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Chapter 5

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ch. 5:1-27    ch. 5:18-27


A Lament And A Call To Repentance (ch 5:1 - 17)


The judgment spoken of in the last chapter is described in more detail in chapter 5 in the form of a lament sung by God Himself.  A lament as seen here is Hebrew poetry, often sung, like one would sing a dirge. What is seen in this lament hasn't happened as yet, but it is sung as if it has already taken place. 


Verse 2 says, "fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again.".  The Lord calls Israel a "Virgin" here.  There might be logical reason for this.  Throughout the Bible the pronoun "she" is used in references to cities and places, as it is today.  That being said, I do believe there is a more meaningful significance here.  God called Israel to Himself.  She was a virgin and she was to be married to Him alone, but now she has found another to be married to in the false gods she was giving herself to.  The word "Virgin" might well be a play on words, a reminder of who Israel is supposed to be but isn't.


Verse 2 says that the house of Israel, that is, the northern kingdom has fallen and "never will rise again".  That was and still is the case. The northern kingdom never came back into existence to this very day.  It was lost forever.  Obviously, because of the Abrahamic Covenant, Israel as a whole will be restored at the end of this age, not the House of Israel as seen in the northern kingdom in those days.  That's gone forever.


The devastation is seen in verse 3.  The armies and cites of the northern kingdom will  only have ten percent of its population, and even that will be scattered away from the land.


In verse 4 God gives the northern kingdom one last chance to repent.  He begs them to repent.  He says, "seek me and you shall live".  This admonition was for Israel of old, but it is for all people, in all places, and for all parts of history.  Seeking the only true God is the only way to find real life.


In verse 5 God says "don't seek Bethel or Gilgal" because both of these cities that were once holy to the Lord have now been turned over to pagan worship of other gods.  The Jews now had defiled these cities and made them headquarters for demonic worship.  For this reason they were not to turn to these cities any longer for spiritual strength.


God also says not to seek Beersheba.  This may be puzzling to some because Beersheba was not in the northern kingdom.  It was actually in the southern part of the southern kingdom, but like Bethel and Gilgal in the north, Beersheba was turned into a city of pagan worship and those in the north often went down to Beersheba to worship these pagan gods.


In verse 6 God once again says to seek Him or else He would sweep through "the House of Joseph" like a fire.  The House of Joseph is yet another reference to the northern kingdom of Israel.  The northern kingdom, as we have seen, is called by a number of names, "the House of Joseph" being one.


God's wrath in judgment is symbolized by fire throughout the whole Bible, from beginning to end.  And of course, the Bible ends with God's wrath as seen in the Lake of Fire.


In the KJV you see the word "wormwood", which was a bitter poisonous root.  The NIV simply uses the word "bitterness".  The point here is that Israel has turned justice into something that is bitter and even poisonous.  There is no real justice left in Israel.  What is called justice does more harm than good.


I am not an astronomer but I do point out in verse 8 the two constellations of stars that are mention.  They are Pleiades and Orion.  Astronomers point out many constellations in the sky.  They do them simply for means of convenience and placements of  stars and planets.  That being said, most of these constellations consist of stars and planets that have no relevance to each other.  They're light years apart.  They just happen to look close to each other when you look up at them.  There are however, two exceptions, and they are the two constellations that are mentioned here, and also in a few other places in the Bible, as in Job 38.  This is interesting.  The two real constellations where the planets and stars are grouped together in proximity and gravitational affect are mentioned in the Bible.  Don't you think the Bible might be more scientifically accurate than many might think?


The simple point to verse 8 is that the God who is speaking these words of judgment to the northern kingdom is the God who causes the universe to function as it does.  In Hebrews chapter 1, verse 1 through verse 3 you see that it is Jesus who created all things in the universe and actually sustains all things.  He keeps the whole universe together and in motion, that is, until that day when He decides to stand back and allow the universe  to go crazy at the end of this age.


Verse 9 says that God brings destruction on the strongholds and bring cities down.  This is something that we really do need to realize these days when it appears more and more disasters are hitting cities around the world.  Christians aren't Deists.  God is involved in nature, in the affairs  of men, and all that is happening in the world around us.  When Katrina hit the southern United States. You can bet, for one reason or another, God Himself was behind that storm.


Verse 10 points out once again the lack of justness that is found in the courts of Israel.  Israelis hate those who tell the truth in court and also hate the one who reproves them in court.  This is something for our western world today.  The legal system is set up to find the truth and punish the wrongdoer, but often our court cases are full of lies and the truth is never found.  Justice is important to the Lord and it is one reason why He has judged, and will continue to judge nations today.


Verse 11 continues with the theme of injustice.  Over and over again, God speaks through Amos about matters of justice in relation to the poor.  Rich Israelis rob and tax the poor only to build their mansions. God will not allow this to continue.  I suggest that the same applies to the western world today.  The poor get poorer while the rich get richer, and much of the riches is on the backs of the poor.


In verse 12 God tells Israel that He knows how many sins they have committed.  If He knows the number of hairs on our heads, He surely knows how many sins we continue to commit.  This is meant to get them thinking of all the wrong they have done in order for them to see their sin and repent.  Before one can repent, one must see their sin.  God is simply pointing out Israel's sin, something that if a prophet of God did today, would be criticized for being way too negative.  We have an over-emphasis on positive thinking in today's church.  We need to realize that there are some things that need to be pointed out to us that aren't positive.  They are negative.  The negative must be spoken in order to bring repentance, which in turn will bead us into many positive blessings of the Lord.


In verse 13 we see a word of wisdom spoken by God.  He says "the prudent man keeps quiet in the times of evil. There might well be a time in a society to protest against injustice.  On the other hand, in days of evil, there might well be a time to keep quiet, as Jesus Himself did when He was before His accusers.


In verse 14 God admonishes Israel once again to seek goodness, then the Lord would be with Israel as they as He is now.  This tells you the depraved condition Israel is in.  They think God is with them, blessing them, when He isn't.  I'd suggest that much of the church today is in the same boat.  They think God is with them when in reality He isn't because they are not following the truth of Scripture.


Verse 15 is contrasted with how Israel is living.  The Lord tells His people "to seek goodness, hate evil, and maintain justice in the courts".  By this time in Israeli history it is clear that they had a judicial system, but a judicial system that was corrupt.  We seen the Lord speak to this before.  The western world of today is moving away from its Judeo Christian values that was the basis for its judicial system.  Much of our legal system, at least in my opinion, has become a sport for lawyers.  I'm not convinced that finding out the truth is really what most lawyers have in mind these days when they go to court.  I simply think they want to win the case, as if the court case was a game or a sporting event. They will attempt to when at any cost.


The last half of verse 15 actually holds out hope for some of Israel as it begins with the word "perhaps".   "Perhaps the Lord will have mercy on the remnant".  Mercy would only come their way if they repented and did what the Lord said in the first part of this verse.  There is still hope, not for all Israel, but for some, and that is true to this very day. 


The word "remnant" is important here.  God always has a remnant of people who belong to Him, both in Israel of old and of today, and also in the church. Just as Paul said that "not all Israel are really of Israel", so I say, "not all those in the church are of the real church".  There is a remnant in the so-called church that really do belong to Jesus.


When it comes to the word "remnant" and modern day Israel, if you study what Paul says in Romans 9 through 11, you will see that at the end of this age, there will be a number of Israeli survivors of the Tribulation that will give themselves to Jesus.  All remaining Israelis at that point will be saved, and they are what is called "the remnant of Israel".


Verse 16 begins with the words "therefore".  That means because of all the evil ways the Lord has just pointed out toIsrael, there will be wailing and great sorrow in the streets, in the vineyards, and in every corner of the northern kingdom of Israel because the Lord will visit Israel in judgment.  This judgment came in the form of Assyria attacking and devastating the northern kingdom.  I believe there is also allusions to Israel at the end of this age in verses 16 and 17 as well, because something similar will happen then.  I believe this for another reason as well.  The next section speaks of the "day of the Lord".  Usually that term is in reference to the end of this present age.  It is used in two ways.  It is used as the period of time at the end, and also the exact day that this age ends at the return of Jesus..


Note that God says He will "visit" Israel.  Evangelicals often think in terms of the visitation of God as being a time of revival, but that's not always the case.  It can also be a time of judgment.


The Day Of The Lord (ch. 5:18 - 27)


Verse 18 begins by saying "woe to you who long for the day of the Lord".   Why would God say this?  Israel was taught that they would be the head and not the tale when it came to the nations of the world, that is, if they kept the commands of the Law of Moses.  When it came to the political, economic, and military prosperity, Israel was at the height of their historic existence.  They would soon fall and never recover, at least not yet, not to this very day.  Many Israelis understood, and even more so in later years, that a day would come when their Messiah would come to them and they would be the head and not the tale in relation to the nations of the world.  Yet, before that glorious day would come, there would be a "Day of the Lord" that would be a great day of judgment and darkness as is stated in verse 18. 


Concerning the Israeli thinking of the day of the Lord in Amos' day, they would have understood that the Abrahamic Covenant predicted a day when Israel was the leading nation of the world. They were coming close to that time in Amos' day.  They were very prosperous, very wealthy, very strong militarily, and in all ways.  They would have thought that they were on the right track when, in their thinking, the day of the Lord being a good day, was almost there.  But, they were wrong.  Just because they were prosperous doesn't mean they were in the will of the Lord, and the same applies to the western world today.    


God asks, "why do you long for that day"?  The reason why Israel longed for that day was because they understood that day differently than God.  They understood the day of the Lord to be the glorious day when their kingdom would be fully restored.  God viewed the day of the Lord as a day of horrible judgment.  That's why Israel longed for that day.  They attached the wrong meaning to the day of the Lord.


I think the words of this section go far beyond a warning to Israel in Amos' day.  They speak to Jews throughout history, and especially so today.  These words, although they have specific meaning to the northern kingdom in Amos' day have a strong secondary meaning to Israel today.


God describes the day of the Lord beyond simple darkness in verse 19.  He says that it will be as if a man escaped the teeth of a lion, only to be attacked by a bear.   He then says that day is like a man who runs home and finds rest, only to be bitten by a snake.  There is one thing that these two analogies have in common.  First there is something the scares Israel.  For a brief moment they find rest from their fear and the reason for the fear, yet, while in rest, they are attack by something else by surprise.  This is what the Bible teaches about Israel in the last days.  If you read the war in Ezekiel 38 you will note that before that war takes place, Israel has a measure of peace and security.  The Bible also speaks of a day "of peace peace, when there is no peace".  Israel will find herself in a measure of false peace and security.  Many Bible teachers say this is a result of the treaty Israel makes with the anti-Christ.


Israel's false sense of security, leading to their spiritual apathy can be compared to the personal lives of Christians today.  It seems to me that when we as individual Christians have a measure of rest, wealth, and, when things are going good, we tend to slack off when it comes to the things of the Lord.  Apathy can set in and we get concerned about the things of the world.  There is a lesson for us to be learned here, and that is to be on guard for this apathy in our lives.     


Verse 20 states that the day of the Lord, that is, the period of time near the end of this age, will be a day of intense darkness with no hint of light at all.  This is speaking not of physical light, although that might be the case on the very day Jesus returns, but when it comes to the period of time near the end, this darkness is in every aspect of life.  Things will be dark politically, economically, morally, religiously, and in every way possible.


Verse 21 is powerful.  We  see how upset God is.  He says, "I hate, I despise your religious feasts.  I cannot stand your assemblies".  These are very strong words.  The feasts and assemblies that God is speaking of here are those feasts and assemblies that He Himself had instituted for Israel .  God hated them and despised them because Israel had forsaken the God to whom they were to worship in these feasts and assemblies.  They in fact have paganized them, as many Christian churches are now doing today.  The church should take serious note of this verse and this whole passage.


In verse 22 God says that even though Israelis bring Him offerings, as the Law of Moses required them, God would not accept them.  The reason for this was because these offerings, as their gatherings had been defiled with pagan idol worship.  The modern movement called Chrislam is doing just as Israel did back then.  I suggest that God does not accept Chrislam's worship as well.  I suggest that He hates the gatherings of Chrislam and anything resembling Chrislam.  God may well hate and not accept a lot of what we do in the name of the Lord.  The problem is that Christians today don't know the Bible well enough to know that much of what they do is out of the will of the Lord.


Verse 23 is very relevant.  God told Israel "away with the noise of your songs.  I will not listen to the music of your hearts".  Israel was going through the motions, but they weren't living right.  The same applies today.  If we are not living right, the songs we sing on Sunday mornings today is simply noise to the ears of God.


Verse 24 comes back to justice.  God is attempting to make Israel understand that they are an unjust nation.  Over and over again in the book of Amos, He points out this matter of injustice in all aspects of Israeli society.   He might well be doing the same today.


In verse 25 God reminds Israel of their wandering for forty years in the desert.  He has not forgotten about that.  Those days are partly the reason for Israel's soon judgment.  The climax of past sins are almost at the tipping point when God will no longer tolerate Israel.  God asked if Israel brought Him sacrifices in the desert.  For the most part, the answer is "no".  The second generation of boys weren't even circumcised  let alone being involved in sacrificial worship.


This chapter closes with verse 26 and 27.   God simply says that because Israel has made their idols their king, God will send them into exile into Damascus.  Damascus was in Assyria.  This prophecy came true.  Assyria came in and drove Israel out of the land God had promised them in the Abrahamic Covenant.  But, before this age ends, this land will be restored to the remnant of Israel.


Concerning Damascus, Isaiah 11:1 predicts its total destruction.  Damascus is the oldest and longest standing continuing city in the history of man.  This has not yet happened. I wonder if this destruction that is still yet to come is because of Assyria's attack on the northern kingdom at this point.  If so, God has a very long memory when it comes to these things, and that does not surprise me, because, justice must be done.  That being said, Assyria did eventually fall to Babylon.   


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