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Read Amos 5

A Lament and Call to Repentance

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

“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
    never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
    with no one to lift her up.”

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.”

This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    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.”
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.

There are those who turn justice into bitterness
    and cast righteousness to the ground.

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.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
    and brings the fortified city to ruin.

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
    and detest the one who tells the truth.

11 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.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
    and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
    and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
    for the times are evil.

14 Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
    maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
    on the remnant of Joseph.

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

The Day of the Lord

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

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
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.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
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.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
    says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

Go Deeper

It’s not news to any of us that we live in a fallen world. Disease, death, and affliction are all around us. The fruits of our sin and brokenness run rampant. Life can feel unfair and brutal. Life for Israel in Amos 5 was no different. Israel lived in sin and suffered the drastic consequences. Evil was everywhere. The rich exploited the poor and the powerful hurt the innocent (v. 12). This was a time when people “turned justice into bitterness” and “threw what is fair and right to the ground” (v. 7). It often feels like this is the same world we live in. And it is. We look around us and see a world that “calls evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

Amos 5:8-9 offers us incredible hope in the midst of this suffering. There is One who spoke into existence the universe–– One who reigns over light and holds power over the darkness. The Lord is His name! He is powerful to bring judgment on the wicked and to rescue His children. Evil does not triumph! We don’t have to despair in a world suffering from sin and brokenness. We can know that our God is more powerful than it all.

In the midst of all this brokenness in the world and out of our own hearts, God implores us to seek Him! Comparing verses 4 and 14 reveals that seeking God is equivalent to seeking good. God is the standard that defines justice and righteousness, so to worship Him is to do justice and righteousness––to do good! Ephesians 2:10 tells us something similar: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Part of following Jesus is living out the good works God created us to do. 

Nonetheless, the Lord makes it clear in verses 21-23 that he doesn’t want just meaningless, obligatory worship and rituals. Empty religion apart from a relationship with Him won’t cut it. And it’s worse than inadequate; it hurts His heart! He wants both our hearts and our actions. “Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up” (v. 24). Because God defines righteousness and justice, pursuing these things because of our faith is an act of worship. 

Yes, we live in a world overcome by the effects of sin and brokenness. And yet, we do not despair, for our God is greater. And He uses us as part of His solution to bring goodness to the world by His grace.


  1. Where in your life do you see sin and brokenness that you need to invite God to heal?
  2. Are there any areas of your life where you are “throwing what is fair and right to the ground” (v. 7)?
  3. Who comes to mind when you think of someone out of whom “justice flows like torrents or water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up” (v. 24)? How can you imitate Christ like that?

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6 thoughts on “Amos 5”

  1. With each chapter it feels like Amos is gaining momentum with an urgency to the people to wake up and repent. His audience is to “fallen Israel”. They were probably offended that this shepherd turned prophet would dare to sing a “funeral song” over them as if they had already been destroyed. Their rituals and wealth would offer no security when faced with God’s wrath. We all need the reminder that our omnipotent God has incredible power. What he says, he will do. He will always call out hypocrisy, when we merely go through the motions & check the boxes without our hearts ever being changed. Are we more concerned about our image or attitude toward God? As a reforming “people-pleaser” I constantly have to keep this in check. Recognizing my tendency and humbly admitting it to the Lord realigns my priorities. Amos outlines a good plan to follow:
    -Do what is good and run from evil.
    -Hate evil and love what is good.

  2. In Amos the sin of woman is pointed out more than once. Abuse of power and a disregard for the needs of the poor. The cry of my heart is to sacrificially help lift up those who need an advocate and encourager. Give me eyes to see and wisdom on how to do what you are asking Lord

  3. This passage and the accompanying Go Deeper really spoke to me. Thank you too for posting the song by Jon Foreman. Avoid hypocrisy and contrived worship. Seek good, and seek God. I need that call to look inward and to examine the motives of my heart.

  4. We are all a part of God’s plan. We have a “purpose” in life. God places people and us in circumstances in which we are able to do the good works that God has created us for. Amos is an example of that. Every day we have opportunities to speak to people about Jesus and definitely showing them who He is by lovingly being a living example. Every day I pray for opportunities to serve, some days I make others I do not. I also am a people pleaser and have to watch my boundaries that what I am doing is for God and not for me to be noticed.

    God thank you for opportunities to love, serve and be who You need me to be and do. God help me be bold in my words and actions that glorify, edify and build up You and Your kingdom. Thank you God for forgiveness when I am selfish. You are wonderful awesome magnificent incomparable beautiful delightful exhilarating!!!!!!!! In Jesus name amen

  5. How ironic that the same bondage-slavery-idol worship that God freed his people from is now the same God is pleading from them to turn away from to live again. The only thing we see the same is that they are in desperate need of God to save them.
    It’s heart-wrenching to read God begging/pleading them to turn from their spiritual adultery so he can spare them. I think about instances where many of us have witnessed the same pleads and cries for our loved ones. One may question how could the Israelites even fall to such idolatry after all God has done for them? How could they oppress the poor when they were once slaves themselves? How quickly they have forgotten all the graciousness given to their people! But it’s so beautiful to see how much God still loves them even when it seem dark and hopeless. Reminds me of Hosea–Hosea and Gomer.
    Thank you, God for your tremendous love for us. A love that is unconditional and long-suffering. Thank you for repeatedly reminding us how much we need to seek you first above everything. Please remove any materialistic idol in our lives that is separating us from fully serving you completely. Let us be more mindful of the poor, and the needs of people suffering that you bring in our paths. In all that we do, let us honor you. In Jesus name

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