AMOS - CHAPTER 6 - PILLARS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE
AMOS – CHAPTER 6 – Two Pillars of Righteousness and Justice
And My Testimony of Lo Debar
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
January 7, 2020, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
The words of Amos, a prophet of justice continues to declare God’s justice to those who rebel against God, His way, His will, His choice and His divine purposes. Amos’ words are God’s words. In God’s words, there are no variableness or shadow of turning.
Amos 5:24But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
The rulers of the nations had forgotten the meaning of justice and righteousness, two words which continually reoccur in pairs in parallel throughout this book.
Amos 5:7: You who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth.
The rulers have made righteousness and justice as bitter as wormwood and in so doing they destroyed the two pillars (Righteousness and Justice) which would have offered support for the nation in time of trial.
We can apply this to Congress and the Justice Department of the United States of America.
This oracle in chapter 6 is directed against the elitism and corruption of the ruling class. It focuses attention on their pride and self-sufficiency as well as the elegant luxury in which they lived.
Their pride means they forgot and ignored the over-Lordship of the Sovereign Lord.
Amos 6:1Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
Amos introduces Zion here in his oracle against the corruption of the monarchy in northern Israel. Both Samaria and Jerusalem were royal cities whose history is linked directly with the monarchy in Israel. We can substitute corrupt cities in the United States because Amos’s words are eternal. Although Amos’ mission was to Israel in the north, the word of God is no respecter of persons through the generations of the earth.
Notable persons in the chief nations, is the translation in the New King James Version. This is a warning not to trust in man, but always trust in God. If we are out to please man, we will never walk in integrity with God.
Amos 6:2Pass unto Calneh, and see; and from there go to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
Caineh and Hamath were city states to the north of Israel. At the time of Amos, Gath was under Judean overlords.
The complacent pride of Israel sprang out of the magnificence of Jeroboam’s reign coupled with their belief that, as they were the people of God, no harm could come to them.
Amos 6:3You that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
In their foolish egos, elitism and over-confidence, they imagined the evil day was far away and they continued to behave as though the LORD would never be called to account by a righteous God. The expression evil day indicates a day of disaster and may be used as an alternative for the day of the Lord’s judgment.
The seat of violence means a throne or seat of judgment; violence reigned in the land of Israel in the days of Jeroboam II.
Amos 6:4They lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; They chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; They drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
Amos is mocking those who imagined that their drunken attempts at singing make them appear like another David. The heart of the tragedy lay in the fact that they did not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. In our prosperity, good life, nice homes, cars, and excellent food, let us never stop grieving over the back-sliding, drifting, power-less Church. Let us never stop grieving over social standards that leave God, His values and morals out of its reckoning.
Instead of being guardians of the country’s life and morals, they were an example of unparalleled selfish greed.
Amos 6:7Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed. The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, says the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
God’s “now” is the day He visits the earth in His justice. I prophesy and decree this to leaders today who do not live and walk in the fear of God.
The common theme running through this oracle is the wrath of God soon to be revealed against their pride. The behavior which Amos has described would lead only to one result. The judgment of God would not merely come upon the rich, but upon the whole of the country. The people of the country had come into agreement with the corruption.
The expression the Sovereign God has sworn is used on three occasions by Amos to introduce the statement of the judgment that God was going to bring upon the nation. Such an oath makes the decree of God final and absolute since His whole person is invested in this form of oath in its most binding form.
NLT; Amos 4:2The Sovereign LORD has sworn
this by his holiness:
“The time will come when you will be led away
with hooks in your noses.
Every last one of you will be dragged away
like a fish on a hook!
NLT; Amos 6:8The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his own name, and this is what he, the LORD God of Heaven's Armies, says:
“I despise the arrogance of Israel,
and I hate their fortresses.
I will give this city
and everything in it to their enemies.”
NIV; Amos 8:7The LORD has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.
The pride of Jacob indicates the overweening self-confidence of the nation. God loathes this pride which is at the heart of the nation’s rottenness. They regarded their national destiny and position as the work of their own hands and they expressed this in the indulgent luxury which ignored the desperate plight of the poor.
Amos 6:9And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die. And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he that burns him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with you? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold your tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.
Any remaining after the siege would die of pestilence or plague. After wars, conditions will breed epidemics of pestilence and plague. It would fall to a relative on the father’s side, an uncle or cousin to burn the bodies. The expression "who is to burn the bodies?" is difficult because cremation was not an accepted burial practice among the Israelites. Although it may have been necessary in the circumstances of epidemics or plagues to burn the bodies.
I have difficulty identifying with this scripture with New Testament grace that they must not mention the name of the Lord in these circumstances. It is supposed the mention of the Divine Name would bring again the terrible curse that the Lord’s appearance had already brought upon them. In this light, to mention the name of the Lord would be presumptuous and only invite further disaster.
The Israelites were not supposed to call upon the name of Jehovah or worship Him in the uncleanness of touching dead bodies---not until they were ceremonially clean again.
KJV; Amos 6:11For, behold, the LORD commands, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts. Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? For ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:
NIV; Amos 6:11For the LORD has given the command, and he will smash the great house into pieces and the small house into bits.
Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—
Amos continues mocking the absurdity of Israel’s behavior . Nobody would attempt to race a horse down a precipice nor attempt to plough a furrow through the sea with his yoke of oxen, yet in effect that is exactly the sort of foolishness which characterized the behavior of Israel. The exaggeration underlines the point and drives home the lesson that the prophet is making.
The elitists had turned justice into poison and righteousness into bitterness. While they boasted in their own strength, God was about to bring about their downfall.
6:13 is an anomaly and mystery for me.
N.K.J.V. translates this verse to read:
Amos 6:13 NKJV: You who rejoice over Lo Debar,
Who say, “Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves
By our own strength”
KJV: Amos 6:13You which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength.
I had a dream about Lo Debar in November 1994.
At the time, in 1994, I did a complete teaching on Lo Debar identifying with 2 Samuel 9:4-5 – Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan was living in Lo Debar when David called for him to bless him.
In 1994, I identified Lo Debar with Mahanaim: Lo Debar is a place in Gad beyond Jordan near Mahanaim. The blessing over Gad is” a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at last.” (Gen. 49:19) Mahanaim is where the angels of God met Jacob to assure him of the promised protection as he entered Canaan (Gen. 32:2). Mahanaim means two camps- two hosts of angel armies of God. (Songs 6:13)
I will share this dream with you today because it is the dream that connects the ministry in Louisiana with the ministry in Texas.
Dream: Nov. 27, 1994: “Last year I had started a new church in Lo Debar The faces of the people were all of the people in Baton Rouge. Then I was standing in a new/different pulpit and had started another church. The faces of the people were a blur, but one became a Christmas ornament.”
As I have shared with you before, in the dream, the pulpit was the exact same pulpit which was at Little White Church and the congregation whose faces were a blur were seated in the pews of Little White Church.
In the early days of the church in Baton Rouge, a pastor/prophet who I can’t remember his name was Himself suffering through Lo Debar and told me I would go there.
According to F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary, Lo Debar is a town located in the eastern part of Gilead. Karnaim literally means horns. It was a city to the north-east of Israel. Horns is a metaphor for strength.
According to Google,
“Lo Debar is a physical place and/or state of mind when a person is in constant fear, perpetual feeling of loneliness and depression, feeling unloved, unwanted, forgotten, worrying, feeling of being unsuccessful, unappreciated… to name a few… feeling of being trapped with no way out, exiled and cutoff.” (Google)
I did have to overcome all of the above when I started the church, but I never felt that it came to naught. I have no regret, no ill-will, no bitterness. I believe every minister will probably spend a season in Lo Debar and will find their way out through the sure mercies of David. So it continues to be an anomaly and a mystery to me as to why the LORD would speak to me about Lo Debar.
I am forever an optimist, always looking to the positive. Last night, I read the sermon from 1994, At that time, I identified with the blessing of two camps and two armies:
“David was a type of the revealed Christ, his LORD and Son, His Root and Offspring. His kindness to Mephibosheth illustrates the kindness and love of God toward fallen man. Man was convicted of rebellion against God, and like Saul’s house under a sentence of rejection from him. We, like Mephibosheth were brought low, impoverished, lame and impotent, made so by the fall.
The Son of God inquires after the degenerate race, and comes to seek and save them. To those who humble themselves and commits themselves, he restores the inheritance: Eden restored, the promises of God, takes us into communion with Himself, sets us with his children at his table, and feasts us with the dainties of heaven. (2 Samuel 9- Sermon by Carolyn Sissom – 11/1994).
I cannot say that I understand my time in Lo Debar, but surely I passed that way on my journey. I never felt rejected or abandoned by the LORD. Yes, I was certainly rejected and abandoned by people, but never by the LORD.
I can’t say that I identify with Lo Debar in Amos; but I am careful to address each scripture honestly and squarely when it is before me. I identify with Mephibosheth who was rescued from Lo Debar by my King Jesus.
David told Mephibosheth not to be afraid. He gives him by grant from the crown all the lands of Saul, his grandfather. Also, he granted that he should always eat at his table. Mephibosheth accepts this kindness with great humility and self-abasement.
I submit this for your judgment.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from translations as noted.