December 2, 2023

Loving the Word of God

How precious are the words of God to us?

Amos 8
Derived from the transcript of Christian Brower


So here we are in chapter eight, a continuation of what happens in chapter seven. Another vision that comes. It says, “This is what the Lord showed me.” This is Amos talking, “Behold a basket of summer fruit. And He said, Amos, what do you see? And I said to Him, A basket of summer fruit.” 

This whole chapter is a rather difficult passage of scripture to understand. Something I recognized this week in my own heart is that I read this whole chapter the first time and I was like, “…What?” And then you read it again and you're like, “I don't, I don't know.” So we read it three or four times, and then about the fifth time you read it, you're like, “okay, I see that. I like that.” Maybe there’s a couple of things you like after five times. Then after ten times reading it, then as a whole, the whole chapter, I can say this is what God’s trying to say as a whole and I love it. Then about the 12th or maybe the 15th time reading through it, then you're like, “All right, I'm reading verse one and I'm excited because I know what's coming next.” And I read verse five and I'm excited! And even though the title of the message is “A Dark Judgment” –  it's not something we're excited about – we can see the redemption that's coming because I know what God's doing here.

This is how we are to approached the Word of God, not just three chapters a day and move on and “I think I understand it,” but read it and meditate on it again and again until your heart sings for joy! 

So I would implore you, as people of God, I know a lot of times that we listen to our Bible on our way in the car, and we hear it from other people, but the word of God is so precious that the first time, sometimes, we read a hard passage like this, we're like, “I don't get it.” It'd be easy to move on to the next chapter and say, “I didn't understand that. Move on to the next one.” Stay with me here though and read this and then read it again and then read it again. So by the 10th time you read it, you say, “Lord, I see what you're saying.” And by the 15th time you read the chapter, you say, “Wow, I'm excited because I know what's coming.”

That's how I hope we read the Bible here. So after we're finished today, don't go home and read Amos chapter nine. Go home and continue to read chapter eight. The one we just learned about, saying “we just saw it. Let me read it again!” This is how we are to approached the Word of God, not just three chapters a day and move on and “I think I understand it,” but read it and meditate on it again and again until your heart sings for joy! That's what I found this week! There's beauty in this, even though there's destruction in this chapter.

God Speaks

So here we are, just in the first verse – “I see this basket of summer fruit.” Some may just say ripe fruit or overripe fruit. What we're about to see is that he's talking about the ripeness of destruction that is coming. So he says, “Amos, what do you see?” He actually does two things here. First, he shows them the vision, and then secondly, he talks to Amos, saying, “Tell me what you see.”

Hebrews chapter one: it says that with our ancestors and a long time ago God spoke through prophets in diverse and many ways, in mysterious ways. But in the last days, today he speaks through his Son. So today we don't hear from prophets. We read his word. We hear from the Son.

Even when we hear the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit teaches what and who Jesus is. So we hear through His Son everything that we hear today. And yet back then it was through the Prophets. So today we don't hear from the Prophets, see a vision and we don't hear God say, “what do you see” like this. But God does get our attention, right?

Sometimes God will show us something and oftentimes it's in His word, or oftentimes it's with your mom or with your dad or with your kids, or sometimes it's with your coworker or with someone in your family or a person of accountability in the church. They show you something, right? 

And He says, “Amos, what do you see?” He doesn't just show the vision, He says, “Hey, tell me what you see here.” So a lot of times I think when we see something that God has to share with us he shows it to us and we kind of ignore it and we go on and we say, “I got it,” and move on. Then he nudged us. He says, “Christian, what do you see?”

So I encourage you, as you read your scripture and you hear things that people are sharing with you about your life and the way that you ought to be and the way that you ought to live. Sometimes God shows us something. We ignore it, and then He gives us little nudges. “What do you see, Christian? Show me. Look at what I'm trying to show you. That you might change, that that you might live because there's something dark coming here.” They ignored first the vision and then Amos’ nudging. “What do you see? Tell me what you see.”

The Worst

“They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” So here's the worst part of what's going to happen. Not that you are going to have this earthquake? It's not that people are going to mourn and they're going to be hurt, but rather, here's what's going to happen. I'm going to send a famine and it's not going to be just food, famine or water famine, but it's going to be a famine for people, that they will not hear the words of the Lord any more. 

There are three ultra important things that we see in this passage. Number one, listen to how the famine comes. God says, I will send a famine through the land. It's not that they've ignored God so much that they're just kind of deaf to it, that there's going to be people there and people are going to saying “I just don't want to hear it.” But rather, even if they wanted to hear it – we see in the next verses it says, “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” They're going to look for the words of God and they're not going to find it. It's not just that they're ignoring it and that it's not there. Rather God says, I'm going to remove the blessing of My word from your people. This is an act of judgment against Israel. Can you think – can you imagine, once they're removed, how precious the words of God would seem?

God says, I'm going to mess up your land, all your crops, all your schedules and all that kind of stuff you think that you've got under control, that you might live and prosper. I'm going to wreck it all and it's going to be like morning throughout your land. It's going to feel like you've lost your only son. That's what it's going to feel like. But it's going to be worse because this famine is going to come and it's going to be a famine of the word of God.

Even if someone was preaching it, and if you wanted to seek it out, you would go from sea to sea, from northeast, anywhere you want to go, and you will not find anyone to be able to preach it, not just because they don't want to hear it, but because God has removed the blessing of hearing the word of God.

Isn't that fascinating? we don't want that here, do we?

I don't know where we are in this process. I'm not going to pretend to tell you that this is some American prophecy or this is some New Hope prophecy or anything like that. But I will say this; I want this church, and I want us, and I want me, and I want my family, I want my children to be people that hold the word of God so precious that there's nothing that they would do today, nothing they wouldn't do to seek it out or to hear it or to have it be a part of their lives. And they  meditated on it in their heart and on their soul. And say, “I'll listen to this.”

Haim Pham

There's a story of a man. He is a Vietnamese man and his name is Haim Pham. Even before the Vietnam War started he knew English well. So when the soldiers came in, he actually was given a Bible in English and he read it. So he's seeking out the word of God. He reads it and he doesn't understand it. So he goes and finds a missionary and he says, “Tell me what this means.” And he professes faith in Jesus Christ because of this Bible and what he hears and he sees through it.

He’s just as a civilian during the war, not a soldier or anything like that. But the Americans would come to him and he would translate for them and he would also help the missionaries and translate for them, translating their messages and things.

He was a very strong Christian man that yes, helped the Americans in the war, but more importantly, the missionaries there. He was never in any battle never did anything like that. But, as you likely know, communists took over Vietnam. Missionaries are nowhere to be found. He's there and now the new officials are saying, “listen, because of your associates, we're going to throw you in jail.”

So they threw Haim in jail for months at a time. Then they would release him. Then find another charge. Then throw him in jail. Then they would release. This cycle continued several times. There's one time he was in jail. And the sole purpose of him being there, they said was, “We've got to get that Western of thinking out of your brain. We've got to get English out of your brain. We've got to get this Bible that you proclaim and mean so much to you, we've got to get it out of your head. We've got to get it out of your brain.”

 So he's in jail, just being indoctrinated. He said they wouldn't let him read English, they wouldn't let him speak English. They would give him other literature to share and that he would learn at their feet. “Day by day,” he said, “I would wake up in the morning and say, ‘Lord, keep me strong. Help me to know you and to trust you and to love you even in this.’” And after months and months and months of this, no relenting. Finally, he's goes to bed angry, and he says, “I'm done with this God In the morning! This is the last time I pray to You tonight! In the morning, I'm going to wake up and intentionally I'm not going to pray to you. I'm not going to ask anything. I'm not going to pretend that I think you exist anymore. I'm just going to go on in my life and I'm going to accept that this is it. I'm done with this.”

So he wakes up in the morning and he does not pray for the first time since he became a believer. “I do not pray to my Lord,” he says. When he gets up one of the prison guards says, “hey, dude, you're on! You're on toilet duty today.” He's like, “Fine.” He didn't care, right?

He's he's lost all his hope. He goes in there and he's cleaning the toilets and cleaning up and going around and then he looks in one of the wastebaskets and he sees English! It's the first time in months, maybe years, that he's seen English! So he looks around, and takes it, wipes it off, and puts it  in his pocket, but doesn't look.

He's excited. He hasn’t read read English in so long. When he goes back into bed late at night when everybodys asleep he looks around and he pulls out of his pocket the paper and he opens it. 

It says, “Romans Chapter eight:”

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  So here Haim is in a Vietnam prison reading Romans Chapter eight, maybe the most encouraging verse that you could read in that situation. So he wakes up in the morning, he says, “Lord, I'm so sorry that I doubted you. I'm so sorry for this, forgive me for this! Then a s soon as he gets up early in the morning, he says, “hey, do you mind if I clean the toilets again today?” The guy says, “sure, knock yourself out.” So, sure enough, he goes back there and there's another soiled piece of scripture that he pulls out. He ended up collecting most of the book of Romans and others in the New Testament. We found out later that there was a commandant at the prison who was using the Bible that he got from missionaries as toilet paper.

Here Haim is in prison reading the word of God. Can you imagine how precious that was to him at that moment? I pray, my friends, that it is as precious to us all the time. 

The Missionary

We had a missionary come to KidZone several years ago. He came from a country where Christianity is outlawed and the Bible is not to be seen, is not to be read, is not to be owned.

The kids get to ask him questions and they ask him things like “what kind of animals are in your country?” They they don't know, they want to get to know him. So he's answering these questions, and then when he's done, I say, “do you have anything else you want to share?”

He grabs the mic from me in two hands, puts it right up to his mouth and he says, “listen, my friends, children here, know and love the word of God. You don't know when it will be taken from you.”

Meditate on it, memorize it, read it, read it again, read it 15 times every chapter untill you know it, until your heart sings for Joy with what it says!

He had been to a place where he recognized how precious the Word of God was because it was taken from him, just like this Haim Pham that had it taken from and he read it from a soiled piece of the Bible in a in a wastebasket. He opened it up and it was so precious to him. That's how we want it to be.