AMOS CHAPTER 5 (PART 2): JUSTICE WILL ROLL
What is described?
What literally happened?
What is revealed about God’s character?
Chapters 3-5 of Amos are interrelated, but starting in verse 18 of chapter 5 we see two “Woe to you” statements which connect chapter 5 to chapter 6. Again, this section of Amos is mostly directed at the Northern Kingdom of Israel which is termed “Samaria” and “bride of Jacob.”
CHAPTER 5:18-27 “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light,19 as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. 20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? 21 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 Even though you offer Me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 25 “Did you bring to Me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, 27 and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose Name is the God of hosts.“
The second of two “woe” statements in this portion of chapter 5 focuses less on Israel and more on the impact of Israel’s sin upon God. There is strong language in this passage about “hate” and “despise” that comes from God. These are not words we normally associate with the Lord God Almighty.
The events and judgments that will come are absolutely inevitable. The word picture of verse 19 is a man running from a lion only to meet a bear only to be bitten by a snake in the end. This sweeping action of God will encompass the whole land, and no one will escape. God calls people to repent individually with the hope they will find salvation as the judgment washes over the whole land. It is hopeless. Only God brings hope.
As a result of their sin, God despises their gatherings (verse 21), their offerings (verse 22), and their music (verse 23). God then states (quoted often by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) that justice will come externally to these people to produce righteousness inside of them. God promises exile for the people.
God will allow enemies to overrun Israel and take them away. This historically happens under Tiglath-Pileser in 734 BC and again fully in 722 BC. The People of God distanced themselves from God and He allowed the fire of judgment to consume them. The summary thought that will happen to Israel is that God will tear down everything they have built because of their unrepented sin.
SUMMARY & APPLICATION: What is revealed about God’s character?
Even though when judgment is coming for sure (no getting away from it), those who are subject to it will survive if they turn to God. There is hope in repentance in order to survive. Repentance leads to hope in God to survive the consequences of sin. Even those that are destroyed by judgment can participate in a small way in what God does. This kind of blessing (surviving) is pure mercy. Turn to Him and God will show mercy even when He is sick of all we do. God always has mercy and grace and compassion. God’s heart never hardens even though He must bring judgment because of sin. God has to be just and fair and faithful to Who He is, but He is also always full of grace.
TMB & BMD