Today I would like to draw your attention to the Old Testament Book of Amos. I entitled my message, ‘Prophet Amos: Worship & Justice’. Let me start with a verse from the Book of Amos.
“Therefore thus will I do unto thee,
O Israel; and because I will do this
unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!”
Prophet Amos was announcing the judgment of God upon the nations and he was calling people to prepare to meet God. The main theme of this book is a call for justice. Prophet Amos was a herdsman and a cultivator of sycamore trees. He was a commoner, a humble shepherd and a farmer. He was not a member of any elite groups of his day, he was not a religious leader, he was not a political leader, he was not a business leader. He was a simple farmer and a shepherd and God called him to preach a very serious message to his people.
This prophet lived in the village of Tekoa, about eleven miles from Jerusalem. He lived during the reigns of King Uzziah in Judah and King Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was a contemporary of Jonah, Hosea and Isaiah. He was a Judean prophet preaching to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was a time of great prosperity. Israel was experiencing unprecedented wealth and success. It became a true land of milk and money. People were living in luxury and security. But they lost their focus on God. They lost true worship of God.
Amos found two main problems in his society. The absence of true worship of God and the lack of justice. Amos was speaking to a generation, which was so wealthy but did not care to worship God in the right way. We can identify with that generation. Many people in our time are wealthy and prosperous but they would care less for true worship of God. Our word worship comes from the Old English word weorthscipe – or worth-ship. God is worthy of our worship. As our Creator, Sustainer and Savior, God deserves our hearty worship.
Amos was asking, ‘Where is true worship?’ Then he asked, ‘Why is there so much injustice in this society?’ True worship and justice are intimately connected. Justice comes only through worship of God, Justice is founded upon truth and truth is founded upon God. Unless we worship God we cannot know the truth, unless we worship God, we cannot respect the truth.
Authentic worship requires truth. Jesus said in John 4:24, God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus says, God is a Spiritual Being. When we come to worship God we must worship in spirit and in truth. We worship in spirit. We don’t bring animal sacrifices, we don’t bring amulets, we don’t bring idols, we don’t bring statues, we worship in our spirits. Our spirit is the core of our being. Worship is not just on our lips. It is in our spirits. It is from the core of our beings. It is from our hearts. We focus on God, the triune God. God, the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.
God the Son came to this world as our Lord Jesus Christ. He was our holy Savior. He went to the cross to die for our sins. He was buried and rose again on the third day. Now he is our living Savior. Today we are not worshiping a dead Jesus, but a living Christ. When you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are a saved person. God saved you forever. You are justified in Christ. Then you start to worship God in truth and in spirit. You cannot worship God without being saved, because true worship must be done in spirit and in truth.
Without Christ, you are not in spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is not in you. Without Christ, you are a dead person, you are a servant of Satan. Either you are with Christ, or with Satan. There is no other option. If you are saved, you will go to heaven, the house of God. if you are not saved, your will go to hell, the prison of Satan. There is no other destination. So, if you are not saved, you should immediately come to Christ, confess your sins and make him your Lord and Savior. At that moment, you develop a relationship with God. You are no more an enemy of God. You will become a child of God. Then starts your true worship of God, because the Holy Spirit of God comes to live in you.
True worship must be done in spirit and in truth. First the Holy spirit of God, and then the truth. Our blessed Savior said, ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32). When you know the truth, it brings freedom, because it is the truth that shall make you free.
All truth belongs to God. You may go to a college, and learn physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. All that truth belongs to God. That truth will help you understand the world, but it is not sufficient. The truths of physics help you to go to the moon, or Mars or some other planet, but those truths will not help you to go to heaven. Those truths will not help you to worship God. To worship God you need the truth of Christ.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6). Jesus is the incarnation of divine truth. The beautiful gospel of John starts with the words, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). What is this Word that became flesh and dwelt among us? It is Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is full of grace and truth. Later, John writes, ‘For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17). The law came through Moses; but grace came through our Lord Jesus Christ. Truth came to us through Lord Jesus Christ. He is the truth we need to properly worship God. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Truth gives us freedom. Falsehood gives us oppression. A true worship leads to true freedom. That is a very important truth we must understand.
Prophet Amos was rebuking Israel because they were not giving true worship to God, because they were not living in truth. Yes they were rich, yes, they were prosperous, but they filled their lives with idols. Their focus was not on the Creator God of the Bible. Their focus was not on the Covenant God of Abraham. Their focus was not on the Redeemer God of Moses. Their focus was not on the Messianic God of David. They were worshiping the false gods of their time because they embraced the falsehoods of their pagan neighbors.
Today we have the same problem in our society. Too many people are believing in falsehoods because there is no authentic worship in their lives. Too many people are believing in conspiracy theories because they do not have any connection to the Biblical truth. Recently I heard about QAnon.
It started as a fringe group and now became a political movement. They say “We Are the Storm”. They believe that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles are dominating America and the world. They believe that these pedophiles kill and eat their victims. They believe prominent Democrats extract hormones from children’s blood. They believe John F.Kennedy Jr, who died in a plane crash in 1999, is alive and hiding in Pennsylvania.
They believe that Jews are controlling political parties and vaccines. To these conspiracies, they add Bible verses, they add Jesus and God.
QAnon now became mainstream and many Republican congressional candidates embracing it. Sadly even Christians joining this movement. It is nothing but a conspiracy theorist movement. It is not grounded in truth and reality. It is not a scriptural movement. It might win elections, but it will lead to chaos, confusion and even violence.
As Christians, we should stay away from such conspiracy theories and embrace the truth. Recently, Netflix was promoting a film entitled Cuties. This film is encouraging pedophilia. It shows how sick our society is becoming. It shows the moral depravity of our time. It shows the reprobateness of the minds of our time. People are going after little children to fulfill their lust. QAnon is disgusted at pedophilia. That’s a good thing.
Yes, there are many pedophiles in high places. There are pedophiles in Democratic party, there are pedophiles in Republican party, there are pedophiles in the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations but they are not eating their victims. We should bring these pedophiles to justice, by exposing them with truth and witnesses, but not by embracing falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
Prophet Amos also deplored the lack of justice in his time. Today there is so much injustice in our society. Black Lives Matter says it is fighting for justice. But where is God in that movement? Where is worship of God in that movement? There cannot be justice without God and his truth. There cannot be justice without true worship. Today we have so many young people fighting for social justice. That is good. They want to fight racism, that’s good. They want to fight economic inequality, that’s good. They want to fight discrimination at the workplace and wages, that’s good. But, they don’t have God in their lives.
They don’t have Jesus in their lives.
They don’t have worship in their lives.
They don’t care about their lostness in sin.
And without God, without our Lord Jesus Christ, and without worship, you will never be free, you will never have truth, you will never have justice.
Recently I was reading about a great abolitionist leader named Richard Allen. Richard Allen was born a slave in Philadelphia in 1760. He saw his mother sold into slavery. He saw his siblings sold into slavery. He himself was sold as a slave. His childhood was marred by slavery and its inhuman horrors. When he was 17 years old, he put his faith in Lord Jesus Christ.
While he was working in the plantation, a traveling Methodist minister came nearby and preached the gospel. That event changed his life. He received the spiritual freedom Christ freely offered him at the cross. Then raised $2000 dollars to buy physical freedom from his master Stokely Sturgis.
He had to pay a large sum of money to earn physical freedom from slavery, but received his spiritual freedom from sin for free. That is the wonderful grace of God, folks. At 23 years of age, he was a freeman.
He was no longer a slave to a human master. He was no longer a slave to Satan. Then he devoted his life to the ministry. He started to read the Bible, he learned to preach, he started to travel around. He was preaching to blacks and whites in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. His message was simple, ‘Come to Lord Jesus Christ, receive the amazing grace of God, and your life will never be the same again’. Finally, he became a regular preacher at St.George’s Church in Philadelphia. He would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to preach the gospel to all-black congregations. Later in the day he would preach to mixed audiences of black and white people. In 1787, Richard Allen founded an organization named Free African Society. It’s activities were feeding the poor, helping the widows, helping the unemployed people, even burying the dead who couldn’t afford a proper burial. It was a turning point in American history because a black preacher founded an organization, completely supported by free African Americans. It was not easy for Richard Allen. A blackman preaching to white people? Many people were not happy to see this black preacher condemning slavery and calling people to repentance in Christ. But he did not give up.
In 1793, yellow fever was ravaging America. Richard Allen, his wife Sarah and other African Americans started to work as medical aids for hundreds of white victims of the fever. They were serving the sick, feeding the disabled, digging the graves, praying with the bereaved. Their humanitarian work moved the hearts and minds of many white patients. He started to publish his sermons, the first to be copyrighted by an African American.
In 1794, he opened a church in downtown Philadelphia in a building he’d converted from a blacksmith’s shop. He named it Bethel, which means ‘house of God’. It was later called Mother Bethel. Richard Allen called people to put their faith in Lord Jesus Christ. He called them to worship. He called them to the message of the Bible. He called them to Christian values like holiness, humility, love, sobriety, virtue and kindness.
Richard Allen died on March 26, 1831. By that time, Mother Bethel became the mother church for hundreds of black churches which spread all over America. These churches preached a message of forgiveness, repentance, hope, love and reconciliation. If you look into the life of Richard Allen,this great black Methodist preacher, a former slave who saw his mother and siblings sold into slavery, he did not fill his heart with bitterness, anger and hatred. When he came to Christ, his forgave his masters, he became a preacher, he became a medical aid to the victims of yellow fever. He fought for justice and equality.
But first he called people to worship. You see that is the foundation. True social transformation starts with true worship of God. That is what prophet Amos did. He was there was no justice in his society. He also realized there was no true worship. People in Black Lives Matter want justice for black people and other minorities.That is good. But they have no God in their lives. That is why they chose violence, destruction, and chaos as their methods. Needless to say, they will fail because any movement that does not start with a true worship of God is doomed to fail. In the Bible,
God called us to obey the government officials, we are called to obey the law enforcement, we are called to respect the police officers. You can read Romans 13. Attacking police officers and defunding the law enforcement will only bring more chaos and disorder in our society.
Where is justice to the unborn babies? We are slaughtering millions of unborn babies every year. Those babies cannot cry out, those babies cannot speak, those babies cannot protest. Where is justice for those unborn babies? They will never get to leave their mother’s womb. They will never get to enjoy this God’s wonderful creation. They will never get to feel the love of a good mother, the love of a good father, the love of a grandmother or the love of a grandfather. Where is justice for those unborn babies? Why is Black Lives Matter not protesting this grave injustice to the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn babies?
Prophet Amos called his people to true worship of God. We can divide his message into three sections. Great author Warren Wiersbe divided this book into these three sections:
Chapters 1-2: Look around and see God’s judgment
Chapters 3-6: Look within and see the corruption
Chapters 7-9: Look ahead and see the end coming
In the first section, prophet Amos announces God’s judgment on six gentile nations, Judah and Israel. In the second section, he denounces the moral corruption of God’s people. Recently we are shocked to learn the sex scandals of Jerry Falwell Jr and his wife. Liberty University is a good University. Over the years many Christian young men and women weretrained in Christian worldview, theology, arts and sciences in this university. Mr.Falwell helped build this university into a $1.6 billion academic center. Over the last few weeks, we were concerned about Mr.Falwell. On August 7, he posted on Instagram a photograph that showed him with his pants partially unzipped and his arm around the waist of a woman, who is said to be his wife’s assistant.
Why are you putting your hand around a woman who is not your wife? Why are you unzipping in front of a woman who is not your wife? Why is this woman unzipping in your presence? Why are you posting these photos on social media for the whole world to see? Those questions were not answered. Then, came the more shocking news. A young man told Reuters that for years he had regular sexual relationships with Mr.Falwell’s wife, Becki. More disturbing is Mrs.Falwell is having these sexual encounters as Mr.Falwell looked on.
The young man said he met the Falwell couple in 2012 while working as a young pool attendant at a luxury hotel in Miami. So, they are living in this sin for over 8 years. Even now, it came out because as Mr.Falwell said this young man started to extort the couple to keep the affair a secret. Then, what did Mr.Falwell do? He sought mental health treatment. There are some precious Biblical lessons we can learn from this awful affair. When a Christian sins, what he or she needs is repentance, not psychological counseling. This shows how much secular psychology entered into Christian church in our time.
After the whole episode, Mr.Falwell and his wife walked out of Liberty with a 10 million dollar package. They were caught in adultery and they were walking out with a big prize. Those millions of dollars squeezed out of young college students who are packing sandwiches at a restaurant for minimum wage. Many religious leaders lost their moral compass in our time.
Prophet Amos was condemning this moral corruption among God’s people. He was denouncing the callousness of their leaders. Amos means ‘a burden bearer’ He was bearing a burden on his heart. Today you and I are called to bear this burden. A burden for the lost souls, a burden for the young men and women of our time, a burden for the middle aged and the elderly, a burden for the believers, a burden for the church.
Prophet Amos carried that burden calling his generation to meet God.
“Therefore thus will I do unto thee,
O Israel; and because I will do this
unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!”
Amos is preaching, This is what I will do to you, O Israel
Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. Today, we have seen from the life of Prophet Amos: Worship & Justice. Amos saw two main problems in his society. The Absence of true worship and the lack of justice. Justice is founded upon the truth, and God is the source of all truth. Without God, we might cherry pick truth but it is not complete truth. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Jesus Christ our Lord is the perfect manifestation of God’s grace and truth. When we come to Christ, we realize our lostness in sin, our lostness in falsehood and when we put our faith in Christ, God wants to forgive us, to give us his peace, his truth and his love. That is where we start. Let us pray.
“Lord Jesus, we thank you for your salvation. We worship you in spirit and truth. We praise you for your continued mercies on our lives. In your precious name we pray, Amen”