Session 6: Putting the world to rights (Amos 9)

 Download these notes in word format: Amos course session 6

‘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’ (9:11)

Opening question:

  • If Christianity was made illegal….apart from attending Sunday services, do you think there be enough evidence to convict you?

Feedback on last week’s challenge:

  • Encourage people to share if they have made any resolutions or commitments, large or small, following last week’s challenge?

How do we change?

One of the main themes in Amos is that of changed behaviour. Amos tells the Israelites to stop the meaningless religion, corruption and oppressive behaviour and change their ways: ‘Seek the Lord and live’ (5:6).

  • Think about changes you have made in your life about how you do things because of your faith. What helps you to make changes and hold to them?

When it comes to change, whether personally, within communities or around issues of injustice, hope is a crucial ingredient.  Hope is a belief that I can change; hope that we can make a difference; hope that things will be better.  ‘Hope is believing, despite the evidence, and then watching the evidence change’ (Jim Wallis)

Christian hope

As Christians we are people with a great hope. Ever since the first Easter morning, a ‘vast explosion of love, joy and hope released into the world by the resurrection from the tomb of the crucified Lord Jesus’ (Lesslie Newbigin).

It is this hope in Jesus Christ that continues to motivate us and drives us towards action.  It is not hope in our ‘own righteousness’, or our ability to solve problems.  It is a hope rooted in what God has done; what he is doing now; and what he will do in the future.

As we have seen the book of Amos has many tough messages – but it ends with a real note of hope.  This hope is rooted in the restoration and renewal that God will bring about.  It is God who ultimately ‘puts the world to rights’.

Read Amos 9

Focus on Amos 9:8-15

  • What will be the fate for the people of Israel?

There will be terrible judgement but they will not be completely destroyed. Verse 10 though specifically picks out those who are complacent who say ‘disaster will not overtake us’.  But verse 11 includes the words ‘repair’, ‘build’ and ‘restore’ twice.  After the judgement, the country will be restored.

  • From v.13 onwards what pictures or metaphors does Amos use to describe the restoration of Israel?
  • What kind of society does it sound like?  How does this vision differ to the social situation that Amos has been condemning throughout the book?

The renewed country is marked by security, abundance and fair reward for labour and hard work.  It is a vision of wholeness and fullness of life for all.  The Hebrew word for this wholeness is shalom – God’s wholeness which restores and renews people, communities and the whole of creation.  It’s a vision that resonates with Jesus’ words in John 10:10: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.

How does this connect to our view of heaven?

When we think about Christian hope, the idea of heaven is very important.  But often when people hear the word ‘heaven’, what comes to mind is a completely ‘other-worldly’ place – perhaps with images of individuals floating around in clouds, removed far from the earth.

  • Is this a Biblical picture of heaven?
  • What are the dangers in this kind of view of heaven?

The problem with believing that God will simply ‘do away’ with earth and pull us into an otherworldly heaven is that it can lead to a faith which focuses too much on spiritual issues and ‘future glory’.   But God’s work of redemption and renewal takes place very much in the real world: down the narrow path of costly love that Jesus showed us.

So what is a Biblical picture of the hope we have?   Rather than doing away with his creation the Biblical picture of heaven is a fully renewed and restored earth where God dwells with his people.

Ask two people to read these two passages slowly.  Invite people to close their eyes and reflect on what they hear:

  • Isaiah 65: 17, 20-24
  • Revelation 21:1-5

What does this mean for us today?

  • If God’s business is restoring and renewing people into right relationships with him and each other, then how do we best bear witness to Him?
  • Why are issues like poverty and justice important within this work?

God calls us to be involved in his work of restoration – living out and speaking of His love, redemption and wholeness.  He calls us to good works and work done for his kingdom will last for eternity:  ‘These three remain: faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.’  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Christian concern for justice is a step of faith because it is a sign of the new creation that God will one day complete.  This is the challenge of both Amos and Jesus: to live out our hope in God’s love in a world of injustice.

Think and share

  • Ask the group if there is one thing that they have been convicted of during this teaching and studies on Amos (this may be the ‘resolution’ you shared at the start or another issue).

Closing Prayer:

  • If you have time read Matthew 19:28-30 about ‘the renewal of all things’.
  • Pray for each other

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