encouragement theology

Seek The Lord!

Amos 5

Chapter 5 is at the midpoint of Amos’ ministry. After an extended introduction, he has exposed the guilt of Israel’s neighbors, showing also that Israel herself is even more guilty! The Lord has sent His warning and shown His greatness, even when they refused to listen.

Amos next delivers four messages from the Lord. There is grief over Israel’s impending doom, the land will be decimated, yet in the midst of this terror is a call to repent. There is still a chance for rescue if you seek the Lord! And the final message is of judgment for those who don’t return to Him.

First message: Lament Over Israel’s Fall

Amos 5:1-2
Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:
“Fallen, no more to rise,
is the virgin Israel;
forsaken on her land,
with none to raise her up.”

The chapter opens with a brief lament, showing grief over the lost nation of Israel. She is soon to be destroyed, no more to rise.

“Amos compared the nation to a virgin daughter in the bloom of youth, ravaged and slain on the field of battle, her corpse left to rot.” – Wiersbe2

Second message: Israel’s Decimation

Amos 5:3
For thus says the Lord GOD:
“The city that went out a thousand
shall have a hundred left,
and that which went out a hundred
shall have ten left
to the house of Israel.”

The lament continues with the second message. Israel’s armies will be destroyed. For every ten men who go out from the city, only one will return. That is a 90% casualty rate!

God’s judgment is coming to Israel. The people are comfortable, prosperous, and deeply religious. They are confident in their lives, but Amos tells them that their future is one of woe. They will fall, never to rise, and their men will be destroyed!

Third message: Seek the Lord and Live!

Amos 5:4-15
For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live;
but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

Seek the LORD and live,
lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
O you who turn justice to wormwood
and cast down righteousness to the earth!

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name;
who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.

They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and turn aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
for it is an evil time.

Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.
Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

This third message is the core of Amos’ ministry. Turn from your false worship and seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and live, otherwise He will come in His greatness, bringing destruction. Instead of fighting for justice, the people turned on those who would admonish them. They worshiped the stars, but forgot the One who made the stars! 

Amos makes the appeal three times: seek the Lord! Seek the Lord! Even when the future looks bleak and the people are beyond rescue, there is still a light of hope. Turn from your pagan shrines and don’t run away.a Seek the Lord and you will live!

Amos 5:8-9 contains some of the most vivid descriptions of God’s greatness. He is the One who created the stars and their constellations! He controls darkness and light, land and sea! Yet this is the same great God who will come with judgment and destruction for those who refuse Him!b

It is comforting to know that God’s promises to Israel were that, even when they had totally rejected Him, they could still find Him  — when they humbled themselves to seek Him. See Deuteronomy 4:29 and Jeremiah 29:13. Likewise, God is ready to offer us life when we humble ourselves and seek after Him!

Amos 5:10-13 lists their wicked actions. They trampled the poor, afflicted the righteous, took bribes, and despised those who would dare to admonish them!

God’s great judgment is coming, but there is hope for any who would turn to justice and seek the Lord!

“Hear God’s Word!” Are we listening?
“Seek the Lord!” Are we praying?
“Seek the good!” Do we hate that which is evil? 
There is no other way.
– Warren Wiersbe2

Fourth message: Your Judgment is Coming!

Amos 5:16-27
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord:
“In all the squares there shall be wailing,
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning
and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD.

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,
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.
Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?

“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
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.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

“Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.

The final message of Amos 5 is directed against the religion of the day. They were looking forward to celebrating God’s presence with wine and feasting, but they didn’t know the God they claimed to worship. His presence would be no time of joy, but rather times of grief, lamentation, mourning, and loud wailing. 

The people were looking forward to the day of the Lord as a time of rejoicing. However, they had forgotten that it is a time of God’s severe judgment! Just when they think they are safe, they will be destroyed — just as if a man escaped a lion, only to meet a bear, or a man fled home for refuge, only to be bitten by a snake!c 

God’s message to the people is clear — He hates their worthless religion! They are obsessed with the religious rituals, but have ignored justice and righteousness. All through their history, they have shown nothing but wickedness and rebellion against God. Therefore, He will send them away from His presence, never to return!d

When in trial for his life, Stephen recited Amos 5:26-27 to show Israel’s sins in the wilderness (Acts 7:42-43).

This worthless religion wasn’t unique to Amos’ day. Centuries later, Jesus would give a similar rebuke to the religious people of His day:

Matthew 23:23-24
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!


Much of Amos 5 is reiterated messages from earlier chapters. Once again, God warns the people that they have turned away from Him. Though they are outwardly religious, they have ignored justice and righteousness, yielding nothing but disgust in God’s sight. They are excited about a bright future with a God of their own making, all the while ignoring the severe warnings from the true God who created the universe!

But hope is not lost. There is life for those who cling to the Lord. Amos warns his people three times — Seek the Lord! 

Seek the Lord!

The message is the same for our day. We can become comfortable and lax in a god of our own making, forgetting the Great God who created us! If you have not accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, seek Him before it is too late! If you know Him but have fallen away, turn back to Him and seek Him. 

And once you seek the Lord and turn back to Him, demonstrate your true belief by your life. Take away your outward religious actions, and show your true faith by living a life of justice and righteousness.e

“Religion as religion is abhorrent. The only thing that is pleasing is a genuine, thankful, and obedient response to God growing out of a life that has been transformed by him.” – Boice5

Amos 5:23-24
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Isaiah 55:6-9
“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Previous post: How Big Is Your God?


[1] H.A. Ironside, Ironside Expository Commentaries: The Minor Prophets, Amos 5, A LAMENTATION FOR ISRAEL

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Old Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Amos 5, pages 1425-1430

[3] Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 7, Zondervan, 1985, Amos 5, pages 309-317

[4] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson, 2005, Amos 5, pages 996-997

[5] James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets, Baker Books, 2002, How God Views Religion, Amos 4:1-5:15, pages 187-195

[6] James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets, Baker Books, 2002, The Day of the Lord, Amos 5:16-27, pages 196-203


[a] See the notes on Amos 4:4 here regarding Bethel and Gilgal. Both of these cities had a revered past in Israelite history, yet they had become centers of pagan worship. Beersheba was one of the most southern cities in the neighboring kingdom of Judah. They couldn’t escape their troubles by fleeing all the way to Beersheba.

[b] Amos closes the message of chapter 5 with an accusation over the Israelites’ worship of the stars (Amos 5:26). And so here he inserts a reminder of God’s power in creation (Amos 5:8-9). They worship the stars, yet they have forgotten the One who made the stars!

[c] Amos was one of the earliest prophets to write about the Day of the Lord. Later prophets wrote extensively about this time, but the Jewish preconceptions in Amos’ day were most likely based on oral tradition from prophecies that were not recorded in Scripture. Joel 2 also teaches about the Day of the Lord, as a day of darkness and gloom (Joel 2:1-2), and may have predated Amos’ teaching (the exact date of Joel’s prophecy is unknown). For more references about the Day of the Lord from the later prophets, see Isaiah 2, Isaiah 13, Isaiah 34, Ezekiel 7, Ezekiel 30, Zephaniah 1, Zechariah 14, Malachi 4. In these references, prophetic descriptions of the Day of the Lord include both the times when the Lord will crush Israel’s enemies as well as His ultimate return at the end of the age. Amos’ point to wicked Israel is that they will be the first ones to face God’s judgment when He returns, and that is a time for fear and not joy. 

The New Testament teaches of the Day of the Lord as a future event (2 Peter 3). It is beyond the scope of this study in Amos 5 to properly address the Day of the Lord as it relates to end times prophecy. For more information regarding the end times prophecy, I recommend the following studies in Matthew 24-25:

[d] The language of Amos 5:26 is difficult to translate. We don’t know the exact meanings of Sikkuth and Kiyyun, but the context shows that they were likely to have been pagan deities. Some interpreters translate these words as “shrine” and “pedestal” (NIV), and others have speculated that these are titles of the god Saturn. The simplest explanation is that they represent worship of celestial bodies, such as planets or stars (e.g. star-god).

[e] “In most people’s minds religion is a very good thing. … But to their way of thinking even the less desirable forms of religion are better than no religion at all. They suppose, on the assumption that God thinks as they do, that God is basically pleased with all religions practices. This is not how God thinks. On the contrary, not only is God not pleased with our religions practices, he is actually very much displeased. Even more, he hates, he despises religion.” – Boice5

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