In the Name of Jesus
Amos 5,21-24 1512
Estomihi (Sonntag vor der Passionszeit) 022 Quinquagesima
Gabinus, Pastor, Martyr 296
19. February 2012
1. O Lord, who has taught us that all our doings without love are worth nothing: Send Your Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love which is the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever lives is counted dead before You (Church of England). Amen.
2. Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of hosts, the Lord: „I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer Me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.“
3. The Prophet Amos (792-40 B.C.) was a contemporary of the Prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Jonah. Amos wrote to Judah, God’s chosen people, who did not understand Yahweh’s grace, for at the time of Amos the people had broken their covenant relationship with God. O the nation was prosperous, but idolatry, a corrupt justice system and oppression of the poor were common occurrences. Sounds like 21. century America, doesn’t it?
4. Yet, in spite of such apparent and gross sin, Judah thought everything was fine and dandy (just like the average spiritual American). The people thought they had it made. They had the Holy Scriptures; they had the temple; they had the animal sacrifices; and they had Yahweh. Things couldn’t have been better -- they were the chosen race of God. They felt they could do no wrong in God’s sight, and even if they did, what of it?, they had the sacrifices to bring forgiveness. They believed that their offerings and sacrifices had pleased God.
5. Except they didn’t really have their sacrifices anymore. O to be sure, their sacrifices were performed every day at the temple, but Yahweh refused to accept their offerings and sacrifices, and that meant there was no forgiveness. Yahweh regarded Judah’s sacrifices and worship as rituals performed ex opere operato (by the mere performance of the rite), and therefore He chose to reject everything they did because they were lacking faith.
6. Christians in the 21. century are still tempted to sin like 8. century B.C. Judah. How often do you come to worship, pray or put an offering in the plate because that is what you have always done, and therefore you do so mindlessly? Do you perform your works that God commands because you are expected to do them or because you have faith in God? Such are the temptations that we face as God’s chosen people.
7. You see, Yahweh does not want us to be automatons that drone on with our worship, prayers and good works because we have been programmed to carry out those tasks. Yahweh did not create mankind as androids uploaded with the latest and best Windows or Mac OS. What did Yahweh do in Genesis? He created mankind in His Divine image and likeness. He came down to the newly created earth and with His almighty hands He knelt down in the ground and meticulously formed Adam from the dirt. Yahweh breathed His very image and likeness into Adam’s nostrils and lungs. Yahweh then took one of Adam’s ribs and fashioned Eve from his side. Yahweh created thinking and feeling human beings who bore His Divine image and likeness. God also gave Adam and Eve free will. They were created to fear, love and trust in God, but they could also choose not to do so.
8. Our God is not afraid to take risks. Giving your creation free will can result in something wondrously glorious or it can all fall apart in total disaster. The risk of free will, however, is worth it. Yahweh did not want emotionless robots but passionate people like He Himself. Thus God created both the angels and man with free will. Both used their free will to assume their own godhood. Lucifer convinced one-third of the angels to rebel against Yahweh so Lucifer could dethrone the Triune God and sit on His heavenly throne. Adam and Eve both ate from the tree of knowledge so that they could become gods in their own right. Yahweh knew that Lucifer would fall and drag down with him all mankind, but Yahweh nevertheless gave us free will because He abhors the ex opere operato attitude.
9. Yahweh rejects all your works that you perform without faith, works that could just as easily be performed by a soulless machine or computer. Yahweh despises bland religiosity and generic spirituality. Yahweh wants you living and loving out of faith in Him.
10. You and I cannot live and love this way because we are sinners. We often use our free will to hurt and hinder our neighbors. This is why the covenant of Sinai is old and temporary. God is faithful to His covenant, but men and women are not; we cannot remain faithful, for sooner or later God’s people would turn His covenant into mindless ritual. Yahweh, therefore, promised a new covenant that would fulfill the old one.
11. The Prophet Amos proclaimed these words of Yahweh: »Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream«. The old testament was merely a trickle of justice and a wellspring of righteousness. The new testament is a surging flood of justice and swiftly flowing river of righteousness. Jesus is the better offering and the perfect sacrifice. The covenant of Calvary is new and eternal.
12. Christ brings the righteousness and justification of the reign of God into your midst. At Calvary the gospel is poured out with Jesus’ suffering and death. The gospel is „like an ever-flowing stream. Amos is signifying the power and efficacy of the Word. You see, the Word bursts forth and runs even when the madness of Satan and its foes stand in the gospel’s way. Whether the princes are willing or not, the Word breaks through like a stream. They are unable to hold it back“ (Luther 166).
13. In Christ, all of your sins are forgiven. You are now righteous and justified in our Heavenly Father’s sight. You cannot break this covenant, and your sinfulness cannot annul this testament, because it is grounded upon Christ and forged upon His death and resurrection.
14. Christ crucified is the manifestation of God’s love in the flesh. Christ loves you, therefore He suffered to save you. Through the Word and the Sacraments the Holy Spirit now redeems you into the image of the Triune God. The Apostle Paul describes this holy likeness, writing: »Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends« (1. Corinthians 13,4-8). Each day the Holy Spirit uses the gospel to remake you into a man or woman of faith, a person who fears, loves and trusts in Christ Jesus just as He originally created you. Jesus has promised it, and He will see it through to completion. Amen.
15. Let us pray. O Christ Jesus, who accomplished everything written about You by the Prophets, help us to follow You to the cross and the empty tomb so that we behold our everlasting salvation. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 18 (Minor Prophets I: Hosea-Malachi). Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan, Oswald, Hilton C. and Lehmann, Helmut T., Eds. Copyright © 1975 Concordia Publishing House.