Skip to main content

Book of Amos: Chapter 5

In the midst of a thriving economy, peace, and prosperity, Amos delivers Israel’s dirge—her funeral song. Who will have the foresight to see the truth of Amos’ words at this time? It’s difficult to believe a forecast of rain when the sun is in her full glory. God declares that Israel will be so weak that their losses in battle will be systematic. In verses 4 & 5, He urges citizens to turn to Him and not to follow the leaders and self-made celebrities who go to the popular established places of worship. It was all over for Israel—there was no call to repentance, only an announcement of her death. However, repentance was still an option for individual citizens who remained faithful or who repented. This group would provide God’s remnant for Israel’s future. However, God’s wrath towards Bethel, towards those who twisted justice into something bitter, and who trampled on righteousness would be unquenchable. As He had done many times before, God would once again restart His plan with a new group.

In Verse 8 and 9, God reminds Israel and the world of who He is and from where their basic needs come. Verses 10-13 describe how contrary the people have become in that they dislike what is right and take pleasure in unrighteousness because it feeds their glutton for luxury. In verse 15 God makes it clear that only the remnant now has a chance if they return to His Law. Verse 16 through 19 describes what life will be like in Israel when God’s judgment begins. Those who are longing for ‘the day of the Lord,’ as religious people do, will be surprised to find darkness when they expect light. Death and devastation will find them wherever they go. There will be no escape.

Yes God offered an escape for the few who would repent but for those who were interested only in their selfish ambition for luxury, and the wealth and power needed to feed it, God lets them know how He feels about their worship. For centuries He groomed a nation to worship Him with their lives but they instead had step by step resorted to a superficial appeasement of God. They thought that that was enough for God and counted on it to secure their criminally acquired comforts. This behavior finds its roots in the second generation of human beings with Adam’s son Cain who thought it fitting to appease God with a tainted animal for sacrifice when a perfect one was required. But these Israelites are even worse than Cain who worked hard for his flock and grain.

In his message to Amos, God makes it very clear that He does not want any religious worship. He does not want to hear their songs — they are just noise to Him. Not even their religious celebrations will be pleasing and their sacrifices he will not even see.

In fact, he hates it all. There is no ‘gray’ here. None of this man-made ‘stuff’ was ever required by God. They chose to reject His Law and impose on Him what they found comfortable to do. Now He will reject them along with their religion. Many non-believers also reject religion. Some reject God Himself, but others just reject religion. You and I know many of them. Could it be that these also see it for what it truly is—empty, hypocritical, and impotent? Could it be that God may find these non-believers more capable of receiving His love because of their willingness to see truth? Can we show them that they don’t have to throw out God with the religious bathwater?

People who thrive on religious rituals and deeds that are human invented actually believe that they are worshiping God. But they are actually worshiping themselves. Their desires and comforts have so controlled them that they have bought into a system of behavior designed to preserve those very desires and comforts. Sometimes the comfort is even inspired by fear. This is religion. The Law of God prescribed in the Torah was not designed to make us comfortable. In stark contrast it was designed to make us uncomfortable so that we could recognize our sin and turn from it. Any religion of comfort is impotent to do so, thus leaving us un-awakened and unchanged. And even worse– unable to experience the fullness of God’s love. But it is only Love which can empower us to love each other and do what is right. Only that Love carries zero insecurity. In fact, it makes us so secure that we want to give it away. The type of worship that God wants from us is justice and righteousness flowing out of us — a worship in practice – a living worship.

Key Verses:
(21)“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” (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.” ~ Amos 5:21, 26

Questions to ponder:

  • Have you evaluated your expectation of God lately? Are they still in tune with his standards or your own?
  • Do non-believers see more than mere religion in your life? Do justice, fairness, and love flow from you?
  • Does your worship of God revolve around your own comfort? Is it a life of worship or a part-time affair?
Close Menu