Amos 5:4–6, 18–24; 6:1a, 4–7comment (0)
January 24, 2013
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: Amos 5:4–6, 18–24; 6:1a, 4–7
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
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Amos 5:4–6, 18–24; 6:1a, 4–7
Looking for Life in Wrong Places? (5:4–6)
Chapter 5 begins with a lament for Israel; God is telling the people that they will meet destruction. When the Israelite army would next go into battle 90 percent of the troops would not return. But God gives the people a remedy: seek Him and live. The people had been more interested in “worshipping” at the places of Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba, all places of worship in the past. However, the people of Israel no longer sought any type of personal relationship with the living God, rather they just practiced religion. Instead of seeking the God who had rescued them from Pharaoh and given them the Promised Land, they were more concerned with rituals without heartfelt worship. God does not delight in this type of worship. Even today, going to church for the sake of going to church does not bring one closer to God. Unfortunately many people in America today think that by going to church they are in a right relationship with God. But God wants more than some ritual; God wants us to worship Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Longing for a Rescue Day? (5:18–20)
This is the first time in the Bible the phrase “The Day of the Lord” is used. The Israelites believed that this day of the Lord would be a day in which Israel would be raised to its rightful place among the nations. However, Amos clarifies that this day would not be a glorious one for Israel but would instead be a day of judgment. There would be no escape for the unrighteous on that day. The Israelites who had been clamoring for the Day of the Lord were living in ungodly ways and would be punished.
In our lives today, are we truly worshipping God or only going through the motions to deceive others or even ourselves? God sees our motivations and sees our hearts. We should not expect to be pleasing God if our intentions are sinful.
Substituting Rites for Right Living? (5:21–24)
Despite the fact that the Israelites had actually performed the rituals required of them, God was not pleased. Even if we obey God’s commands, our actions are only pleasing to God if they are done with the proper motivation. Jesus pointed out that the poor woman who gave only two copper coins gave more than the rich people who gave a much greater quantity (see Mark 12:41–44). How can this be? Because God looks at the heart of the worshipper. God wants His people to show justice and mercy and not be only concerned with external obedience to rules. It is not enough to keep God’s commands, but it is necessary to have the right attitude when carrying out the commands of God.
Caring About Self But Not Others? (6:1a, 4–7)
Amos addresses this portion of prophecy to both the Israelites living in the Southern Kingdom (Zion) and the Northern Kingdom (Samaria). In both locations the rich people were trusting in their wealth and ignoring the concerns of the poor among them. However, because of this injustice, God would punish the wealthy by taking them into exile first. God chastises these Israelites because they did not take up the concern of the poor. It is not enough for us to sit back and relax in the salvation that we have in Christ. Christians are called to be salt and light. We are called to promote justice and help those in need. Too often we look at the motives of those who are in need and use this as an excuse not to help. We think things like, “Well, it is their fault they are in this mess. If they were responsible, they wouldn’t have these problems,” or “They’ll probably just squander the help we give them, so we shouldn’t bother.” While we need to be wise with how we use our time and resources, there are ways to help the needy other than just giving handouts. Try to think up creative ways to help those in need while opening up doors to preach the gospel. Jesus spent time with the “undeserving” in His day. The church today is called to do no less.