Seek the Lord and Live
5 Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:
“Fallen, no more to rise,
is the virgin Israel;
forsaken on her land,
with none to raise her up.”
For thus says the Lord GOD:
“The city that went out a thousand
shall have a hundred left,
and that which went out a hundred
shall have ten left
to the house of Israel.”
For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live;
but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
and Bethel shall come to nothing.”
Seek the LORD and live,
lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
O you who turn justice to wormwood
and cast down righteousness to the earth!
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name;
who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and turn aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
for it is an evil time.
Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.
Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord:
“In all the squares there shall be wailing,
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning
and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD.
Let Justice Roll Down
Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
“Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.
Amos 5 Commentary
by Hank Workman
In a move that would be shocking to the listeners, Amos sings a song of lament, a dirge of Israel who is fallen. The irony is this song of grief is as though they have already been destroyed. They had become the walking dead in the present life they lived. Amos was simply stating the reality of their state of being.
Oh, the spiritually dead are among us.
These are those who much like the Israelites of Amos’ times, go through the motions but their hearts are far from Him. These are those who justify behavior over and over again as they refuse to be obedient to the life and calling of God.
For the Israelites, one of the points He makes throughout this book is the injustice they continue to dole out to the poor and those who struggle. Remember, the times of these listeners had 2 classes: The rich and the poor. There was no middle class. The rich refused to take care of their own people, continued to go against His laws of provision for the least of these. They looked only to their own interests. The poor continued to sink into their darkness and bottomless pit. The oppression against them was alienating and killing them.
As the Israelites continued to be self-consumed on every level, they still appeared religious. The slow death from the inside out gave the appearance of godly people but they were whitewashed tombs.
The more we justify our actions, the more we subtly or even flagrantly not obey the prompting of the Spirit in our lives, sidelining His conviction and voice that slow death begins to grow. Like a cancer, it spreads and our distance from the Father separates.
“Seek Me that you may live. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you.”Amos 5:4,14
God’s call to the people then and now is an abrupt turnaround from the current life lived and choices made. True life only He can give. But this repentance must be tangibly seen and acted upon – if true repentance happens, the seeking of the good outweighs the pursuit of evil. It is only then that His presence is known.
Amos 5 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The oppression of the poor. Check. The establishment of structures built on immoral actions. Check. The acceptance of bribes in order to betray the less fortunate. Check.
We should be wary of reading these passages and thinking they are of a foreign place and time. These putrid acts are being lived out this very hour in our culture today. The irony of God’s judgment is that the very people who were supposed to be dispensing justice failed to do so because of their sin. The streets were full of wailing and turmoil because those in authority had abandoned God’s ways for the cheap thrills of sin. This had a domino effect on the entire culture as each looked out for their own needs. Spiritual desolation swept over the city.
But things were about to go from bad to worse. The religious traditions the people held to meant nothing because their hearts were completely alienated from God. Does this still happen today? Absolutely.
When the Word becomes just something we need to get done, our hearts are alienated. When our prayers become quick utterances that are only done in between daily tasks to make us feel better about our busyness, our hearts are alienated. When we worry and obsess over our own needs and how we imperfect our lives are because we don’t have what others do, our hearts are alienated.
God’s response to alienated hearts is a reality check. He has to respond with judgment because He is righteous. Now, before you get upset that I have labeled God as judgmental, I want you to think about the cross. What happened there? God’s ultimate judgment was on display for everyone to see. His wrath was poured out to the brim. There is only one difference between the judgment of God found in Amos and the judgment of God found at Golgotha… His target.
We deserve the punishment that we read in this chapter of Amos. Actually, our culture today is probably far worse. We should have been them. We should have been exiled. But God, being rich in mercy, placed His holy judgment upon His Son instead of us. Jesus took the judgment that you and I deserved and swallowed it up for eternity. How can this truth become so familiar that it doesn’t cause us to stop and tremble? How can we believe something like this and stay unchanged? Oh God, give us eyes to see and ears to hear…