June 3, 2012 David Balzer

Amos 9: Renovation Rescue

Australians love their home renovation shows. Whether it’s The Block, Burkes Backyard, DIY Rescue, Room for Improvement or Renovation Rescue.

We love to see the transformation from a white ant-infested, crumbling, leaking dump into a stylish, well-crafted and comfortable masterpiece. We love to see the good design ideas, and the hard work, and the clever construction tips. A few arguments between husband and wife, and a few tears doesn’t hurt ratings EITHER.

We love those shows because they’re about the things lots of us LOVE. Aussies love to be self sufficient. And we love to have a go. And we love to improve our HOMES. Because our home is our castle. Home renovation is probably the closest thing we have to a national pastime. Even bigger than fishing or golf.

The latest series of The Block has pushed the concept of home renovation pretty much to the limit. The four houses don’t even have ROOFS. The whole BACK OF HOUSES is MISSING. No walls, or floor or piers. It looks like they’re almost starting from SCRATCH. Which, in SOME ways, would be EASIER, because they wouldn’t have to fix up what’s already there.

Renovation Rescue (11)

But as extreme as THAT renovation is it’s NOTHING compared to the renovation rescue GOD was promising to do for ISRAEL, here in Amos Ch 9. See it there in v11?

11 “In that day I will RESTORE David’s fallen tent. I will REPAIR its broken places, RESTORE its ruins, and BUILD IT AS IT USED TO BE,

We’ve seen over the last few weeks what THE PROBLEM had been. Israel’s idolatry and greed and disobedience had white-anted the whole nation. It was a ruin! Falling to pieces. Nothing like the holy nation of priests God had CALLED them to be.

Back in Ch 7 God had held his plumb line up against Israel. And even though he’d BUILT it square, the footings had sunk, and the building was leaning dangerously to one side.

And even though God had WARNED AND WARNED AND WARNED them. Nothing had changed. The people just shrugged their shoulders, and continued on oblivious. Complacent and comfortable.

And so God had promised he was going to bring in the big machinery. And flatten everything to the ground. And cart it all away. Like that demolition company whose motto is, “All we leave is a memory.”

And the wrecking ball from Assyria was looming large to Israel’s north. Threatening. And God would use them to bring defeat and death and slavery and exile.

“It couldn’t happen to me!” (1-10)

And at the start of Ch 9, we see more of the same. God’s threatening warnings. And he’s got a word for those who think it won’t happen to them.

It’s like those ads for skin cancer on at the moment. The young guy. Fit, active, loved the beach. But didn’t overdo it. Never got burned. Didn’t think it would happen to him. But the little spot was melanoma, and before long, it had spread through his body, and taken his life. Far too young.

And Amos has a word from God for people in Israel who think it won’t happen to them. V1.

9:1 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword.

This is a vision of God IN THE TEMPLE. Which means there’s NOWHERE safe. He promises to bring the pillars of the temple crashing down on everyone seeking refuge there. He’ll find the guilty EVEN IN THE TEMPLE.

You can’t escape, says Amos, v2, if you dig down to Sheol – the place of the dead. Or if you climb to the heavens. God will drag you back down, and take you.

Mountain tops, or ocean bottoms (v3). Nowhere’s safe. V4 even in EXILE, I’ll find you and slay you. Foreign nations won’t help. God’s eye will fix on you, and disaster will follow.

Or jump down to v7. Don’t expect any special favours because you’re God’s covenant people. God works for ALL sorts of people.

7 “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the PHILISTINES from CAPHTOR and the ARAMEANS from KIR?

All the same to me, says God. Just because I’ve brought you up out of Egypt doesn’t guarantee you’re safe from danger.

And the section finishes in v10 with God’s declaration,

10 ALL the sinners among my people will die by the sword, ALL those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’

Hope for a remnant (8-9)

And yet, despite the finality and certainty of that word, God promises HOPE FOR A REMNANT. A small faithful fraction who’ll be SPARED.

We see it so often through the Bible. Side by side with God’s just judgment is his UNDESERVING MERCY. Look there at v8.

8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom. I will DESTROY IT FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH- yet I will not TOTALLY destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the LORD.

It almost seems a contradiction. Like God can’t make up his mind. Back up at the end of v1 he says, “NOT ONE will get away. NONE WILL ESCAPE.” And in v10, he says, “ALL the sinners will die by the sword.” But here he’s saying he WON’T totally destroy the house of Jacob.

So what’s going on? I reckon the answer is in the picture in v9. Have a look at it. God says he’ll shake the house of Israel AS GRAIN IS SHAKEN IN A SIEVE, and NOT A PEBBLE WILL REACH THE GROUND.

It’s a picture from farming. When harvesters had finished collecting all the grain, they’d put it through a sieve. And the tiny grains – the GOOD stuff – would fall through to the ground. But the rubbish – the rocks and sticks and insects and droppings. All the BIG stuff would get trapped. And WOULDN’T reach the ground.

And that’s what God’s doing with his people. Give them a good only SIFTING. The GOOD grain – and it’s not much of a harvest – will fall THROUGH God’s judgment. But the RUBBISH will be trapped. NOT A PEBBLE WILL MAKE IT THROUGH. Every one DESERVING judgment will cop it. NO ONE will escape.

And that’s the way I think you need to take the other verses about NO ONE escaping. He means no one WHO DESERVES IT will escape. No one who IGNORES GOD’S WARNING. No one WHO’S COMPLACENT will survive.

But there WILL be a faithful remnant.

And THEY’RE the ones who are going to benefit from God’s renovation rescue.

Restore David’s fallen tent – Jesus (Acts 15)

And what a renovation it will be! And it’s going to begin with a NEW KING. V11.

11 “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be,

The idea of David’s HOUSE is actually one about KINGSHIP. The kingly LINE. Back in 2 Samuel 7, David wants to build God a temple. A HOUSE. But God says, instead, that he’s going to build DAVID a house. A family line. 2 Sam 7 v12. God says

“…the LORD himself will establish A HOUSE FOR YOU: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up YOUR OFFSPRING to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. …16 Your HOUSE and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.'”

A family line – a HOUSE – that will endure forever. That’s some impressive construction! We’re looking forward to exploring some old buildings in England. Thousand year old castles. But even those are NOTHING compared with King David’s house!

But by the time we get to Amos’ day. And to King Jeroboam. Things aren’t looking that impressive. It was such a mess, God calls the house A TENT. So fragile, a stiff BREEZE could blow it over.

And yet, God’s promise to David STILL STANDS. And he’s going to RESTORE David’s house into a magnificent structure again. What he’d CURSED Israel with, he’s going to TURN AROUND, and give BLESSING INSTEAD to the remnant.

Beginning with the king.

God had CURSED King Jeroboam. The one in charge of the whole crumbling mess. “With my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam,” he said.

But over the faithful few who survive he’s going to put a NEW king. A king in King David’s line. A new, stronger king over a new, stronger KINGDOM.

Curse becomes blessing. V12. He’d sent foreign nations to INVADE. To push IN the boundaries. But he’s going to turn it around. And this new King David will push BACK the boundaries instead. (v12) (I will restore David’s fallen tent)..

12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,”

To bear God’s name means that the nations BELONG to God. That they are his people. That they name his name. And God’s promising that he’ll push back the boundaries until ALL nations are his people.

And while he’d sent FAMINE as curse for disobedience. The faithful remnant are going to experience the very RICHEST OF ABUNDANCE. V13. The harvest will grow so quickly, it will be time to reap again by the time the planter is beginning to sew.

And the grape vines will give so much fruit, new wine will drip down from the mountains themselves.

And v14. Even the EXILE will be turned around.

14 I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, NEVER AGAIN TO BE UPROOTED FROM THE LAND I HAVE GIVEN THEM,” says the LORD your God.

They’re wonderful promises. Stability, security, satisfaction. At least for the faithful few. But there well off into the future. Because Amos brings those promises at the same time as he announces the certainty of judgment, invasion and exile.

Living in better days

So what happened? Well… exactly what God had SAID would happen. Assyria DID invade. 722 BC. And Israel was carried off, and scattered among the nations. Those few who weren’t slaughtered in the invasion.

And years passed. But then, just as God had PROMISED in v14, remarkably, some DID find their way back to Israel. And they began to rebuild. And, just like God promised in v15, they were planted SECURELY. And while things weren’t the paradise that’s pictured here. They SURVIVED.

In fact despite Assyria falling by the way, and Babylon replacing it. And then Greece after THAT, and finally ROME coming on the scene. Those faithful few were STILL there hundreds of years later. Hundreds of years later when THE PROMISED KING finally arrived. The ETERNAL king to rule over David’s house. Jesus, the descendent of the son of the son of the son of the son of King David.

And it was THEN that the renovation rescue for David’s fallen tent REALLY kicked into gear.

He came preaching a similar message to Amos. About repentance and judgment. A message that the Kingdom of God was near.

And while most of Israel reacted just like they had with Amos, there were some who HEARD Jesus’ message, and REPENTED. Like a group of fisherman on Lake Galilee who left their nets and family to follow him. Who quit earning a living to catch MEN instead. And to work at building David’s fallen tent with their NEW king.

Or a tax collector, Matthew, who left his money box and spreadsheets, and followed him. Quit ripping off the poor, to HELP them instead.

And that rag-tag faithful few follow him all the way to Jerusalem. All the way to death on a cross. All the way to a body bag in a sealed tomb.

And then it was that faithful few who witnessed God RAISING his king from the dead. And God’s new renovated house REALLY took on a shine and a sparkle. And that victorious news SPREAD. Spread by those faithful few who took the news not just within the borders of Israel. But, just like God had promised here in v12, BEYOND the borders.

And the trickle became a STREAM. The remnant became a crowd. Because it wasn’t just JEWS who chose to follow the new and improved King David. But GENTILES. NON-Jews. From nations all around. They began naming the name of Jesus. And turning their life of complacent greed and abuse into a life of obedience and service instead. And, just like God had said in v12, all the nations were bearing God’s name.

And then the stream became a FLOOD. SO MANY Gentiles began following Jesus. That the Jews didn’t know what to DO about it. What it should LOOK LIKE to be God’s people.

In fact the Jewish leaders of the church in Jerusalem had to have a conference to work it out. It’s recorded in Acts Ch 15. And it’s worth listening to what they conclude. About why so many non-Jews are turning to follow the Jewish King Jesus.

They hear all the evidence. And then James stands up to conclude. Acts 15 v13. He says

“Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles A PEOPLE FOR HIMSELF. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and REBUILD DAVID’S FALLEN TENT. Its ruins I will rebuild, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, 17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’  18 that have been known for ages. 

Did you recognise what James was quoting? Amos! And his point was that if all the Gentiles were streaming into God’s people then you know what TIME it is! It’s God’s promised time of renovation rescue. The last days. “It’s happening now,” says James.

And it’s all coming about because God’s restored the house of David. He’s put David’s descendant, the true King, Jesus on the throne. And all the rest of the blessings are flowing from THAT.

We’ve seen THAT BIT, ALREADY. David’s fallen tent restored.

And we’ve seen the NEXT bit happen, TOO! The news about the Great King David’s GREATER Son Jesus spreading to the nations so that people EVERYWHERE bear God’s name.

No discrimination. Every colour and creed and people and place. All serving King Jesus. All bearing the name of God. All belonging to him. The Lord OUR God. God’s kingdom growing to fill the whole world.

And we’re beginning to see the REST of those blessings flow AS WELL. Blessings of EQUALITY and JUSTICE. Of SECURITY and STABILITY and ABUNDANCE.

Rather than God’s people ROBBING each other, abusing and suing each other. All over the world, God’s people SUPPORT each other. Money and resources and time and prayer criss-crossing the globe as we look after the church WORLDWIDE. No more US and THEM. But BROTHERS.

And all over the world God’s people are right in the middle of the worst of places. Like Paul and Cathy Sampson in the slums of Nairobi. Or Christians working among the prostitutes and street kids in Bangkok. Providing the gentle, no-nonsense, non-judgmental practical help for people from EVERY level. Doing the work that others won’t do. LIVING OUT the character and compassion of King David’s greatest Son. The SERVANT king.

But even closer to home. God is building his kingdom blessings through King Jesus reigning in people’s lives. Within OUR church, Amos would REJOICE to see people looking after each other. Sacrificially and cheerfully giving up their time and money and energy to help out. No fanfare, no marching bands. Just meeting the needs of the saints.

And we’re beginning to see the blessings of SECURITY AND ABUNDANCE flow too.

With NORMAL kings and kingdoms, there was always the risk. The risk that disobedience and sin would bring it all down. Paradise LOST. But when God restored David’s fallen tent – when he sent King Jesus as the ETERNAL king of David’s house. He DEALT with the uncertainty. He dealt with the performance anxiety. He dealt with the disobedience and the curse. He dealt with the oppressors and invaders.

And, through Jesus, God is able to promise us TRUE forgiveness. Intimate fellowship with our God that CAN’T be lost. Eternal stability that can’t be shaken.

Even if EARTHLY tremors shake our foundations. Which is the reality for MILLIONS of Christians worldwide. Even for some of YOU.

But through it all, God promises security EVERY BIT as solid as that pictured here in Amos 9. In Romans 8:35 Paul rejoices

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And God promises that the security and intimacy and abundance we’re only seeing GLIMPSES of NOW will one day be SO MUCH BETTER. When we get the FULL INHERITANCE Jesus is working out now. When we get the new heavens and the new earth for eternity. When pain and famine and tears and sickness are all gone. When war and injustice and disappointment  and fear are no more.

Is that the security and intimacy and abundance you’re living in confident HOPE for TODAY? Is the presence of God’s Holy Spirit as the deposit guaranteeing that inheritance a real comfort as you long for that day? As you live out those kingdom values as you sacrificially serve his people?

God’s promises are sure and certain. They can be relied on. SHOW your trust in them by WORKING OUT the qualities of God’s eternal kingdom NOW. In our relationships and churches. In our homes. In our dealings with friends and strangers. In our communities. Work out justice and compassion. Work out acceptance and security and stability and abundance. Work out generosity and love.

Do it all because that’s who King Jesus is. The king you love and serve. That’s what his KINGDOM is like. It’s beginning NOW. And we can begin to GLIMPSE it.

But ONE DAY it will be PARADISE.

13 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. 14 I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,”       says the LORD your God.

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