< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: God must be king.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

God must be king.

Our Pastor, Kurt Gebhards, always gives us lots to think about and work on with his sermons. Some more then others though! And this was one of them:

God must be king of our life. He must be big and we must be small: this is the only relationship that will give us security in this life and peace for all eternity.

In the Old Testament book of Amos we have an example of people not treating their king properly and how it cursed them in the future. (The devastating aftermath of following a king of their own making.)

During King David and King Solomon’s time Israel was prosperous. During the next king’s reign in 931 BC the 12 tribes of Israel divided into the two tribes of Judah and the 10 tribes of Israel. Amos prophesizes about 200 years later: 28 years before Israel is taken into captivity by the Assyrians.

Amos was a shepherd and farmer near Jerusalem, so he was from Judah, but called to prophesize to Israel. In chapter one of Amos, he prophesizes against seven other nations surrounding Israel. Since seven is a complete number in the Bible, the Israelites probably thought he was done and they were in the clear. But in chapter two they are shocked by an eighth prophesy. Against them! And this one is the most scathing! It was all about how they had sinned against God.

Amos 2:6-8 6 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes- 7 they that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father go unto the same maiden, to profane my holy name: 8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of such as have been fined.

Israel had always been an oppressed people, but now they were oppressing people. Especially poor people. “They sell the righteous for silver.”

Matthew 11:29 is the only place in the Bible where Jesus describes Himself. And He says He is meek and lowly. The Israelites had chosen as their victims people who were meek and lowly. In their self-righteousness they were showing that they hated God. Look how they treated Jesus when He showed up! They oppressed Him too! If Jesus was meek and lowly then we have to be even more so!

The king always mixed justice and righteousness. For instance, if someone was in debt it was the law they had to give their coat as payment toward debt. But at night they were given their coat back to use as a blanket against the cold.

The Israelites were so puffed up in their pride they didn’t follow the king’s ethic and were only about justice. The Israelites were prosperous, but they weren’t honoring God with that prosperity. They had forgotten who blessed them. The king’s ethic is to pass on the care they had received to others. But they didn’t. So God would stop the flow of prosperity.

God blesses a person so they can be a blessing to someone else! God wants to funnel His grace through a person. Today He does this through the church.

Amos 2: 9-11 9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. 10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. 11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith Jehovah.
Verse 9 is about God’s preservation. God tells them He had been there for them all along. He had brought them the grace of deliverance. And in verse 10 the grace is His presence. God brought them out of Egypt, yes to deliver them from bondage, but Exodus was also about His desire to live among them! God wants to be near us!
Amos 2: 12 12 But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
A Nazirite was someone of integrity and the Israelites were defiling them and not following their good example. They also weren’t listening to the prophets. They weren’t using God’s righteousness, justice and mercy as He intended. They were living in rebellion against God.
The same thing is going on today. Instead of prophets warning us, the Bible warns us. If we turn to God He will bless us and give us grace. But if we don’t it won’t go well.
Amos 2: 13-16 13 Behold, I will press you in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves. 14 And flight shall perish from the swift; and the strong shall not strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself; 15 neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself; neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself; 16 and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah.
There are many reasons for repercussion by God, but one of the main reasons is because He will protect His mission. When we go on our own path for our own pursuits, God is not going to fund us for that. The mission for God’s people is and has always been to become a blessing to the nations.
There were eight condemnations in chapters one and two of Amos because we are all under condemnation from God. It’s not just one people. But Israel got greater condemnation then the other nations because they knew better!

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