Today’s Scripture Focus: Amos 5:18-24
(based on Christian Standard lesson on Amos 5 by Sam Stone)
The exact length of Amos’s ministry is not specified in Scripture. Most Bible scholars agree that it was probably for a short time. Some guess only a half hour, while others think only a few months! James E. Smith suggested, “More likely his ministry extended for a few years. The years 754-752 BC for his mission to north Israel would not be far off.” Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II was king of Israel. Amos insisted on justice and judgment for God’s people in the northern kingdom. His message was consistent: being part of God’s family through faith requires obedience to the Father.
In the verses just before our printed text, the prophet condemned the people for walking over those who didn’t pay them. “I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins” (v. 12). Although God had not yet enacted punishment on them, this did not mean he was unaware of their sin. The people’s hope was based on repentance. Seek good, not evil, that you may live (compare Isaiah 1:16, 17). The people claimed to have God on their side, but in reality they would not have him until they repented and did what was right. Jesus gave a similar warning to those who claimed to have a relationship with God in his day (John 8:39). If people truly seek God, they will hate evil, love good, and do what is right. Such people could be a part of the remnant of Israel, whom the prophets had declared would be saved in the end (Isaiah 10:21, 22).
For years the people of Israel had heard of the coming “day of the Lord”. This was seen as a time of the Lord’s judgment and vindication, bringing redemption and release to his people. Thinking they were secure in God’s favor, the Israelites were oblivious to how God felt about their hypocritical practice of religion. Amos used dramatic illustrations to picture God’s inescapable judgment on Israel. It would be like fleeing from a lion but then meeting a bear, or getting safely into your house only to have a snake bite you there.
God declared, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; Your assemblies are a stench to me.” God clearly expressed his displeasure with their charade of worship. It is not enough merely to give an impressive offering to God. He wants something more. No matter how well the musicians perform, God will not be impressed. He wants our hearts, not our harps. We can’t separate religion from morality.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” In contrast to their gifts and their songs, the Lord wanted their heartfelt love and their righteous lives. God wants people committed to justice!
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
What is the “day of the LORD”? Has it already happened, or is it yet to come?
Is the “day of the LORD” something to look forward to, or something to fear?
God is concerned with righteousness (living right) and justice (doing good). As a class, pray that during this holiday season we might focus on both living to please God and loving others—even those who don’t deserve it—remembering to treat others as God treats us.