Using a heavy dose of sarcasm, Amos challenges the idea that Israel and Judah are the greatest nations on earth and that nothing could harm them.
What we do for God is important and God appreciates it and takes it seriously. However, unless we are treating our fellow humans with fairness, kindness, and generosity, God doesn’t have any use for our tithes and offerings.
God’s unconditional love does not imply that what we do doesn’t matter. Nor does believing that what we do matters imply that God’s love is conditional. The biblical truth is that God loves us unconditionally, and that is precisely why what we do matters.
The Israelites were longing for the Day of the Lord, thinking that it would be a day of blessing for them. Amos, however, says it won’t be what you think it will be, and you won’t be on the side of it that you think you will be.
Amos 5:16-17 describe a time of intense mourning for the people of Israel as a result of Yahweh “crossing over into their midst.” Reminiscent of the 10th Egyptian plague, this phrase reverses the typical significance of Yahweh being with or among his people from indicating favor or good fortune to indicating judgment.
Amos calls on Israel to repent so that God will be with them to protect and prosper them the way they think he is. Because no matter how far we have fallen, we can always know that God will be merciful when no one else would be.
In Amos 5:10-13, we see a corrupt society where the wealthy elite maintain their wealth and power by dishonestly fixing the system in their favor. A just judge is despised. God’s punishment is appropriate: whatever you use your wealth to build will be taken from you before you can enjoy it.
God alone created the stars, so why would we consult the stars about our destinies when we can consult God? God alone gives us rain and provides for our needs, so why would we seek out another god to provide for us or, worse, to push God out of the picture altogether?
The question Amos 5:1-7 poses to us today is this: where are we seeking our security? Are we, like Israel, confusing human institutions for the activity of God in the world? Are we conflating the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the earth?
To really know someone or something one must first love that someone or something. This applies both to human relationships and to Bible study.