Chapter five records a “funeral song” that Amos was to deliver, like so many of the prophets after him. If Israel did not repent, death was their certain end. No matter the size of their army, only ten percent could hope to survive (Amos 5:1-3). Yet it did not have to end that way; they had the opportunity to repent, which is what God wanted for them (Amos 5:4-6, 14-15). This included turning from their idols and disobedience. “The LORD, the God who commands armies” could stand either with them or against them, and their actions would determine which. God was not unaware; he knew of their cheating and injustice, greed and arrogance (Amos 5:7-13). He created the constellations and the seas, but they thought he could not deal with them (Amos 5:8-9)? Judgment was sure to come (Amos 5:16-17).
The chapter ends with a “woe,” one of only thirteen in all the prophets (including Amos 6:1). It seems that many people during this time were looking forward to “the day of the LORD” (Amos 5:18). Isaiah, who was a contemporary of Amos, spoke of Messiah’s coming reign (though he did not use the exact phrase, “the day of the LORD”), so it is possible that they thought that God’s coming judgment would be on their enemies only. 1 However, Amos announced that God’s judgment would extend even to Israelites who rebelled against him, effectively making themselves enemies of Jehovah (Amos 5:18-27). If they did not repent, they would be exiled to “Damascus” in Assyria. The fable-like analogy of a man running from a lion, only to meet a bear, then being bitten by a viper in his own house would be humorous if not so sad; they would have nowhere to run (Amos 5:19).
- Joel used the phrase the most, but because his prophecy is not dated, Amos may have been the first to actually call it “the day of the LORD.” It was most certainly either Amos or Joel. ↩