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FRAMEWORKS: Amos 5: Lament, a call to repentance, & the coming of the Lord


[Preliminary Comment: The chapter opens with the Lord lamenting over Israel [v.1] because He sees she will fall and not recover [v.2], depleted from her greatness [v.3]. He brings a double call to seek Him so that they may live [v.4,6] and not put their trust in their idols [v.5]. They have people who have thrown aside righteousness and justice [v.7], ignoring their God who is Creator [v.8] so ruin and destruction will follow [v.9], people who are actually against those who seek to uphold righteousness and justice [v.10] who oppress the poor while living in luxury themselves [v.11], so corrupt [v.12] that the righteous simply remain quiet [v.13]. He calls them to repent and change [v.14,15] before judgment comes on them [v.16,17]. They seem to long for the Lord to come and act on their behalf without realising that when it comes it will be to bring painful discipline [v.18-20] because He is not impressed by their religiosity [v.21-23]. He reminds them of what their goal should be [v.24], reminds them of their past [v.25] and how far they have fallen [v.26] so all they will know is exile [v.27]. Perhaps it is a chapter that could be summarized as “Get your thinking straightened out!]



v.1-3 A Lament over Israel's fall


v.1 Take note of this song of sorrow about YOU


v.1   Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:


v.2 I see Israel fallen with no helpers


v.2  ‘Fallen is Virgin Israel,
     never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
     with no one to lift her up.'


v.3 Your great army will be depleted in what is coming


v.3  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:

‘Your city that marches out a thousand strong
     will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
     will have only ten left.'



v.4-6 A Call to seek God


v.4 Pay attention: repent if you want to live


v.4  This is what the Lord says to Israel:

Seek me and live;

v.5 Don't trust the idols, they will go into exile


v.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.'

v.6 Unless you seek Him [in repentance] His destroyer will come


v.6  Seek the Lord and live,
     or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
     and Bethel will have no one to quench it.



v.7-13 Sinners in the midst who ignore God


v.7 You have those who reject and ignore justice and righteousness


v.7  [Group 1] There are those who turn justice into bitterness
     and cast righteousness to the ground.


v.8 God who is the Creator is all powerful and can bring judgment


v.8 [Remember who God is] He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
     who turns midnight 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.

v.9 He will pull down your strongholds that you trust in


v.9  [Remember His power] With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
     and brings the fortified city to ruin.


v.10 You have those who oppose those who seek to uphold justice and truth


v.10  [Group 2] There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
     and detest the one who tells the truth.


v.11 You who oppressed the poor will have your big mansions taken


v.11 [Group 3] You levy a straw tax on the poor
     and impose a tax on their 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.

v.12 I see and know your sins of oppression and injustice


v.12  For I know how many are your offences
     and how great your sins.

[Group 4] There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

v.13 So prevalent is it that good people stay quiet


v.13  Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
     for the times are evil.



v.14,15 A further call to repent


v.14 Seek good so God can come and save you


v.14  Seek good, not evil,
     that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
     just as you say he is.

v.15 If you restore justice, there may be a hope that the Lord will spare you


v.15  Hate evil, love good;
     maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
     on the remnant of Joseph.



v.16,17 The judgment that will come on the unrepentant [implied]


v.16 In His judgment anguish will come to city and the country


v.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.

v.17 The vineyards will also be destroyed


v.17  There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
     for I will pass through your midst,'
says the Lord.



v.18-20 Your wrong understanding of the coming day of the Lord


v.18 Realise that the ‘Day of the Lord' will mean darkness for you


v.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.

v.19 It will be time of confrontation with destruction


v.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.

v.20 This bodes ill, not well


v.20  Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light –
     pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?



v.21-23 God's failure to be impressed by their religiosity


v.21 God despises your religiosity


v.21  ‘I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
     your assemblies are a stench to me.

v.22 You can bring as many offerings as you like, but the Lord will not accept them


v.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.

v.23 Cut out the music, God doesn't appreciate it


v.23  Away with the noise of your songs!
     I will not listen to the music of your harps.

v.24-27 Their failure & God's conclusion – judgment


v.24 Instead focus on restoring justice and righteousness


v.24  But let justice roll on like a river,
     righteousness like a never-failing stream!


v.25 Remember your past history with me


v.25  ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
     for forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?

v.26 You've gone far from that with your present idolatry


v.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.

v.27 So, because of this I am sending you into exile


v.27  Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,'
     says the Lord , whose name is God Almighty.



Continue to Chapter 6