from our military might, but because of the Lord’s protecting hand.
Another place where there might be a tendency to boast about strength is in ourselves. We boast about our physical strength. We are healthy. We can keep on working when others begin to falter. Closely attached to this is our mental strength. When things begin to go wrong in our lives, we are smart enough to figure our way out of them. However, it doesn’t take too long before we see how our physical and mental strength can fail us. We get older and are not able to do the things the same way that we used to. Illness and injury may sideline. There are situations that we cannot figure out, no matter how hard we try. The effects of sin in the world quickly show themselves when we boast of our physical and mental strength.
The worst strength that we can boast in is our spiritual strength. We may be able to fight against one temptation only to fall to another. We look at others, who are sinning, and think that we could never do the same. It may be that we were able to say no to that sin, this time. However, at another time, we find ourselves doing the exact same sin, or a version of it. We pride ourselves in our spiritual strength, refusing to see that we are as bad as others. However, the Lord would also say of us, “You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror.” Though we might fool ourselves into thinking that God will overlook one little flaw, the fact remains that for even one sin, we deserve to experience the day of disaster and the reign of terror in hell. Let not the strong boast of their strength.
Another blessing that Judah and Israel enjoyed was prosperity. The rich were living luxurious lives. Verses 4-6 describe how they were living: “You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions.” They enjoyed all of the physical comforts of life. They consumed the choicest food and abundant drink. They enjoyed musical entertainment. They pampered their bodies by anointing them with the finest of lotions. The pursuit and enjoyment of their wealth filled their minds and passed their days. Outwardly, they seemed to have had it made.
However, the Lord shows them what they should have concerned themselves with: “You do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” (Verse 6) They were so busy enjoying themselves that they had no care for the moral breakdown of their countries. All that mattered was that they were having a good time. More than that, they had no concern for the upcoming downfall resulting from God’s sentence of death, the wages of their sins. As a result, “You will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.” (Verse 7) The rulers and the wealthy would walk at the front of the line of exiles. Although God had promised Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land, they forfeited that promised inheritance by their impenitence and unbelief. They would soon see that all the wealth and luxury in the world would not save them from the punishment that would soon befall them. Let not the rich boast in their riches.
How easy it is for us to fall into the same way of thinking. First all, let me begin by saying that wealth and the luxuries that we enjoy in life are not evil. They are blessings that come from God’s hand. It is good for us to enjoy what God gives us. In addition, we might not think that we are all that wealthy, compared to others. The truth be told, we are all wealthy. Compare the standard of living that we enjoy to what others around the world experience. We have much to be thankful for when we think of wealth and luxury. However, when the pursuit of them becomes more important to us than our relationship with God, we are sinning. We have made them our idols. In addition, what happens if, God forbid, they are taken from us? If we have put all of our confidence in them, our world will come tumbling down, if we did not have them. It is foolish to put all of our trust in these things. Let not the rich boast in their riches.
There is one area that we can boast, however. As we began our sermon, we read Jeremiah 9:23, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.” However, the next verse tells us, “Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me.” (Jeremiah 9:24) We can boast that we know the Lord. We know what he did to rescue us from our hopeless situation. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior. We know that he lived a perfect life in our place. Throughout his life, Jesus showed the proper relationship with God. He always gave glory to his Father. He trusted in him. Then, for all of our failings, he went to the cross. By his tortuous death there, he paid for all of the times we misplaced our boasts. His death satisfied God’s demand for justice. Jesus’ resurrection tells us that all is forgiven. We have this knowledge of the Lord. Moreover, this knowledge wasn’t something that we discovered for ourselves. We received this knowledge when the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts. Now we know that we are saved through the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior. We also have the knowledge that God will continue to be with us throughout our lives, guiding, protecting, and providing for us. We know that, because of the work of Jesus, we have an eternal home waiting for us. All of the things of this life that we might boast in are foolish. What we can boast in is the fact that, by his grace, we know the Lord and, even better, he knows us.
The apostle Paul spoke about boasting in Galatians 6:14. There were those in Galatia who were boasting about how well they kept the laws of Moses. However, Paul wrote, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14) If there was a person who we might say had reason to boast of his accomplishments, it would be Paul. Look at all of the work he did in spreading the gospel. Look how much he endured. However, Paul shows that he had no interest in boasting about his accomplishments. What mattered to him was his relationship with his God and what God had done to save him. May the Lord fill us with this single-mindedness, as well. Yes, we are truly blessed with all of the physical things of this life. We thank our God for all of them. However, if we are going to be truly proud about anything, we want to be proud of our relationship with God. It didn’t come through what we have done, but through what he has done for us. May our pride in what God has done for us be evident in the way that we live our lives. May he fill us with pride so that we might have the opportunity to tell others what God has done for us and for them, as well. This isn’t foolish boasting. It is something that, by God’s grace, we can be truly proud of. Amen.
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