Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Amos 5:1-7

"Seek Me that You May Live"
1Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel:

She has fallen, she will not rise again--The virgin Israel
She lies neglected on her land; There is none to raise her up.

3For thus says the Lord GOD,
"The city which goes forth a thousand strong
Will have a hundred left,
And the one which goes forth a hundred strong
Will have ten left to the house of Israel."

4For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, "Seek Me that you may live.

5"But do not resort to Bethel And do not come to Gilgal, Nor cross over to Beersheba; For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity And Bethel will come to trouble.

6"Seek the LORD that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel,

7For those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness down to the earth."

If there was doubt that God was singing, He even characterizes His "song" of Chapter 4 as a 'dirge' here in Chapter 5 (vs. 1). Dirges are funeral songs or songs of mourning. Having outlined in great detail Israel's infractions, God continues to present the punishment coming to the nation, and He is lamenting over it.

No one will come to the nation's rescue. The loss coming to the nation would be severe--God spells out the numbers clearly. But even with the bleak outcome, the nation would not be completely destroyed. There is a thread of grace being woven through this fabric of Israel's story.

"Seek Me that you may live." (vs. 4)

Amid staggering loss and pending captivity, a remnant of Israel will hear the word of the Father and will be spared. 'Seek' is a more powerful verb than we give it credit for, too often. Strong's elaborates beyond the playful "hide-and-seek"--"Properly to tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by implication to seek or ask; specifically to worship." If nothing else from what we have read in Amos thus far, Israel has fallen far short of seeking God, in the fullest capacity of the word!

Verse 5 echoes earlier chapter's mentions of idol worship in Bethel and Gilgal, at one time sacred places in Israel's history [See Amos 4:1-5 entry]. Beersheba is added in this chapter--yet another place of significance to the Israelites. Beersheba is where Sarah's slave, Hagar, who had fathered Ishmael by Abraham, fled. (Genesis 21) It was here when Hagar heard the voice of God and received the promise God had for Ishmael and his descendants. Abraham also established a treaty at Beersheba, planting a tamarisk tree and calling on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. (Genesis 21:33) But now, the people were clamoring to the land to worship their idols.

"Seek the Lord that you may live...." (vs.6)

Not heeding the word will bring God's wrath as a fire upon the "house of Joseph." The reference, more specifically, ties back to Ephraim and Manasseh, two sons of Joseph and two of the largest tribes in the northern kingdom, a.k.a., Israel. Destruction will come to those "who turn justice into wormwood." (vs 7) Pictured at the top of the page, wormwood is a bitter herb. Strong's points out that the Hebrew word for 'wormwood' comes from an unused root for "curse." Christ's Revelation, regarding the last days of earth, tells of a star named Wormwood that would be cast into the waters, making a third of them undrinkable. There will be punishment for those who curse the ultimate justice and righteousness of God.

But, let us not forget that thread of grace, especially in this season, in this special week as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Christ came "to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray." When we seek Him with all our heart, and all our soul, we will find Him. As wise men traveling from the East, we must search not only with the intention of finding, but with the intention of worship!

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings....

"Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon."
--Isaiah 55:7

Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel. God was calling to save them. Who would hear?

God continues His plea that a remnant might be saved. How to "live".... 'Til next Wednesday!

Merry Christmas, Friends!


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Next week: Amos 5:8-15

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).