Friday, June 12, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 14, 2015

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GOD IS NOT FOOLED
(A mind made up for GOD seeks only what is good, and lives)
(Amos 5)

In Amos chapter 5 we find the third and fourth messages of the prophet Amos, who prophesied in the eighth century along with Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. In the opening lines of chapter 5, verses 1-2, we see a “dirge” or “funeral song” that was probably designed by GOD to provoke a great lament from the wayward children of Israel because of their sins. Here the stench of death seems to cast a pall over Israel as it moves ever closer to destruction at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.
In verse 3, one can sense that the blessings of GOD to “increase the offspring”, that had been promised to Abraham, blessings that could only be experienced by “an obedient generation”, has now been temporarily interrupted by the sins of “a disobedient generation”. And now, instead of having “a tenfold increase” in population growth, they will experience “a tenfold decrease” in their current population.
Israel is told “not to seek GOD within their defiled houses of worship”, but rather they should look to find HIM among the poor and oppressed. Here the Hebrew word used for “seek” is “daras” and it means “to turn to GOD in trust and confidence”. If we are to continue to “mix the holy with the profane in our places of worship”, i.e. in our music and other un-GODly church activities, we can expect to do it without the presence of GOD. For GOD will withdraw HIMSELF from such unholy activities. Here in verses 4-5, GOD says, when we are really ready to respond to HIM in the right way, we can find HIM among the poor, and the oppressed, and that,  the way to express our faith in HIM, is by standing against oppression, or, by being “just” in all of our ways, at all times.   
In verses 10-13, we see a continued denunciation by GOD, through HIS prophet Amos, concerning the legal injustice that was being perpetrated by the “Dayyaneh Gezeloths” (Robber Judges) who sold their court decisions to the highest bidder. Here GOD also rebukes the Government workers, who overtaxed the poor, and the landlords (slumlords), who overcharged the poor for rent in sub-par housing, while all the time claiming to be “children”, or “followers” of GOD.
Luciferic laws, ordinances, judges, lawyers, and crooked government officials are not a new problem to the poor who dwell on the lower end of society in this world. These problems have been a stench in the nostrils of GOD throughout all the ages of mankind, and HE has always given it to HIS prophets, as a priority, to deliver the message of HIS dissatisfaction toward those who love to trample unjustly over the economically challenged.
In verses 14-15, we see that the possibility still exists for the people of Israel to separate themselves from these evil practices, as GOD urges them to repent, and begin to do that which is good and just, and to flee from evil. And GOD extends that same opportunity to the “powers that be” in this day and age. In verses 16-17, Amos concludes his third message of this prophesy, by returning to his opening plea, and reminding Israel of the severe “death penalty” involved, if they failed to heed GOD’s warnings.
In the biblical Greek, the word used to describe those who are involved in “religious pretense” and “public show” is “hupokrites” (hoop-ok-ree-tace). It is from that word that we derive our English word “hypocrite”. In verses 21-24, Amos reminds the Israelites of yet another of their fatal flaws. It was their tendency to live in “religious hypocrisy”, involving themselves in “playing church”, and “double lifestyles”, instead of dedicating themselves to “true praise and worship” on a daily basis. We, as a Church also struggle with the same hypocrisy today as many come to worship services seeking only to be entertained with good music from “worldly entertainers” and “well-dressed hooping preachers” that don’t even know or understand scriptures well enough to try and teach others.
GOD’s anger is always directed largely at those involved in “religious hypocrisy” and the mixing of the “holy” with the “profane”. It was then, and it still is today. It is a kind of “empty worship” that GOD simply will not tolerate, especially from the Church leaders and those who call themselves by HIS name (professed Christians) in this world.
Here GOD gives a stern warning to those involved in religious hypocrisy. HE makes it quite clear that HE detests their showing off in public, and then, living an unGODly lifestyle, in private. HE will not accept their tithes or offerings, and their hymns of praise are only noise to HIS ears, and so, HE will not listen to them. GOD tells us, that, instead, what HE really wants to see is a “a mighty stream of justice”, flowing from among us, and “a river of righteous living” that will never run dry in any of our lifetimes, here on earth (v.23-24).


A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
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