Introduction: Imagine a friend who never listened to you! Your advice
was unimportant. Your needs irrelevant. You might better have saved
your breath then tell your friend what you like and what you dislike.
Now imagine an employee like that. One who never pays attention to
instruction. How would you react to a friend like that? How would you
react to an employee like that? Thinking about this gives us a sense
of what it is like to be the Creator God and have a group of
followers who do not really think that obedience is important. Let’s
plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Idols

    1. Read Psalms 115:1-4. How is our God different than other
      gods? (He is not reduced to some sort of image. He is in
      heaven and He does what He pleases.)

    2. Read Psalms 115:5-8. What is the logical problem with an
      idol? (Nothing works! They cannot speak, see, hear, smell,
      feel, talk or walk. These are pretty serious

      1. What results from trusting in an idol? (You are as
        deficient as the idol. You have no power.)

    3. Read Psalms 115:14-16. How else is our God different? (He
      made heaven and earth. He runs the heavens and He gave the
      earth to us.)

    4. Read Deuteronomy 10:17. How does our God exercise His
      authority over all? (He is fair and accepts no bribes.
      Unlike an idol that cannot see or hear, our God makes

    5. Read Deuteronomy 10:18. How does God’s fairness as a judge
      manifest itself? (He “defends” those who do not have
      power. Those without fathers, husbands or friends.)

      1. What do you think it means to have a judge “defend”
        someone? (If God is still acting as a judge here,
        God’s favor is to be fair to the powerless, even
        though they have no power. However, God’s role may
        have changed here.)

    6. Read Deuteronomy 10:19. This seems to require more than
      being fair, right? It says that we should “love” the
      foreigner. The western world has a huge foreigner
      problem. Europe and the United States have experienced
      people flooding into their countries. What does God expect
      of us when we are told to “love” the foreigner? (Read
      Leviticus 19:34. God keeps referring to the fact that His
      people were “foreigners” in Egypt. His people should treat
      foreigners like they would have wanted to be treated in

      1. Using that context and standard, what does God expect
        of us today with regard to the great influx of
        immigrants? (The Egyptians enslaved God’s people.
        This does not set the bar very high. The Egyptians
        would have shown them love by leaving them to their
        own efforts and not enslaving them.)

        1. Do you think that is what God means here?

    7. Read Deuteronomy 10:20-22. What critical advice does this
      provide for the foreigner? (The most important friend for
      the foreigner is God! This goes back to our discussion
      about idols. Part of God’s message to His people about
      remembering their background as foreigners is that God
      tremendously blessed them.)

  2. Faithfulness

    1. Read Amos 5:18. Do you want Jesus to come and take you to

      1. Is that what these people wanted? (Yes, they wanted
        “the day of the Lord” to come.)

      2. Would that day be as wonderful as they expected?
        (Apparently, not. It would be “darkness” and “not

    2. Read Amos 5:19-20. Is this fellow having a terrible day?
      (Yes! No matter what trouble he escapes, he finds more.)

    3. Read Amos 5:21. What is the problem? Why are those who
      follow God, who want Him to return, so wrong about how
      this will turn out? (There is something wrong with their
      relationship with God.)

    4. Read Amos 5:22-23. Isn’t this exactly what God asked of
      His people? (Absolutely! On the religious worship side of
      things, the people are doing what God wants, but something
      is terribly wrong.)

    5. Read Amos 5:24. What clue does this give us as to what is
      wrong with the relationship between God and His people?
      (God calls for “justice” and “righteousness” as a constant
      stream. This should be the continual output of your life.)

      1. Let’s discuss this. What have we previously decided
        is “justice?” (It is giving people what they

      2. What is “righteousness?” (In this context it is right
        living. Obedience to God.)

    6. This is all pretty general. Let’s back up in this chapter
      and examine the specific causes of God’s rejection.) Read
      Amos 5:7-8. What is the failure here? (To acknowledge our
      Creator God.)

      1. Isn’t acknowledging God what was happening when the
        people were worshiping God and bringing sacrifices?
        (I would think so. We still have not discovered the
        specific problem.)

    7. Read Amos 5:10. Now we are getting specific. What is the
      problem here? (Some people hate a judicial system where
      the rule of law is followed (justice) and when the truth
      is told.)

      1. Notice the phrase “detest the one who tells the
        truth.” I recently read a news account of a Canadian
        being fined $55,000 because he referred to a
        transgendered person as a “biological male.” Is that
        an example of detesting the truth?

      2. Look again at the context. Are we talking about
        telling the truth in church? (No. The context is the
        judicial system. The system of government. This has
        to do with the wicked being dishonest about what is
        really happening.)

    8. Read Amos 5:11. The NIV translates this “levy a straw tax
      on the poor and impose a tax on their grain.” Who is
      behind this evil? (This is the government imposing a tax
      on the working poor.)

      1. How does government today create problems for the
        working poor?

      2. As you think about the poor in the world, how many
        people are poor because of their government?
        (Government is a huge problem. Wars, corruption, and
        a lack of economic freedom make people poor. There
        is an important link between religious and economic
        freedom. Most countries that have religious freedom
        also have economic freedom. The result of the
        resurgence of democracy and free markets has
        dramatically reduced the number of poor world-wide.)

      3. How does God intervene when the leaders of government
        harm the poor? (God warns that the leaders will not
        enjoy their wealth.)

    9. Read Amos 5:12-13. Amos repeats the nature of the problem,
      corruption of the rule of law. How do people react to
      this? (The “prudent keep quiet in such times.”)

      1. Is this what God wants? Should we keep quiet about
        evil in government? (God admits it is prudent to keep
        quiet. But, it is not clear that is what God wants.)

        1. How else will things change? (Let’s skip ahead
          and read Amos 5:17. God says that He will
          change things. He will “pass through your

    10. Read Amos 5:14-15. Do we have a part in honest government
      and the rule of law? Or, is it best to be prudent? (God
      asks us to make a difference and not keep quiet. Just as
      we are God’s agents for helping the poor, so we are God’s
      agents for making the government more honest and fair.)

    11. Recall that God tells the people that He detests their
      worship. He wants justice instead. We turned to the first
      part of Amos to see what God was talking about. What was
      God talking about? (God detests our worship when we allow
      our courts and our government to be corrupt.)

  3. Change

    1. Read Isaiah 58:6. What kind of religious practice is God
      calling for here? (To give the people freedom.)

      1. Does this involve government? (When government is the
        problem, it would mean to give people a just

    2. Read Isaiah 58:7. Is this an instruction to government?
      (No. This is about personally helping those in need.)

    3. Read Isaiah 58:8-10. What will happen to our religious
      worship if we do this? (God will listen and answer. He
      will bless and protect us.)

    4. Friend, once again we come to a familiar conclusion. God
      asks us to show the poor justice and intelligent mercy.
      Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what
      you must do?

  4. Next week: Jesus and Those in Need.