When we think about people worshiping gods made of wood or stone we might think that is strange depending on what part of the world you live in. Although many people do not worship images of gods there are plenty of gods that we do worship without us even realizing it. The gods that people put their trust in today are not images they created but are people and things that they trusted for their security and salvation. In America our money says, “In God We Trust”, but many people look to the money itself for peace and security rather than to God Himself.
We are created to worship and with the gods we will mention today if we are not careful we will find ourselves worshiping them instead of God who is the creator and sustainer of life.
Exodus 2:2-3 “I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt. That is the land where you were slaves.3 “Do not put any other gods in place of me.
A god is anything we pursue or make sacrifices to so the problem with other gods is that anything can become a god in our lives. Money, sports, looks, clothing, health can all be gods that we look to for fulfillment instead of the God. God is a jealous God because He wants us to look to Him and be in a relationship with Him alone. When we look to other gods to fulfill needs we should be getting from God then that is like being married but needing girlfriends or boyfriends on the side to have all your needs met. No healthy marriage is like that and God does not want that either. (Exodus 20:5)
Amos 6:1-3 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence?
“Woe” means something has gone terribly wrong. A woe cry was like crying at a funeral in deep grief and sorrow and earlier in the book of Amos the prophet was singing funeral songs trying to get the people to see that they were doomed. The people did not believe the prophet because they believed that they were on good terms with God. A deceived person is one who believes a lie as if it were true and many times we accept these gods into our lives and think that God does not care.
1) The god of superiority
“Are you better than these Kingdoms?” Instead of the people seeing themselves as God’s chosen people to point others to God they saw themselves as superior to the other nations. Amos tells them to go and take some trips to other cities and really evaluate if they are better than them because those cities were greater and yet they fell and no longer existed.
When we think we are better than others or because we have a certain set of skill or abilities we can start seeing ourselves as better than other people. In today’s language Amos might say, “If you live in a nicer house, drive a nicer car or have more talents are you really better than others?”
The god of superiority is tricky because we should take the talents and abilities God has given us and develop and use them for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom but in the process we can become arrogant forgetting the one who gave us the abilities in the first place. We love to compare ourselves to others and retail stores and commercials will do all they can to get you to compare what you have to what you should have in order to make you feel better or worse about yourself. There have been several television shows dedicated to showing people how the rich live making it seem that they somehow have it better than others because of what they can afford. The god of superiority makes you think you are above others because of your financial status, or your job title, where you live, what you wear and what you drive. Even our children can get caught up in having the right clothes, cars and shoes so that they fit in and are not looked down on by others but worse look down on others because they do have those things.
There was pride in the Northern Kingdom that they were superior to other nations and even the Southern Kingdom of Israel and Amos calls them out to ask them if they think they are better than everyone else.
James 2:1-4 My brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. So treat everyone the same. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes. And suppose a poor man in dirty old clothes also comes in. 3 Would you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes? Would you say, “Here’s a good seat for you”? Would you say to the poor man, “You stand there”? Or “Sit on the floor by my feet”? 4 If you would, aren’t you treating some people better than others? Aren’t you like judges who have evil thoughts? (See Also Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:10)
Amos 6:4-7 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”
2) The god of self-indulgence
Whatever desire they had they made sure they fulfilled for themselves while taking advantage of others to get their own needs met. The people had become rich by robbing others but they believed that they were being blessed by God because of the money they had accumulated and they were using that money to fulfill their own needs and wants. Amos now attacks the lifestyles they are living by talking about their sleeping conditions as being as “Beds of Ivory “ and how they are sluggards that stretch themselves out on the couch. Amos then says that they have Lambs from the flock’s which the average family ate meat three times a year and these people were eating it every day and even eating the young lambs and cows. (veal) Amos accuses them of Drinking wine out of bowls and having lotion for their skin which showed how they had more than enough to share but they used it only on themselves.
The people were clueless how they were acting because they were singing songs and comparing themselves to King David even though they had no concern for anyone but themselves.
Mark 12:30-31 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Are you not grieved over the ruin of Joseph? To say Joseph was like saying the Northern Kingdom of Israel and they were not grieved over what had happened to their country because they were so self-absorbed into their own needs. They were not paying attention to the sins that had crept into their nation and now have accepted those sins into their own lives and into their worship services. They were so busy being entertained and consumed by their own lives they did not see that their nation was falling apart because of rebellion towards God.
The last thing the church can become is so self-centered that we ignore what is going on right around us. The Good Samaritan is a story Jesus told to show the religious leaders that their focus was wrong as they walk by the very needs of people they should be ministering to. The problem most people have with serving is that serving others will always cost you something. It will cost you time, money, energy or all three. In Mark 5 a woman touches Jesus knowing that if she does she can be healed and it says immediately Jesus felt power leave His body (Mark 5:30). Energy is something that is talked a lot in our society and there are drinks and medications to keep us going and feeling energized. Many people are afraid to serve because they want to have enough energy to do the things they want to do so instead of using their energy of others they simply ignore the needs right in front of them. We have to pay attention to the needs around us so we do not worship the god of self-indulgence. God did not bless us for us to just indulge ourselves.
Amos 6:8-14 The Lord God has sworn by himself, declares the Lord, the God of hosts: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.” 9 And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. 10 And when one’s relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?” he shall say, “No”; and he shall say, “Silence! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”11 For behold, the Lord commands, and the great house shall be struck down into fragments, and the little house into bits.12 Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there[a] with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood[b]—13 you who rejoice in Lo-debar,[c] who say, “Have we not by our own strength captured Karnaim[d] for ourselves?”14 “For behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord, the God of hosts; “and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of the Arabah.
Oaths were taken seriously in the Middle East and a person was required to carry out the oath no matter how painful it might be and even if the person they made the oath with did not require them to fulfill it. God swears an oath which means that what is said is going to happen and nothing will change it. God swears the oath by His own name because there is nothing higher that one can swear an oath to.
3) The god of security
God says, “I hate his strongholds “God has some pretty powerful words for the people who think that their safety and security is because of the walls they have built. The people no longer look to God for security but their own walls they built and the military power they have accumulated. God hates anything that replaces Him and they no longer need God for protection, or so they think, because they have a great military and in their mind indestructible walls. Amos says it would be crazy for you to run a horse on jagged rocks and just as crazy that you have ignored justice for the people and even crazier that you put your trust in things rather than the living God.
There is nothing wrong with locking our doors, putting up fences or walls (Prov. 14:6) but when we turn to those things for our security rather than God then they become the gods we worship. The problem is that we turn and make security itself our god instead of God being the one who protects us. Steps of faith means that some things in life are going to be unsure but only with faith (Heb11:6) can we please God. What or whom do you trust in for your security? God? The Government? Your financial smarts?
The people were also not worried about military threats because they believed themselves to be the most powerful nation in the world. They conquered Lo-debar and the name means “no- thing” or “nothing” Amos is saying what you have conquered is nothing. Your power compared to God’s power is not a thing. We have to be careful as Americans because we tend to put our trust in our military and forget that we need God for our protection.
Israel escaped the powerful army of Egypt through the Red Sea without lifting a sword (Exodus 14-15) Gideon defeated a larger Midianite force with only 300 men (Judges 7) David defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and an Angel of God killed 185,000 Assyrians that had surrounded Jerusalem (Isaiah 36-37)
God does not need our military or our fortresses to protect us, He is capable on His own.
Proverbs 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Christians may not put their trust in our government or our military but we do not trust God when we play it safe and not walk in obedience with God. We play it safe in relationships by not reaching out to someone that God placed on our hearts. We play it safe in serving by not being obedient to put others needs above our own. We play it safe because we will never be hurt again by people by not being vulnerable with others. God does not call us to play it safe; He calls us to give ourselves away and empty ourselves out. (Philippians 2)
All these gods have one thing in common and that is they take our focus off of the true God. Whatever god you have started serving is because you do not trust God with that area of your life. The god of superiority, the god of self-indulgence and the god of security are really just the god of me because the sin from the beginning has always been that I want to be the god of my life. Where are you placing your trust? What you sacrifice and worship shows if you are following the true and living God or the gods of this world.