“The Masking Cult” Introduction • For today you read Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah. • They are called pre-exilic because they prophesied before Israel was deported to Assyria.
“The Masking Cult” • Background of the Book of Amos • Amos prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II in the northern kingdom of Israel in approximately 760 B.C. • During the days of Jeroboam II, Israel experienced great power and prosperity unmatched since the days of David and Solomon.
“The Masking Cult” • The military was strong and the gross national product was high, but the nation was in a state of social, moral, and spiritual decay.
“The Masking Cult” • They oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. • Judges could be bribed. • Religion was a syncretistic mix of ritualistic devotion to Jehovah and to various pagan gods like Baal and Ashtoreth. • The people had no real awareness of the Almighty; God was merely an abstraction.
“The Masking Cult” • Amos as a Prophet • He was a very successful shepherd in Tekoa and a dresser of sycamore-fig trees. • He wasn’t a religious professional nor a northerner, but a farmer from Judah. ‘Go to the people and prophesy’ (Amos 7:15)
“The Masking Cult” • God commissioned him to preach to a culture that was sin-sick and decadent.
“The Masking Cult” • How It All Started • Jeroboam set an alternative place of worship, instead of the temple in Jerusalem. • He built shrines on high places and appointed priests, even though they were not Levites (1 Kings 12:31)
“The Masking Cult” 14 “I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son (Amos 7:14)
“The Masking Cult” • Israel’s False Worship • Amos condemns their religion and worship as false. • They had the wrong place for worship: Bethel and Dan (Amos 5:5). • They had the wrong focus of worship: False gods (Amos 2:2). • They had wrong the teachers: Amaziah Priest of Bethel (Amos 7:2).
“The Masking Cult” • They maintained the points of referral: 4 “Go to Bethel [where the golden calf is] and sin; go to Gilgal [another idol worship center] and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. (Amos 4:4)
“The Masking Cult” 5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings—boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do,”declares the Sovereign LORD. (Amos 4:5)
“The Masking Cult” • They had the outward expressions of worship: • The sanctuary • The tithes • The morning sacrifice • Thank offerings • Free will offerings
“The Masking Cult” • It was actually a masking cult. 21 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grainofferings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,I will have no regard for them. (Amos 5:22-23)
“The Masking Cult” 23 Away with the noise of your songs! (Amos 5:21-23) • It’s like a religious group that offers you the world, but can’t offer you salvation. • The one thing you need they can’t give!
“The Masking Cult” 12 … “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” (Amos 7:12-13)
“The Masking Cult” • Worship becomes narcissistic. • But the true character of worship is to reveal God.
“The Masking Cult” • Defining Worship • There are two things that we should remember as we consider worship. • God is the subject of worship. 4This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; 5 do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. (Amos 5:4-5)
“The Masking Cult” • This means the focus isn’t on us but on God and what He reveals. • God is the object of worship. • That is, worship is about gifts and sacrifice.
“The Masking Cult” • The New Testament uses two words to express this OT reality. • latreuo • proskuneo • latreuo refers to the acts of worship used to venerate God. • proskuneo literally means “to bow down.”
“The Masking Cult” • So the issue in the Book of Amos and the New Testament is that God is to be at the center of worship.
“The Masking Cult” • Their worship wasn’t built on justice, righteousness and the embracing of Scripture. 15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. (Amos 5:15)
“The Masking Cult” 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24) • Amos is telling us the same thing Paul teaches in Romans 12:1:
“The Masking Cult” 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1) • Unless we live holy lives, our worship is unacceptable. • Why? We are not qualified to worship God.
“The Masking Cult” • Conclusion • You see, worship of God is its own end. • God is the subject and the object of worship. • If we lose God as the subject of worship, we turn worship in to performance instead of sacrament. • For Christians, what drives our worship is what God has done in Christ.
“The Masking Cult” • For whom is worship?, Amos asks? • He responds, “Worship is for God alone.” • The chief aim of worship is to please God. • The point of worship is to realize that God alone matters!
“The Masking Cult” 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)