Study 3 AMOS: A SHAKE-UP FOR SLACKERS
STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verse: Amos 6:1)
Here is one of God’s “Woes”, and it is directed against His own people. There is nothing wrong with relaxing at the right time and in the right place. Most of us have a fatal tendency to become restless through an overactive lifestyle, and consequently we experience stress instead of finding the rest that is offered to us (Matthew 11:29). But to be complacent when there is urgent work to be done is wrong, and this is a danger that faces us all. The complacency referred to here is an unspiritual attitude.
In order to bring out the force of these words, compare Amos 6:1 with Isaiah 66:8 - “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion” and ”No sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children”. Both these statements are addressed to Zion, which in Scripture is always a picture of the Church of God. In other words, this passage is directed to God’s people and speaks of two possible conditions - being complacent or labouring. With the word of Amos as the key to our study, and Isaiah’s word to give point to it, notice three things:-
1. WE NOTICE A GREAT PRIVILEGE
What is it? The privilege here is to be “in Zion” - that is, in the Church. What a very great thing it is to be in the Church when the great majority of people are outside! How we should thank God for this. If it were not for God’s grace we would be unconverted, unregenerate, outside - look up Ephesians 2:12. The burden of Amos’ message, however, is not that certain people are ”in” Zion, but that they are complacent.
2. WE NOTICE A GREAT PROBLEM
What is it? It is God’s problem. What is God’s problem? Is it that after two thousand years of Christianity so many people are still out of Zion, they are not Christians, they are lost, they are on the broad road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13)? No! That is not God’s primary problem. God’s problem is with His own people - “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion”. The prophet does not say, ‘Woe to the atheist, woe to the agnostic, woe to the infidel!’, but ”Woe to you who are complacent…” God’s problem is not with the unsaved but with His own people who are lazy, indifferent and careless. What does it mean, then, to be complacent?
- 1. SLEEPING. Be quiet for a moment and get a mental picture of the present world situation - tension, unrest, fear of war, a massive increase in crime etc. etc ….and in this whole terrible situation the Church is asleep! In Amos 6 verses 1 and 4 you will notice two characteristics of a sleeping Church: (1) Verse 1 speaks of those who are trusting in some outward or earthly privilege. The outward is more real than the inward. There is much outward profession but little inward possession (2 Timothy 3:5). How true it is that we often place far more value on external things than we do upon the inward, spiritual mighty working of the Holy Spirit! (2) Verse 4 speaks of those who are living for pleasure and are lazy. How true this is of many church members today! Yet the tragedy of the whole thing is that while the Church is asleep every other agency of the Devil is wide awake and on the job.
- 2. SATISFIED. Read through Amos 6:1-6 and notice how this thought of self-satisfaction and complacency is indicated. What it really means is this: the whole world is going to Hell, but Christians do not care very much. They are ”in Zion”, but they are complacent, satisfied with things as they are, as was the case with the Church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:17) - so rich and yet so poor. How true it is that we are content with the mercy drops when God is waiting to send the showers! Businessmen, sportsmen, and those who devote their time and energies to politics, are not satisfied with half-measures; but many Christians are satisfied with a cooled-down experience of Christ and do not want to be disturbed too much. See how Amos 6:6 (last phrase) sums up the whole situation, and compare Nehemiah 1:3-4.
- 3. SECURE. The thought here is of being content with our own salvation and not having any concern for the salvation of others. The tragedy of this situation is brought before us in Psalm 142:4 and Luke 10:31-32. Are we like the Priest and the Levite who had no concern to help the poor man who was in such desperate need? Do we pass by the unsaved day after day, and are we indifferent to their deep spiritual need?
3. WE NOTICE A GREAT PRINCIPLE
What is it? It is mentioned in Isaiah 66:8 - “No sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children.” There is never any blessing without hard work. There are never any conversions without earnest prayer. No children are born apart from the suffering of the mother. These are not only the laws of nature but they are the laws of God, and they operate in the spiritual realm, especially in the realm of Christian service and of revival.
Now face up to this: Are you half-hearted? You are “in Zion”, but are you careless and complacent? As you conclude this study look up Luke 9:51. The Lord Jesus, out of love for your soul and for the souls of all men, set His face like a flint to go to Calvary… Can we, dare we, as His followers, do less?