Download these notes in word format: Amos course – session 3
‘Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness not light’ (5:18)
Sharing from the challenge given last time
Ask people to share any feedback they have from the challenge given last time. Take time to listen to what people said about what the best things the church can do.
- Do the answers challenge us?
- What do they tell us about the ways we can witness to God more effectively?
Introduce tonight’s first theme: lament
Perhaps there are connections between what we hear others say about Church and the challenge God gives us through books like Amos.
Read the whole of Amos 5
Tonight we look at the unpopular concepts of lament and repentance. The word ‘lament’ is not used much in contemporary Christianity – we are perhaps more drawn to celebrating than lamenting. But when we consider the injustices and tragedy of the world, perhaps lamenting is something we should give more time to.
Focus on Amos 5:1-2
- What does it mean to describe Israel as ‘fallen’?
Israel might have been doing well politically and economically but Amos wanted to shake complacent Israelites who assumed God was with them however they acted.
Focus on Amos 5:11-13
- According to these verses, what is the state of the nation?
- What kind of society does v.13 suggest exists?
How does this connect to today’s world?
- Do you feel the temptation with friends, or in your community or at work to ‘keep your head down’ rather than speak up against things that are wrong?
Being prepared to speak up and name problems and issues is not a popular job. The prophet Jeremiah condemns the false prophets who fail to speak up about the sins of the nation. ‘Peace, peace’ they say when there is no peace.’ (Jeremiah 6:14)
- What are the issues that make you lament for our country or for our community? (these might be similar to the issues talked about in the first session)
We have to be careful when talk about issues that we need to lament for that we avoid simply moaning and blaming others. Perhaps the difference is a lament is a heartfelt cry of anguish before God, as someone who feels the pain of the situation and is prepared for costly action to redeem the situation. Too often moaning is simply pointing the finger at others from a position of comfort.
Introduce tonight’s 2nd theme: repentance
Amos prophecy is not complete doom and gloom – although it can feel like it at times! There always remains the possibility of change, of hope and restoration. This is where the concept of repentance comes in.
- What does the word ‘repentance’ actually mean?
It does not just mean being really sorry or even feeling bad – it actually means ‘to turn around’ – to stop going one way and turn to go another. This is what Amos calls Israel to do – change direction, go another way – to acknowledge that the way they are heading is towards disaster and that they need to seek God and change.
Focus on Amos 5:14-15
- In what specific ways should Israel turn around?
- What will happen if Israel changes her ways?
There is hope but it requires repentance and a change of direction: ‘Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.’ (5:14)
How does this connect to today’s world?
- What situations are you desperate to see a turnaround and change in behaviour?
(this might be a situation of injustice, suffering, insecurity, anxiety, a negative or damaged relationship, mistrust or unforgiveness or unresolved pain either for yourself or someone you care about.)
- Ask people to think of one and then write down on a piece of paper the initials of the person or people involved. Ask them to fold the paper and place it in the middle of the room.
Praying in hope
Encourage everyone in the group of the hope of Amos’ message – despite the mess the country was in – God offered Israel a way to redemption and life.
As followers of Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God, we are people of hope because we know that in and through Jesus there is forgiveness and acceptance.
- Encourage people to pray in the full knowledge of this forgiveness and hope.
- Then as a group pray over these issues – that all those involved will “seek God, not evil, that they may live” (v.14)
Give out the challenge below to each person
Try to pray each day for one week for the situation you wrote down on the paper.
You could use this as a prayer for those involved:
“Lord I pray that …………. will seek good, not evil; that they may experience life in all its fullness. Help them to seek you, the true and living Lord God and know always that you are with us” (based on Amos 5:14)
Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday – Friday – Saturday – Sunday – Monday