(Part 11 of 21)
AMOS 5… In this chapter, Amos pictures God as one who sorrows or laments over what He must do, and what Israel must do in order to avoid judgment. God sorrows over Israel for what they would not do. Remember, our theme in Amos is “see God, not judgment.”
Amos 5:1-3… What caused God to lament and sorrow… “Take up a lamentation,” God says to Amos. The nation thought that they were safe. They were prospering, but they could not see that their recklessness was leading them toward captivity and death. Remember how Jesus lamented over Jerusalem. In Matthew 23:37-39, He mentions that they had killed the prophets, they had rejected Him, and now they were facing desolation.
Amos 5:1… Hear this word… “Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel” (KJV). The word “lamentation” means “a wailing, a mournful song.” Amos is saying, “I have a song of bad news, a heavy song, a forceful song.” Verse 2 says, “The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise.” That’s a strong word. God sees the nation’s future. Often when we rejoice, God weeps. God hates it when He is forced to administer justice. We need to lament with God over the sins of our nation and the powerlessness of our church services. The Lord uses the word “virgin” here. It refers to the nation losing its purity, even though she boasted that she had not. Jeremiah 2:2 says, “I remember when you went after Me in the wilderness.” Amos is picturing Israel as a fallen woman, and there is no one to raise her up. The ten tribes never did return from their captivity. In verse 3, notice God said that 90% were facing captivity, while only 10% (the tithe) would survive. God preserved a remnant.
Amos 5:4-17… God laments (sorrows) over what Israel would not do. Three times Amos prophesies, “Seek God and live.” The word “seek,” as used here, means “to search after someone or something, to search sacred texts, to search the only Person and the only law that can preserve lives.” God says, “Don’t go to these three towns: Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba.” Seek God Himself and not historical places. “Seek not Bethel,” i.e., don’t seek past experiences. Past experiences are only memories. Bethel was a sacred place because Jacob had a God-contact there. Idols now inhabited Bethel; God was not there. “Seek not Gilgal.” This was their first encampment after they crossed the Jordan into Canaan. He was saying, “Don’t try to repeat prior experiences.” The ultimate in God is not a “repeat experience.” We can review the past and learn from the past, but we can’t repeat it. God always moves forward. People love to run back to the old, but God has moved on. ”Don’t go over to Beersheba.” Don’t seek the experiences of your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham met God at Beersheba. Israel reasoned that maybe they could get a fresh encounter with God in the place where Abraham walked and talked with God.
Amos 5:5… 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 Bethel” (KJV). Deuteronomy 30:19-20 teaches “life or death, blessing or cursing.” Amos knows that the nation had been taught this. Years later God would say this very thing to Judah. “It’s your choice. Seek God and live” (Jeremiah 21:8). God was lamenting over the nation’s wrong choices. Seek God and live, i.e., make the right choice. God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He is also a well of life, and a God of mercy and grace and compassion.
Amos 5:7… God was lamenting (sorrowing) because the nation loved darkness rather than light. The word “wormwood” in this verse is referring to perverted justice. Wormwood is a poisonous root (Deuteronomy 29:18, Jeremiah 9:15, Revelation 8:11). God lamented because the nation had “[left] off righteousness in the earth” (KJV). They laid it to one side and then forgot it. God’s law was not their standard any more. Our own nation has done the same thing.
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” (KJV). In verse 26, Amos talks of how Israel worshipped the star of Moloch even as they marched through the wilderness, secretly carrying their idols. The nation knew what Amos was talking about. Isn’t it tragic, that while walking in the wilderness, seeing God’s presence in the fire, in the cloud, seeing God’s miraculous protection and provision, and coming to the tabernacle to hear His word… they still ran off to their own homes, pulling out their “star” images to do their own thing? Seek God and not the stars of creation. God has the words of life and health. “Make a choice,” God is saying.“I can speak the words of health, of success, and strength.” “Seek God,” Amos cries out in prophecy, “God has the control of your future.” The nation did not respond and God sorrowed.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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