The Lord has not forgotten his people (2:23-25) and the Lord calls Moses (3:1-10). He made sure Moses has all the experience he needs to speak to the Egyptians. However Moses has been living for 40 years in Midian. The Lord had guided him to the mountain of God. Moses has an encounter with the living God when he sees the burning bush.
The Lord patiently answers Moses’ questions (3:11-4:12)
- “Who am I to go?” (3:11-12)
- “Who are you?” (3:13-22)
Whenever the Lord is written in capital letters, it refers to this name – “I AM” – the one who always has been always will be. “Milk and honey” comes up a lot and refers to plenty. The Lord is the God of the whole earth and of the past, present and future and is the one who is sending Moses.
- “They won’t believe me.” (4:1-9)
The Lord gives Moses three signs to show he’s not making this up and to help the Israelites believe he has been sent from the great I AM.
- “I’m not a good speaker.” (4:10-12)
The Lord will help Moses speak. He is patient.
The Lord expects obedience and worship (4:13-31)
Moses asks the Lord to send someone else. He’s now disobeying and the Lord is angry, but he’s still patient and says he’ll help both him and Aaron. Aaron will be Moses’ messenger. Moses now has to go and the Lord reminds him to take his staff. We are reminded how seriously the Lord takes obedience. The Lord’s anger is stopped when Zipporah circumcises one of their sons.
Jesus is the Lord
Jesus was often criticised. He said “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus is the great I AM, the only eternal God. He has not forgotten us. If you’re a Christian you are one of God’s people. Jesus calls all people to follow him and he calls all Christians to be witnesses for him, wherever they are. Are we praying that we’d see the opportunities he gives us? Just as with Moses, sometimes our questions aren’t really questions, they’re excuses. There are consequences for disobeying Jesus. If we turn to him, he is a loving father.
The Lord has provided a rescuer for his people (v1-12)
God is telling us about this baby because he is someone significant. This baby is going to be a priest. With him, this is a new beginning for God’s people. Pharaoh uses the Nile to kill all baby boys but God uses the Nile as his rescue of this baby.
The Lord is at work in Pharaoh’s daughter as she has compassion on the baby she finds in the river. We don’t know how many years go by between verses 9 and 10 but Moses was old enough to know about his heritage. Spending years in the palace didn’t blind Moses to who his people are.
The Lord’s rescuer is also ruler and judge (v13-22)
The Lord raised Moses up for this purpose. That’s not what the people want. Pharaoh tried to kill Moses. He probably knew he was a Hebrew boy but also hoped he would stand with the Egyptians instead of the Israelites. This isn’t God’s rescuer being stopped. God takes him to where he needs to be. He rescued seven foreigners and was invited in for food. Moses married one of the daughters and had a family in a new space. This isn’t the end of the story. He named his son “an alien here.”
What the Lord does for his rescuer, he will do for his people
This is a glimpse of what God will do through Moses to rescue his people. Moses was brought up with the Egyptians but as the Israelites are rescued by the Lord, they will plunder them. The Lord is going to bring them all out to safety.
Moses, the Lord’s imperfect rescuer, points us to Jesus, the Lord’s perfect rescuer
When Jesus is born, Herod wants all the Israelite boys killed. He comes down from the glory of heaven to stand with his people in weakness and humility. As he’s rescuing them, he is oppressed and rejected. We can have confidence we can follow Jesus as he’s been there before us. Moses is a glimpse of the better rescuer that Jesus is. Jesus says that he will forgive you but you must live with him as your ruler. His rescue helps us to see the kind of ruler that he is. The more we rejoice in his rescue, the more we can trust that his rule is for our good.
God’s plan has always been to save sinful people. He promised Abraham people, land and blessing (Genesis 12:2-3). As the people grow, they shape the promises of the Bible.
In Exodus 1, we see slavery. That doesn’t seem like things are going the way of the promises. The people are in a horrific situation. We’re not told how many baby boys are killed, but it’s likely that there were a lot. Doesn’t our experience seem far from God’s promises? Christians are the true family of God. Has God abandoned us when things don’t go well? Our temptation could be to think that we need to help ourselves. We can distract ourselves, but it doesn’t last.
God is keeping his promises
Their experience is despite the situation, God is showing them, through his word, that he is keeping his promises. This isn’t the end of the story. God does rescue his people from slavery in Egypt and that is good news. God was waiting for his perfect moment to display his might in all of the world. We know the end of the story if we’re Christians. Jesus has already secured victory and is bringing us safely home. We are given glimpses of grace along the way. God won’t always help in the way we want him to, but he helps in the way that’s best for us.
The midwives feared God. Despite the struggles of their lives, they trust God. They know he is God and Pharaoh is not. God was kind to the midwives and gave them families of their own, even though they lied. God blessed them as they made a choice to keep living for God.
Keep living for Jesus
We can choose to keep living for Jesus through the struggles of our lives. The truth of the Bible is that God is good, even when he doesn’t do what we think is best. He’s told us how the story ends. It might mean a hard life now, but one day everything will be as it should be. We run the Christian race longing for Jesus, knowing he will bring us safely home.
Jesus will take you through things in your life that will make you realise that without him, you have nothing. No one has a perfect life. Life is full of disappointments. Nothing that touches our life delivers what we hope it will, except for one person. In these moments, where do you turn to for hope?
In v1-2, the focus is on “alone.” We can give full mental assent to something and live as if it doesn’t matter. Our problem is as though a cloud covers the truth. We can recognise that we shouldn’t desire certain objects but continue to want them anyway. The things that we think and do obscure the reality. Jesus hasn’t moved. It’s us that have moved.
What is David facing (v3-4)?
He’s under attack by his supposed friends. They’re trying to topple him. David is stuck. He’s on the verge of collapse. The things that he’s facing become big and dominating. In verses 1 and 2 he’s saying what it’s like to be disconnected from something.
How do we get unstuck? Do we go through the old cycle of what we used to do? It sounds like David does this in v5-6. One thing changes from v1-2. What’s in his head needs to go into his soul. It’s as though he’s daring himself. He knows which horizon he wants to live under.
What do you do with a refuge (v7-8)?
You move in a direction and hide in it. Run into the one who is being spoken of. Being a Christian is about knowing the living God of the Bible. There is a personal invitation.
What does it mean to be a growing Christian (v9-10)?
What is it that David knows about himself? He talks about stuff and status. Don’t set your hope in your stuff as it can’t deliver your soul. If you’ve got enemies your status can keep you secure. Put your confidence in Jesus.
The Lord is our salvation, our rock, and our fortress.
Throughout this chapter the Lord is mentioned a number of times (v1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15). Amos wants us to know that this is the Lord God speaking. Lord in capitals – Yahweh. The Lord has specially chosen the people of Israel (Exodus 3:14). For us living today, we know more about the Lord. We know the Lord is one. We know that Jesus is the Lord. God the Son, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are one. As we see this vision, we should see Jesus.
Jesus is the Lord who comes with inescapable judgement (v1-4)
There’s a gruesome judgement (v1). There’s no escape for the people of Israel. Even disappearing from the land isn’t enough to escape. Jesus has promised that one day he will return with an escapable judgement over the whole world.
Jesus is the Lord who made and controls the whole earth (v5-6)
It’s a glorious and terrifying description of the Lord. He has absolute power over the world he has made. This is a glimpse behind the veil of the true power of the sovereign God. It should give us a strange comfort. If we’re Christians he is for us. We can’t run away and hide. All we can do is run to him.
Jesus is the Lord over every nation (v7-8a)
The Israelites thought that because they knew God’s name, they were untouchable. Jesus reminds them he is Lord over every single nation.
Jesus is the Lord who comes with grace (v8b-10)
The people of Israel deserve God’s judgement. They are hypocrites of the highest order. There is no escape from Jesus’ judgement yet he does offer grace. Jesus won’t let you fall to the ground. Jesus’ faithfulness can’t be stopped by your failures. We can turn back to Jesus. We are safe in his arms. Run to him because he brings grace.
Jesus is the Lord who brings blessing to all nations (v11-12)
God’s kingdom is wherever Jesus is King.
Jesus is the Lord who will transform the whole world (v13-15)
This is a picture of a land where the harvest is so massive they can’t gather everything. Wine flows down the mountains. This isn’t just a new Israel. This is a new world free from sin. Now, what the people plant, they reap; what the people plan, they achieve. The things that we plan don’t always turn out the way we want them to. The days are coming when all that will change.
This is our hope. Jesus will remake the world. All our sadness and frustrations will be gone. We can’t escape Jesus’ judgement but he offers a gracious rescue. So run to him.
When the Lord reveals his judgement against sin, will you cry to him for mercy or refuse to listen? This whole book is a warning.
Vision 1 – locusts (v1-3)
As the Lord speaks first, he says he’s preparing locusts. It’s not just a vision of an accident. The Lord intends it. When they come, there will be devastation. Amos cries out for forgiveness. He’s from the southern kingdom yet he is moved to compassion for people who don’t like him. The Lord listens and relents, not because they don’t deserve it but because he loves to listen to the prayers from his people. Keep on praying.
Vision 2 – fire (v4-6)
Once again, the Lord is calling for judgement, this time by fire. The land is devoured. Land after fire or locusts look similar. There’s nothing left. Again, Amos responds and cries out. Israel had taken their name from Jacob. Jacob, without God’s blessing and grace, would’ve been nothing. The Lord had shown him kindness. Again, the Lord relents. He is teaching Amos and us that he does listen when we pray.
Vision 3 – plumb line (v7-9)
This is a different vision to the previous two. The Lord is saying Israel is the wall. They were built as they were made to be. Although we’re not told explicitly, they are no longer the straight wall they once were. This time, Amos doesn’t plead on their behalf. They aren’t what they should be. When Jesus came, he is the only person who kept God’s law perfectly. We can look at the life of Jesus and see how far we are from that life. He is the plumb line and we all fall short.
Response 1 – Amaziah (v10-13)
Amaziah doesn’t want to listen to Amos. He’s a priest but doesn’t want to listen to God’s word. Are there things that our community doesn’t want to hear? Amaziah cares more about the king’s sanctuary than the Lord’s.
Response 2 – Amos (v14-15)
Back in 3:8 Amos states the sovereign Lord has spoken. He listens. As the Lord has been revealing his judgement, he listens and cries out to the Lord for mercy. We should speak up. The Lord has called all Christians to speak about him.
A judgement against the priest (v16-17)
Everyone is guilty. God’s judgement against sin is fair. On the cross, God showed his judgement in the clearest way that he could. The full anger of God poured out, the sky darkened. Will we cry out to him for mercy or refuse to listen and face judgement ourselves?
The Israelites are looking forward to the Lord’s coming (5:18). They’re looking forward to the day when God’s people will have a wonderful future. It’s a good thing to long for. This will be a day of judgment against them (5:18-20). There is no escape. Appearances can be deceiving. For the Israelites in Amos’ time they thought they were doing pretty well. Amos is here to reveal the truth underneath. They instead have a false hope in themselves.
A false hope in themselves (5:21-6:7)
They might look fine but on the inside, they’re dead. Hypocrisy, wickedness. They’re hoping in themselves through their religious acts (5:21-27). Their acts are rituals, superstitions. They’re whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27). They’re trusting in military success (6:1-3) and their material wealth (6:4-7). They’ve got everything they could possibly ever need. Amos reminds us that a false hope leads to judgment.
A false hope leads to a true judgment against sin (6:8-14)
God’s judgment will be complete. Whole cities will be destroyed. There is an appropriate fear of the power and might of the sovereign Lord. It’s a picture of God’s complete judgment against sin. It’s just. It’s what the people deserve. These people have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness. God’s judgment is fair. God’s people will face judgment and exile for rejecting him. We can think we’re better than them, that we wouldn’t do the same.
We need a true hope in the Lord’s rescue
We need to realise we can’t do it by ourselves. We need to throw ourselves on Jesus’ mercy. It’s only through his death that God can be just and be merciful. A false hope in ourselves, whatever that may be, will bring judgment, but a true hope in Jesus will bring rescue. Whatever good things we do will never be enough because we all fail. This passage is a reminder to look to Jesus. In Jesus, each and every person is valued. Success is measured by seeking Jesus and clinging to him day by day.
Amos seems to be stirring our hearts to ask if we’re actually at peace with God. We are in danger if we fool ourselves, but God says to Amos “Come with me if you want to live.” (Terminator reference). This passage was often quoted in the American civil rights movement in the 50s. Amos announces he’s on the side of the vulnerable.
The troubling announcement of God’s wrath in this chapter begins with a lament. A lament is a song for the brokenhearted, or a song for when you’re at your lowest. God views his people in the OT as a coming marriage. He’s grieving in v2. Israel was meant to be a nation of blessing but they’ll be brought to almost nothing. Why has Israel become a depleted nation? They weren’t seeking God himself (v5). These are significant places. The people would’ve been appalled. They forgot the Lord himself. So often we want the benefits of a relationship with God but not God himself. We want what God can give us, but not God. What happens when God’s people do this? Nothing good.
Our default setting is to worry about ourselves instead of others. When we seek what we can get from God, we put our own selfish wants first. God’s beloved people are brought to almost nothing. They hate justice or do nothing about injustice. Do we know what peace even is? Amos shows peace is a right relationship with God and a right relationship with our neighbour. We’re only at peace with God when we seek him as he has revealed himself to us.
God directly appeals to his people when he says “seek” (v4, v6, v14). God’s people had forgotten who he was. They’d forgotten that he was good. He reminds us exactly who he is (v8-9). God call us to live (v14-15). Seek the God who champions the weak. He invites us back into peace with him. The passage ends with wailing in the streets (v16-17). God calls us to seek him as he reveals himself. He points us outwards to the whole city.
Amos reveals to us the severity and intensity of God’s justice. God is the hero of the brokenhearted. He won’t allow the oppressed to remain oppressed. God isn’t done with us. When we turn to God, he turns us to our neighbours. He reveals himself to be ultimately the God who is with us.
In Jesus, we have every spiritual blessing. He’s the morning light that dawns in our darkness. Jesus is God with us and shows us mercy. In Jesus we are called out of our old way of living to be able to truly love our neighbour. We are freed from the oppression of our sin. Each of us is invited to seek God and live for him.
The kingdom was split in two (northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah). They were pretty strong and prospering. Amos was a shepherd, a farmer. God called him as a prophet. He sends him a message. Amos was sent from the south to the north. The words aren’t too pleasant – the Lord roars from Zion (1:1-2). Jerusalem is the place of God’s temple and the Lord roars (Revelation).
The Lord roars in judgement against the sins of the nations (1:3-2:3)
The Lord is to be feared. He roars in judgement against the sins of the nations.
The pattern of the judgements:
- The Lord speaks
- The serious nature of sin
- An example of their sin
- The judgement of the Lord
- The Lord speaks
You don’t have to be a Christian to know that some things are bad. That’s what these nations are doing (1:3). Nothing is left standing. These are horrific sins. They are all against other people. No one should read this and think God’s judgement is unfair. When he comes to judge sin, nothing will stand in his way. Just as these nations have destroyed others, they will be destroyed.
Imagine being an Israelite hearing this. Thank God that he is going to judge this evil. What God says will happen, happens. He does still see the evil around us and he will judge it. The Lord roars against the sins of the nations. It’s a warning. It’s easy to point at the sins of others. We are just as bad. We have hurt others and we know we’ve done wrong. As Christians we can’t sit back smugly.
The Lord roars in judgement especially against the sins of those who claim to be his people (2:4-16)
Judah is judged because they’ve rejected the law of the Lord. They’ve broken the laws that God himself gave to them. Israel doesn’t escape this judgement. The root of their sin is the same as Judah’s. They were supposed to be a light to the nations. God has acted again and again to rescue and bless Israel but they’ve thrown it back in his face. Israel has no defence. It seems not a single person will get away. They’re stuck. This is certain. Amos was speaking at around 760BC. By 722BC the nations had been conquered. This is a warning. We are no better than the Israelites. To be a Christian is to know that you deserve God’s judgement.
We can be comforted in Jesus. It should make us more dependent on him and his gracious rescue, but we need to be warned. Being one of God’s people isn’t just a label. It’s an internal change that’s shown by an outward way of life enabled by the Holy Spirit. If we deny the truth with our actions, are we really Christians? The Lord sees and will judge all of our sin. Our only refuge is found in Christ. Let’s cast ourselves on his mercy.
A summary of Genesis could be that God is gathering a people for himself. People are rubbish but God doesn’t reject people. God made promises of people, land and blessing. Abraham and Isaac tried to prostitute their own wives to save their skin. Jacob cons his own father. His sons sell their own brother into slavery and leave him for dead. God is keeping his promises despite our sin and wickedness. He takes rubbish people and makes them his own.
Joseph knows the evil intent in the hearts of his brothers but he knows that God can use it for good. For Jacob that means fixing his eyes on Canaan. He’s come to the end of his life and with his final words he’s modelling what it looks like. He wants to make sure his sons act in line with God’s promises. The mourning for Jacob is extravagant. It’s testimony to who he is and who Jacob is. For the Egyptians their saviour’s grief becomes their own grief. Joseph speaks to the court, even as the second in command. He’s showing respect and humility.
Only Joseph and his brothers cross into Canaan. They turn and go back to Egypt. Even here we see this is about more than just Canaan. If we’re Christians we are to fix our eyes on heaven if we are to live for Jesus now. For Joseph it means completely forgiving his brothers. It means cancelling debt and absorbing a cost. It means no longer bringing up the issue. It moves towards the other person and is only possible when we trust God. Joseph knows that behind the hurt God was still doing good things. It doesn’t take away the hurt but it means knowing that this isn’t all there is. If we won’t forgive others we have no right to expect God to forgive us.
God is gathering a people for himself.