AMOS - CHAPTER 5 - SEEK THE LORD AND LIVE
AMOS – CHAPTER 5 – SEEK THE LORD AND LIVE
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
November 19, 2019, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Amos 5:24But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
This verse has been our cry for justice since the Robert Mueller coup and now the Schiff coup. Amos was a prophet of Justice. Amos declares 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, there is no variableness or shadow of turning.
The failure of the courts to provide the justice of God is one of the continuing themes of this prophecy. The rulers of the nations had forgotten the meaning of justice and righteousness, two words which continually reoccur in pairs in parallel through this book.
This oracle is a further mastery of Amos and is written as a lament over Israel in 3+2 musical meter. I don’t have the musical skill to pick up the 3+2 rhythm, but hopefully I will receive some help from our gifted musicians.
We can apply this entire oracle to what is going on in the impeachment inquiry in congress.
In the dirge, the judgment is treated as though it had already come and the lament speaks of the irrevocable fall of those who commit these sins against God and man.
Amos 5:1Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel. The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.
The prophet is describing the fall to Assyria and the 70-year exile in Babylon. Only a tenth would escape the disaster, and return from the battle to tell the tale. Such a decimation would spell the complete and total collapse of the nation.
Amos 5:3: For thus says the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave a hundred, and that which went forth by a hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
The expressions thousand and hundred relate to the way in which the military forces in Israel were organized. In earlier days the military forces were drawn from tribes and clans, but now the cities and towns would have to produce la draft to fulfill the number in a time of national emergency.
Amos 5:4For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek me, and you shall live: 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 naught.
This oracle underlines plainly that they, and we are to seek the Lord that we may live. It is the Holy One rather than the holy place that Israel must seek. This is just as true in the New Testament Church. To seek the Lord implies the observation of His commands and obedience to His will which required, not sacrifice or ritual, but morality and obedience in life.
Mat 6:6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
The words of Amos are words given to Him by the same LORD who spoke these words during His earthly ministry. It would have been as shocking and paradoxical to Amos’ hearers as the words of our Lord to His hearers.
Bethel and Gilgal were counterfeit temples of worship built by the ideas of man not by the direction of God. In the Day of Judgment, these centers of a vain and lifeless religion would become the empty perversion which they represented. There would be no help in looking to them. Their only help is looking in repentance to God Himself.
I recall again Johnny Enlow’s prophecy 4/22/19: “I am busting up rings of darkness in what is called My church.”
Amos 5:6Seek the LORD, and live; lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
Amos repeats the word of the LORD, Seek the LORD, and live. The way to God is the way of life, if only the people will turn to it. The alternative is He will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire. In chapter 2, fire is the Lord’s method of judgment for all the nations.
Amos 5:7: who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
The courts were so full of bribery and corruption that the very thought of justice was to the prophet bitterness (wormwood). Wormwood (Artemisia absinthian) was well known as a desert plant and was used as a symbol of calamity and disaster on account of its extremely bitter taste.
Amos 5:8-9Seek him that makes the seven stars and Orion, and turned the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: That strengthens the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress
Amos interrupts his oracle and begins to exalt the Lord declaring His majesty in creation and His power upon earth as the one who will bring forth destruction against those who imagined security in their own power and strength rather than God. The lesson is clear, for all who live in God’s universe are dependent upon Him and subject to His authority.
The argument in verse 7 is now continued in verse 10. The prophet describes the attitude of the upper class in Israel who detest any form of true justice, and the perverters of justice who set themselves up in opposition to the proper functions of the courts. I am reminded that Nancy Pelosi said this week that Donald J. Trump was in over his head and should be removed. This is what the elitists truly believe.
Amos 5:10They hate him that rebukes in the gate, and they abhor him that speaks uprightly. Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and you take from him burdens of wheat: you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine of them. 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.
Justice was no longer in the courts of Samaria and integrity was an unknown quality in the land of Israel. All the adult-male citizens of a town were eligible to sit in the court as assessors and could testify as a witness or provide advice. The Decalogue (Exod. 10:13) prohibits the false witness, as part of the words of God in establishing the foundation of the nation. To hate or despise those who advocate justice and truth rejects the whole system that God established and rejects God Himself.
Exploiting the farmer by the landlords did not serve to improve the economy of the nation but went to pay for the extravagance of the court and the rich. The judgment would suit the crime. They may build their fine houses, but they would not live in them. They might plant their lush vineyards, but they would not drink their wine.
The bribery and corruption of the court made it clear that the rulers of the people were no longer shepherds of Yahweh’s flock, but rather wolves destroying it. They boasted in the claim that God was with them. If that were so, their would be a love of good and hatred of evil.
Amos 5:13Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. 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.
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.
When times are evil and corrupt, wisdom lies in waiting for the day when justice will come from God rather than appeal to the judgments of men.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
If we are out to please man, we will never walk in integrity with God.
The word “seek” indicates “being devoted “, “being concerned about.” Hate and love demonstrate the emphasis on the importance ob bringing into force all the resources of our character to do what is right. To seek good rather than evil is to make a decision for God. Our decision to choose good will bring blessing, but to decide for evil is to decide against God and will bring about His judgment.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. These you ought to have done and not leave the other undone. (Mt. 23:23)
Amos 5:16Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, says; 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. And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through you, says the LORD.
When we see, therefore, we can ask what is it there for? If people persist in their sins, the judgment of God is a reality. The present course of conduct will bring inevitable ruin and God will pass through the land in judgment. Amos pictures a time when the land will be full of funerals. Wailing and mourning will be heard throughout the land because God will pass through in judgment rather than passing over.
Just as the destroying angel passed through Egypt to deliver the nation, now the destroying angel will pass through Israel to bring about their judgment.
Amos 5:18Woe 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. 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 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?
I have studied and preached the Day of the Lord throughout the Bible. It is a day of darkness for those who do evil and a day of light and promotion for those who follow after the Lord. The Day of the Lord appears only in prophetic texts. The Day of the Lord is the battle day of the Lord God of Hosts, the Captain of the angel armies; a “Day” when He demonstrates His effective Lordship over all creation. I believe the Captain of the angel armies is now passing through our nation and the nations of the earth.
History is a process in which God is actively present. From the perspective of what is right and just, the unrighteousness of the nation can only reap judgment upon the people
The metaphor Amos uses pictures a man who escapes from a lion is met by a bear. In desperation he manages to reach the shelter of his own house only to be bit by a serpent. Thus it with God’s judgment, there will be no escape. There will be no relief to help for the rebellious house.
Amos 5:21I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take away from me the noise of your songs; for I will not hear the melody of your viols.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
These verses describe vain religion. This oracle must have scandalized its hearers. Each of the essential elements of Israel’s worship is charged as totally rejected by God. The word “hate” expresses total detestation. The Lord hated the cults of Canaan (Dt. 12:31; 16:22). Amos is saying the worship of the people is on the same level as the hated worship of Canaan.
The prophet alludes to the main sacrifices, the burnt offering, a sacrifice in which the entire animal is consumed. The grain offering is a wide term covering any sacrifice brought as a gift and presented almost in the sense of tribute rather than worship.
An attitude of “tribute” used in this sense would be equal to a “Quid pro quo” attitude with God.
“God will not accept, will have no regard and will not listen.” The LORD does not desire the slavish observance of ritual, he desires right conduct, which in itself is an act of true worship.
Then comes the magnificent Amos 5:24 from which is declared the greatness of justice and righteousness of God flowing forever as a mighty river, never drying up. God requires justice: the rightness of social order, the protection of the weak, and care for the poor through the process of moral and civil law.
God demands righteousness which demonstrates the fulfillment of inter-personal relationships and the responsibilities involved. Social justice and personal morality are the essence of approaching God. (Jas. 1:27) Because of the righteous Blood of Jesus Christ, you and I are able to approach God and find mercy.
Without the characteristics of righteousness, justice and morality, the festivals remain your religious feasts or your assemblies, they are not the worship of God.
Amos 5:25Have you offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But you have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which you made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
Amos is dealing with the religious spirit that sacrifice is a means by which God can be satisfied. He announces that because of their reliance upon this, instead of upon the basics of a true, repentant heart, their judgment is sure. Our Lord, then and now demands right conduct rather than sacrifice, and the outward trappings of worship---to be seen by men rather than God.
The Israelites will fall into the power of foreign gods and be taken into exile under those powers and principalities.
The heathen gods, Sakkuth and Kaiwan, (vs. 26) translated in K.J.V. as Moloch and Chiun are both forms of the name of the Assyrian war god Ninib, god of the planet Saturn. Amos viewed the worship of the Israelites as being no better than idolatry for it was a religion divorced from morality.
The exile can be spiritually interpreted “to be moved from the promised land and the promises.” The promised land (the Kingdom of God) is the nation in which God Himself established. It is His dwelling place. Exile is in fact an excommunication being cut off from the community of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from K.J.V. and N.K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of J. Keir Howard, F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.