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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

From Rev Kelly Bedard

Infamous Amos
Amos 6:1-7

A. Afflicting the Comfortable

    1. A period of prosperity is interpreted as a deserved blessing from God

    2. Addiction to luxury to the point that grieving for and seeking the lost is lost

B. Comforting the Afflicted

    1. God's restless people are put at rest--i.e., lost but eventually found (Amos 9:11ff.)

    2. A promise that God will restore and expand His kingdom (ibid)

Notes

1. The ease and arrogance of the elite of Judah is summed up by one ambivalent word: "comfortable" (sha'anan, "at ease, arrogant," used most often in Isaiah, can have the positive sense of being free from misfortune, but can suggest arrogance). For they and their colleagues in Samaria are
"secure." At least for the privileged few life is easy, while ordinary folk have difficulty repaying the loans incurred during the last drought and slavery is a permanent possibility. (Tim Bulkeley)

2. The expression "evil day" is unique to Amos, though the plural "bad times" is found in Psalms 49:6 and 94:13. The opposite, "good day," found in 1 Samuel 25:8 and in Esther (8:17; 9:19, 22), refers to a feast or festival. This echo adds a nice touch of extra irony to Amos' words. (Bulkeley)

3. The feast these notables attend is now described, in terms which gradually (and subtly) build up an image of decadence:

    "lying" has a possible double meaning;
    "ivory couches" are unusually rich;
    "sprawling" hints at excess, of untrammeled growth of plants as well as of undisciplined lounging of humans;
    specifying their meat as the "best" lambs and calves from the "fattening-pen" also hints at excess of luxury. (Bulkeley)

4. Verse 5 is not easy to translate, however the reference is evidently to the music that accompanies their feasting. The reference to inventing new musical instruments suggests how far their desire for more and better takes them. Such consumption of novelty is not unknown to the contemporary world elites (neither to the local elites of the two-thirds world, nor to the larger Western "elite"). (Bulkeley)

5. The scorn poured on their drinking wine from bowls is probably not so much concerned with the quantity as with the use of vessels otherwise associated with worship--mizrachim are always temple vessels in the Bible. They also use for themselves the finest oils, contrary to religious claims
that the best produce be offered to God. The word rendered "finest" is that used in verse1 to describe Israel as the "first" of nations, neatly rounding off the description of those to be accused. (Bulkeley)

6. For this catalog of luxury is not itself the accusation--that follows--for despite all this they are not troubled by the ruin of Joseph. As Jeremias (95-96) rightly points out, using "Joseph" for the northern kingdom avoids the word "Israel." ...the dream of a united kingdom of Israel which these leaders are meeting to sustain, the reference to "Joseph" simply draws attention to their disunity. (Bulkeley)

From Rev. Wayne Dobtatz

That's The Way It Is--In Eternity
Luke 16:19-31

A former TV newscaster always ended his broadcasts the same way. They used to call him "America's favorite Uncle." The final story was read, then Walter Cronkite would say: "And that's the way it is." 

Jesus looks you and me in the eye this morning and tells us the story of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus. It has been called a story so "striking and solemn that anyone not startled by it must be fast asleep." Jesus is telling us, "You want to know about the other side? You want to know about Heaven and Hell? Then listen to this story--This is the way it is in eternity." Jesus tells us 4 things about this life and the life which is to come.

I. "As you believe, so you will live"

  A. The sin of the Rich Man wasn't in being rich

    1. Abraham, Job, David and others were rich and still children of God

    2. The sin of the Rich Man was making wealth his god

         a. He ignored the message of Ps. 49:16-17

         b. He trusted in it for shelter, as in Prov. 18:11

         c. The prediction of Prov. 23:4-5 came true for him at his death

B. The salvation of Lazarus wasn't in his being poor

       1. Remember: this is a parable and Jesus gives the beggar his name--Lazarus means "trust in God"

       2. I Sam. 2:8-9 was true of him

II. "As you live, so you will die"

    A. Text, vv. 22-23

    B. Procrastination is the thief of time in the spiritual realm, too, and the time of grace is gone forever (cf. James 2:14)

    C. There are only two possible destinations after this life:

        1. The Kingdom of Darkness

            a. It is the Kingdom of selfishness--an apt place for a man who thought only of himself and his own comfort

            b. Jesus said so in Matt. 25:41-46

       2. The Kingdom of Light

           a. Lazarus was carried there by servants of salvation--cf. Heb. 1:14

           b. As Paul writes in Col. 1:12-14

III. "As you die, so you will be judged"      

      A. The Rich Man "pulled strings" to get his way in this life

       B. He doesn't have any resources in eternity because he is without God--text, v. 25-26

      C. That's what hell is--to be separated from God's help and from all hope--text, v.26; see also Matt. 25:41, Rev. 22:15

IV. "As you are judged, so you will remain"

     A. He tries to influence "Father Abraham" but to no avail; it is too late--v. 26

      B. The only hope for his family and for us is "Moses and The Prophets," so he becomes a missionary! (text, vv. 27-31)

Richard Lenski summarizes: "The rich man still does not realize that it is his unbelief that has brought him to hell. He invents a new means of grace for his brothers. He maintains that he knows better than God how to save his brothers, and blames God for their terrible fate. But God says no. To have Moses and the Prophets is to have the Old Testament Word. The Word is the all-sufficient means of salvation. It is far more than Abraham had in this life; we have Jesus and the Apostles as well."

 "Abraham tells him that even the resurrection of Lazarus wouldn't do any good in the case of men who constantly fail to hear God's Word. Even a miracle would not persuade people with such hard hearts." (see John 12:9-10)

"The Word of God is all-sufficient and therefore the only means of salvation. God not only furnishes no other means; he has no stronger means to furnish, or he would have already provided it. Those who resort to other means produce no saving faith, in fact, attempt to reach heaven without
faith."

Tryon Edwards said: "Hell is truth seen too late." And that's the way it is--in eternity.

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM