A very interesting chapter in that God has told Israel He will use the Assyrians to destroy their land. Now, God tells the people if they run to him, he will restore their land. Since God has foreknowledge, He is aware that they will not change. However, if they would, He would relent and turn from their destruction.
Seems God works similarly in the life of his people today. Turn and receive the Spiritual blessings He has promised.
In this chapter the House of Israel is told of their sins
Also, they are told to whom they can turn for help
God will be the only source of help
They can seek Him and live
Vv 1 – 4 “Seek Me that You May Live”
V 1 “Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel:”
The words I have for you comes from a funeral march. Your wounds can’t be healed.
V 2 “She has fallen, she will not rise again— the virgin Israel. She lies neglected on her land; there is none to raise her up.”
Israel has fallen because of her dependence on other gods and other countries. Then there’s the problem with how she treated the poor and downcast.
Remember, Israel is the ten northern tribes. Although the Jews return in 586 B.C., the ten northern tribes aren’t part of Israel at the time. Jeremiah writes that Judah and Israel will become one (Jeremiah 3:18).
In Jesus’ day, the land wasn’t divided. Today the land isn’t divided. During Christ’s millennial reign, the land will not be divided.
V 3 “For thus says the Lord God, “The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.”
The larger cities will be made small. Most will be killed by the invading army. In this verse Amos says that nine-tenths of the people will be killed. 1000 will only have 100 left, and 100 will only have 10 left.
V 4 “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live.”
God has given his word that Israel will fall. Here he says, “Seek me and live.” The words here are a call to individuals and the country. “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while
He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
While Jeremiah was predicting the fall of Judah by Babylon, he told of how individuals could survive with their lives (Jeremiah 39:18; 45:5).
Vv 5 – 13 Hope in God
V 5 “But do not resort to Bethel and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Bethel will come to trouble.”
Three places that you can’t rely on is Bethel and Gilgal or Beersheba. Amos tells them that the only solution to their problem is seek the Lord, verse 4.
Bethel means the house of God. However, at this time in Bethel was one of the golden calves. That image couldn’t save them. Gilgal was a place where they had set up idols. Although Beersheba had been a famous place of visitation for their forefathers, now they resorted to it as a place to worship idols.
V 6 “Seek the Lord that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, and it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel,”
Dependency on fortified cities will not save you. Only the Lord can. So, if you want to live, seek the Lord. These cities will be consumed by fire. No one can put out the fire on them.
V 7 “For those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness down to the earth.”
You make your visitation “bitter” and “nauseous.” That’s the implication of “wormwood.” By whoring after the idols in the cities mentioned above, you pervert justice. You turn worship into bitterness and your sense of justice makes God sick.
V 8 “He who made the Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens 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.”
God created all the heavens and separated day from night. He made the seas and causes the cycle of rain that pours down on the earth. He’s the one on whom you should call.
V 9 “It is He who flashes forth with destruction upon the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress.”
Only he can overtake strong fortresses maned by strong warriors. It is said that in order to take a well defended position, you had to have nine times the firepower of the defended position. God has that kind of power, doesn’t he?
V 10 “They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks with integrity.”
As they set in the gate and have court, the one who speaks with integrity and reproves those who are
wrong is railed against. The leaders hate him. I think the idea here is that they know they are doing wrong; therefore, they don’t want anyone reminding them of their perverseness and sin.
V 11 “Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, yet you will not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.”
They trample on the poor. They exact fines and tribute of grain from them. They take away the fruit of their labor to spend on their evil ways. Farmers work hard to produce a crop. After they have harvested their grain, they have to pay a tax on it. These fat cows take part of their hard work as taxes.
V 12 “For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor in the gate.”
Your sins (manifold transgressions) are many and varied and often repeated. We like they forget about our sins of failure to comply to God’s directives.
V 13 “Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.”
If anyone has wisdom at all, he will keep quiet. It is best to let the people think you are a dilbert than to open your mouth and prove that you have some sense.
Vv 14 – 20 Darkness not Light
V 14 “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said!”
Here’s what God desires from them. He wants them to seek good rather than evil. If they turn from their evil, God could then be with them. They think that is what they want, i.e. God with them; however, their actions are just the opposite. Thus the charge, “seek good and not evil.”
15 “Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”
Their court system “in the gate” is corrupt. Any one, especially a poor person, can’t come to court and expect to be treated fairly. If they could correct their court system, just maybe God would be gracious to the remnant of Israel.
“Joseph” is used because Israel is sometimes referred to as Ephraim.
16 “Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, “There is wailing in all the plazas, and in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They also call the farmer to mourning and professional mourners to lamentation.”
At this point the residents recognize that they are in trouble. They hire professional mourners to cry out in intercessory prayer. However, it is too late! Note that the calamity hasn’t happened yet. God calls things that are not as if they were.
17 “And in all the vineyards there is wailing, because I will pass through the midst of you,” says the Lord.”
Not only in the streets, but individuals in their own vineyards wail. All this is brought about because the Lord is sending calamity throughout their land. It is he who brings the bad to them because of their disobedience and rebellion.
18” Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light;”
There are some who long for the “day of the Lord.” Usually this phrase refers to the end of the ages. Here it could refer to the time when the Lord brings about the calamity that Amos prophesies of. Regardless, the day will be darkness and not light. Darkness here could refer to the calamity about to overtake the land. Most likely it refers to the time when God will restore his kingdom on earth.
19 “As when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him.”
The man runs from a lion but runs right into a bear. Or he goes home and leans against a wall and a snake bites him. These will be dark times with no escape.
20 “Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?”
Although the sun may be shining, the day of the Lord will still be very dark for those not ready to meet it.
Vv 21 – 25 Your Worship Services Are Hated
21 “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.”
Because of the manner of evil in which his chosen people participate, God hates the playing at church which his people are doing. They hold their appointed feast days. They keep the days holy with no work; however, their hearts are far from him.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.”
Your burnt offerings and grain offerings are being offered in vain. I will not accept them to your credit. You come to church on the Sabbath, but live for the enemy the rest of the week.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.”
I don’t want to hear your worship service. Your praise band and choir are repulsive to me.
24 “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
24 “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Do you remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan women at the well, John 4. He said, “From you shall flow rivers of living water.” That’s what God wants from their and our worship services. He wants to see the rivers flow.
Rivers of justice and righteousness over-flowing the land.
25 “Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel?”
Some take the first sentence to mean, “Did you offer to me only. . .” Even though they offered sacrifices to the true God in the wilderness, they still carried their pagan gods with them.
26 “You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.”
The idea is Moloch, small pocket idols they carried for personal superstition.
27 Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.
Damascus was the capital of Syria. Assyria was located to the east of Syria. There are two other countries that come from the same area as Assyria:
The Babylonian General who captured Assyria and its king named the land Babylon. Then the Medo-Persians captured Babylon and called the land Persia. Each country had a different city for its capital.
Of course Babylon was the capital of the Babylonian empire from the 18th century to the 6th century. Cyrus captured Babylon in 539 B.C. In 536 B.C., Cyrus allowed those persons taken captive by the Babylonians to return to their countries if they chose.
If you recall, God through Isaiah prophesied that this would happen. He even calls Cyrus his servant and savior of Israel.
Susa was the capital of the Persian empire. The capital city is located in what today is Iran.
Persia played an important role in Israel’s history. Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their country, and he also returned all the articles of the Temple. Then he allowed the temple to be built from the “royal treasury (Ezra 1).
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel all prophesied that the Jews would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Ester all record the completion of the prophesied events.
Therefore, the Jews did go into exile for 70 years. God used Daniel and other Jews to carry out his program of restoring his people to their land.
What is a dirge? ___________________________________________________________________.
Why was Israel to take up a dirge? ____________________________________________________.
In verse 4 why would the Lord say, “Seek me and live.” When he has predicted that Israel would be destroyed and people killed? __________________________________________________________.
What is significant about Bethel? _____________________________________________________.
What does Bethel mean? __________________________________. Explain “justice into wormwood.
Why do they hate the one who reproves at the gate?_________________________________________.
Why does God hate their worship services? _______________________________________________.
Why would it show wisdom to keep silent? ______________________________________________.
In this chapter, how are the poor treated? _______________________________________________,
Why is Israel seeking darkness and not light? ______________________________________________.
According to verse 15, how can Israel turn all this around? ____________________________________.
Which verse shows that God does not expect change? ___________________.
Two ideas for “the day of the Lord.” 1 _____________________________________,
2 ___________________________________. Verse 19 would show the _________________________ of Israel’s attempt to escape.
Explain, “Did you present me with grain offerings and sacrifices in the wilderness?” _______________
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