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A Call to Repentance

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Each day the young pastor stopped at a deli-market for fruit juice on the way to Church. On many occasions he shared his faith in Jesus Christ with the Islamic man behind the counter. The Islamic man could not understand why the young pastor’s God would be willing to suffer. Ther … More

Ritual

Amos shocked his listeners by singing a funeral song for the northern kingdom of Israel (vv. 1-3). The Israelites believed that their wealth and religious ritual made them secure but they were  doomed for an untimely destruction. Furthermore, those who attempted to protect Israel from this doom that awaited them would themselves be destroyed regardless of their might (v. 3).

The Lord’s people could find life only by seeking Him (v. 4). They could not find it by performing prescribed rituals at traditional religious sites such as Bethel and Gilgal, for these cities had become center for idolatry (vv. 5-6). The courts of law should have been places of justice but instead they had become places of greed and injustice (v. 7). Pleiades and Orion are star constellations (Job 9:9). The stars were worshiped by many ancient peoples, but they are created objects, not gods (vv. 8-9).

The elders and judges of the city officially met “at the gate” where legal transactions took place (vv. 10-13). “One who rebukes in the gate,” refers to an honest judge. A society is in trouble when those who try to do right are hated for their commitment to justice. They would not benefit from any of their labors because they had denied justice to the poor, who could not pay the bribes. The way of life lies in seeking God and doing right (v. 14). The way of death is to persist in sinning (v. 15).

Application

This passage reminds me that one of the marks of holiness is to have a concern for the poor. I need to look for ways I can reflect God’s interest in the poor by my actions.

Amos 5:1-15 (English Standard Version)

Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel: "Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel; forsaken on her land, with none to raise her up." For thus says the Lord GOD: "The city that went out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel." For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing." Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth! He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress. They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

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