"Running From A Lion... Into A Bear... Bitten By A Snake"
Consider the text God’s warning to anyone who’s ‘playing Church!’ I ought to just finish right there with that one statement, for the text says it all. Amos, here, is dealing with those who like to try to fool people by acting holy.
One thing about it brothers and sisters... you can fool man, but you can’t fool God! Man is easy to fool because man’s assessment and evaluation of people is based on what man sees ‘outwardly.’ In other words, man’s view and purview of humanity is based on what man is capable of seeing with his natural eye. But Amos is letting us know that there is an ‘unseen eye’ that sees all we do and an ‘unseen ear’ that hears all we say. That unseen eye and that unseen ear belongs to God... and God sees stuff and knows stuff about you that nobody else knows.
I tell people all the time... don’t be too quick to judge folk based on “what you think you know” about them, because you really don’t know them! Truth of the matter is... some people are good - “real good” -at being one thing around you, but something else behind closed doors. Matter of fact, you’d probably be surprised to learn some of the stuff the person sitting right next to you does when they’re out of your eyesight. You ought to turn and look at them today and say, “I wonder what you do when you know I can’t see you!”
But you see, that’s man’s limitation. Man only looks at the outward appearance. But God has the power to look through man’s physical and skeletal structure to see what state man’s heart is in and likewise, what state man’s soul is in! Amos apparently had issues with a few folk here. Evidently there were some people - some so-called church members - who were going around talking about how glorious it will be when the Lord comes. There are people today doing that. I’ve heard them stand on Sunday’s (in various churches) and ‘Testi-lie’ ... I mean ‘Testify.’ Talkin’ ‘bout: “Saints... if you miss me from singing or preaching down here, and you can’t find me no where... come on up to the city called glory and I’ll be waiting up there!” It sounds good! And when they say it, they sound so convincing! But my brothers and sisters, the proof is in the pudding and the spice is in the cake! There’s no sense in you telling me to look for you in glory if you can’t get along with folk right down here! There’s no sense in saying “I love the Lord, He heard my cry and pitied my every groan. Long as I live and trouble rise, I’ll hasten to His throne” ... if every time I hear your name mentioned it’s involved in some kind of ungodly mess!
I need to drop some money in the meter right here and park for a minute to tell anybody who’s playing church... you better stop it and get serious about this thing because time is winding up! I don’t know when He’s coming, but this one thing I am sure of: “It’s just a matter of time!”
And so, Amos is trying to warn Israel that destruction is approaching! Look at what he says in verses 16 & 17: “... there shall be wailing in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skillful of lamentation to wailing." In other words, Amos telling us that God’s judgement and devastation will be so complete throughout the land that there will be sorrow on every street! Travelers on the highway will see it every place they go! Farmers and vineyard workers will find the burden of sorrow more pressing than the care of their crops, and it will lead them to mourn! The only ones who will profit from this judgment will be the professional mourners. Yes... you see, back in the bible days, they had professional mourners. These pro-mourners would go around crying for folk for a fee. If you died and nobody cared, your family could hire these people to come and cry at your funeral. Well... the word says that when the judgement of God comes... the only people who profit from will be those who make a living from being professional mourners. And all of this will happen because Jehovah Himself will pass through the land in judgment as He has promised. Tell somebody, “He’s coming... just as he promised.”
I’m gonna leave you alone in a minute, but the writer says that the land of Israel shall be put in mourning, true mourning, that all places shall be filled with lamentation for the calamities coming upon them. I think we’re seeing that in our land today. Look at our cities these days, and just about every place you cast your eye there is wailing in the streets, on main streets. On side streets. On highways and byways. Everyday, you hear about another person being murdered, mugged, raped, or robbed. It’s not safe to walk the streets alone at nights. Nowaways, when you got out, you almost have to carry mace or pepper spray, or a stick or something to protect yourself in case you’re attacked.
But not only are our streets in a bad way. Our homes are in a bad way. Children are rising up against their parents. Parents are killing their children. Husbands and wives are living in the same house, but there’s no love in there!
Our schools are in trouble. Metal Detectors now stand as sentinels at the school house door. Police officers patrol school hallways. Drug sniffing dogs are being brought in to sniff lockers that once held only books and homework! I tell you, it’s a mess!
But you know, as sad as it is for me to say this... I can understand the condition of the world because sin is so prevalent in the world these days. I”m not trying to justify it, but I can understand it. You expect people in the world to be unruly and ungodly, because worldly people are basically plastic. But when it comes to the church... (God’s house) you don’t expect to find fakes and phonies in the house of the Lord. God’s house is supposed to be made up of regenerated folk, who are becoming sanctified folk, who are on their way to become glorified folk. Regeneration means: you have turned from sin, and turned to Christ. Sanctified means: You’re still not what you ought to be, but you’re not what you used to be... and everyday you’re getting better and becoming more like Christ. And then, Glorified is the state you become after Christ returns in the rapture... when we see Him as He is and become like Him!
Those are the people you expect to find in the church. But we find today that there are C-Z Christians... they look like diamonds. They sparkle like diamonds. But they have to worth. They just here to look cute and try to fool somebody!
We’ve got some Knock-off Christians. They look like good church folk They carry a bible. They wear a cross. Sometimes they have on a robe, but they’re not the real deal... and you can tell it by the fruit they bear! These are the kinds of people Amos is writing to. The ones who were going around saying, “I’ll be glad when the Lord comes.” But I hear Amos say, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord...” They say that they wish it would come because they don’t believe it will ever come; nor will they believe it unless they see it!
And because they don’t believe it... they don’t fear it. And if they do believe it, they’re doing nothing to get ready for it. And because they’re not doing anything to get ready for it... when it happens it’s going to blow their minds, because it won’t be a day of glory for them... it will be a day of darkness! In other words, Amos is trying to tell us... only those in a right relationship with God will survive to enjoy the benefits of the Day of the Lord. And... you might even escape most of the devastation I talked about a few minutes ago, but none of us will escape the judgement of God!
That’s what he means when he says, it will be like a picture of a man who escapes from a lion and while doing so, he runs into a bear. He gets away from the bear and makes it to the safety of his house only to relax in his home and in his exhaustion leans against the wall, only to be bitten by a snake! The old folk used to say it like this: You gonna run to the rock to hide your face, but the rock will cry out... no hiding place! You gonna run to the oceans and run to the rivers, only to find the water boiling.
I’m closing here now, but...
-What you gonna do... when Jesus comes back on a cloud (just like He said He would?)
-What you gonna do... when all of the demons are loose and there are no chains on evil?
-What you gonna do... when time rolls up like a scrolls and the moon drips away in blood?
Somebody’s who’s been playing church is gonna run to the church for real this time and cry out, “Have mercy on me Lord!” But I say, why wait until it happens? Get right with God and do it now! For when He comes... He’ll separate the Wheat from the Tare!
When He comes... He’ll separate the Real from the Fake! When he comes... He’ll separate the Saints from the Aints!
Yes... soon and very soon...
...the last temptation will have been registered...
...the last hill will have been climbed....
...the last valley will have been crossed...
...the last sacrifice will have been made...
...the last criticism will have been heard...
...the last crime will have been witnessed...
...and the last heart will have been broken!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it!
I don’t want to escape the lion, and escape the bear, only to die of a snake bite. But I was hear Him say “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!”
Well done... you were real about this thing!
Well done... you tried to love everybody!
Well done... you prayed for those who despitefully used you!
Well done... you’ve been faithful over a few things!
Come on up! Enter thou into the joy of the Lord, prepared for you before the foundations of the world!