Grace Christian Church - LeRoy MN Grace Christian Church
115 E. Frederick, LeRoy MN 55951  (507) 219-1774
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Brian Thiel


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The Glory of the Ordinary

The Farmer Reformer

Amos, a voice of truth from the boonies.

Key Texts: Amos 1:1-2, 5:18-24 - Check out the vivid "farmer" metaphors, loaded cart 2:13, roaring lion & mutilated sheep 3:8,12, pampered cows 4:1, basket of fruit 8:1-2 --  The whole book of Amos (8 chapters) demonstrates how an "unknown" can influence the rich and powerful.

The application for Christians: 2Corinthians 5:1-9 - Paul's image of our live is like living in a flimsy tent. That is a metaphor of the uncertainties of a Christian's life - yet in the end, there is absolute certainty.

Intro: Can anybody say what Philo T. Farnsworth is famous for? Even if you don't know about him, I am confident everyone is familiar with his great contribution. Let let me explain: In 1927, Philo was the farm boy, age 19 then, who was issued a US patent for his invention that he called, "television." A few years later, from his lab in Philadelphia he transferred an image to his home. It was a Mickey Mouse cartoon. How ironic... today Mickey is the one who is famous, and Philo is forgotten.

Today I want to look at the life of another farmer who made a big stir back in his day... about 750BC.

Amos was doing his thing down on his farm/ranch in an out of the way place, Tekoa.
He was farming fig trees and raising sheep.
He was not the son of anybody important.
He was not a priest or a Levite, not a holy man.
Simply a farmer.

Amos was a God fearing, humble, hard working man when it dawned on him that God had given him true words to say to the ruling class in the big city off to the north... at Bethel, then capital of the northern half of the divided country after Solomon died.

So off he went to proclaim a warning to the people who were confident in their material prosperity. Jeroboam II was the "successful" king, they were winning the
wars, expanding the boundaries of the country.

Business was booming... except it was at the expense of the poor people who were oppressed by a distorted legal system. Complacency led to corruption and an unfair taxation system.

They were religious, but it was mostly just a formality of religious ceremonies that lacked real compassion or spiritual depth. It was a superficial religion, popular because it blended the cultural and popular ideas with only some of the traditional elements. Like many people today, they were mixing humanism with theology... and the process resulted in apostasy.

Amos' method of getting their attention was brilliant... started by criticizing all the nations around them... Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab. All of those would be destroyed because they were wicked. Then he turned to Judah -- their cousins, mainly the descendents of Judah & Benjamin. Amos predicted they too would be conquered.  (And indeed all those countries did fall just as he said.)

Finally, now that he has them liking everything he has to say, he turns the same hot flame upon them... Amos 2:6-16 and tells them they, too, would be conquered and carried away as slaves.  And he goes on to tell them all the reasons why they would meet the very same fate as their despised enemies.

His proclamations became so pointed that the rulers of the country were determined  to get rid of him. Amos 6:1-8, 7:10-17.

Did they succeed in banishing Amos? What happened to Amos? I don't know.  He probably only spent a few days in the country and probably returned to his home a few miles south of Jerusalem, not far from Bethlehem. Perhaps he recorded the book there, or else he had written it down before and took the scrolls with him to Samaria.

What we clearly know that did happen was that within 30 years the whole country was utterly defeated and conquered by the mighty Assyrian army and most of the people who weren't killed in the battles were carried away to the East to become slaves. Their country would NEVER again amount to anything.

Israel, the northern half of the original kingdom of Saul, David and Solomon, was living on borrowed time. Their neighbors to the north and east were fending off the Assyrians and that spared Israel. Eventually the Assyrians wore down those other kingdoms and then they came after Israel. A hundred years later the Babylonians who had overcome the Assyrians came after the southern half of the kingdom and finally by 586 they destroyed Jerusalem and carried away as slaves all the top people of that land, too.

No nation should ever think its blessed state is due to their wisdom or greatness.
Life is never that sure. Americans must never forget the many circumstances that allowed us to become so powerful.  True, we developed a revolutionary government of the people.  And we worked hard, lived faithfully much of the time, etc.  But... there were many blessings that came to us from God.   A land of great wealth of fertile land, minerals, oceans to protect us from the wars of other continents, etc. etc.

Paul in Corinthians, makes an essential point... we live in flimsy tents. II Corinthians 5:1-9.  Life in a tent is hard. We are basically defenseless... not much better off than naked.  But there IS a safe place... we get to go HOME to be with the Lord.

To LIVE is Christ... suffering, struggle
   Few of us are likely to suffer, but struggle, yes, we all have that.
to DIE is gain... no more struggle
   In the end, when we die, it isn't hard.  It is only good.

This week on a street corner in downtown Austin, a friend was recounting his recent heart attack, death, resuscitation... and he said, "dying isn't hard, it doesn't hurt."

Even though we experience all the flimsiness of having to live in a "tent" there is more, a sureness, a safety, a hope of eternity.

Amos knew it. It has never required somebody to be great or powerful to know it.
We can all know it and live it... just as Amos did.

I challenge every one to think about this... am I ALL FOR JESUS?
Or am I more like the Samaritans whose misplaced confidence in their prosperity led to their downfall?

Am I like Amos, who realized he had been given the blessing of truth and did not refuse to courageously speak forth?

Am I like Paul, who realized life is flimsy, there are no guarantees. But living all of life with a clear focus and purpose leads to eternal peace with God.

You can even think about your life this way... am I a Mickey or a Philo.
Mickey Mouse is famous but not real. Philo is the important one, he is real, but he is not famous.

ALL FOR JESUS - That's what counts.