Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.CHAPTER 5
The Third Discourse
1. The lamentation (Amos 5:1-3)
2. Seek the Lord and ye shall live (Amos 5:4-15)
3. The wailing (Amos 5:16-20)
4. The captivity announced (Amos 5:21-27)
Amos 5:1-3. This chapter begins with a lamentation over the fallen daughter of Israel. “She shall no more rise” has been used as an argument against the future and literal restoration of Israel. The prophet has only the present government of God over that generation in view and does not deny at all a future rising as so abundantly predicted in the prophetic Word. “There is none to raise her up, “nor could she raise herself up. But the day will come when the Lord in grace will raise her.
Amos 5:4-15. Here the Lord entreats Israel once more to desist from her idolatrous way and to seek Him instead of the worship at Bethel and Gilgal, for judgment would surely be executed there. “Seek ye Me and ye shall live.” Then again, “Seek the LORD and ye shall live,” and in case of disobedience, He, whom they refused, would fall like fire upon the house of Joseph. The house of Joseph is mentioned because the tribe of Ephraim was the most powerful tribe in the kingdom of Israel, and Joseph was the father of Ephraim. Again they are told to seek Him “Who maketh the seven stars (the Pleiades) and Orion.” These two great constellations were well known to the ancients Job 9:9; Job 38:31. And He also turneth the shadow of death into morning and darkeneth day to night. This is an illustration of the judicial actions of the Lord. As in nature He turns night into day, and the day into dark night, so He turns the deepest misery and sorrow into joy and happiness, and changes the bright day of prosperity into the night of woe and disaster. He is the Lord of judgment, who controls the waters of tribulation and wrath, the floods of judgment, and makes them pass over the earth.
Amos 5:10-13 give a description of the moral condition of Israel. They were unrighteous and loved the ways of unrighteousness; if the judge in the gate judged righteously they hated him for it, those who spoke uprightly they abhorred. The poor they trampled into the dust and extorted the distribution of corn from them. They had built fine houses of hewn stone, but they were not to enjoy them nor the wine from their pleasant vineyards Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:39. The Lord knew their transgressions and the greatness of their sins.
Still there was hope, for the Lord is merciful and slow to anger. Judgment is His strange work. Therefore once more we hear His pleadings, “Seek good and not evil that ye may live, and so the LORD God of hosts shall be with you, as ye have spoken.” “Hate evil and love good!”
Amos 5:16-20. As judgment comes there shall be wailing in the streets, wailing with the husbandman, and there will be wailing in all vineyards as the Lord passes through in His judgment. “For I will pass through thee” reminds us of Egypt in the passover night when the Lord passed through Egypt to smite. And now the death wail was soon to be heard in the midst of His people.
And still another evil was in their midst. Some of them brazenly desired the announced “day of the Lord,” the day of His manifestation to come. It originated in their false boast that they are the covenant people. They knew from the former prophets that the day of the Lord would rid them of their enemies, then Israel would be fully redeemed and blest and the Lord’s glory would be manifested in the sight of the nations. Such was Joel’s vision concerning “that day.” Such was their false hope while they lived on in sin. But the herdman, Amos, pronounced a woe upon them for desiring that day. What good will that day be to the impenitent nation? It is a day of darkness and not light. Then follows a parable such as a child of nature, as Amos was, would make. He describes a man who flees from a lion and fortunately escapes; but then he meets a bear, him he escapes likewise. Exhausted he reaches his house, and like one about to faint, he leans his hand on the wall; a small serpent out of the crevice bites him and he perishes miserably. So would the day of the Lord overtake them. How different it is with the true believer. He desires, not the Day of the Lord, but the coming of Him, who has promised His own, “I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am ye may be also.”
Amos 5:21-27. The Lord despised their outward worship; their feast days and different offerings were not well pleasing in His sight. It was all a hollow pretense of honoring Him, and all their songs were hateful to Him.
But this departure from Him was not a new thing in their history. They were always a stiffnecked people. Even in the wilderness did they not bring Him sacrifices and offerings, but instead they bore the tabernacle of Moloch and Chiun (or the booth of your king and the pedestal of your images, the star of your gods). Then follows the verdict, “Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is the God of Hosts.”