The Cry of the Prophets

The Cry of the Prophets

Scripture: Micah 6:8, 1 Samuel 8:10-18, Amos 5:10-15
Date: 08/03/2019  Lesson: 5
'Throughout the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, one of God’s responses was to send prophets to speak His will and to remind the Israelite leaders and people of their God-given responsibilities to the forgotten members of their society.'

When a Christian Falls - DVD or Digital Download

When a Christian Falls - DVD or Digital Download
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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Sacramento. I'd like to welcome our online Sabbath School members scattered across the country and around the world, as well as the many others who tune in on a regular basis to participate, to study with us here at our Sabbath School. I'd also like to welcome our regular Sabbath School members here in person. I know we have some visitors who are joining us today. Very warm welcome to all of you on a very warm July day here in Sacramento. As many of you know, we've been studying through our lesson quarterly entitled "The Least of These," and today we find ourselves on lesson number five. Interesting study, it's called "The Cry of the Prophets." So we're going to be looking at some of what's called the minor prophets, or the smaller books that we find in the Old Testament, dealing with our subject of mercy and it's called "The Least of These" is our lesson quarterly.

If you don't have a copy of the lesson, we're only on lesson number five. There's a total of 13 lessons. If you'd like to download today's lesson, it's free. Just go to Lesson.aftv.org and, as mentioned already, lesson number five is the one that we're looking at today. We also have a free offer that we'd like to tell our friends about who are joining us. We have a DVD, DVD sermon, entitled "When a Christian Falls." I think it's an encouraging study and I think you'll enjoy that. All you'll need to do to receive a free DVD of this study is call the number... and you want to ask for offer number 867 or you can send a text message or text the code "SH128" to the number 40544. And you'll get a link as to where you can download the sermon entitled "When a Christian Falls." Well, before we get to our study, we always like to start by lifting our voices in song so we'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward at this time.

Song Leader: As we do every time we study together, we love to sing and I believe that that is truly just another part of worship. So if you are at home and have your hymnals, you might need to pull them out. We are going to sing a song that everyone knows, hymn number 348. We're going to sing, "The church has one foundation. 'Tis Jesus Christ our Lord." We're going to sing the first, the third, and the fourth verse.

♪ ♪ The church has one foundation.

♪ ♪ 'Tis Jesus Christ, her Lord.

♪ ♪ She is His new creation

♪ ♪ by water and the Word.

♪ ♪ From heav'n He came and sought her

♪ ♪ to be His holy bride;

♪ ♪ with His own blood He bought her,

♪ ♪ and for her life He died.

♪ ♪ Though with a scornful wonder

♪ ♪ men see her sore oppressed,

♪ ♪ though foes would rend asunder,

♪ ♪ The Rock where she doth rest.

♪ ♪ Yet saints their faith are keeping,

♪ ♪ their cry goes up, "How long?"

♪ ♪ And soon the night of weeping

♪ ♪ shall be the morn of song.

♪ ♪ 'Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,

♪ ♪ she waits the consummation

♪ ♪ of peace forevermore;

♪ ♪ 'til with the vision glorious,

♪ ♪ her longing eyes are blessed,

♪ ♪ and the great church victorious

♪ ♪ shall be the church at rest.

Jëan Ross: Amen. Let's go ahead and bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father, once again, we are indeed grateful for the many blessings that You bestowed upon us for life, for strength, but most of all we are grateful for Jesus, for the gospel, for hope for a future with You and with those that love You. Father, as we open up Your Word and study a theme that we find all the way back in the times of the prophets in the Old Testament, a theme that is relevant and important for us today, we do pray for the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and lead us into a clear understanding of the gospel and the work that You wish to do for us. So bless our time together. We ask this in Jesus's name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Doug Batchelor: Thank you, Pastor Ross. Good morning, everybody. How are you? Good to see you this morning. I want to welcome our friends who are studying with us via the Internet or maybe it's Facebook or satellite or whatever the different technology might be. We're glad that you joined us. We know that we have some of you who are regular Sabbath School class members for our Granite Bay program and some of you are actually some of our online members around the world because there is no church nearby that you can attend that you've adopted us, and we're very thankful for that.

We're continuing in our lesson, "The Least of These," and today we're doing lesson number five. And the lesson is about "The Cry of the Prophets." "The Cry of the Prophets." We'll see how, through the course of the Bible, a number of the different prophets, both some of the major prophets and minor prophets, talk about the importance of justice, a cry for justice. And we have a memory verse, and the memory verse is from the book of Micah, chapter 6, verse 8. If you want to say this with me, it's here in the lesson, in the New King James Version, Micah 6, verse 8: one of my favorite verses. Are you ready? "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but that you do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

You know, I love these bottom-line verses. This is one of those verses that gets right to the bottom line. Lord, what do You want from me? Matter of fact, this verse was so precious to me that years ago it was a reason that we named one of our boys Micah is because this verse touched me. What does God want from us? "To love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with your God." If you get those things covered, you're probably walking in the gospel. Now, in the lesson that we're dealing with, it's talking about how, over the course of history, it seems like under just about every different form of government, at some point or other, mankind gravitates. If you don't have love and you don't have the gospel, mankind will eventually gravitate to exploit and take advantage of his fellow man. There's almost never an age in history you can point to where it doesn't seem like, given a chance, people will grind down the poor and take advantage of their brother. And many of the leaders, even though in the governments, they started out with the best of intentions to have revival in government, it ends up gravitating that way after a generation.

You know, when you study history, churches go through a cycle. Denominations. Most denominations start out with a vision. They want to get back to the basics and there's sacrifice and simplicity, and the people are mission-minded and they're out there and there's trust and there's integrity. But then, as they grow and they become more successful, they need to get organized and, as they get organized, then they start building institutions, and one or two generations goes by and then pretty soon it becomes cultural and it's the social life of the group instead of it being the vision of the early founders.

And the next thing you know, you've just got a denomination and they lost that early--that passion, that vision. I mean, I'll just pick out of thin air, the Methodists. Got the greatest respect--we'll talk a little later in the morning services about one of the founders. Greatest respect for John Wesley and Charles Wesley and their mother who had, like, 18 kids and all raised godly, and the passion they had, crossing oceans to do mission work. And, you know, Methodism, you know how it got its name? They were so methodical about their devotions and about living a godly life and sanctification, the church spread like crazy and there was a great revival. If John Wesley could be resurrected today and look at the Methodist church today he would be aghast, that they have drifted so far from the Scriptures and the passion and the ideal. It's because the devil is constantly pulling us back towards the world. Instead of being governed by the gospel, they're governed by culture. That's happened to the Lutherans, it's happened to the Baptists, it's happened to the Pentecostals.

It's happened to us. As a few generations go by, we start to be governed by the culture around us. Now, I said this about religion. It's a cycle that churches tend to go through. We start out like Ephesus and we end up like Laodicea. It's a cycle that you see in history. You also see this cycle with the governments. The people get so tired of some despot that's grinding down the poor or you've got, like, the French Revolution. What brought about the French Revolution? You had all the wealthy aristocrats that were just exploiting the poor people. They thought the purpose of the poor was to make the rich more comfortable and when they came and then talked to, was it Maria Antoinette, and they said, "The people are starving. They have no bread." She said, "Let them eat cake." You remember that one? And they were so removed that finally, the people rose up and they said, "We need a new government. We need a government that's going to have justice." And they built the guillotine and when it came to the rulers and the aristocrats, they said, "Off with their heads."

Well, how do you think Communism took off? Because of the Bolsheviks, the Tsar, and they felt like they're grinding down the poor and when they said, "We're going to have a government of the people where everybody's equal," and there was a great revolution so there'd be justice and equality. I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, one of my classes required me to read the book "Animal Farm." Any of you ever required to read "Animal Farm"? You know, even if you're a Christian you can read that book. It really talks about these farming animals that rise up against the farmer because he's taking advantage of them. And so they chase away the farmer and pretty soon the animals are in charge. And they say, "All of us are going to be equal now." I think the pig ends up somehow getting the lead role. And pretty soon, the pig is eating better than all the other animals and they don't understand. They said, "You said we'd be all equal." And he said, "We are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others." That was a famous line in the book. That's what happens.

America's got a government where we're all supposed to be equal. Then why do we have separate tax laws for congressmen and senators? As time goes by, it seems we all gravitate down. It's a siphon effect to the lowest common denominator. Not only does it happen in churches, it happens in governments, and the Bible not only talks about religion, it talks about government. And you're going to see this, so we're going to talk--we're going to be looking at some of the different rulers that took charge in the Bible and we're going to start with Samuel.

Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Samuel and chapter 8. Now, the best form of government is a benevolent godly dictatorship. You're going to think, "Pastor Doug, how dare you say such a thing?" If you get somebody who has absolute control and they are absolutely converted, that's the best government. But that's so hard to get, that you almost need a representative government. What were the times when they had the best government in Israel? Don't be afraid to venture a guess. I didn't hand out any Scriptures today so I'm letting you talk from the floor. If you haven't--I'll repeat what you say, so--huh? Moses. That's true. Moses was absolutely converted and he was a just leader and--but at one point, Moses--Jethro came to visit him and he watched Moses. From the time he woke up in the morning he sat down and he judged the people.

Now you've got, like, 1 1/2, 2 million people. They must have had about 2 million people because they numbered the soldiers one time and they were, like, 600,000 fighting men so you add in the women and the children and the old, and you got a lot of people. And when you get that many people, there's going to be disagreements and squabbles. "Their goat went rampaging through my tent and destroyed everything. What are you going to do about that?" And so you have to listen to the case and, you know, and you can listen to the civil laws that Moses gives, and you can tell he had a lot of experience. He says, and if you had an oxen and you knew that oxen had a tendency to bore people with his horns and you didn't restrain him, then you're guilty. Now, it was the first time it happened, you had no idea he was going to act that way, then there's a different punishment.

And they had different laws for manslaughter, premeditated, unintentional, and you could tell Moses was dealing with all kinds of case. He was a converted person, he was a just judge, led by the Holy Spirit, but he was judging all day long, and his father-in-law came to visit him. How old was Jethro, if Moses was 80? But his father-in-law comes to visit him and he watches him all day long, judging the people. And he said, "What you're doing is not good. You're going to wear yourself out. Let me give you some advice. It's called delegate. You need to search out among you wise, honest people that you can trust, people who will loathe to take a bribe, people who have good judgment. And you need to set them over thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. And all the little family squabbles, they can take it to the tribal leader of ten or whatever and then you'll have the fifties and the hundreds and, by the way, when Jesus sat the people down to give them bread, do you know how He did it? He broke them up in companies of fifties and hundreds. And Moses, God said, "Your father-in-law has good counsel. You need to follow that."

So they--I don't know what process they used. Maybe the people elected the judges or maybe Moses just--they did a survey to find out who had the most honest people, people with some age and experience, and they appointed them. And when they were picked, it says, "These are going to be people that hate covetousness. You can't bribe them." They're--and, you know, Moses said, "You will not show preference to the rich because they're rich and," he said, "you will not show preference to the poor."

Now you know what happens in our government these days. We swing back and forth between being so overly careful to take care of the poor that we abuse the rich, or we're so concerned about the rich, we abuse the poor. It goes both ways, two extremes. And so Moses actually said that. He said, "Don't give preferential treatment to either. You have to be absolutely fair. You need to have a just scale." That was the best government when they had that. So during the reign, I heard someone say Moses. Who else? Joshua, they probably had a good government. I was almost--Joshua almost lived during a time of military conquest but I'm sure they had those cases. How about David? Did I hear David? And the early reign of Solomon was great justice. Jehoshaphat, he went through the land, he appointed judges that would be just. There would be fairness among the people and there was great prosperity during those times. There was also a lot of national contentment during those times.

So with that as a backdrop, we're going to go and we'll take a look--what did I say? We're going to go look at Samuel chapter 8, verse--now, during the time of Samuel, was there tranquility? Not Eli, but from the time Eli died and Samuel was young. He was a head prophet and priest, up until he got old. Now, you go to chapter 8 of 1 Samuel and verse 1: "Now it came to pass that when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second was Abijah; and they were judging in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; and they turned aside after dishonest gain, and they took bribes, and they perverted justice." And so the people became very discontent. And Samuel was fair, he was honest, he was just. But his sons, they let the wicked go off scot free because they'd get a bribe.

Now, we heard something in the news this week that's been the rage about a man named Epstein that was flagged several years ago and arrested for trafficking young girls and doing terrible things and he's out walking the streets. At least, he was, for several years because it looks like he had a lot of money and influence and good lawyers and got preferential treatment. He's back in jail again and--but people are amazed how he seemed to be able to walk away with a very minimal sentence with such overwhelming evidence. You remember a few years ago they had what they called the trial of the century. And a famous celebrity football star was Exhibit A in the murder of his wife and another gentleman. But because had really good attorneys and had money and had celebrity, he walked away and people were outraged. But then later, in a civil trial, he was convicted. But then he walked away. Then he got arrested again for pulling a gun and threatening someone for stealing sports memorabilia, thrown in jail. He's free and golfing again today. This is someone who everyone is pretty sure murdered two people.

And you wonder, do you get preferential treatment if you have celebrity? And if you have wealth? Yeah, so they said to Samuel, "Your sons are not doing what you did." And they came to him and I think you can go to--they said, "Your sons do not walk in your ways. The elders gathered together to Samuel," I'm in verse 4, "at Ramah, 'You're old, your sons don't walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.' But the thing displeased Samuel." Now, was God shocked that they would ask for a king? No. Was it God's plan that they have a king? No, but He knew it would happen. You know, even in the law of Moses, it says, "When you pick a king." He knew it would eventually happen, that they'd reject Him, they'd reject the theocracy and they'd go towards a monarchy. And God said, "Moses." The Lord told Moses to say, "When you get a king, tell him not to multiply horses and trust in his horses. Don't come back to Egypt and get horses. Tell him not to multiply money, lest he trust in his money, and tell him not to multiply wives."

So finally, they get one of the greatest kings they've had. What was his name? Solomon. What does he do? He goes down to Egypt and he gets horses from Egypt. And then he gets a wife from Egypt. He gets a few spare wives along the way. Gets about 1000 before he's done. And then it says: "Do not multiply money." He amassed a tremendous fortune. Most of it got carried back to Egypt, did you know that? When Shishak came up during the time of his son Rehoboam. The very things that God said not to do. So God knew they would ultimately get a king. But then He said, "I'm going to give you some advice." God told Samuel, "Don't take it personal. It's not you they've rejected; it's Me they've rejected." He said, "But I want you to go tell them what to expect." Now listen to what Samuel says. This is 1 Samuel 8, verse 10: "So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked him for a king. And he says, 'This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over--'"

Now, did that happen? It did. It says Absalom appointed 50 men to run before his chariot. I'm sure the others did that as well. "He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, he will set some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He'll take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He'll take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He'll take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers." Now, wait a second. Ten percent went to the priest, now Samuel's saying another ten percent is going to go to the king.

The more government you have, the more taxes you have to sustain the government. Isn't that right? And it seems like we're always voting new departments in the government and it's almost impossible to diminish them once you vote them. Once you vote people a benefit for free, just try to take it away and watch what happens. It's always easy to give a person a raise when they're an employee but tell them you have cuts and you have to take that raise back again, and you have a riot. "He'll take the best of your fields, a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and his servants. He'll take your male and your female servants, and the finest young men, and donkeys, and put them to his work. He'll take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king that you have chosen for yourself, and the Lord will not hear you in that day." In other words, look, if you get a king, I'm just telling you that eventually you're going to get one that's not converted and he was--he's going to exploit you and he's going to oppress you and he's going to take advantage of you and you can say, "Oh man, this king is grinding us down." God's going to say, "I told you. You said you didn't want Me, you wanted a king. There you go."

And any of you ever have a parent, you ask for something, they knew it wasn't very good and they gave you what you wanted and then you cried out? I remember one time my father picked up--my parents were divorced. My dad came to pick me and my brother up for his time with us and said he can take us to a movie. So he was on the way to the movie and we saw him drive by the drive-in theater. Well, we had been to that drive-in theater before and they were showing "Dumbo." Well, we were young. We said, "Go there, Dad. Go there." He said, "No, you don't want to go there." "Go there, Dad. Go there, go there." He said, "You don't want to go there. Said, "No, go there. We want to go there." He said, "Okay, you want to go there." He took us to the drive-in theater and it was like a Perry Mason movie, not for kids at all. And we said, "Oh, we don't want to stay here." He said, "No, we're going to stay and watch it now. You asked for it, you got it." I remember going to sleep in the back seat, miserable.

Anyway, so He says, "I'm going to give you what you want, if you want it bad enough." And they ended up having a variety of kings that oppressed them. There was a few good ones but so often He says, "I'll give you what you want," and they were sorry they asked for it. Next, we go to Amos. He's among the minor prophets. Now, Amos was among what--you know, there's technically 12 minor prophets, interesting number, in the Old Testament. He was a contemporary. Amos lived during the time of Hosea and Isaiah. He was active from about 760 to 755 BC during the rule of the kings Jeroboam II and King Uzziah, and the king Uzziah reigned for 52 years. He was a long-reigning king. Jeroboam II I think was king in the northern empire. Even though Amos was from the southern empire that worshiped God and had the temple, most of his ministry was in the northern kingdom. And so he wrote during a time of relative peace and prosperity but there was also terrible neglect of God's law and they were at that time grinding down the poor.

So let's look, for example, in the book of Amos chapter 7, verse 14. First thing, Amos did not go to the school of the prophets and he says in Amos 7:14, he says to Amaziah: "I was no prophet, nor was I the son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit." That sycamore fruit was really a--they were like a very primitive form of fig. They weren't the best figs. They usually fed those to the animals. And so he says, "Look, I was doing my business. God called me as a prophet. I did not go--I did not go looking for this calling. God placed it on me. I was not one of the sons of the prophets you trained for it. And so he's given some difficult messages.

Now, they like the first messages that Amos gives because in his first messages, he is decrying the kingdoms of Moab and Edom and Ammon and the other empires in Israel, going, "Yes, keep prophesying." And then he said, "And now, for you, I've got a word from the Lord." And you go to Amos chapter 2, verse 4: "Thus says the Lord: 'For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they've despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. But I'll send a fire upon Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem."

Now, how do we know Amos was a prophet? Did it happen? Just as a little follow-up so you know that he was a prophet. If you look in 2 Kings 25, verse 8, 2 Kings 25, verse 8: "And in the 5th month, on the 7th day of the month which was the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great," these are the palaces, "he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the wall of Jerusalem all round about." And so it didn't happen right away but the prophecy of Amos was vividly fulfilled. And he said, "Why was this judgment coming? Because you're neglecting the law of the Lord and those were particularly laws that had to do with caring for the poor, about justice, and equity.

So if you turn now to Amos chapter 3, and we're going to go there. In the book of Amos chapter 3, and we're going to start out reading verse--chapter 3, verse 9: "Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod," that was the Philistines. "In the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say: 'Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; see a great tumult in her midst, and the oppressed within her.'" Samaria is where? It's a northern kingdom, kingdom of Israel. This is where Amos's prophecy was. He's saying that tell among the Philistines and tell the people of Egypt, they can celebrate because the northern kingdom's going to fall. "'For they do not know to do right,' says the Lord, 'who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.' Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'An adversary will be all around the land; and he will sap your strength from you, and your palaces will be plundered.' Thus says the Lord." Now, this happened during the time of Assyria, the palaces of the northern kingdom, Samaria, were plundered. "Thus says the Lord: 'As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs and a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken who dwell in Samaria--in the corner of a bed on the edge of a couch!'"

You know, a shepherd might find that a lion has come among the flock and he chases off the lion and all that's left of the lamb are some small parts. And he's saying that's what's going to happen to Israel. It was going to be just decimated because of their unjust behavior. "'So shall the children of Israel be who are taken out, who dwell in Samaria--in the corner of a bed on the edge of a couch! Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,' says the Lord God, and the God of hosts, 'that in that day I will punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; and on the horns of the altar they'll be cut off.'" Bethel was where they set up a false altar and a golden calf. "And it shall fall to the ground." That happened during the time of King Josiah. "'I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end,' says the Lord." You notice it says that Amos prophesied during a time of prosperity. People not only had their winter house, they had their summer house. It's because the rich were exploiting the poor and there was a lot of wealth in the kingdom but it wasn't, you might say, it wasn't evenly distributed.

Now, I'm going to get political for a minute. Can I do that in church? You don't know what I'm going to say so you don't know how to answer me yet. Everyone wants to live in a country that cares for the poor, that cares for the sick. But do you want the government to say, "We don't think that you are good enough to do it so we're going to make you do it"? What's the best government to live in? Isn't it the government where the government says, "We believe that we govern an honest and a loving people. We are not going to force you with laws to care for the poor and the sick. We are going to serve in government, we're going to support the country, we're going to protect you from foreign invasion, we're going to protect your freedoms but we're going to trust that you are a just people." When the government has to say, "Look, we don't think we're doing enough to care for the poor and so we're going to take more away from working people to care for people who can't work for whatever reason, you're basically saying, "We don't trust that you'll do it."

These things that the government now is forcing people to do, by penalty if you don't do it, used to be done by Christians in the country. Governments never used to run orphanages. Governments never used to run hospitals. You notice that they don't have a hospital called First Sisters of Atheism? You got Mercy General Methodist, you got Baptist Hospital, you got Catholic Hospital, you got an Adventist Hospital. Churches used to do all these things. But what happened is the government said, "We're not going to trust the people to do it anymore. We're going to make you do it." And it basically took the blessing away from the people to say, "We're going to do this willingly from our hearts," and the government then mandated it. You don't get a blessing for it. It's a tax. The more laws that a government has, is a result of the more lawless the people are. And when people are greedy, then the government feels like we've got to make them do it. And it's usually because the gospel's departed from the people. Okay, that's all I'm going to say about that.

Amos 8, verse 4. I read verses 11 in chapter 5. Go to Amos chapter 8, verse 4: "Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and you make the poor of the land fail, saying: 'When will the New Moon be past, that we might sell grain?'" They said they're keeping the new moon, but they don't want to. They can't wait for the sun go down so they can go make more money. "And the Sabbath, that we might trade wheat?" They were keeping the Sabbath but they were hating every minute of it because they couldn't wait for the sun go down so they could open up their stores and sell again. Just watching the clock. You don't ever do that, do you? "Oh, I can't do that yet, it's Sabbath. Can't wait to do what I want to do. It's still holy time. Can't wait for God's time, special time, to be over so I can do my regular thing." I've been guilty of that before, I'll confess. You've got to watch the clock. But is that the right spirit? Amos is saying, "You just can't wait to go out and make more money and grind down the poor, that we might buy the poor for silver, and the needy a pair of--for a pair of sandals--even selling the bad wheat." I'll even sell stuff that's no good at a profit to the poor for--so I can make money. And he said, "That's not just."

You know, one of the people in the Bible who you can see the right attitude: there was a farmer who married Ruth. Do you remember his name? Boaz. He had the attitude that God wanted him to have. Moses had instructed the people. He said, "You shall not harvest the corners of your field. You shall not go over your olive tree and shake every branch twice. You'll shake it once, you'll leave the rest for," what? "For the poor. You do not--you leave the corners of your field and the edges of your fields for the poor and the hungry and the widows among you." And do you remember when Boaz said, "Who's that woman out there in the field with the other ladies that's harvesting?" They said, "That's a Moabite. She came back with Naomi. She's helping take care of Naomi who lost, you know, her husband and her two sons." And he told his harvesters, "Leave some extra sheaves. Drop some extra sheaves for the poor." You know, that's the attitude of the Christian is he not only didn't harvest the edges of his field, he told his harvesters, "Don't pick it all up. Leave plenty behind." And then when Ruth came to the floor, he said, "Open up your robe," and he filled her robe with extra food because he knew Naomi was hungry and she was poor. He was a generous man and that's the spirit that God wanted everybody to have.

One time, David came to see if he could buy the threshing floor of Araunah and Araunah said, "Just take it. I'll give it to you. I'll not only give you the threshing floor, I'll give you the oxen to sacrifice and the implements to use for firewood." When Abraham needed a place to bury Sarah, he said, "I'd like to buy this cave of Machpelah," and the people of Heth said, "No, no, we'll give it to you." I mean, there was a lot more generosity during that age where people cared. Have you read about Job? Job said, "If I did not hear the cry," and I'm paraphrasing here. He said, "If I did not hear the cry of the poor and the fatherless and the widowed, then let me suffer. But God, You know that I have cared for the poor and the fatherless and the widowed." The people did it back then. Every wealthy man was a philanthropist back in that time. But when you get where folks are more grasping and stingy, then it ends up the government has to force people to do it because they don't have the spirit anymore. So you can see Amos was talking about that. "Sell even bad wheat."

Now, go to Micah. I got a lot of prophets left and I'm running out of time. Micah 6, verse 8. That was our memory verse: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, love mercy," show mercy to the poor and the fatherless and the widows. Was it James who said, "Pure religion and undefiled before God is this, to visit the widow and the fatherless in their affliction and keep yourself unspotted from the world." He said, "This is pure religion to care for the poor and the fatherless." You know, there were a lot more orphans back in Bible times. Men would go off to war and they did not have social services.

How many of you have read about George Mueller who started those orphanages? It's an incredible story, how he had sometimes thousands of orphans. Orphans, if you ever read "Oliver Twist," you at least heard of it, back when that was written, these orphans would just roam the streets of England by the thousands because the plagues had gone through and killed their parents or wars or whatever reason and there were so many children without parents. And it was during that time, Mueller, he started building these orphanages and he just depended on the generosity of Christians to keep it going and he just prayed. He never sent out an appeal letter, never made an offering appeal, he would pray all the time. And the money kept coming. God would move on people. Micah chapter 2, verse 8: "Lately My people have risen up as an enemy--you pull off the robe with the garment from those who trust you, as they pass by."

Now, back in Bible times, you know, now if you want to, you know, go rent a piece of equipment, they say, "We're going to hold your credit card." They didn't have credit cards back then. You would actually give them your robe. If you were poor and you needed to borrow something, they'd say, "I want your robe," and they were taking the robes and the clothes from the poor and they were shivering at night and they had nothing because that was their surety. "You pull the robe with the garment from those who trust you, as they pass by, like men returned from war. The women of My people you cast out from the pleasant houses; from their children you've taken away My glory forever. Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, yes, with utter destruction. If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie, saying, 'I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,' even he would be a prattler of this people." Talks about how they were oppressing the poor.

Go to Micah chapter 3, verse 8: "But truly I am full of power in the Spirit of the Lord, and of justice and might, and declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Now hear this, you heads of the houses of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who harbor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity: Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, her prophets divine for money." I've always said that's one of the quickest ways to tell the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet, is the false prophet is going to send you a bill, an invoice. "Yet they lean on the Lord, and they say, 'Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come to us.' Therefore because of you Zion will be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountains of the temple like before the hills of the forest."

Now, Micah was among the last prophets before the New Testament time, and did his prophecy come true because of the injustice that was happening in Israel? I'm going to read to you from the commentary of Adam Clarke. Notice what Micah said would happen: "Because of the injustice and taking advantage of the poor, Zion will be plowed like a field," that's where the temple was. "Jerusalem will become heaps of ruins and the mountain of the temple like a bare hill of the forest." Here's what Adam Clarke says happened. "Thus did the Romans treat Jerusalem when it was taken by Titus. Turnus Rufus, or as he is called by St. Jerome, Titus Arinius Rufus, according to Josephus, he caused a plow to be drawn over all the courts of the temple," they did not leave one stone upon another, as Jesus said. And they got down to bare dirt so that they actually plowed the ground, "to signify that it should never be rebuilt, and the place only to serve for agricultural purposes. Thus Jerusalem became heaps, and an indiscriminate mass of ruins and rubble; and mountain of the house, Mount Moriah, on which the temple stood, became so much neglected after the total destruction of the temple, that it was soon resembled the high place of a forest.

What is said here may apply also, as before hinted, to the ruin of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar at the last reign of Zedekiah, the last king of the Jews." So it happened both during the time of Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed the temple but especially was fulfilled during the time when the Romans destroyed it. And we were there just last year. I see Dwayne and Betty were there and we saw, remember, the rubble still. They got piles of huge rubble and stones that were there, that they've left as a monument to remind what the Romans had done to the city. All right, going to look under Ezekiel and his cry for justice. Ezekiel 16:48: "'As I live,' says the Lord God, 'neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither she did strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. And they were haughty and they committed abominations.'"

Now we know what those abominations were. Some people point to this verse in Ezekiel 16, they say, "The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not sexual immorality. It was their pride and their fullness of bread." No, that's not what it says. It says, yeah, they had pride, fullness of bread, and they were haughty and "committed abomination." That word "abomination" is used by Moses to talk about homosexual behavior. And if you doubt that, you look in Jude verse 7: "As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and going after strange flesh," not what is natural, in other words, "are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Ezekiel is simply adding to the mix of what they did. It wasn't just the sexual immorality. He said that "she didn't strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. They had an abundance and fullness of food."

You know, one of the signs of the last days, it says, "As it was in the days of Noah, they planted and they builded." Do you know we're planting and building more than ever before? Do we have more idle time? Yeah, you might not think so but yeah. People used to wake up and go to the farms, they'd then fall--they'd fall in the wheelbarrow. The wife would bring the husband home and dump him out in bed. He'd wake up the next day and they'd do the same thing. And now through mechanized farming, most of the people living on a farm, see, they had to just work like that all day long to have enough food. And a few people lived in the city. Do you know the majority of people in the world now, I think as of about eight years ago, live in the city in the urban areas. And not on farms. And because we've figured out how to do mass farming, people now have a little more abundance of time. And idleness, the fullness of food and yet not caring for the poor and the people who are suffering. Ezekiel 34, verse 2: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and you clothe yourselves with wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you've not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you've ruled them."'"

Are there a breed of pastors out there that instead of caring for the flock are more interested in prosperity and wealth? Is that just my imagination or are there a growing number of preachers that flaunt their godliness by their money? And they say, "This is how we show." One pastor I know of had the audacity, church bought him a Bentley. He said, "You need to buy one for my wife too." And it's just amazing, the abuse. Where the pastors are supposed to care for the people of a flock and feed the people the Word of God and nurture them and inspire them towards godliness. All right, I can just read a quote here from "Prophets and Kings," page 282: "Against the marked oppression, the flagrant injustice and the unwanted luxury and extravagance, the shameless feasting and drunkenness, the gross licentiousness and debauchery of their age, the prophets lifted their voices but in vain were their protests. In vain, their denunciation of sin. All of the judgments that were foretold by Micah and Amos and Ezekiel ultimately came on the people in the Old Testament and many of those same sins are repeated in the church today as we've seen.

I am out of time. I'm sorry I didn't have time to get to Isaiah but we got most of the lesson and I trust you were edified. I want to remind everybody we do have a special free offer. And the offer is "When a Christian Falls." How do you get back up again? If you're a Christian and you fall, how do you get a new beginning? This is a free DVD that we'll send anybody who would like one. You simply ask or you can call... That's 866-Study-More. Or you can text. Here's what you text: "SH128" and you text that code to 40544 and you'll be asking for offer number 867. You can download this information or listen to it, I should say, online. Thank you very much. We are out of time for today's study. God bless. We'll study His Word together again next week.

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Doug Batchelor: We're here on the beautiful coast of the island of Puerto Rico. And if you were to travel east about 2000 miles, of course, you'd be out in the middle of the ocean but you'd also be in the middle of a mystical sea called the Sargasso Sea. It gets its name because of this common brown seaweed that can be found floating in vast mass. The area of the Sargasso Sea is about 700 miles wide and 2000 miles long. Now, the seaweed itself is fascinating stuff. It was first observed and called gulf weed by Christopher Columbus. It gets the name sargum from the Portuguese. Some people use it as herbal remedies. But out in the middle of the Sargasso Sea the water is some of the bluest in the world. It's there you can see 200 feet deep in places. It also has a great biodiversity and ecosystem that surrounds the Sargasso Sea. For years, scientists wondered where the American and the Atlantic eels were breeding. They knew the adult eel swam down the rivers out into the Atlantic but they never could find the place where they reproduced. Finally, they discovered it was out in the middle of the Sargasso Sea. So it's a fascinating place but if you were an ancient sailor you did not want to get stuck there.

Being caught in the doldrums was extremely difficult for the ancient sailors. Of course, their boats were driven by wind and sail and they'd be caught in the vast mass of the seaweed that would wrap around their rudder, barnacles would begin to grow. It's an area that is notorious for light and baffling winds and so they'd make no progress. They'd get stuck. The men would become extremely dispirited. Sometimes, violence and even insanity would break out as people were trapped in the doldrums.

Well, friends, perhaps sometimes you've felt that you're trapped in the doldrums. You've gone through episodes of depression, you feel like you're going in circles, life seems stifling. You know, the Bible offers good news. There is a way out. The Bible talks about a famous character that was trapped in a cycle of depression. He was low as you could be. Matter of fact, he even had seaweed wrapped around his head. His name was Jonah. But God gave him a way of escape. In Jonah chapter 2, verse 3 through 7, we read: "For You cast me into the depths, Into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all of Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again towards Your holy temple.' The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You've brought my life up from the pit, O Lord, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple."

You know, friends, the way that Jonah got out of his discouraging circumstances, he turned to God and he prayed. And if God could hear Jonah's prayer, just think about it, he was as far away from God as anybody could be, he was in the belly of a sea monster in the bottom of the ocean in the dark, yet he turned to God and God heard his prayer. You know, these ancient sailors, when they were trapped on the deck of a ship for weeks, stuck in the doldrums, discouraged, sometimes they would have a prayer meeting and pray that God would send a breeze that would set them free and get their boats moving. They turned to God in prayer and often miracles would happen and the wind would flutter in the sails and bring them out of their seaweed prison. Friends, maybe you have been stuck in the doldrums. Maybe you've been caught in a cycle of depression. If God can do it for Jonah, if He can do it for the ancient sailors, He can do it for you. Turn to the Lord in prayer. Trust His Spirit to blow through your soul and to set you free.

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My mother passed away when I was three and my paternal grandparents decided they would care for my two others sisters and I so that my father would have time to mourn. We never really had a mother or a strong fatherly figure and I'm not blaming my dad, I'm just saying that's how things worked out. When I was in high school, my oldest sister got into an argument with our father and my sister and I decided that we would take her side and so that caused a split in our family. For four years we lived in the same house. We ate from the same pot, we used the same restroom, we walked by each other but we never said anything to our father and he never said anything to us. A year later, I had decided I would move out for college. He wasn't very happy with that. We got booted out of the house. We went back to apologize but we weren't really accepted back. I have felt so alone a lot of my life. I felt like I've had to fend for myself. I've been missing a fatherly love. I don't have family with me. I don't have a lot of things but I have God and I've been fulfilled. I've been satisfied. God has been my Father.

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Announcer: Let's face it. It's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers, call into "Bible Answers Live," a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

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