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Amos 5:7  (King James Version)
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<< Amos 5:6   Amos 5:8 >>


Amos 5:4-7

The word "justice" used in verse 7 is associated with end-time circumstances in nearly every prophecy where social conditions are described in a nation on the verge of collapse. The Hebrew word is mishpat, translated justice, judgment, or ordinance. Because he is spiritually blind, the Laodicean, too, has lost his ability to judge between right and wrong. He can no longer discern, as the Bible phrases it, "between the clean and the unclean."

God speaks of this lack of judgment in terms of their courtship, their relationship, with Him. Similar to the situation today in the church, Christians need discernment, the ability to distinguish right from wrong, to make true judgments. The Laodicean lacks this ability and it shows in the decisions he makes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism



Amos 5:7

Similar to Amos 6:12, this verse connects justice and righteousness. The fruit of righteousness is justice. Justice is fair treatment, not only in the courts but in every aspect of life. This strikes at the root of a major portion of God's judgment of Israel (Isaiah 59:13-15).

Here, righteousness is pictured as a standard, flag, or banner thrown to the ground. They had "[laid] . . . to rest" or thrown aside the Torah, the law of God, the teachings of God. Instead, they were practicing what we call "situation ethics"—allowing their weak and untrained consciences to be their guide. The practical result was "anything goes." What does this mean in relation to social conditions?

Righteousness is what is right with God: "For all Your commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119:172). It is the cultivation of correct moral principles within ourselves. As a nation we should cultivate morality to produce spiritual and social growth. Righteousness—morality—is therefore the foundation of justice. Justice is correct moral practice, the practical application of morality.

The Israelites were not cultivating God's commandments, the moral standards upon which any nation must operate if it is to be successful. Instead, they had developed a specious code of living which was incompatible with the Word of God. Since the right moral principles were not being cultivated, there was no justice in society and immorality reigned.

While righteousness is inward, justice is out-going, concerning even such "trivial" things as being neat and orderly. Notice how much trash litters our highways and graffiti mars our cities. Maybe no law of God specifically regulates our driving, but is it not fair and just to be considerate of others on the road? Certainly God's law has to do with being thoughtful, gracious, tactful, and discreet, all of which are founded on one of its basic principles, the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).

Once these "little things" stop being cultivated, then injustice begins to appear in more serious areas, such as increased crime, divorce, abortion, suicide, and the like. Morality plunges and the people move farther and farther from godly mores and values. And when God sees no repentance in sight, His wrath is not long in coming.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)



Amos 5:4-12

Why does Amos specifically mention Bethel (verses 5-6) other than that it was where the Israelites were holding feasts? Why did they choose Bethel as a feast site? Bethel played an important role in Israel's history. Twice Jacob, one of the fathers of Israel, has important events happen to him there.

Genesis 28:11-22 records the first occasion Jacob has an encounter with God at Bethel, though it was not called Bethel then. It received its name—"House of God"—from God revealing Himself to Jacob there, and Jacob believing that He lived there. On this occasion, the patriarch arrives as a homeless wanderer, a man on the run from the murderous intents of his brother Esau. He is a man with a past, having just deceived his father and brother out of the blessing. Nevertheless, God reveals Himself to him there, and the transformation of Jacob begins. He leaves Bethel as a man with a future.

The second time he encounters God at Bethel (Genesis 35:1-4, 7, 9-15), he arrives after departing from his father-in-law, Laban, and having reconciled with Esau. He is a far better man than the first time, but he is not yet complete. However, he arrives as "Jacob" and departs as "Israel." The new name is assurance of the reality that he is a new man, that a transformation is taking place. In the Israelite mind, Bethel thus became associated as a place of renewal, of reorientation, of transformation by God.

Even as verses 1-3 of Amos 5 are a dirge, verses 8-9 are in the form of a hymn praising the true God, the transforming God. When God is at work, things change for the better; He is the God who makes a difference.

With this background, we can understand why Amos 5 calls attention to Bethel. God is asking, "Why aren't you Israelites being transformed in the conduct of your life when you keep the feasts?" He is saying, "You indeed go to Bethel for the feast, but no transformation of your conduct and attitude occurs. Are you going there to seek Me?"

One of the primary proofs that God is making a difference in a person's life occurs when one who was formerly hostile to God and His law begins to love God and His law. He shows his new love by obeying God and His law in his life in areas like those mentioned in verses 10-12.

Yet, the Israelites attended the feasts in Bethel and returned home with their lives still ungoverned by God's truth. When Jacob met God, his life began changing immediately, as his vow to tithe in Genesis 28:22 shows. Faith immediately became part of the conduct of his life. The lives of those in Amos' day should also have changed according to the dictates, principles, and examples of God's Word. They should have left Bethel singing and exemplifying, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97).

It seems that these people turned the feast in Bethel into nothing more than a vacation. Thus, Amos admonishes, "Do not seek Bethel! Seek the Lord and live!" Ultimately, the Bethel approach signifies death, not life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles



Amos 5:4-15

Central to understanding verses 4-15 is the word "seek," which appears four times: three times in relation to seeking God Himself and once to seeking good. The charge to seek God is not in the sense of searching to find Him?because He had already revealed Himself to them to some degree?but of seeking to be like Him.

A second important element is the listing of a number of their sins, all of which are what we would call "social sins." Amos mentions the "poor" twice, but he does not necessarily imply a person with little money. The term includes them, but here the meaning is "weak." The poor are those whom we would say have little or no economic, political, or judicial "clout" or "pull." The sins Amos addresses are matters of the strong taking advantage of the weak.

He also mentions other sins that afflict the poor, such as bribery, unjust judgments in the courts, truth being ridiculed, and righteous testimony being thrown out. Amos especially indicts Israel's corrupt court system.

Undoubtedly, the most important element in this passage, due to its impact on most of the instruction in the chapter, is the mention of Bethel, Beersheba, and Gilgal in verse 5. Amos notes these places because the Israelites were holding their festivals there. His overall warning to the Israelites is, "Don't go there because God is not there. Seek God instead." The rest of the chapter tells why God is not there, why what they were doing is unacceptable to Him, and what He will do about it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Amos 5:7:

Haggai 2:11-14

 

<< Amos 5:6   Amos 5:8 >>



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