Verse 1 – Hear this word which I take up against you, this lamentation, O house of Israel:
Verse 2 – The virgin of Israel has fallen; she will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; there is no one to raise her up.
Amos sings a lament or song as if Israel had already been destroyed. It was like mourning at your own funeral.
Verse 3 – For thus says the Lord God: “The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which goes out by a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”
Verse 4 – For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;
Verse 5 – But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over to Beer-Sheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
Bethel, Gilgal, and Beer-Sheba were three pilgrimage shrines. Bethel was where King Jeroboam of Israel set up calf idols. Gilgal, also, had carved images set up.
Verse 6 – Seek the Lord and live, least He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, with no one to quench it in Bethel –
The house of Joseph – the ten tribes, the chief was Ephraim, the son of Joseph.
Verse 7 – You who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth!”
Verse 8 – He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; the Lord is His name.
Pleiades and Orion are star constellations. God created the entire universe and controls the entire universe
Verse 9 – He rains ruin upon the strong, so that fury comes upon the fortress.
Verse 10 – They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.
The gates were where they would hold court.
Verse 11 – Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them.
Verse 12 – For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins. You afflict the just and take bribes; you divert the poor from justice at the gate.
When the people would take their grievances to the gate where they held court, the poor were basically told to shut-up. Anyone who spoke in their favor or spoke what was right, were rebuked. God had watched them and now it was time for them to be rebuked. Please, don’t ever forget that God sees how we treat people. He will defend His own.
Verse 13 – Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time.
How we treat the poor will reflect our true character. Do we give without thought of gain? We should treat the poor like we should want to be treated by God. Because the people with power were so hostile to any one who told the truth in the courts of law, honest and decent people were being kept silent.
Verse 14 – Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken.
Verse 15 – Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
When a society has a corrupt and deceitful justice system, the righteous suffer. This verse was a command to change their evil practices. Only then would God see a changed heart.
Verse 16 – Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, says this: “There shall be wailing in all streets, and they shall say in all the highways, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They shall call the farmer to mourning, and skillful lamenters to wailing.
Amos is telling them that there will be so many funerals because of all the death, that there won’t be enough paid mourners to go around, so farmers will be called from the fields to help.
Verse 17 – In all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through you,” says the Lord.
Verse 18 – Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light.
Verse 19 – It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Israel assumed because they were God’s chosen people, they would be exempt from His judgment. The day of the Lord then, as it will be in the future will be dark and full of doom.
Verse 20 – Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
Verse 21 – “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
Verse 22 – Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
Verse 23 – Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
God hates false worship by people who just go through the motions for show. If worship has no sincere meaning, merely doing a religious tradition, all the while holding onto sin, then it is useless. Remember: God sees the attitude behind the worship.
Verse 24 – But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Verse 25 – “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
Verse 26 – You also carried Sikkuth your king of Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves.
People did make sacrifices while in the wilderness, but at the same time carried images of the Sikkuth and other gods. During Amos’s time, however, they were more brazen by combining the worship of the Lord with the worship of these pagan gods. Sikkuth and Chin (Kaiwan), were names of the sky deity of the planet Saturn.
Verse 27 – Therefore, I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of host.
God did indeed take them beyond Damascus – the people were taken in exile to Assyria.