To go from bad to worse is demoralizing. To expect things to get better only
to witness things get increasingly dire crushes the human spirit. It is simple
to expect good days to become better days (that is what people always expect).
We never think good days cannot be improved so that the future is filled with
even better days.
Discuss the fact that many adults have only experienced the good getting better and have never experienced the bad.
However, we always expect bad days to come to an end. There is always a bottom to the bad but the sky is the limit with the good. If it is bad, it can only get so badthere is always a limit to how bad it can get. Badness is limited by human expectation. But good, good is a different story. There is no ceiling on good. Good is unlimited.
Talk about this view: The bad can get only so bad, but the good will always improve and become better. Talk about those who never ever experience the good.
Have you noticed that if we have experienced the good we can never go back to the bad? Take the good ole days as an example. We long for the simplicity of those days, but not with the expense of enduring the bad. Anyone for outhouses? Or no in-house running water? Or no water heaters? Or no electronics? Or limited medications? Or no air conditioning? Or lower life expectancy? Oh, we could never go back to THAT. Those days are long gone and could never come again. Really! Do you realize that is current existence for many people alive right now?
Talk about: Why do people generally think we cannot return to really tough times?
Amos addressed those who trampled the needy and regarded the humble as an unwanted handicap to their society. This time Amos addressed a problem that should make our blood run cold. Amos factors religious attitude into the motivation that resulted in trampling the poor and rejecting the humble.
Note that we rarely connect honoring God with honoring the poor. Discuss this: Do we think the poor are less in Gods image than the middle class or the rich? You may wish to look at passages like Deuteronomy 15:1-18 and James 2:1-9.
When religion is reduced to a necessary evil, religious people are in trouble! These people had to be religious; they did not dare make God angry by not worshipping and honoring correct religious expectations.
Compare to Nehemiah 13:15-22, Ezra 9:5-15, and Matthew 6:1-18. Consider that it is a combination of the acts and the motives.
However, these people could not wait for religious occasions to be over. They did what they were supposed to do by being at the correct place. However, they did not think about God. That was a waste of time! They thought about how they could take advantage of peoplehow they could cheat people in the wheat market by using dishonest scales, or taking advantage of the helpless, or by selling an inferior product.
It is easy for the opportunity to make money to be more important to us than thinking about and serving God. Ask, Why?
After all, it was just business! And business was business! Everyone did it! That was just the way the game was played! If you were going to do business, you had to play the game, and play it better than others. If someone was hurt as people played the game, it was too badthat was simply the reality of the situation.
It seems to be simple to justify a behavior without considering the impact of the behavior. If the act is not wrong, many think no consideration needs to be given to the result of the act.
If you could make God time profitable time (instead of wasted time) by thinking of ways to take advantage of the helpless and needy, good. Turning wasted time in a money-making direction was good, not bad.
In this mindset, time spent thinking about God was wasteful IF that time could have been used making (or planning on how to make) money.
Amos said they needed to consider the impact of their thoughts on God (whom they were seeking to pacify and manipulate). God said He knew what they were doing and would never forget it. (What human wants his ungodly acts to live always in Gods memory?)
As we consider the impact of our acts and thoughts, it is important (essential) to think of the ways our acts or thoughts impact Gods purposes. That means we need to understand Gods purposes as well as His directions. Directions can be misunderstood when purposes are unknown.
The consequences defied human understanding. Their land would quake, the people would mourn, and things would happen as mysteriously as the Niles rise and fall. The predictable would become unpredictableit would be dark at noon, their festivals would sound like funerals instead of celebrations, and there would be no occasions of happiness, only occasions of sorrow and bitterness.
Commonly, the unthinkable happens when we ignore God.
I, God, tried to talk to you, and you would not listen. I will try no more. It will be so obvious I am not among you that you will travel everywhere in your attempt to find Me. There will be a famine, but it will be a famine of My words. Your choice people will die, and all will know it is because I am not with you.
Enormous suffering resulted from not hearing God. Remember that they had no print. Enormous suffering still results when we are ignorant of Gods ways and values.
The other gods you worshipped will be powerless to help you. Their powerlessness will be obvious. You will have nothing but your wicked selves to turn to: I am gone and your false gods cannot help. What a pitiful situation! All you will have is your wickedness!
It is a pitiful tragedy when people depend on powerless things to benefit them.
The lessons: (a) God time is for honoring God. (b) To be at the correct event and fail to think about God offends God. (c) Honoring God includes respecting the helpless. (d) For our evil deeds to live in Gods memory is a horrible thing. (e) For God to withdraw His presence from people is destructive to the people. (f) It is possible to trust in something that has no power to help us with our greatest needs.
These lessons are as relevant to us as they were then.
For Thought and Discussion
1. What is demoralizing? What crushes the human spirit?
It is demoralizing to witness things go from bad to worse. It crushes the human spirit when situations become increasingly dire.
2. What do we expect to end? There is always a bottom to what?
We expect the bad to end. There is always a bottom to a bad situation.
3. When we have experienced the good, what cannot happen (we think)?
We can not go back to the badthat cannot happen.
4. What did Amos address in this lesson?
He addressed those who trampled the needy and regarded the humble as unwanted in their society.
5. When religion is reduced to a necessary evil, what is the result?
Religious people are in trouble.
6. These people could not wait for what? Why?
They could not wait for religious days and occasions to be over. They wanted to get back to making money, and using dishonest means to acquire money.
7. In this way of thinking, when a person turns God time into money making time, it is good and not bad.
That seems to be the common way of thinking.
8. What did Amos say they needed to consider?
He said they needed to consider the impact of their thoughts on God.
9. Describe the consequences of their desires.
The land quaked, people mourned, mysterious things happened, and the predictable became unpredictable.
10. Since God tried to talk to them and they would not listen, what would happen?
God would make no effort to communicate with them any more.
11. What lessons should we consider?
Link to Student Guide Lesson 11
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