Study Notes

Amos 5:1-6:14


The Lord is grieved over the sin of the people who are called by His name. He has proclaimed certain judgment upon them, unless they repent. He brought difficulty and trial and tribulation upon them, trying to get them to return to Him. But nothing worked. They had still not repented, returned, or relented. But even with all this, God's heart is still filled with love for His people. As we cover chapters five and six tonight, we see that He continues to announce the coming judgment, even while He pleads with them to turn from their evil and change their future.

5:1-3 Israel Will Not Rise Again

A dirge is a lament for the dead, usually in song form. Poetically in Hebrew, which doesn't come across in English, the Lord sings a funeral song for a virgin who will die with no one to raise her up. That virgin was Israel, the wife of Yahweh. She had fallen from her place of purity, had not kept herself only to her husband, the Lord.

Although in our culture, virginity is often mocked and belittled, it was a paramount necessity for brides in Biblical days.

The Law of God stated,

Deut. 22:20-21 "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

This was why Mary's fiance Joseph was so distraught when she was found to be pregnant before they had been married.

Matt. 1:18-19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.

Even with Joseph's love for Mary, the marriage could not happen. This was because keeping yourself pure only for your husband was mandatory. Spiritually speaking, the church is called the virgin bride of Christ. Paul told the Corinthinans,

2Cor. 11:2-3 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you {as} a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity {of devotion} to Christ.

The Corinthian church was, as many of us are, in danger of corrupting and defiling our purity before God. For Israel, it was too late. Her idolatry had ruinously defiled her.

5:4-7 Seek Me That You May Live

And still, the Lord appeals for their repentance. Although Israel had time and again defiled themselves with idolatry and sin, God still called for their return. His philosophy regarding a sinner's repetance is, "It's not over 'til it's over."

That's why

2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

He tells them not to run to the cities of Bayth-ALE, Ghil-GAWL, or Be-AYR SHEH-bah. Rather, they should run to Him. There is nowhere to hide from God. As David said,

Ps. 139:7-8 Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.

You can't run from God. Peter tried to go fishing, and the Lord caught up to him. Jonah tried to run to Tarshish, but God went fishing for Jonah. There's nowhere to run except to the Lord.

Justice Into Wormwood

God is going to judge these cities of Israel for "turning justice into wormwood and casting righteousness down to the earth." Wormwood is a plant which grows all around the Middle East. The Scriptures describe wormwood as being bitter and poisonous (Deut. 29:18; Prov. 5:4; Jer. 23:15; Lam. 3:19; Rev. 8:11). Justice, on the other hand, is described as pure (Job 4:17). So, when justice is "turned to wormwood," it has been corrupted and poisoned.

God will always judge a society when evil is proclaimed as good and good as evil.

5:8-9 The Power Of God

God is incredibly powerful. He made the constellations, and moves the earth to create the dawn. He is the creator and maintainer of the cycle which brings rain to the earth and water to the oceans. He is certainly able to bring judgment upon the fortresses of man.

5:10-15 Hating The Righteous

Traditionally, the city gate was the place where the judges would gather to render judgments.

At the cities of refuge, the manslayer could stand at the entrance of the gate to state his case in the hearing of the elders (Joshua 20).

Boaz took Ruth's nearest kinsman to the city gate to discuss the redemption of Naomi's land in front of ten elders in the city.

Remember too, that David's son Ab-shaw-LOME used to hang out on the way to the gate where people were coming to the king for judgments, and draw people away after his leadership.

To make right judgments in the hearing of the people, to be a man of integrity, was a badge of honor. But at this point of Israel's history, when good was bad and bad was good, any judge who reproved someone for wrongdoing was hated. A ruling that was fair and truthful was abhorred. Many of the righteous learned to just keep quiet.

Most judges were corrupt, making a ton of money from their unjust rulings. But God pronounces that they will not get to fully enjoy the riches of their corruption. And still God cries out for their repentance.

5:16-17 Mourning And Wailing

Because they will not repent, the Lord will pass through them and the death toll will be widespread. There will be weeping and wailing throughout the land. People will mourn the loss of their loved ones and the professional mourners will be called in.

Although it sounds strangely ridiculous to our ears, hiring people to weep and wail was part of the custom of the Jews. Just like we hire bands to play wedding receptions, they would hire mourners to stand outside and make sorrowful noise. When Jesus came to Jairus' house, the professional mourners were already outside doing their thing.

Mark 5:38-40 And they came to the house of the synagogue official; and He beheld a commotion, and {people} loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He said to them, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep." And they {began} laughing at Him...

Their laughter tells us that these were not loving family members, truly sorrowful over the girl's death. These were professional mourners, only weeping and wailing because they were being paid to do it.

5:18-20 Longing For The Day Of The Lord

There were people in that society who were longing for the day of the Lord. They were looking forward to the Lord's day of judgment. But God is pointing out to them that this will not be the end of their trouble. If they are unwilling to be goverened by God now, what makes them think they will be part of the kingdom of God when He comes? That will not be a day of light, but of darkness for them.

Even in the church today, we hear people who say, "I hope the Lord comes back today." I think that it's great when a sincere Christian says,

Rev. 22:20 ...Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

But many Christians live carnally, reveling in sin, and still say this. They expect that the Rapture will happen and all of their problems will be over. That somehow they won't be accountable for what they've done and said. But this isn't true. Many who say, "I hope the Rapture happens today," are not looking forward to being united with the Lord, but in actuality just hoping that this life will end, because it is so miserable here. We must weigh our motives and check our hearts to see why we are desiring the Lord's return. Is it truly because we want to be united with Him, or simply because life is so miserable that we can't wait for it to end?

Those who are living carnally and hoping for the Lord's return are equated with an almost comical predicament. A man sees a lion and begins to run away, only to run smack dab into a bear! Or a man who runs to his house for safety, and breathing heavily, feeling relieved, puts his hand on the wall, only to be bitten by a poisonous serpent!

It will be the same for those who are longing for the day of the Lord, yet are steeped in sin.

5:21-27 Hating The Sacrifices And Songs

Although people had no heart for God, religion was still being practiced. The festivals, the assemblies, the offerings, were all being observed. The songs were sung, instruments were being played. But God hated it - it was just dead religion. There was no relationship attached to it. People were just going through the motions.

I wonder how many of us have fallen into religious practice instead of having an intimate relationship with God? We sing the songs, but no longer worship. We lift our hands, but no longer submit to God. We read the Bible, but it no longer effects change in our lives. God hates that kind of hypocrisy.

He points out that even in the wilderness wandering, the Jews had been practicing idolatry. Although they sacrificed to God, they also were carrying their idols - the Sik-KOOTH and the Kee-YOON. Have we ever truly rid ourselves of the world's ways and been completely devoted to the Lord?

6:1-8 The Arrogance Of Jacob

Now the Lord points down south to the kingdom of Judah, warning them that although Israel in the north will be judged first, Judah will not be far behind.

"Look at the kindgoms around you, guys. Are you any better than Kal-NEH, the city taken from the Babylonians? Are you any better than Gath, which had been lost by the Philistines? How about Kham-AWTH, the great fortress, which King Am-ats-YAW recaptured (2Kings 14:24)?"

If these great places could fall to other kingdoms, why were they sitting down, living "the good life," and feeling so secure that they would not be conquered as well? Regardless of their riches and possessions, they would be at the head of the line of captives.

6:9-11 The Undertaker's Command

The death toll was going to be terrible when the attack came. Those few who survived would have the job of disposing of the bodies. The scenario given is of a kinsman who calls out to the one left in the house, "Is anyone else left in the house?"

Although there are several interpretations that people have regarding this verse, I think that it refers to the fact that the natural response to this question would be "No, there are no other bodies in here, thank God." Or, "No one else has died, praise the Lord." But before he can finish his sentence, he is interrupted and told not to speak the name of the Lord. Why? Because it is the Lord who has done this, who has brought about this judgment.

6:12-14 A Nation Will Rise Against You

You would never make a horse run on rocks. Either you or your horse will end up with broken bones. You can never plow through rocks, for your blade will break. Just as foolish is to claim to be a follower of the Lord, yet walk in wickedness. God cannot let that go without dealing with it. Repentance or judgment are the two choices presented.

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