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.


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.