Bible Commentaries
Amos 5

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3



Verses 1-3:

A Mournful Lamentation, v. 1-3.

Verse 1 calls upon all the house of Israel, in a mournful song, to give heed, attention, or obedience to what the Lord God has to say. This mournful song or word of mournful nature, this elegy, that God took up and laid upon Israel, was an emotional burden to God because of their sins, 2 Samuel 1:17-27; Ezekiel 32:1; Ezekiel 19:1; Ezekiel 27:2.

Verse 2 expressed a Divine lament over Israel as God’s fallen virgin, meaning a land and people of former luxury, power, wealth, and beauty, who by her idolatrous sins had, like a virgin, lost it all. She is warned that she shall no more rise to her virgin state, in her former existing state. She has fallen a prostrate prey upon her own land, 2 Samuel 1:19-25. In the midst of her own wealth she is destroyed, overcome by the consequence of her own sins, Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 32:4.

Verse 3 gives a touching description of the effect of war on the cities and people of Israel. Where a thousand had gone to war, only a hundred of them escaped or survived. And where an hundred went out, only ten shall be left alive to the house of Israel. It was a judgment for their sins, of which they were as surely forewarned as Adam and Eve were of theirs in the garden of Eden, and as children of God are today, Genesis 2:15-17; Deuteronomy 28:62; Galatians 6:7-8; Romans 6:23.

Verses 4-15

A Call To Seek God, Renounce Sins, And Find Joy, v. 4-15

Verse 4 is an appeal from the heart and mouth of God for Israel to seek Him and live, not only remain alive, avoiding a chastisement of death, but also to find favor and fellowship with Him again, Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 55:6; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Hebrews 12:9. See also 2 Chronicles 15:2; Jeremiah 29:13.

Verse 5 warns Israel to "seek not" either Bethel or Gilgal or pass through Beersheba, where they had imagined they could approach Him through the golden calves or other idol gods, upon whom doom was already irreversibly decreed, Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:8; Genesis 21:31; Genesis 21:33.

Verse 6 appeals to Israel to seek the Lord through repentance or turning from their heathen-like, idolatrous ways, and keep on living, Isaiah 55:6-7. If they did not they were to be visited with a sweeping, consuming, conflagration of judgment, like a prairie fire. God is as a consuming fire, who burns and destroys in His judgment, as He burned against Jacob, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities round about. And the idol gods of Bethel and their kind could not stop or quench the fires of God, Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 10:17; Lamentations 2:3; Ezekiel 37:16.

Verse 7 charges Israel with perverting justice and turning it to bitter wrong. They had become corrupt, morally and ethically, and roots of bitterness had grown up in them against righteousness; they had cast righteousness under their feet, done despitefully toward it, Deuteronomy 29:17-18, Daniel 8:12. They dethroned righteousness from their lives though it was the vicegerent and representative of God on earth.

Verse 8 is an appeal from Amos and the Lord for Israel to seek her creator, to seek His favor, the favor of the mighty God who made the seven smaller stars and Orion, the pleiades (the heap or cluster) of seven larger stars, Job 9:9; Job 38:31. These traveling guide stars were well known to the shepherds of the field. The word Orion means a fool or irreligious man, corresponding with Nimrod, which means "let us rebel." This God turns the shadow of death into morning. He has control of all His creation still, to turn darkness into day or day into darkness, at His will. He also controls the sea, causes the sun to evaporate her water, and release pure water upon the earth. He causes both ordinary rains for good and deluges for judgment, 1 Kings 18:44; Job 38:34. This is the God who loves Israel still.

Verse 9 further describes this mighty God of effective strength. in using the "spoiler" to destroy the strong, so that the spoils, Assyria, shall come effectively to put down the fortresses, bulwarks, and defenses of now mighty and proud, rebellious Israel, of the nature described, 2 Kings 14:25.

Verse 10 describes Israel’s hate for "him that rebuketh in the gate," or Amos the prophet, who publicly rebuked Israel’s nobles, princes, and priests, before the masses. And when Amos, in wisdom and Divine obedience, lifted up his voice, it was abhorred, not heeded, Proverbs 1:21. They detested or abhorred God’s rebuking prophet. They did not recognize that to follow the life and heed the voice of a righteous man was profitable, Proverbs 11:11.

Verse 11 describes judgment that shall come to Israel and her leaders because they "tread on the poor," imposing burdensome and excessive taxes on them, that abscond from them most of their wheat, with which excess, dishonest profits, they have made for themselves luxurious, hewn, stone homes where they live, against the warnings of their own laws, Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:38-39; Isaiah 29:21; Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13; Haggai 1:6. They are therefore warned that their fine houses, vineyards, and ill gained assets will be taken from them by judgment enemies, so that they shall live no longer in their fine houses or drink wine from their vineyards.

Verse 12 asserts He observes specific, willful deeds of lawlessness. God declares that he knows of (takes note of) their manifold or many shaded (colored) transgressions, such as: 1) They afflicted the just or righteous, 2) They took bribes for personal favors, and 3) They turn the poor away from their gates or doors, without pity, help or compassion, as later described Matthew 23:4-7; Matthew 23:14. The judge accepted pay to free rich murderers, but placed heavy judgment on the poor, illegally, Numbers 35:31; 1 Samuel 12:3; Proverbs 6:35.

Verse 13 concludes that the prudent or spiritually wise person will keep silent, have discipline and self control, when that hour of just judgment falls upon the nation, when Israel shall have set aside righteous laws, and civil turmoil exists upon the invasion of the armies of the enemies, Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:4; Matthew 7:6; Psalms 39:9; Leviticus 10:3.

Verse 14 appeals again for them to seek, diligently pursue good, and not evil, that the Lord of hosts may be with them, even in adversity, Psalms 34:7. Because they had boasted that the Lord was with them that they were His people, Micah 3:11.

Verse 15 calls upon all of Israel to do three things: 1) Hate the evil, 2) Love the good or ideal, and 3) To establish just judgment at the gate, where charges were brought over civil and criminal matters, a course of conduct from which they had departed, Isaiah 1:16-17; Romans 12:9. Based on such a penitent turn, Hosea assured them it was, possible that God might be gracious and stay the judgment He had announced against them, as a remnant of Joseph, 2 Kings 19:4; Genesis 16:2; Joel 2:13; Acts 8:22.

Verses 16-20

The Day Of The Lord, v. 16-20

Verses 16-20:

Verse 16 concludes that because God foresees they will not obey His exhortation, therefore the Lord, with all His majestic titles and righteousness, marks them for waiting and weeping in al! their streets, and as they cry aloud on the highways. In vain the rulers will call the husbandmen and those trained in the skills of mourning and lamentation to come together, to wail aloud. As Baal’s false prophets vainly wailed for help, 1 Kings 18:26-29. In ancient times there were paid, hired mourners, usually women, for special occasions, Ecclesiastes 12:5; Jeremiah 9:17-19.

Verse 17 announces that in all the vineyards of Israel there should be wailing. Where joy and merriment normally abounded, judgment wailing would soon be heard, from the vineyards and husbandmen of vineyards, as God passed through executing vengeance, Exodus 12; Exodus 12, 23; Nahum 1:12; Micah 7:18.

Verse 18 announces a woe upon those who think they desire "the day of the Lord," as they treated it as if it were the "pope-dream" of a prophet, Isaiah 5:19; Jeremiah 17:15; Ezekiel 12:22. Then Hosea chides them, asking what benefit did they remotely think it might bring to them in their impenitent, transgressing way. He concludes that it will surely be a day of darkness (when the lights go out) on mercy now, and for so long extended to them, Romans 10:21.

Verse 19 describes the day of the Lord to be as shocking and deathly to rebellious Israel as when a man outran a lion, only to be hemmed in by a bear, or like a man who went into a house to rest, leaned his hand on the wall, only to have a serpent to bite him. Such shall be Israel’s inevitable escape from the day of the Lord, in judgment for her sins, Numbers 32:23; Job 20:24; Isaiah 24:18.

Verse 20 concludes with rhetoric question meaning "The Day of the Lord shall be one of darkness and not light, will it not?" "It will be one of intense darkness, and no brightness at ail, will it not?" Such is the meaning of the phrase "The Day of the Lord," to those who turn not from evil, v. 18; Isaiah 2:10-22; Revelation 19:11-12.

Verses 21-27

Verses 21-27:

Abominable Worship--From Without Righteousness

Verse 21 expresses Divine displeasure of the feast days and solemn assemblies piously celebrated in Israel. He calls them "yours", not "mine;" He did not acknowledge them as of Divine origin, as He did those in Judah. Sacrifices and incense without obedience was hated, despised, and rejected of the Lord, as also expressed by Isaiah 1:11-24. These festivals and sacrifices would not avert judgment.

Verse 22 recounts the words of God in rejecting their burnt offerings, meat offerings, or meal offerings, and peace offerings of their fat beasts. They could not avail for them, either peace from God or prosperity, when their hearts and spirit were not right with God, John 4:24.

Verse 23 expresses God’s direct order for the abominable worshippers of Israel to take way from Him, His presence, the noise of their songs (odes of empty praise). Even their singing is called a noise. For He vowed also not to give ear to the melody or harmonious music of their viols, He once accepted from them, Psalms 150:3-6.

Verse 24 appeals to Israel to let just judgment flow as rivers of water, as a natural by-product of righteousness, even as a mighty stream, fed by its own fountain-head, over the land. Unless the one offering the sacrifice desires to live righteously, the sacrifice is hateful to God, 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 66:18; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:8.

Verse 25 rhetorically asks, "you have not offered me sacrifices for forty years in the wilderness, as your fathers did, have you? O house of Israel. They had. And their sacrifices to idols have been open, public, blatant, defiant acts against His command, that they not make unto themselves idols for gods, or fall down to worship them. The idol worship was held by some of Israel’s camp through the journeyings; It was covert or clandestine, not openly public, Ezekiel 20:39; Deuteronomy 31:21-22; Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17-18; Acts 7:42-43.

Verse 26 charges that they (Israel) had borne aloft, held up the tabernacle of their Moloch and Chiun, their images of their gods, which He charges they made to themselves, to satisfy their defiant will, in spite of His commandments, and their sacred pledge to keep all of them, Exodus 19:8; Exodus 20:1-5. They tried to worship both the one God and many gods, 1 Corinthians 6:8; Acts 7:42-43; 2 Kings 5:18; Job 31:26.

Verse 27 specifically announces that God, the God of hosts, would cause His obstinate people to go into captivity beyond (east of) Damascus, in which they trusted for help, even into Assyria and Babylon, 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6; Acts 7:43.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Amos 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.