I. Re-cap and Introduction
II. Sampling of Prophetic Statements – Lesson Three
A. Read Amos 6:3-6 - “Woe to you who spurn the day of evil, while you convene sessions of injustice (drawing ever nearer to the reign of lawlessness)…”
“…who lie on ivory couches, stretched out on their beds, eating the fattened sheep of the flocking calves from inside the stall; who sing to the tune of the lute, considering themselves like David with their musical instruments; who drink wine out of bowls, anoint themselves with choicest oils, and are not pained by the destruction of Joseph.”
1. What are these leaders doing, and what are they spurning? Can you see ways in which they are inadequate or corrupt? Specify.
2. Explain how they think they’re like David and how in most ways they certainly are not? Are there similar ways in which we exhibit similar traits as part of our culture?
3. AN IMPORTANT NOTE: the prophecies delivered in chapters 5 and 6 probably came in a period that was not only relatively peaceful and quiet but also on the eve of ambitious military campaigns and during an era of success, prosperity, and security that were second only to the times of David.
How does this help explain the difficulty of Amos’ mission or that of any prophet whose concerns conflict with those of the ruling interests and whose predictions of dire outcomes may turn out true but not until many years down the road?
B. Let’s look again at Jeremiah 2:8. After Jeremiah had begun to state God’s indictment of the people for straying so far from the Divine path, he charges this: “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the Torah did not know Me; the leaders rebelled against Me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”
1. These are the leaders of the people that concern God and Jeremiah. Simply by looking at the complaint against each of the three kinds of leaders, can you sense what each did wrong and the ways in which their straying contributed to the people’s straying?
2. How might leaders in other times, including ours, stray in similar ways and cause problems for the society?
C.1.“Walk about in the streets of Jerusalem, see now and know, and seek in its plazas; if you will find a man of authority, if there is one who dispenses justice and seeks truth, then I will forgive her.” Jeremiah 5:1-2
The conventional view of these verses is that while no such person could be found, there were good people in Jerusalem. Where were they? Why might their goodness have been inadequate? Do we see similar problems today?
2.“They must only be the impoverished ones; they act foolishly, for they do not know the ways of God…I will go to the leaders and speak to them, for they know the ways of God…But I saw that together they have broken the yoke, snapped the straps.” 5:4-5
We will return to this reality again because it is a significant problem that plays itself out in many ways. But what essentially do we learn here? What does the speaker expect initially? What then does he find to his surprise?
Does this surprise occur in history, or in our own time?
D. “Your princes are rebellious and associates of thieves…” Isaiah 1:23
I just want us to note the specific comment here about “princes.” What do you think this reference teaches us explicitly? Who are “princes?” In what ways might they and/or their practices be “rebellious” or corrupt? How might it be difficult to recognize?
E. Once it has gotten bad, it will get worse: “…youngsters (shall be made) their leaders, and mockers will rule them.” Isaiah 3:4
What could this mean? What’s the problem? What’s the nature of the transition from bad to worse? Who might the “youngsters” be, then and now? Who are “mockers,” then and now? Do we have experience of it?
F.1.“The prophets prophesied falsely and the priests dominated the people by their hands - and My people liked it that way” Jeremiah 5:31
And the people liked it?! Why? How could that be, then and now? Have you seen such things in our world?
2.“They despise the one who admonishes by the gate, and the one who speaks purely they detest.” And they “harass the upright.” Amos 5:10, 12
Here we get a sense about why the people like false prophets. What is it about the prophet that is despised, or detested? And why and how would they harass the upright, then and now?
3.The people do not listen to God or His true prophets and they do “not accept rebuke.” “Faith is lost; it is detached from their speech.” Jeremiah 7:27-28
Several questions arise. First, what does it mean that - broadly - people no longer listen to true prophets and won’t accept rebuke from them?
Second, what is meant by the conclusion that faith is lost?
Finally, what happens when faith is detached from speech?
Do we see parallels in our own society?
4. “For it is a rebellious people, children who deny; children who are unwilling to hear the word of God; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not see true visions for us! Speak smooth words to us; see fantasies for us.” Isaiah 30:9-10
We’ve seen evidence of this problem before. What’s wrong with the people’s behavior here?
G. “Therefore, the prudent man keeps silent at that time, for it is a time of evil.” Amos 5:13
This is important. It suggests a further effect of false prophets, what many expect of them, and how they respond to them. What does it say? Does this happen in our time?
Transition – In the next lesson, we’ll continue this discussion of an unhealthy societal cycle in which bad leadership plays a crucial part.
Next, we’ll look further at bad habits in the people that both help bring on bad leadership and, even more, are worsened in the wake of bad leadership. Primarily, we’ll look at two phenomena in some depth: 1) the inclination to follow after false prophets while tarnishing and even trying to destroy true ones, and 2) engaging in false and hypocritical practice to deceive oneself, others, and God in order to hide the degree to which the people have strayed in their wrongdoing.