Amos 5 GOD WAS SEEKING AN OCEAN OF JUSTICE

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INTRODUCTION TO AMOS CHAPTER 5

The prophet does not rejoice over the fact that God is going to destroy the nations around Israel and punish Israel with an exile into slavery. The nation will be greatly reduced by ninety percent because they had turned judgment into wormwood. They are urged to seek the maker of the Atoms and the Angels and not the golden calves of Bethel. Amos has a word for the rulers who are bribed and the fraudulent dealers. Again, he speaks of a remnant and of wailing and lamentations when he passes thru with his judgment. He hates their sacrificial feasts where there is no piety. He wants an ocean of justice and a river of fairness. But, because of their stubbornness he will cause them to go beyond Damascus to a real hell hole to spend their days and none of that generation will return.

EXPOSITION TO AMOS CHAPTER 5

1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel. 

Amos is mourning over Israel like Samuel did over Saul (ISam 15:35) or as Isaiah wept in Isa 22:4 “I wept bitterly; labor not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people” And as Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  Now Amos is grieved at the wrongs of the nation that had always been favored with divine assistance.

2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

 He is weeping like David over Saul and Jonathon, or like Jesus weeping at the Grave of Lazarus.  This mournful dirge was sung in the streets of Israel because she is to fall and none would raise her up. Israel had sunk so low that it would not be able to rise above the fate of the siege and captivity threatened. When Assyria and Babylonia came there were no offers to help her up.

 3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.

 The nation was destined to be greatly reduced by the exile as indicated by the contrasting terms of thousands and hundreds.  The prophets predicted that ninety percent of her population would perish. She sent out her army but few returned.

4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

 Deplorable as the case may be it was still not hopeless.

5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.

 These were places of idolatry, image worship and houses of iniquity.  The prophet begs them not to waste their time by taking trips to Bethel for their religion was all show and no substance.

6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

 If they would seek the LORD they could avert the impending judgment or if they chose not to act then God would break out like a fire and their fire fighters would not be able to put out the fire.  The house of Joseph was Ephraim and Manasseh.  They were going to end up withy nothing to show for their devotion to the Idols but ashes and burned out houses.

7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

 Judgment was as bitter as wormwood.  The rich could afford the best lawyers and judges loved bribes.  Plea dealings behind closed doors were the norm.

8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

 Instead of being interested in heathen gods Israel is exhorted to seek the maker of the heavenly bodies.  He who can control the mighty waters of the sea Jehovah is his name.  He draws the water from the oceans and waters the land and he can as easily destroy as create.

 9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.

 God is able to support the man who is overcome with a stronger force and enable him to turn against his foe.

10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

The guilty does not want to be reminded of his sin.

11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.

 Social injustice─they forced them to furnish portions of their crops so they could live in luxury.  They lived in expensive houses and planted vineyards.

God says that they may build these luxurious homes but that they will never live in them and those vineyards that you planted will be destroyed by your enemy the Assyrians because you have run roughshod over the poor.

12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.

 There was no use to appeal to the rulers for they could be bribed by fraudulent dealers to render a verdict against the victim. God knew first hand of their violations and the enormity of their sins they had kicked the poor when they were down.

 13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

 The wise are silent for they know that Gods judgments are right.  It seemed as though justice was a lost cause.  Evil was an epidemic.  Good people had thrown up their hands and to oppose them was a waste of time.

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

 See verse 4

15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

 Hate the evil and love the good.  What ruins you avoid; what helps you cleave too.  As a proof that you take advice purify the seats of justice and then expect God to be gracious unto you. The prophet pictures God as being gracious unto the remnant.  (When my mother made my shirts from feed sacks she always has a piece left over and she called it a remnant in the same way God will have a few righteous left after the war is over and he will be gracious to them.)

16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD, saith thus;mWailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.

When you see the Assyrian forces then there will be wailing and a public outcry of regret for the sad condition of your country.  The places of shopping will be filled with an outcry of people, they will think dooms day has arrived the highways will be filled with loud lament everyone will be expressing grief and howling “why us.”

17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.

 In a metaphorical way the prophet is picturing the vineyards crying out as God sends judgment on the nation.

18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.

 Why would you want to see God come?  It will be bad news not good times!  In times of distress men often call on God.  But the day of the Lord will bring you national darkness and not light.

19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.

They were “jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.”  When people rebel against God it is inconsistent to think that God will give them relief.  He compares what they had gone thru in famines, pestilences, diseases etc. to that of a man running from a lion only to meet a bear or leaning on a wall only to get bit by a snake.  The day of the LORD for them would have far greater consequences than what they had already witnessed.

20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

In Amos’s day as today, some religious people looked forward to “the day of the LORD,” when God will intervene and save his people.   Assuming that “God is on our side.  But Amos contradicted their expectations. In a few words he depicted “the day of the LORD” as a nightmare.

 21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

 I hate your sacrificial feasts where there is no piety and I despise them for they pretend to be what they are not.

22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.

God couldn’t stand the sham and charade of their offerings because there was nothing genuine about this people.  What about our religious conferences and conventions, ecumenical councils, and fund raising schemes and religious projects and slogans and goals of our day?  When was the last time you faced reality?  Has religion become just a habit and not a life changing, soul searching, spiritual experience with us? How many preachers, elders, deacons, bishops lead by example daily prayer, scripture understanding, witnessing and praising God?

23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

 They sang their hymns but God never listened to them because their heart was not with him.

24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

God wanted an ocean full of judgment yes, he wanted rivers of fairness.  He wanted them to reverse their practice and render decisions that were just.

25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

 God did not ask them for the sake of knowing but to remind them.

26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

 They had performed religious services but they were offset by their practice of idolatry.  The tabernacle of Moloch was a small portable shrine that they took with them.  Here they are carrying their cheap images and star-gods with them wherever they go for good luck.  Some people wear a cross around their neck—a string of beads called a rosary or a crucifix on a pole hand signs and special habit to proclaim their holiness.  Hear the word of God in this matter:

Mic 6:8  He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

 Because of your idolatrous practices this nation was destined to go into captivity under both the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.

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Amos 1 GOD SENDS AMOS TO DAMASCUS, GAZA, ASHDOD, ETC.

According to the first verse, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah over Judah (792-740 B.C.) and Jeroboam II over the Israel (793-753). After the reign of Solomon the Kingdom of Israel was split into two kingdoms. The Northern 10 tribes were called Israel (nick-named Ephraim) and the Southern two tribes were called Judah. In the North the religious shrines had become centers of vice and by Amos’s day the people had become pagan at heart. The Dan and Bethel shrines were about calf worship and Idolatry. Into this situation God chose as his spokesman a simple shepherd and itinerant orchard worker who was an enthusiastic Jehovah worshiper. He was from the working class of people but he understood human nature. This Tekoan shepherd launches out in his prophecy like a boiling pot he takes on such issues as social injustice and economic issues. His messages touched people, politics and purses. This commentary will explore the messages of Amos about the various Nations.
HIGHLIGHTS OF AMOS
Amos was like a roaring lion. This true man of God takes on the establishment. Ritualism had supplanted religion. They sneered at the thought of a rugged country man pouring out his messages like muriatic acid on a concrete floor. His messages were plain and simple he likens their escape to a shepherd yanking back a leg or an ear from a lion’s mouth, or to a person escaping with only a table leg or a corner of a blanket. His messages were bad news. He portrays God as being sick and fed up with their brand of religion.

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Amos 2 MOAB PASSED INTO OBLIVION

This inhuman act was prompted by the spirit of vengeance. The most outstanding men shall be removed. Centuries have looked down on Moab and not a descendant living and fifty or more of her cities lie in total ruins. The scene passes from Moab to Judah and Amos predicts the burning of her palaces and then turns to Judah’s unthankfulness.

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Amos 3 GOD PAYS ISRAEL A VISIT.

Israel and Judah are urged to hear the word of the Lord. God tells them that he is not threatening them without a cause. That lions don’t roar without a prey. Trumpets don’t sound with a cause. That two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. The prophet tells them that God does not do anything without revealing his intentions beforehand. He tells the prophet to publish in the palaces from Ashdod to Egypt what he had planned to do about their violence. He lets them know that in the day he pays them a visit that they will be lucky to escape with a table leg or a blanket. God says “I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel;…I will smite the winter house and the summer house…” This visit will not be pleasant. Read the exposition for further details.

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Amos 4 SAMARITAN WOMEN LED AWAY WITH NOSE HOOKS.

The women of Samaria had led their husbands around and now he tells them that they will be led away to captivity with fishhooks in their nose. God had withholden the rain, smitten them with blasting and mildew, gardens had failed trees and crops were ravished by the locust, their young men had perished. Deuteronomy 28 was being fulfilled before their very eyes and yet they could not see. The prophet urges them to prepare to meet their God. He’s coming down hard on them with the devastations mentioned in the text. Yes, it will not be a god that they carry around with them or wear around their neck. It will be the God who is the mountain shaper and the wind maker─he’s the one who brings everything out of nothing. This visit won’t be friendly and they will have no one to help them.

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Amos 5 GOD WAS SEEKING AN OCEAN OF JUSTICE

The prophet does not rejoice over the fact that God is going to destroy the nations around Israel and punish Israel with an exile into slavery. The nation will be greatly reduced by ninety percent because they had turned judgment into wormwood. They are urged to seek the maker of the Atoms and the Angels and not the golden calves of Bethel. Amos has a word for the rulers who are bribed and the fraudulent dealers. Again, he speaks of a remnant and of wailing and lamentations when he passes thru with his judgment. He hates their sacrificial feasts where there is no piety. He wants an ocean of justice and a river of fairness. But, because of their stubbornness he will cause them to go beyond Damascus to a real hell hole to spend their days and none of that generation will return.

Read Online »

Amos 6 LIVING IN THE LAP OF LUXERY

They were still living in denial and laying on beds of ivory and living it up with excessive drinking and made no connection with the people. They “just hadn’t gotten it.” It’s getting worse─ten men in one house and all are dead and a relative comes for the burial. The last verse of the chapter says it all and here it is summarized: I will rise up a nation against you (Syria) and they will make hash of you from the extreme north to the extreme south.

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Amos 7 AMOS IS THROWED OUT OF THE COUNTRY

The seventh chapter consists of two parts. First A vision of grasshoppers or young locusts, which devour the grass, but are removed at Amos’ entreaty; second by Fire drying up creeks and springs, and withering part of the land, but removed at Amos’ entreaty; and third by a plumb-line to mark the buildings for destruction. Secondly by Amaziah demanding that Amos go back to Judah with his preaching. In Consequence of the foregoing prophecies, Amos tells the priest Amaziah that his wife will become the town whore and that his children will all be killed and that he will face deportation and receives a life sentence in a heathen prison.

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Amos 8 POT-LUCKS TURNED INTO FUNERAL DIRGES

A bowl of summer fruit─the season is over─the end has come upon my people Israel. The dancing and singing will be silenced. The land is going to tremble─worse than after a flood. Their pot-lucks are turned into funerals and their country music into sob songs. They are pictured living in a foreign land with the pagans ruling over them and a few can remember the old time prophets and they long to hear the word “just one more time.” “I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”

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Amos 9 GOD ORDERS THE PAGAN SHRINE DESTROYED.

Too little─too late. God is pictured as standing on the altar in the courtyard of the idol temple and he is going to bring it down with a crash. People will try and hide but he who has the keys of Hell and Death will find them and justice is on the way. It is as sure as the rising of a mighty flood. The prophet declares that the “eyes of the LORD is upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth;” The house of David will again rule—the Messiah Jesus has fulfilled this prophecy.

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