Amos 5 began with a funeral song sung by Amos for the nation of Israel. The requirements of God were very simple. They should have been seeking the Lord, but not with their false worship and pious pretenses. The people should have seek the Lord in humility and in goodness. But the people failed to seek the Lord and find true life. Therefore, Amos has sung the words, “Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel” (5:2). The rest of chapters five and six describe the coming judgment through a serious of woes.
Don’t Look Forward To The Day Of The Lord (5:16-20)
There is going to be great amounts of wailing because the Lord is going to pass through their midst. This statement reminds of the exodus when God passed through the nation of Egypt on the day of the Passover. When the Lord passed through Egypt it was a triumphant moment for God’s people. But now God will pass through the midst of Israel and it will be their doom. The destruction will be so great that everyone, even down to the farmers, will be wailing.
The people of Israel were looking forward to the day of the Lord, believing that in that day the Lord would bring them victory and blessings. They considered themselves to be God’s people and worthy of God’s rescue. Amos gives the warning that the day of the Lord is not light for you, but darkness. Contrary to their expectations, the day of the Lord will bring their doom. Further, there is no escape from this coming day. Amos likens the day of the Lord to a man who fled from a lion only to run into a bear and die. Or like a person who went into the house thinking he was safe only have a viper bite him. Notice that Amos again is not offering any hope for the nation. There is no rescue. There is no deliverance. The day of the Lord will not be a day of redemption, but a day of destruction.
God Hates Your Worship (5:21-27)
In verses 21-27 Amos declares that God hates Israel’s worship. Once again God turns his attention to the worship of Israel. What amazing words! “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” Listen to the utter rejection and disdain God has for their worship: “I hate” (5:21), “I despise” (5:21), “I take no delight” (5:21), “I will not accept” (5:22), “I will not look upon” (5:22), “take away from me” (5:23), and “I will not listen” (5:23). God says he hates their worship assemblies, their sacrifices, their songs, and their music. He hates all of it. He will not accept it. He will not listen to it. He will not look upon it. He wants it all taken away from his sight. Can you imagine if we heard those words today? What if God said to us, “I hate your worship assemblies, your Bible studies, your Lord’s Supper memorial, your singing, and your prayers. I will not accept any of it. I do not want to hear it. Take it all away from me!”
The question is why? Why does God hate these things? What was happening that caused this anger from the Lord? Verse 25 contains the answer as God asks a rhetorical question: “Did you bring to me your sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?” The point of the question is that God did not merely want their worthless sacrifices in the wilderness. God demanded their heart that would lead them to obedience. This is what God was calling for in the wilderness. God wanted to them to love the Lord, the first and the greatest of all the commandments. God wanted them to seek the Lord and not live in rebellion. Yet the people of Israel are doing just that. Verse 26 reveals that the hearts of the people of Israel are filled with idolatry. Take your idols all the way into exile!
If we worship God then we must walk in his ways. Worship is supposed to change our lives, bringing repentance and renewal to our hearts. God hates our worship when our hearts are not engaged on him but have been stolen by the idols of this world. When our passions are for worldly things rather than for his glory and his Son, Jesus, then God does not receive our worship. We must develop the heart that desires to worship, not merely worship because we think such an act pleases God. Sunday pew sitting is not acceptable! God wants lives that worship him and are living sacrifices every day. Otherwise our assemblies are hated by our Lord.
Woe To Complacency (6:1-7)
The second woe is against the complacency and affluence of the people. The people think they do not need God for anything. They have everything they could ever want. They are believe they are secure and satisfied because of their wealth. They take their ease. They live for their comforts. The condemnation is not the wealth itself, because God had made them prosperous. The condemnation is that the people found their security and joy in their wealth. Now the people felt secure because of the wealth they possessed. They thought the day of judgment and disaster would not come because they had their wealth (6:3).
We easily do the same thing as these people in the days of Amos. One way we do this is by making comparisons in wealth. We want to make sure that we are equal to or greater than our neighbors. If they get a new car, then we need to get a new car because we think we deserve it more than they. We compare the new toys they buy versus ours. We compare the size of our homes, the niceness of our yards, or some other standard by which we are finding our value. Rather than finding our value in God and his grace, we care about what we have. We find security in accumulating possessions, keeping things nice and as new as possible, and always keeping up with the neighbors. What we fail to see is that our wealth is causing us to be complacent toward God. We lose our passion and our zeal for him and his word because we are caught up in the things we have. We are entangled in having the comforts and ease that this world has to offer. Rather than being uncomfortable to the glory of the Lord, we want to be comfortable for the glory of ourselves. Instead of seeking and saving the lost, we will sit and watch the television show, Lost. Our efforts turn to our comforts and we lose our purpose and mission given to us by God to passionately pursue his kingdom. Verse 6 shows that this was the trouble with Israel. They are enjoying drinking wine from the bowl rather than being grieved over the spiritual condition of Israel. Spiritual things no longer drive our hearts nor direct our actions. Comfort and wealth become the drive and the decision-maker. We think we have all we need without God.
Woe To Pride (6:8-14)
This complacency and enjoyment of wealth leads to pride. In this section of Amos God declares that he will take their pride away. God decrees, “I will deliver up this city and all that is in it.” If ten are in the house, they shall die. Fear will strike the nation so severely that they will be afraid to even utter the name of the Lord lest the wrath of God come against him. How proud do you think you can be when you stand before the Almighty God? Job’s pride was brought low when the Lord visited him in the whirlwind. We too easily are trusting in ourselves on the basis of our wealth, our work, and wisdom. We need to seriously consider if we are trusting our lives to God or if we are trusting in ourselves. Can we honestly say that we have put our lives in the hand of God or are we still running our lives? God tells Israel that they think they are something when they are actually nothing. They were rejoicing because they had conquered Lo-debar. God makes fun of them because Lo-debar literally means “nothing.” God makes a play on words telling the people that they think they are something when they conquered nothing. How can we possibly think that we have power before God? How can we think that we have any room for pride or selfish ambition before God? Who do we think we are? Trust in God, not in yourself. To think that we do not need God’s direction and do not need to obey his words is the highest point of selfish pride. We are not that wise or that smart. God possesses wisdom and we are arrogant to think that we know better how to live in this world than what he has revealed to us.
God has promised that another “day of the Lord” is coming. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10 ESV) We need to carefully consider if we are truly ready for the coming the Lord. We must learn from Israel’s example by carefully considering if we are holding on to our idols and false worship all the while thinking that the day of the Lord is something to look forward to when it is not. We must prepare our hearts and change our lives if we are going to be truly ready for the day of the Lord. Do not be caught by surprised. Do not let the day of the light of Christ become your day of darkness because you were walking in the sins of Israel.