Amos Chapter 5: Lamentations, Day of the LORD

Nov 18th, 2009 | By | Category: Amos, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Amos Chapter 5: Lamentations, Day of the LORD

Amos 5:1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.

In one word, chapter 5 concerns a lamentation.

Comment: Verses 16 and 17 seem to describe the actual lamentation as it would affect the people. A lamentation is an extreme form of grief—a wailing. “Wailing shall be in all streets…. And in all vineyards shall be wailing.” “Wailing” is mentioned three times in these two verses.

Reply: The whole chapter is a lamentation, ending with verse 27. Even though chapter 6 starts with “Woe,” it is a proper break, for another situation is discussed.

Amos 5:2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

In what sense was Israel a “virgin” in this context?

Comment: The fact that God married Israel shows the nation had a desirable quality initially, that is, until whoredoms were committed with other religions.

Reply: Yes. Verse 2 refers to a former estate rather than to the present condition in the prophet’s day. How Israel had fallen from her former condition! We are reminded of Jeremiah 51:7, “[Mystic] Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand,” but how she has fallen!

“She is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.” The ten tribes would be taken into Assyrian captivity, and then the land would be forsaken and deserted.

Q: Some would use this verse, especially the clause “she shall no more rise,” to prove that Israel will never again have favor. Would the rising “no more” be just within this context, at this particular time in history?

A: Yes, that is one way to view the matter. The condition of wayward government that existed at the time Amos was speaking will not reoccur in the Kingdom Age. Another way to view verse 2 is to carry the picture to mystic Babylon. That system will never again rise, but the people are not necessarily included.

The implication is that it was just a matter of time before the northern kingdom would go into Assyrian captivity. Then 137 years later Judah would go into Babylonian captivity for 70 years.

Adding the two captivities together means that it was more than 200 years before Cyrus issued the decree for the people to return to their homeland. And even then, the returnees were primarily from Judah and the tribe of Levi. Some returned from the ten tribes but relatively few. They never returned as the ten tribes but instead became the “lost tribes of Israel.”

The time was nearing for the end of God’s special dealing with Israel. The crown would be taken off Zedekiah and “be no more, until he come whose right it is” (Ezek. 21:27).

Amos 5:3 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.

Comment: Verse 3 sounds like the end of the age when only one-sixth of the enemy Gog will be left. This is one proof that a spared remnant is a small portion or percentage of the whole.

The word “remnant” is used in verse 15. In Amos’s day, the remnant would be one-tenth.

From a natural standpoint, the remnant percentage was small. The northern kingdom was noted for its great population: Ephraim for its ten thousands and Manasseh for its thousands.

In fact, Ephraim was so numerous that the name was applied to all ten tribes, but only a remnant went into Assyrian captivity.

Amos 5:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

Comment: The judgment was irrevocable, but those individuals who repented and truly sought the Lord would not die—they would go into captivity and thus live.

A principle is involved here, especially from the spiritual standpoint. The system will go down— it has passed the point of no return—but not as individuals. Verse 4 shows the Lord’s mercy.

And that brings up another point, as follows.

Sadly, some of the consecrated have been derelict and have strayed. The Bible says that the Lord can save unto the uttermost, but that statement applies particularly before consecration.

One may have led a very sinful life prior to consecration, but when the individual consecrates, the Lord forgives those sins. Nevertheless, retribution comes upon the individual for the willful part of those sins. The Apostle Paul is an example. Because he consented to the stoning of Stephen, he received retribution after consecration. In other words, it was necessary that Paul pay for this sin prior to his own death. But if one goes astray after consecration, habit takes over. The tendency is to think, “Oh well, I’ll change my way later.” This thinking is dangerous, however, for death can come at any time, and the person must diligently apply himself to retrace his steps and to change his conduct before death. At death comes the judgment. Whether or not one even gets life depends on the whole picture. One who is running the race may be way ahead of the pack, but he must finish faithfully in order to get life. The finish determines the destiny (Ezekiel 18). Bad habits are very difficult to break. The ministry of Amos is an example in history. The Lord continually, by the Prophet Amos, offered Israel a door of opportunity for mercy and forgiveness, but because the people’s lifestyle did not change, only one-tenth of them escaped destruction from Assyria.

Q: Is the principle the same in the Second Psalm? Verses 10-12 read, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” On an individual basis, if one in a position of power truly sought the Lord in the coming conditions, he might be spared and live on into the Kingdom.

A: Yes, that is exactly the point.

The lesson for the consecrated is that they should not live confidently as regards the future because it is day by day. Each day is a separate experience.

Amos 5:5 But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought.

Bethel was noted for its golden calf and for being a center of rival and false worship. Gilgal, too, was a center of false worship. What about Beer-sheba?

Comment: Israel is sometimes described as extending “from Dan even to Beer-sheba,” Beersheba being the southern extreme on the edge of the desert (Judg. 20:1). If any of the inhabitants of the ten tribes tried to flee by going to Beer-sheba, they would be searched out, and judgment would reach them.

Reply: Yes, those who escaped the immediate attack were ferreted out later.

There is another standpoint with Beer-sheba, which means “well of the oath.” The name refers back to Abraham, who was considered the father of all 12 tribes. With regard to being spared in the coming judgment, there could be no deathbed repentance, as it were. When Assyria was actually attacking, some could then see that Amos was a true prophet, whereas earlier they had criticized him as a doomsday prophet. They then recalled what he had predicted and saw it coming to pass. To repent at that time—after the fact—did not cause their lives to be spared.

Beer-sheba had a good beginning. If the people figuratively tried to go back to that situation after the fact, or if they literally tried to go down to Beer-sheba—either way their lives were not spared. It was like the one who grabbed the horns of the altar yet was ordered slain by Solomon. The altar was the last hope of forgiveness.

The old man uses very subtle reasoning. Sometimes the distinction between the new mind and the old ways cannot be readily discerned. Some think, “I will change my course down the road,” but that day never comes. The change should be made NOW, as soon as possible. Procrastination is the way of the flesh.

Amos 5:6 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 Beth-el.

The “house of Joseph” was another name for the ten tribes. Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph’s two sons. Ephraim was on the west side of the Jordan River, and half of Manasseh was on each side of the river.

The golden calf of Bethel was taken into captivity earlier than the people. This removal symbolized the nearing end of the ten-tribe kingdom. The message was, “Seek the Lord and repent now, because repentance at the last minute will be too late.”

Amos 5:7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

Wormwood means “bitterness” and “gall.” When bile from the gall bladder comes up into the mouth, there is a tremendous bitterness. Wormwood does the same thing but is even stronger in the mouth. Jesus was given a very bitter mixture of vinegar and gall to drink.

Comment: The RSV couples verses 6 and 7 together with a comma, setting them off as a separate unit. Thus the instruction to “seek the LORD” was particularly directed to those who were perverting judgment and righteousness.

The name Gilgal (verse 5) was a play on words. Gilgal was a place of judgment, and “gal” can be changed into “gall,” so “turn[ing] judgment into wormwood,” or gall, was a play on the name Gilgal. The people went to Bethel for help and justice, but the perversion of justice and callousness resulted in gall. Instead of the judgment being one of mercy, it became one of condemnation and retribution.

Amos 5:8 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:

Comment: This verse is similar to the last verse of chapter 4. The people were seeking after other gods. God was saying, “I am Jehovah, the God who made the mountains and controls the sea.”

This chapter is one of lamentation and judgment. If the advice to seek the Lord was acted upon, then the judgment could be favorable. When the door of repentance and hope closed, the judgment was unfavorable and retributive.

The “seven stars” are the Pleiades. In Job 38:31, God asked, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” Judgment comes from the north, and the north is the Pleiades. Of course science will not agree with this statement. Because man views the heavens from the perspective of the earth, he is very limited in his judgment. Those who accept the Bible as God’s Word have their vision enlarged, even on natural things. For instance, much history in the Bible is not recorded in secular history. We learn a lot about King Nebuchadnezzar, for example.

The Pleiades is the center of all universes and galaxies, but we could never prove that statement from earth because of our limited perspective. Man is high-minded to think he can search out the beginnings of the universe. God is above all—everything is beneath Him.

Therefore, the information in the Bible is the true perspective. Even Einstein admitted that the spectrum from which we view science is a very narrow band.

The Pleiades is the seat of both judgment and mercy; it is the throne of the universe. “God is love,” and the “sweet influences” of the Pleiades refer to love as God’s basic character (1 John 4:16). When the permission of evil is no longer tolerated, God’s love will predominate, and His universe will be in harmony with Him. At that time, mercy and pity will no longer have to be extended. (Mercy implies wrongdoing for which one is forgiven. Pity is exercised in conditions of sickness and suffering.) At present, during the permission of evil, mercy, which is a facet of love, is the only way of hope. Love has many, many facets.

Orion is the constellation of the hunter with a belt and a sword. Orion emphasizes the power aspect of God. Job 9:9 states that God “maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.” Orion represents God’s ability to accomplish that which He intends to do. Amos was saying, “A judgment is imminent. The Maker of heaven and earth is talking to you, but you are not heeding His voice. The judgment cannot be stopped. The best thing you can do is to repent NOW.”

Comment: God removed the Amorites when their iniquity came to the full and gave their land to the Israelites. Now Israel was sinning in fullness and would be removed from that same land through a severe judgment.

Comment: According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, Orion means “strong” in the Hebrew. God overruled the very name of the constellation.

Reply: Yes, God has overruled many things—even the flat nose of the Sphinx. Incidentally, Napoleon did not deface the nose in 1799. The nose was marred earlier.

“And turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night.”

Both positive and negative aspects are given in verse 8. The Pleiades is the positive aspect, showing God’s mercy and the sweet influence aspect, which are equated with day(light), and the night represents the negative exercise of God’s power in putting down that which is wrong.

“That calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” Pouring out upon the earth refers to the cycle of rain and also floods, especially Noah’s. Ecclesiastes 1:7 reads, “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” All the storms (rain, hail, snow, etc.) have their origin in the great body of water, to which they return. God established the sands of the sea to act as a barrier. Jeremiah 5:22 tells that God “placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it.” The sea cannot pass that barrier, even though it dashes against the barrier. God made the tides, which pull the water back, yet the very God who established the barrier can make the seas go over that barrier, as He did in the Flood of Noah’s day. God’s power can be used for good (rain) or for unfavorable judgment (flood). It is sad that the sin-sick world does not give God His due respect. “The LORD is his name.”

Everything in nature is a servant of God. The Bible speaks of the constellations as if they had ears and could sing. Each of the stars has a separate identity, even from appearance’ sake.

Comment: The majestic hymn “This Is My Father’s World” speaks of the “music of the spheres.” The last verse of chapter 4, the parallel Scripture for verse 8, uses the phrase “God of hosts.” In chapter 5, verses 14-16 and 27 all use that same term.

Reply: “Lord of Sabaoth” means “Lord of hosts” (Rom. 9:29). Earth’s armies are nothing in comparison. All the stars, planets, and suns—too numerous for man to number—are in God’s plan and have names. These inanimate things are God’s army, and they obey Him. God’s plan embraces eternity.

Amos 5:9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.

Q: Is verse 9, which is connected to verse 8, still talking about God’s power—the things He has done and can do?

A: Verse 8 tells of God’s inherent power and capability to handle any situation where judgment is to be given. The word “flash” in the RSV suggests the judgment was imminent. “Who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress.”

Q: Does verse 9 mean that God has the power, if He chooses to use it, to bring to naught anything fortified—in short, that He is over all?

A: Yes. How pathetic it is that Jehovah has to reason this way with fallen humanity, coming down to their level and pleading for them to reason on His behalf! He could inflict judgments continually, but the beauty of the truth is the explanation of the permission of evil. This doctrine explains what would otherwise be innumerable problems (the Holocaust and world wars, for example). It gives humanity a lesson in how depraved they can be if they do not listen to His counsel. By withholding continual judgments, God gives the consecrated an opportunity to walk by faith. Faith is the calling of this age. When we hear of atrocious deeds, our humanity would like to see judgments inflicted against the perpetrators, but at present, God does not operate that way. In the next age, all the injustices and sins of this age will be repaid—even in minutiae. In His Word, God reasons with us, as well as with Israel. If we have faith in His Word and promises, we can wait patiently for the Kingdom.

Comment: We are being prepared to be good judges, to judge righteous judgment even in the smallest matters.

Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

Comment: Judges sat in the gate. The bulk of the ten tribes had no respect for those who spoke out for principle and truth.

Reply: And no doubt Amos himself gave sermons near the gate—just as Jesus and Paul went to the synagogue and, taking advantage of the liberty, expressed their views. Everyone had to go past the gate to enter the city, so the gate was a convenient forum for a message to be heard. Lot sat in the gate as a judge, and Boaz went there (Gen. 19:1; Ruth 4:1).

Not only did all the prophets speak of restitution, but also they rebuked. Those who rebuke today from the platform are generally not invited to speak again. If Paul were here today, what would he say to the Church of Laodicea—STRONG THINGS!!!

Comment: All of the New Testament books, including the epistles, contain rebukes.

Reply: All who “live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Conversely, those who do not suffer persecution are not living godly.

Amos 5:11 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.

“Burdens of wheat” meant oppressive taxation. Taxes were often paid in goods. “Houses of hewn stone” were the houses of the rich. Through trampling on the poor and burdensome taxation, the wealthy got nice homes and pleasant vineyards. Also, long-range planning was implied. One who builds a mansion plans to live in it for a long life. Some of the ruins at Samaria indicate fabulous mansions of the wealthy designed to last not only for their lifetime but also for the lifetime of their progeny. Amos was saying their efforts were wasted. The “pleasant vineyards” were planted in an artistic way with trellises and shade arbors. In other words, the wealthy were living indolently and were expending huge sums on themselves rather than being satisfied with a modest income and home.

Amos 5:12 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.

The judgment was primarily directed to the ten-tribe kingdom.

Amos 5:13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

The “prudent” common people were not reproved under the corrupt circumstances. A prophet and/or one consecrated to the Lord was responsible for speaking out, but not the average person. The poor saw the injustice and realized that if they spoke out, they and their families would be penalized. The advice to them is given in verses 14 and 15; that is, “Wait on the Lord and be patient. God will take care of the situation; suffer it to be so for the present.”

Comment: The common people saw the futility of taking their cases to the corrupt judges, so they suffered the wrong instead.

Amos 5:14 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.

Comment: Verse 14 is like Zephaniah 2:3, “Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3 and verses 14 and 15 use the word “may.”

Reply: The poor were not all godly people. To oppress or unjustly treat any person is wrong whether done by rich or poor. Therefore, the advice to the unconsecrated was to be patient, for in time God would redress the situation. The great bulk of the people are not vicious and mean-minded, for a minority controls society. There is meaning to the phrase “the silent majority.” Today many churches mistakenly think it is the Christian’s duty to enter politics and try to legislate righteous laws, to be a voice in the government, and thus to correct the evils.

However, we see the futility of man’s efforts to straighten out matters and the necessity of making our calling and election sure along character lines. Then in the future, if we are faithful, we will be able to rectify and redress the evils. The thoroughly consecrated—back there and now—have to rely on God’s providences. The Morning Resolve says, “I will neither murmur nor repine at what the Lord’s providence may permit because faith can firmly trust Him, come what may.” That is the proper attitude for the consecrated. But for the worldly ones who just want to do what is right, the advice of verse 14 is applicable—it may be that the Lord in His providence will favor such individuals.

Amos 5:15 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.

Q: How do we harmonize verse 10 (the judges rebuke in the gate and speak uprightly) with verse 15 (God asks the people to “establish judgment in the gate”)?

A: Corrupt judges (the majority) took bribes; only a small minority spoke uprightly. Amos took the opportunity to reprove the nobility and the princes, as well as the corrupt judges in the gate. The common practice was for the judges to take bribes and unjustly judge the poor and not give them their due.

Comment: As stated elsewhere, the instruction is to “hate the evil, and love the good.”

Amos 5:16 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.

Amos 5:17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.

The lamentation was “Alas! alas!” A “husbandman” was a farmer. Back there almost everyone had grapes and a garden, even though small. “Wailing” would start privately in the home and then become public and demonstrative in the streets and public square. The hope was that those in authority would redress the situation, but the situation was hopeless.

Amos 5:18 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.

Some were wishing for “the day of the LORD.” This desire would be like praying for the Kingdom to come but not realizing that hard judgments must first take place. In the prophet’s day, there had to be a form of retribution on the nation.

Amos 1:1 mentions Uzziah, and Amos 7:10 speaks of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel who sent a message to Jereboam II about Amos. These personalities establish the time of Amos’s ministry.

Thus we know the Assyrian captivity would occur shortly.

The day of the LORD would be “darkness, and not light.” Some Christians and brethren feel that we will just glide into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom will be established gradually. They generalize Jacob’s Trouble as either having taken place or taking place. Such will be very surprised when some prophecies are fulfilled. It was the same situation in the prophet’s day, when some looked forward to the judgment day as a liberation to better conditions. But on whom was the judgment to fall primarily? The wicked: the rich, the wealthy, the proud. And in Amos’s day, as well as today, the false prophets prophesied good things all the time and contradicted the true prophets, who prophesied hard things. We must be careful we do not make restitution the gospel. The gospel is making our calling and election sure. As a general message, the gospel is a mixture of bitter and sweet.

Comment: Revelation 10:10 gives the principle; namely, the message is sweet in the mouth like honey and bitter in the belly.

What is spoken out of the mouth can be detrimental to the speaker. Of course none of us can speak perfectly, but we are responsible, nevertheless. All of us must give an accounting for our stewardship, but especially teachers, who have the greater responsibility.

Comment: Amos 8:11 indicates that part of the problem was a famine “of hearing the words of the LORD,” of hearing the truth.

Reply: There was no scarcity of prophets (perhaps hundreds) but a paucity of true prophets, of whom there were about three: Amos, Isaiah, and Hosea.

Amos 5:19 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.

Amos 5:20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

And so it would be when the ten tribes received judgment. They would go from one dilemma to another.

Comment: The people would find no protection either inside their houses or outside. There would be no escape.

Reply: Yes. The advice was to seek goodness, meekness, and righteousness—and not evil— and maybe one would be hidden from the trouble.

Verse 19 shows the hopelessness of trying to extricate oneself from the trouble. The judgment would reach down to the individual—back there and in the future.

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

Comment: Because of the people’s wrong heart condition and the perfunctory nature of their sacrifices, the sacrifices were displeasing to the Lord.

Comment: Of three translations (RSV, NIV, and KJV), only the King James uses the word “smell,” but that is a good rendering because if the offering is pleasing to the Lord, it is a sweet savor in His nostrils.

Reply: Yes, the Lord characteristically speaks this way. The language of this verse is strong.

Amos 5:22 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.

It cost the individual something to offer a bullock, lamb, etc., but if the offering lacked proper reverence and esteem for God, it was not acceptable.

“Though ye offer me.” While adherents of the heathen religions offered to various gods with different names, yet many were trying to appeal to the one God of nature, the God of the earth. For example, the Arabs worship Allah, the one God, but what is associated with the religious services makes the worship and offerings unacceptable. Israel’s offerings were ostensibly to the One supreme God, but because the worship was tainted by innovations, additions, and substitutions, it was obnoxious in Jehovah’s sight. The people preferred the ceremonies associated with alien religions. For one thing, under their rules, those of the ten tribes did not have to go to Jerusalem, whereas to be acceptable, the offering had to be done in that city. This is also true with Catholicism. Its adherents are trying to worship God and Jesus, but associated with the service are Mariolatry, statues, etc., which are not acceptable no matter how good the motive is. However, those in the system who mentally reject all of this paraphernalia and approach God in a broken spirit and with a contrite heart, pleading for mercy, can be heard on rare occasions. Sermons have been given that God hears only the prayers of the consecrated. Generally, that is the rule, but there are exceptions.

“Neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.” The people offered good, fat, rich sacrifices, but they were not acceptable because of a wrong spirit and a lack of reverence— even though the prayer was ostensibly offered to God.

Q: What did Gilgal and Bethel represent?

A: Catholicism and Protestantism.

The widow cast two mites into the treasury out of her living, her necessities, whereas rich individuals, who cast in much more, not only wanted to be seen of men but also gave of their surplus. At the other extreme were radical cases where people cast in all their living, which was like jumping off a pinnacle and expecting the Lord to catch them before they hit the ground. As Christians, we must be careful of extremes.

Amos 5:23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

Comment: In their music, the people were more interested in noise and rhythm than in a message or reverence. The music was empty and shallow.

Reply: Amos 6:5 says they chanted to the sound of the viol and invented instruments like David. But there was reverence attached to David’s music and dancing. If one sings off-key but with sincerity and truly to the Lord, the song is pleasing to Him, and those of skilled voice should not look down on the individual. On the other hand, the most skilled voice can be displeasing to the Lord if used with the wrong spirit.

Comment: One antitype would be the Gregorian chants of the Catholic Church.

Reply: Mass is sometimes sung in Latin. Arabs and Jews chant too. And Protestants have musical programs, theatrics, and featured singers. There is nothing wrong in having someone sing a solo, but singing should not be used to please the public rather than to please and worship God. When George Beverly Shea sings, every word is understood. Others sing beautifully, but only fragments are understood. The Apostle Paul said it is better to speak a few words with meaning than 10,000 words without understanding (1 Cor. 14:19).

Comment: The contrast in this verse is the difference between singing praise to the Lord and singing as entertainment. The singing here seems to be repetitive and for Israel’s own aggrandizement and pleasure rather than to praise the Lord.

Reply: God knows if the singing is done from the heart and for the right motive. The principle will be the same with the Holy Remnant. After being saved out of Jacob’s Trouble, they will mourn as for an only son because of what was done to Jesus. The contrition will be so sincere that even the world will recognize it is truly from the heart. This contrition will go a long way to erase any stigma among the Gentiles, who will say, “Who are we not to regard that which God has accepted?”

One of the most beautiful hymns for its music is “Ave Maria,” but new words are needed. The principle in verse 23 is similar—what sounds good to the ear can be offensive to God.

Amos 5:24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Comment: Failing to do justice and righteousness is one reason the people’s sacrifices were not accepted.

The words “judgment,” “run,” and “righteousness” are significant; that is, let judgment be a continuing matter. Torrential water rushes through wadis after a flash flood, and then the wadis are dry for long periods of time. A river, however, is a continuously flowing stream.

God was appealing to the people to exercise judgment and righteousness.

Amos 5:25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

Amos 5:26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

Comment: Many sacrifices were offered during the 40 years in the wilderness. However, the people were a mixed multitude, and many still harbored thoughts of and desires for the heathen gods of Egypt. These individuals did not make a full, whole-hearted offering unto Jehovah. Incidentally, there was a previous tabernacle and a previous type of religion before the Israelites arrived in Sinai—but not with all the detailed instruction and measurements.

Q: Was the “star” of their god the “symbol” of their god?

A: Yes. For example, the Muslims today have a symbol to represent their faith.

Comment: Acts 7:39-43 reads, “Our fathers would not obey [Moses], but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” In the context of Amos, the ten tribes were carried away to Assyria, which was beyond Babylon.

The answer to the rhetorical question of verse 25 was negative. Even in the Wilderness of Sinai, when the Israelites were ostensibly obeying the Lord and offering sacrifices for 40 years, they were, at the same time, carrying a “tabernacle” of Molech, the heathen fire god. In leaving Egypt, the Israelites did not discard all the false religious practices they had been exposed to.

Also, a mixed multitude accompanied them—the people who left Egypt were not all Israelites. The mixed multitude brought idols and false practices with them.

Of course there was not a literal tabernacle of Molech in the wilderness, for Moses would not have permitted such a thing. Amos was deliberately exaggerating. The thought is that at the same time the Israelites bore the Ark of the Covenant in the desert for 40 years and went through all the sacrifices and burnt offerings, they were carrying along the tabernacle of Molech in their hearts. Thus there is a little sarcasm here.

God was asking, through Amos, “Did you offer sacrifices and offerings unto ME for 40 years in the wilderness?” Ostensibly they did, but underneath were desires for heathen practices.

Comment: The roots of this lack of whole-hearted devotedness to the Lord in Amos’s day went way back to the Sinai wilderness period. The effects were cumulative, and now it was time for the Assyrian captivity, as stated in verse 27.

Amos 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose  name is The God of hosts.

In Assyria, the ten tribes were widely dispersed. Later the two tribes were taken to Babylon.

1994

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