Amos 5:1 Hear this word, O house of Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
This chapter describes how things are in the land, vv7, 10-13, 16-20, affirms disaster, vv1-3, 26-27, and appeals for spiritual (vv4-6), personal and social (v14f) and religious (v24f) reformation.
“This lament” – The prophet bewails the nation’s fate is if it has already happened.
Amos 5:2 “Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up.”
“Fallen is Virgin Israel” – The Lord’s virgin nation has polluted itself by whoredom. She is fallen, and never to rise again, for she is beyond recovery.
Amos 5:3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “The city that marches out a thousand strong for Israel will have only a hundred left; the town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left.”
The nation will be decimated. Its military forces will suffer 90% casualty rate.
Amos 5:4 This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;
But there is still hope, if only the nation will repent.
Amos 5:5 do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
Bethel…Gilgal…Beersheba – ‘Bethel and Gilgal are honoured by time and tradition (cf. 4:4). Gilgal, the place of entrance upon the promised land (Jos. 4:20), will prove to be the place of exile; while Bethel, ‘the house of God’ (Gn. 28:17, 19) will become nothing.’ (NBC)
Amos 5:6 Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
There is a clear choice – repent, or perish.
Amos 5:7 You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground
In these verse the prophet once again lists the ways in which the people have offended their God by their injustice and sexual abuses.
Amos 5:8 (he who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land– the LORD is his name–
‘Pleiades and Orion were seasonal markers; the rising and setting of the Pleiades marked, for sailors, the season of navigation and marked the seasons on nomad calendars.’ (NBC)
Amos 5:9 he flashes destruction on the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin),
‘When punishment comes, the powers that made the heavenly constellations will be unleashed against the hapless nation.’ (Evangelical Commentary on the Bible)
Amos 5:10 you hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.
Amos 5:11 You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.
Amos 5:12 For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Amos 5:13 Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
The courts cannot be relied upon to mete out justice, so the upright man is compelled to remain silent in the face of injustice.
Amos 5:14 Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.
Amos 5:15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.
The remnant of Joseph – ‘Joseph is used as a comprehensive name for the northern kingdom because its tribes were mostly descended from his sons (Gn. 48).’ (NBC)
Amos 5:16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says: “There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail.
Amos 5:17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst,” says the LORD.
Amos 5:18 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.
The day of the Lord – This is the first mention in Scripture, but it is clear that the concept was already a familiar one.
The prophet now (vv18-27) turns to a concept that was evidently popular, namely, the day of the Lord. ‘Apparently the Israelites have presumed upon covenant grace to the point where they expect God to bless them, even though their conduct is in direct opposition to covenant principles. They look to God to destroy their enemies and usher in a period of peace and plenty in which they will be supreme. This is the least that they deserve, they think; after all, they are the Lord’s chosen. The fact that they cherish this expectation despite their complete repudiation of covenant responsibilities, shows the extent of their presumption. The sheer perversity of this attitude is hard to imagine, and would in fact be unbelievable were it not so prevalent in modern Christianity. God’s blessing can come in the believer’s life only when that person lives according to God’s rules in an attitude of complete trust and submission.’ (Evangelical Commentary on the Bible)
Amos 5:19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
Amos 5:20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light– pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.
The Lord hates not only pagan idolatry, but also empty religiosity – the form without the substance.
Amos 5:22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
Amos 5:23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Amos 5:24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Amos 5:25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
Amos 5:26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god — which you made for yourselves.
Amos 5:27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.
Into exile beyond Damascus – into Assyria.
Looking back over chapters 4 and 5, The Bible Application Handbook says, ‘Christians applying this passage should look beyond the evils mentioned (which may be repeated in any generation) to the social principles they represent (repeated in every generation). Complacency, indulgence, and disadvantaged people being exploited for other’s profit and pleasure, are always common lapses. We can apply this principle also to the obsession with and flaunting of sexuality, child abuse, racism, verbal and physical violence and vandalism, and unremitting commercial pressure on poor developing nations to produce low priced produce for Western supermarkets.
The passage reminds us that righteousness and godliness is not a matter of having a private faith, of avoiding certain sins and doing certain charitable or religious acts. It is primarily living in and ordering God’s world to reflect God’s character.’ (The Bible Application Handbook)