I recently prepared a sermon series for church on the book of Amos, currently one of things I’m spending time focusing on. The series, I thought, allowed us to tackle some of the things going on in the world and in our community in a relevant way; it wasn’t at all a stretch to relate the passages to the Arab Spring, how to respond to the ‘big society’ agenda, the phone hacking allegations, and so on. This wasn’t exactly a surprise (of course the Bible is still relevant!), but I think it does show exactly how relevantly the book of Amos speaks into our current situation.
As I wrote in a previous post, the book I found very helpful in preparing this was Teaching Amos by Bob Fyall. Quite a lot of the ideas are from his book! Ideally, I would have liked the series to be slightly longer, but we only had 5 weeks, so the sermon outline is given below. I also preached a couple of the sermons in this series myself, so they are linked through the titles.
Sermon series: ‘The Lion roars’
1. The Awesome God (Amos 1 and 2)
God is revealed as the Lord of History and Creation, who speaks through his messengers, in visions and words and directly into the world. God’s judgement is proclaimed by Amos to both God’s chosen people, and the surrounding nations. All are judged, based on the amount of knowledge that the people had of God. The nations are judged for their cruelty and acts of inhumanity. God’s chosen people are judged for their rejection of him.
God is still active in history. How can we be ‘salt and light’ in the world, whilst also pointing towards God’s ‘eternal power and divine nature’ (Romans 1:20) which can still be clearly seen?
2. Prepare to meet your God (Amos 3 and 4)
The justness of God’s judgement is shown as fair, inevitable and comprehensive. This underlines the need for us to prepare to meet our God by being compassionate, truly worshipping, learning from history and bowing in awe before him.
3. Playing with Fire (Amos 5 and 6)
God condemns his people for being complacent, finding false security in religion, in military might or material things. But, these things are only transitory. What God calls his people to is genuine worship, justice and righteousness to flow from his people and no complacency.
4. Seeing it as it is (Amos 7 and 8)
The challenge of these chapters is to see things as they really are, as God sees them. This is emphasised in the visions given to Amos, and also in the conflict with Amaziah. We also need to see things as God sees them. In part this is by learning from creation, history and God’s word. Largely, it is about being transformed by our relationship with God.
5. In Judgement remembering Mercy (Amos 9)
Amos challenges his hearers not to rely on anything other than a living relationship with God. Where God judges we will not escape, we will recognise who he is and we will not be able to claim any special relationship. But God desires to bless, and where he blesses he will complete his purposes and renew his creation. We see this most clearly through our relationship with and worship of Jesus.