Amos 5

• Lament Over Israel’s Coming — Fall 5:1-3
• Warning Against Ignoring the Lord — 5:4-17
• Rebuke of Hypocritical Worship — 5:18-27

Amos 5:4-15
5:4 This is what the LORD says [reminder that Amos’ message was the Lord’s] to the house of Israel [Northern Kingdom; an invitation to forgiveness that would remain open up to the moment of the nation’s destruction]: “Seek [includes idea of desiring to please God] me and [or “in order to”] live [refers to avoidance of judgment or meaningful life in general];

5:5 [prohibitions regarding going to places of false worship] do not seek [or do not make pilgrimages to popular shrines, such as…] Bethel, do not go to Gilgal [first encampment of Israelites (west of the Jordan) during conquest of the land (Josh. 4:19); a place of worship (1 Sam. 10:8; Hos. 4:15)], do not journey to Beersheba [located in southern Judah; a place of idolatrous worship]. For [destruction of Gilgal and Bethel part of God’s judgment] Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”

5:6 Seek the LORD and live [exhortation of 5:4 repeated], or [consequences of not seeking the Lord and receiving His forgiveness] he will sweep through the house of Joseph [designation for the Northern Kingdom] like a fire [symbol of God’s wrath, destruction, war]; it [the fire of God’s judgment] will devour, and Bethel [false sanctuary located there] will have no one to quench it.

5:7 You [charge against the wealthy, powerful, and influential who used the judicial system to exploit other people] who turn justice [important to the stability of society] into bitterness [or “wormwood,” a bush with a bitter taste; results of perverted justice; poor and oppressed tasted the bitterness of injustice] and cast righteousness [the demands of our relationship with God; “to be and do right”] to the ground [as something worthless; signified that they had ignored their obligation]

5:8 (he [God is in control of nature] who made the Pleiades and Orion [two constellations], who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea [process of evaporation] and pours them out over the face of the land [rainfall]—the LORD [Yahweh: personal name by which God identified Himself to Moses (Ex. 6:3)] is his name—

5:9 he [God is in control of history] flashes destruction on the stronghold and brings the fortified city [strongholds and fortification no match for God] to ruin),

5:10 you [those who planned to exploit the poor and helpless] hate the one [perhaps an elder or an advocate who championed the cause of the innocent] who reproves in court [held at the city gate] and despise him [an honest witness] who tells the truth.

5:11 You trample [by charging exorbitant rent or making excessive demands of grain] on the poor [tenant farmers] and force him to give [thus making the rich richer and the poor poorer] you grain [planted and harvested by poor tenant farmers]. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions [the fruit of greed and unjust practices], you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards [the fruit of greed and unjust practices], you will not drink their wine.

5:12 For I know how many are your offenses [disobedience to covenant responsibilities] and how great your sins [missing mark of God’s standards/commands]. You oppress the righteous [the just; innocent/good people] and take bribes [one of the chief ways they deprived the poor of justice] and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

5:13 Therefore the prudent [Heb. sakal refers to one with insight or understanding] man keeps quiet [perhaps for fear of getting into trouble for speaking up; perhaps in quiet acquiescence to God’s judgment] in such times [could refer to Amos’ day or to coming judgment (future Assyrian exile)], for the times are evil.

5:14 Seek good, not evil [Isa. 5:20 warned about the moral confusion that called good evil and evil good], that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.

5:15 [note practical ways in which to seek good] [1] Hate evil, love good; [2] maintain justice [meant they would have to remove injustice] in the courts. Perhaps [introduces a conditional promise] the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Amos 5:21-27
5:21 [note three strong verbs (underlined) that describe God’s rejection of the people’s hypocritical worship] “I [God] hate [because worship had become hollow and empty and did not result in righteous living], I despise your religious feasts [the three great festivals—Tabernacles, Passover or Unleavened Bread, and Weeks or Pentecost (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:22,25; Deut. 16:1-16]; I cannot stand your assemblies [solemn assemblies].

5:22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings [offerings entirely consumed by fire and sent up in smoke to God; Lev. 1:3-17] and grain offerings [expressed gratitude to God for blessing agricultural endeavors; Lev. 2:1-16], I will not accept [God will not savor or smell] them. Though you bring choice fellowship [or peace] offerings [offerings partially consumed by fire and remainder eaten at a communion meal; Lev. 3:1-17; 7:11-34], I will have no regard for [God will not look upon them (closes His eyes)] them.

5:23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen [God closes His ears] to the music of your harps [because the music did not flow from devoted hearts].

5:24 But let justice [“deciding a case correctly”] roll on [cascade; flow consistently] like a river [from the hearts of those who claimed to worship Him], righteousness [“doing what is right” in every area of life] like a never-failing [flow perpetually; justice and righteousness should never stop] stream!

5:25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel [the answer is no; yet the Lord was with them]?

5:26 [Israelites worshiped at other shrines: evidence of insincere worship of God] You have lifted up the shrine of your king [probably refers to the Assyrian war god Sikkut], the pedestal of your idols [probably refers to an Assyrian astral deity named Kiyyun], the star of your god—which you made for yourselves.

5:27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus [capital of Syria],” says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.

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