Introduction: During a transatlantic flight the pilot came over the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to be your pilot for this plane's flight. I can tell you the flight is going well. Nevertheless, I have to tell you about a minor inconvenience that has occurred. The passengers on the right side can, if they look out their windows, see that the closest engine is slightly vibrating. That shouldn't worry you, because this plane is equipped with four engines and we are flying along smoothly at an acceptable altitude. As long as you are looking out the right side, you might as well look at the other engine on that side. You will notice that it is glowing, or more precisely one should say, burning. That shouldn't worry you either, as this plane is designed to fly with just two engines if necessary; and we are maintaining an acceptable altitude and speed. As long as we are looking out the plane, those of you on the left side shouldn't worry if you look out your side of the plane and notice that the engine that is supposed to be there is missing. It fell off about 10 minutes ago. Let me tell you that we are amazed that the plane is doing so well without it. However, I will call your attention to something a little more serious. Along the center aisle all the way down the plane a crack has appeared. Some of you are, I suppose, able to look through the crack and may even notice the waves of the Atlantic Ocean below. In fact, those of you with very good eyesight may be able to notice a small lifeboat that was thrown from the plane. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you will be happy to know that your captain is keeping an eye on the progress of the plane from that lifeboat below."
Today you may feel like one of the passengers on the plane. Everywhere you look things are falling apart and it seems that you will surely crash and burn. Maybe your marriage is falling apart, your career, your finances, your kids, your emotions or your health. Sometimes life has a way of tearing us apart. If it seems that everything in your life is falling apart today you need to know that God is still in control. He has not fallen off of His throne. He still loves you and has a plan for your life. We tend to think that when things are falling apart God must have it in for us. It’s the same theology Job had to deal with. Job’s friends repeatedly told him that he must have done something really bad for his life to be falling apart the way it is. Yet what neither Job nor his friends recognized was that something was going on behind the scenes in heaven and that God was still in control, and that God was going to restore Job. God is a restorer! When things are falling apart God can put our lives back together.
We are given an incredible metaphor of how God restores us when life is falling apart in Amos 3:11-12...
“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘An enemy will overrun the land;
he will pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses.’ 12 This is what the LORD says: ‘As a shepherd saves (recovers) from the lion’s mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear, so will the Israelites be saved, those who sit in Samaria on the edge of their beds and in Damascus on their couches.”
Amos is the best book to look at as a representative example of the Old Testament Minor Prophets. He, along with the other Minor Prophets warned Israel that unless they changed their ways that God’s judgment would sweep in like a fire and devour them. God had chosen Israel to be His very own special possession. He raised them up, took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. He fed them and provided for them for forty years in the wilderness. He provided a land flowing with milk and honey and drove out their enemies before them. He gave them a king when they clamored for one and blessed their crops and increased their borders. Yet the people had a habit of turning away from God to worship idols. God sent the prophets to warn the people repeatedly but they refused to listen and continued to worship their idols. Finally, the breaking point came and Amos prophesied that the Assyrians would invade the land and destroy it and take the people captive. The destruction would be so severe that what remained of Israel would only be two leg bones and a piece of an ear. We can learn about God from two leg bones and a piece of an ear.
Transitional Sentence: There are several important lessons we need to remember from this passage when everything falls apart.
1. When everything falls apart remember that God restores.
In ancient times predators like lions and wolves would often attack the sheep and all that was usually left were pieces. These pieces would be gathered by the shepherd and taken to the sheep owner to account for the loss. Here God depicts Himself as the shepherd who recovers the two leg bones and piece of an ear. Israel would be devastated, but not beyond recovery. God would start with two leg bones and a piece of an ear and restore Israel to blessing and favor again. God’s promise of restoration to Israel is found in Amos 9:11,
“In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear m name, declares the Lord, who will do these things.”
David’s fallen tent is a reference to the Davidic line of kings. God is saying that even though Israel is torn apart now and the house of David overthrown, there is coming a time when God will raise up a future king from the house of David – who is the Lord Jesus Christ – and restore Israel’s ruins and build her again. Though Israel was down to nothing God promised restoration.
Maybe there are some lions in your life that have attacked you and torn everything apart. Maybe your heart has been shattered into a thousand pieces by the assaults upon your family, your marriage, your finances or your emotions. Maybe all you are left with today is just two leg bones and a piece of an ear. If that describes your situation today take heart because God is a restorer! He can take what is left of the pieces of your life and restore you to a place of blessing.
Throughout the Bible we see that God is a restorer. In one day Job lost everything, his wealth, his children and his health. He found himself lying in the dust scraping his boils with broken pottery pieces. Yet in the end God restored him and blessed him with more than he had in the beginning. In 1 Samuel 30 David and his men returned from battle to find their homes burned, and their wives and children taken captive. Then David’s men began to speak of stoning him. David encouraged himself in the Lord and God told him to pursue, overtake and recover all. David’s wife and children were restored to him. Peter failed Jesus miserably by denying he even knew him but Jesus restored him and gave him a place of prominence and authority in the early church. In the days of the prophet Joel God sent an invasion of locusts to tear apart the land until Israel was left with nothing. The God speaks through Joel to Israel saying, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25, ESV). While this prophecy of restoration was meant specifically for Israel it shows us the nature of God is to restore.
In my own life I can testify that when you’re down to nothing God is up to something. I know what it’s like to have creditors hounding you at all hours of the day. I know what it’s like to be evicted from your home. I know what it’s like not to know where your next meal is coming from. Yet I also know what it’s like to watch God restore all those things and add His blessing. I’m sure there are many of you who can testify that God is a God of restoration!
God delights in restoration. I think sometimes we have this connotation of God as a spiteful, capricious deity who takes pleasure in making His children suffer. Nothing could be further from the truth. God longs to restore. God is glorified in the restoration of His people. In the writings of the Old Testament prophets God mentions His coming judgment upon the people repeatedly but every time judgment is mentioned God also gives them reason for hope. Israel would be chastened but God would restore them. God never mentioned destruction or devastation without offering restoration.
If everything is falling apart in your life God can take what is left and restore you to a place of blessing and favor. Nothing is too hard for God. Sometimes we think that our problems are just too big for God. Sometimes we are tempted to think that the dire straits we find ourselves in are too much for God to handle. When we are left with next to nothing it is easy to start doubting God’s goodness and even His power. But let me encourage you with something. Sometimes God waits until you’re down to nothing in order to show you how great His power really is. God specializes in nothing. In Hebrews 11:3 we read, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” In other words, God took nothing and made something. He started with nothing and created this incredibly vast and intricately complex universe we live in. You see, when you’re down to nothing God is up to something.
2. When everything falls apart remember God remains.
When a sheep was destroyed by a predator and only a few pieces of its body remained the shepherd was still there to pick up the pieces. The flock moved on but the shepherd remained. We have a shepherd that will never leave us or forsake us. Though our life might be shattered into a thousand pieces yet God still remains. Everyone else may leave us and move on but the Shepherd of our soul will always be right by our side. God never gives us up on us. We might give up, our friends and family might give up, but God never gives up. We have to be careful in these times that we don’t rely on our feelings. Our feelings and emotions are unreliable. There are times when we are not going to sense that God is near but the Bible is clear that through the power of the Holy Spirit God is with us. This is why we are commanded to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor.5:7).
As many times as Israel rebelled against God and worshiped idols, God never gave up on them. Over and over again He called out to them through the prophets. Even when judgment finally arrived, God told Israel that despite invasion, defeat, utter destruction and exile, He would still be with them. He would not disown them nor divorce them. In Leviticus 26:44-45 God tells His people,
“Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.”
Notice that the Lord declares that he will not give up on His people not because they have been faithful but because He is faithful. The apostle Paul tells us, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim.2:13). It is the Lord’s integrity that is at stake. That is why He will never leave us, for the sake of His glory and honor. What an amazing God!
Sometimes God allows us to come to a place in life where everything falls apart and nothing remains hoping that we will then seek Him and discover He is all we really need. Through Amos God told the people,
“…Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing. Seek the Lord and live…” (Amos 5:4-6a).
Each of these places had once been places of great spiritual importance. Bethel was where Jacob met God (Gen.28:11-19; 35:1-7), Gilgal was where Joshua parted the Jordan and Israel entered into the Promised Land (Joshua 5:1-12), and Beersheba was the place Abraham, Isaac and Jacob encountered God (Gen.21:22-33; 26:23-33; 46:1-5). Now these places were centers of idol worship. Here God is challenging Israel to consider their ways. Israel had abandoned God and sought after idols. They had turned the heritage of Israel’s spiritual history into centers of apostasy. Now God tells Israel that if they will abandon their rebellion and seek Him they will live. If you are left today with only pieces you need to do some soul searching. Is it your own disobedience that has brought you to this place? Has your life fallen apart because you have been seeking for all the wrong things in the wrong places? Has your focus been on the wrong matters? Have you worshiped the things of the world? Have you forgotten your spiritual heritage and abandoned the God of your fathers and mothers? God’s word to you today is to seek Him and live! Stop looking for deliverance from Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba. Instead seek God and live. Life is found in none other than Christ. When everything else falls apart always remember that Christ remains.
3. When everything falls apart remember God redeems.
The leg bone below the knees of a lamb is dry, bone-only and pretty much worthless. Even predators would not usually eat the leg bones. But when the bones were left behind the shepherd would gather them into His arms because they were valuable to the owner. God is the Great Shepherd who God gathers the worthless bones of Israel and redeems them because they are valuable to Him. From two leg bones and piece of an ear God would once again build Israel.
“The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. 14 I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:13-15).
Though all you have left may be some leg bones and a piece of an ear you need to know that God can take that which seems worthless and of no value and redeem it. When the fire sweeps through your life and leaves only ashes God gathers the ashes and uses them to build something great. God has a way of using the foolish and weak things of this world to confound the wise (1 Cor.1:26). When we put our bones into the hands of the Master He takes what is worthless and does miracles through them. The key is that we have to put our bones into the hands of the Master. We have to recognize that although we are left with only a little that little is much if we give it to God.
One day the multitudes were following Jesus and had nothing to eat. The disciples were frantic because the people were hungry and they had no food for them. A young man came to Jesus with five loaves and two fish. But what was five loaves and two fish among so many? But the young man put the loaves and fish into the hands of Jesus, then Jesus took them, blessed and broke them and the disciples fed five thousand with them. Not only were the multitudes fed but there were twelve basketfuls of leftovers. Miracles happen when we put the seemingly worthless and small things into the hands of the Lord.
In my hands a golf club is a sure shank, but in Tiger Woods’ hands a golf club is fourteen major championships. In my hands a paintbrush is a doodle brush but in the hands of Michelangelo it is the Sistine Chapel. In my hands a basketball is a brick but in the hands of Michael Jordan it is six NBA championships. In my hands a scalpel is just a way to cut my fingers off, but in the hands of Dr. Ben Carson it is a Hemispherectomy. In my hands two leg bones and a piece of an ear are worthless, but in God’s hands they are the building blocks of a new life.
No matter where you are and where you’ve been; no matter what failures and mistakes you have made God can take what is left of the pieces of your life and redeem it for something great. You may be low today but God is getting ready to do something in your life that will amaze you. God isn’t finished with you yet. Two leg bones and a piece of an ear is all you need for God to show His power in your life.
Conclusion: In conclusion, if everything is falling apart in your life today all is not lost. There is hope for you. We must remember the lessons from two leg bones and a piece of an ear that God restores, remains and redeems. God isn’t finished with you yet. There is a blessing right around the corner!