Amos 5 - Outline of Amos (Menu Page)
Israel's Persistence in Iniquity to bring Captivity...
1. Hear ye this word which I take up against you, [even] a lamentation, O house of Israel.
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.
Verse 2 is a lamentation of Israel's condition as it would be following the judgment which was about to fall (Amos 4:12).
The virgin of Israel is fallen... -
The term 'virgin' speaks of purity. Around the time that Amos wrote, Hosea was addressing the nation as a harlot, the unfaithful wife who had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD (eg., Hos 2:2,3). At one time she had been wholly His, with tender love toward Him (Jer 2:2,3). But because she had turned away from Him, and refused to return, He must judge her severely.
     About a hundred years later, Jeremiah used similar words in lamenting the fall of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 14:17; Lam 1:15-19; 2:13).
     There is also a warning here for the church of Christ, to remain pure for Him (2Cor 11:2), lest He be forced to judge us (1Cor 11:28-31).
The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise...
Through Jeremiah and other prophets, the LORD proclaimed promises of a future restoration of the nation. However, when that restoration occurs, the kingdom will no longer be divided. All twelve tribes will serve one King who will reign in Jerusalem (Eze 37:22). The northern kingdom of Israel, centered in Samaria, would 'no more rise,' following the Assyrian captivity.
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 Assyrian captivity would devastate the population.
Most of the people would be carried away captive or slaughtered by the sword. Only a few would remain.
Yet, in great mercy, the LORD extends a final call...
4. For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
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.
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. ye me... seek not Bethel... Gilgal... Beersheba...
As discussed in the Book Notes at 4:4, Bethel and Gilgal were centers of idolatry in the northern kingdom. Beersheba, located on the southern extreme of the southern kingdom of Judah, was a pilgrimage destination for idol worshipers. Bethel and Gilgal would fall under the Assyrians. The fall of Beersheba would await the Babylonian invasion of the southern kingdom.
     Those who put their trust in false gods, would also come to 'nought,' suffering the trouble that their wickedness deserved, for their idols were vanities.
Seek the LORD and ye shall live... lest He break out like fire... and devour...
For those who seek Him, He is the source of life. Eze 18:30-32
But He is a consuming fire, whose wrath cannot be quenched, toward those who turn from Him to false gods. Deu 4:23,24; 9:3
The name 'Joseph' is used as a synonym for 'Israel.' Joseph was the father of Ephraim and Manasseh, whose descendants comprised two of the larger tribes in the northern kingdom.
7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood {ie., bitterness}, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
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:
9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong,
so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
Seek the LORD... - He is the One who has all power (Amos 4:13):
He controls the constellations. He changes deep darkness into light, and day into night. He manages the water cycle, and refreshes the parched earth.
The leaders, who pervert justice and withhold righteousness in judgment, are advised to seek Him, in repentance.
For He is able to reverse the order of society, to empower those whom they have oppressed.
He is also able to change the hearts of sinners, so entrenched in their ways that they cannot change, unless He changes them.
Their desperate need was to seek Him. Psa 80:3,7,19; Lam 5:21
But how will they receive the prophet's admonition?
10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
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.
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].
13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it [is] an evil time.
When unjust men are in power, a man may be wise not to confront them,
knowing that his protest, against injustice and unrighteousness, will be turned against him.
But the LORD sees, and He will exercise righteous judgment. Psa 11:1-7
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.
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.
If they would truly seek the LORD, it would be evident for they would seek to follow His ways. Psa 34:12-16; Isa 1:16-18
The national leaders had claimed that God was on their side, but He could not be,
unless they repented and came over to His side. Only then would He be with them, as they had said He was. Isa 48:1; Amos 3:3
The LORD, knowing that they would not seek Him, due to the hardness of their hearts, declares the sorrows that will befall them...
16. Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus;
Wailing [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.
17 And in all vineyards [shall be] wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
...wailing shall be in the streets... for I will pass through thee...
The LORD passes 'through' in judgment. He passes 'over' in salvation. (See Ex 12:23)
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.
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.
20 [Shall] not the day of the LORD [be] darkness, and not light?
even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD...
There are two 'woes' in the prophecy of Amos.
  1. The first is pronounced upon their false profession (v.18). They professed their longing for the Messianic Kingdom, but they had no desire for the righteousness of the Messiah's realm.
  2. The second is pronounced upon their false peace (6:1). Professed believers were placing their confidence in ungodly, earthly powers, rather than in the God who has all power, and who always does what is right.
    [These two points adapted from GWms]
...the Day of the LORD is darkness, and not light...
Many people who desire 'the day of the LORD' do not realize what it will bring to them. The prophet Joel defined the Day of the LORD as opening with great judgment and trouble upon Israel (Joel 1:15; 2:1) and upon the nations (Joel 3:1,2). Only after the darkness of these judgments, will the Day of the LORD become brighter, with the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom and the final restoration of Israel (Joel 3:14-21).
     Israel has long anticipated the glories of the Messianic Kingdom. But in order for that Kingdom to come, God's will must be done on earth. He must first purge the earth of sin.
     Christians often say they desire Christ's return. They hope to escape their present trials and also the Tribulation that will come upon the earth, after the Rapture of the Church, and prior to the establishment of Christ's Kingdom. But do they forget that we also will be judged? For we all must give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ. That will be a very troubling event for many Christians (2Cor 5:9-11; 1Cor 3:11-15). How much worse for those who refuse the only true Foundation of life, to build on this world's shifting sands? Luk 6:47-49
Those who fail to seek the LORD that they might live, will not survive the Day of the LORD (v.4).
Trouble will be inescapable... a man will flee from one threatening terror, to be taken by another. There will be no safety, even in a place of refuge (his own house).
Shall not the Day of the LORD be darkness, and not light?...
This question is posed to encourage each hearer to consider his own judgment in that Day.
21. I hate, I despise your feast days,
and I will not smell in
{ie., accept the savour of} your solemn assemblies. {contrast Gen 8:20,21}
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.
23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
The LORD hates religious ritual performed by hearts that are far from Him.
Worship, that is not sincere, is hypocritical show. Prov 21:27; Isa 1:11-16
     This also applies to us. Is our 'worship' mere words? Do the hymns we sing express the earnest engagement of grateful hearts, or are the beautiful sounds on our lips, lies in the ears of God?
     The LORD seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Such worship is expressed, not so much in music and ritual, as in the conduct of lives characterized by justice and righteousness.
25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images,
the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus,
saith the LORD, whose name [is] The God of hosts.
...but ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun...
The LORD, who knows the hearts, saw that even at His Tabernacle (built by Moses in the wilderness), many Israelites were actually worshipping false gods. Even after their conquest of the promised land, their duplicity was evident to Joshua (Josh 24:14,15). Now, well established as a kingdom, Israel had effectively raised up the golden calf, which Moses had ground to powder, and given it a home at Bethel. The LORD's wrath was justified (Eze 20:6-8).
     In Acts 7:42,43, Stephen quoted these verses (v.25-27) in confronting the Jewish leaders, of his day, for their unbelief in rejecting 'the prophet like unto Moses' whom God had raised up (see also Acts 7:37-41). As quoted in Acts, the name 'Chiun' is replaced by 'Remphan.' The probable explanation is that Stephen was quoting from the Greek Septuagint (LXX). Chiun was a Hebrew name for a pagan god. The translators, of the LXX, apparently changed the Hebrew name to its Greek equivalent. This god is thought to be an idol representing Saturn ('the star of your god'). The LORD had strictly forbidden the worship of Molech, which involved the sacrifice of human children (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5).
     The LORD knew that those, who heard Amos' message, did not have hearts to seek Him. Like their ancestors, they were given over to pagan deities.
Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus...
Beyond Damascus (the capital of Syria) was Assyria, with its capital in Nineveh.
     Did Stephen mis-quote this, when he said 'beyond Babylon' Acts 7:43)? No. He was applying this text to the leaders in Jerusalem, whose ancestors had been taken captive to Babylon six hundred years prior. His point was that they, like their forefathers, also possessed unbelieving hearts and were worthy of similar judgment (Acts 7:51-53).
...saith the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.
Again, He reminds them of who He is (Amos 4:13), for they were serving false gods of their own invention.
They would know that He is the LORD... when they were carried away captive, in fulfilment of His Word, which they rejected.

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