This prophecy from Amos is directed to the northern kingdom during the time of the reign of Jeraboam II. Amos’s message from God is that doom is coming to Israel because of social injustice. They are mistreating and persecuting the poor and at the same time, offering worship that is insincere at best. The “lamentation” in verse 1 stresses that Amos – and God – grieve at what lays ahead for Israel. Jesus offers a similar lament in Matthew 23:37-39. But there is still time. Verses 4-9 are a plea for them to seek the Lord, rather than the pagan forms of worship being done at Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba.
Their worship had deteriorated to the point that there was no visible line between worship to God and worship to idols. Sikkuth and Kiyyun in verse 26 were Mesopotamian deities. There were also golden calves, priests who were not Levites, and other violations of the Law. God despises their sacrifices because of their sinful acts, the perversion of their worship, and their injustice to the needy and the righteous (verse 12). The scriptures have shown over and over that God cares a great deal about social justice. He made it clear though Moses, for example, in Exodus 22:21-26. Their hearts were not right.
Verse 27’s “exile beyond Damascus” was a poignant prediction, as Assyria in the time of Amos was not yet a strong power.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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