Amos 3-5: God Never Delivers Judgment without Giving Us an Out

Throughout the Bible, God gives us explicit commands and instructions on how we are supposed to worship Him and behave towards other people. Given that, when these commands are broken, there must be judgment. Nevertheless, God, though He is a just and fair God, always gives us an out — a chance to REPENT. A chance to say, “I’m sorry! I know I did wrong. Please forgive me!”

If we come to Him with sincere repentance, He will forgive us. Otherwise, we must face punishment. In these next chapters of Amos, God tells the people everything they’ve done wrong, then He gives them a chance to repent — the out. Let’s dig in…

Amos 3

Listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the entire family I rescued from Egypt:

“From among all the families on the earth,
    I have been intimate with you alone.
That is why I must punish you
    for all your sins.”

Witnesses against Guilty Israel

Can two people walk together
    without agreeing on the direction?
Does a lion ever roar in a thicket
    without first finding a victim?
Does a young lion growl in its den
    without first catching its prey?
Does a bird ever get caught in a trap
    that has no bait?
Does a trap spring shut
    when there’s nothing to catch?
When the ram’s horn blows a warning,
    shouldn’t the people be alarmed?
Does disaster come to a city
    unless the Lord has planned it?

Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything
    until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.

The lion has roared—
    so who isn’t frightened?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—
    so who can refuse to proclaim his message?
Announce this to the leaders of Philistia
    and to the great ones of Egypt:
“Take your seats now on the hills around Samaria,
    and witness the chaos and oppression in Israel.”

10 “My people have forgotten how to do right,”
    says the Lord.
“Their fortresses are filled with wealth
    taken by theft and violence.
11 Therefore,” says the Sovereign Lord,
    “an enemy is coming!
He will surround them and shatter their defenses.
    Then he will plunder all their fortresses.”

12 This is what the Lord says:

“A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion’s mouth
    will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear.
So it will be for the Israelites in Samaria lying on luxurious beds,
    and for the people of Damascus reclining on couches.

13 “Now listen to this, and announce it throughout all Israel,” says the Lord, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.

14 “On the very day I punish Israel for its sins,
    I will destroy the pagan altars at Bethel.
The horns of the altar will be cut off
    and fall to the ground.
15 And I will destroy the beautiful homes of the wealthy—
    their winter mansions and their summer houses, too—
all their palaces filled with ivory,”
    says the Lord.

Amos 3 NLT

Amos 4 – Israel’s Failure to Learn

Listen to me, you fat cows
    living in Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor
    and crush the needy,
and who are always calling to your husbands,
    “Bring us another drink!”
The Sovereign Lord has sworn this by his holiness:
“The time will come when you will be led away
    with hooks in your noses.
Every last one of you will be dragged away
    like a fish on a hook!
You will be led out through the ruins of the wall;
    you will be thrown from your fortresses,”
    says the Lord.

“Go ahead and offer sacrifices to the idols at Bethel.
    Keep on disobeying at Gilgal. (multiply your transgressions, NKJV)
Offer sacrifices each morning,
    and bring your tithes every three days.
Present your bread made with yeast
    as an offering of thanksgiving.
Then give your extra voluntary offerings
    so you can brag about it everywhere!
This is the kind of thing you Israelites love to do,”
    says the Sovereign Lord.

“I brought hunger to every city
    and famine to every town.
But still you would not return to me,”
    says the Lord.

“I kept the rain from falling
    when your crops needed it the most.
I sent rain on one town
    but withheld it from another.
Rain fell on one field,
    while another field withered away.
People staggered from town to town looking for water,
    but there was never enough.
But still you would not return to me,”
    says the Lord.

“I struck your farms and vineyards with blight and mildew.
    Locusts devoured all your fig and olive trees.
But still you would not return to me,”
    says the Lord.

10 “I sent plagues on you
    like the plagues I sent on Egypt long ago.
I killed your young men in war
    and led all your horses away.
    The stench of death filled the air!
But still you would not return to me,”
    says the Lord.

11 “I destroyed some of your cities,
    as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
Those of you who survived
    were like charred sticks pulled from a fire.
But still you would not return to me,”
    says the Lord.

12 “Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced.
    Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!”

13 For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains,
    stirs up the winds, and reveals his thoughts to mankind.
He turns the light of dawn into darkness
    and treads on the heights of the earth.
    The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

Amos 4 NLT

Amos 5 – A Call to Repentance

Listen, you people of Israel! Listen to this funeral song I am singing:

“The virgin Israel has fallen,
    never to rise again!
She lies abandoned on the ground,
    with no one to help her up.”

The Sovereign Lord says:

“When a city sends a thousand men to battle,
    only a hundred will return.
When a town sends a hundred,
    only ten will come back alive.”

Now this is what the Lord says to the family of Israel:

“Come back to me and live!
Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel;
    don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba.
For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile,
    and the people of Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
Come back to the Lord and live!
Otherwise, he will roar through Israel like a fire,
    devouring you completely.
Your gods in Bethel
    won’t be able to quench the flames.
You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed.
    You treat the righteous like dirt.

It is the Lord who created the stars,
    the Pleiades and Orion.
He turns darkness into morning
    and day into night.
He draws up water from the oceans
    and pours it down as rain on the land.
    The Lord is his name!
With blinding speed and power he destroys the strong,
    crushing all their defenses.

10 How you hate honest judges!
    How you despise people who tell the truth!
11 You trample the poor,
    stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent.
Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses,
    you will never live in them.
Though you plant lush vineyards,
    you will never drink wine from them.
12 For I know the vast number of your sins
    and the depth of your rebellions.
You oppress good people by taking bribes
    and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 So those who are smart keep their mouths shut,
    for it is an evil time.

14 Do what is good and run from evil
    so that you may live!
Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper,
    just as you have claimed.
15 Hate evil and love what is good;
    turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies
    will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

16 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, says:

“There will be crying in all the public squares
    and mourning in every street.
Call for the farmers to weep with you,
    and summon professional mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in every vineyard,
    for I will destroy them all,”
    says the Lord.

Warning of Coming Judgment

18 What sorrow awaits you who say,
    “If only the day of the Lord were here!”
You have no idea what you are wishing for.
    That day will bring darkness, not light.
19 In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion—
    only to meet a bear.
Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house—
    and he’s bitten by a snake.
20 Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless,
    without a ray of joy or hope.

21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.

25 “Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? 26 No, you served your pagan gods—Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god—the images you made for yourselves. 27 So I will send you into exile, to a land east of Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of Heaven’s Armies.

Amos 5 NLT

Are YOU Ignoring God’s Warning?

Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and you see the leading character walking into an obvious trap? Have you ever caught yourself yelling at the screen, “No! Don’t go in there! It’s a trap!” But, the person walks in there anyway and is caught, gets into a fight or something much worse.

This is what Amos is trying to do with the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. Time after time, verse after verse, God explained what people should do and not do. He laid it all out plainly since He led the Israelites out of Egypt. You can read it in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These include the 10 Commandments which Jesus conveniently packed into 2 new commandments…

  1. Those dealing with our relationship with God
  2. Those dealing with our relationships with other people

God Hates Religion

Pastor Sandy Adams explained chapter 4:4-5 as a parody on their religious rituals…

Imagine, being at Bethel. The word “Bethel” means “house of God,” and this city had a rich history of encounters with God. It was at Bethel that Abraham built an altar to God and it was here that Jacob saw the ladder ascending into heaven. But sadly it was also at Bethel that Jeroboam had set up one of his idolatrous altars. It was at Bethel that the people entered into false worship. They were bowing to a graven image in the name of the God of Israel.

Now imagine we’re at Bethel on the day of a sacred feast. Streamers are blowing in the wind. Banners are unfurled. The streets are lined with decoration. Everyone is dressed to the hilt, in a festive mood.

We’re waiting for the priest to open the ceremony with a traditional call to worship, Psalm 95:6-7, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”

The priest is about to open his mouth when suddenly we hear the voice of Amos thunder the words… “Come to Bethel and transgress… multiply transgression…” The Hebrew term “transgress” means “to break off.” It’s meaning is close to our word “mutiny.”

Colliers Encyclopedia has an interesting definition for the word “mutiny” – it reads, “Simple disobedience or refusal to obey an order is mutinous; but no such single act of insubordination could be said to have flowered into full mutiny. A mutiny involves the intention to kill, displace, or continuously defy the officer.”

And lest we become overburdened with guilt, realize a single act of disobedience is a sin certainly, but it stops short of idolatry. Sin is a violation of a command. Whereas idolatry is an organized, premeditated attempt to usurp the authority of the Commander. The nation Israel was guilty of disobeying the commands of God – but far worse, they had organized a system of religion that usurped the authority of God.

Sandy Adams

“Usurped the authority of God” – isn’t that what the Pope does with his is Papal authority and infallibility?

Would God approve of your church’s worship services?

Why do you attend the church you attend?

  • Obligation?
  • Robotic ritual?
  • Your family’s religion?
  • Entertainment?
  • It makes you feel good?

Those “sacred feasts” or “religious festivals” remind me when I lived in Puerto Rico. Each town, village or city had a “patron saint”. Each saint had a feast day. All it was was an excuse to party. As I was doing research for my novel, I had to look into the Roman gods. Each Roman city had a patron god, and each god had a feast day. Which is why I wrote, “So Many gods“.

All God Wants is to Get Your Attention

That’s all He wanted back then and that’s all He wants right now. Back then, it was with famines, droughts, and plagues. It’s the same today. Each “act of God” is a call for you to turn to HIM. Not the government. Furthermore, you must get on your knees and say, “I’m sorry, God, I know I’ve sinned. Please forgive me! I promise not to sin anymore!”

What wake-up calls are YOU ignoring?

The Apostle Paul wraps it up nicely in Romans 1…

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:28-32 NLT

Life cannot be controlled and God cannot be escaped. No one can outrun God. You can run, but you can’t hide! Ignore the warnings at your own risk!

If you ignore the warnings to repent, you will either go to hell when you die or be left behind at the Rapture — whichever comes first. No one is promised tomorrow.

Even if you do survive the Rapture and still don’t repent, you have to survive the Great Tribulation. John, the Revelator wrote…..

17 And in my vision, I saw the horses and the riders sitting on them. The riders wore armor that was fiery red and dark blue and yellow. The horses had heads like lions, and fire and smoke and burning sulfur billowed from their mouths. 18 One-third of all the people on earth were killed by these three plagues—by the fire and smoke and burning sulfur that came from the mouths of the horses. 19 Their power was in their mouths and in their tails. For their tails had heads like snakes, with the power to injure people.

20 But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 9:17-21 NLT

What is the Day of the Lord?

Are you ready to meet God today? You may just meet God today!

What are you waiting for?

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

One comment

  1. […] Yesterday we saw how God gives us plenty of warnings about the judgment that everyone will eventually face, though He gives us an “out” — which is Jesus. In today’s chapters, God continues with His warning of the coming judgment on Israel, however, the Book of Amos ends with God’s promise of Mercy and Grace. Furthermore, we know that God keeps His promises! Let’s dig in… […]


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