Amos 5-9
(We Can Run But Not Hide)
September 19th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Click here for a print- friendly version

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

For thus says the LORD
to the house of Israel:
Seek me, that you may live,

- Amos 1:4 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

These five chapters conclude the relatively short book of Amos. Chapter 5 begins with a lament regarding the future fall of Israel, but Amos describes the scene as if it has already happened. Only 10% of the people will survive. Those who wish to survive should not go to the temples that have been desecrated with idol worship. He reminds people of the all powerful God who created the cosmos and rebukes the people who step on the down-trodden and don't want to listen to the truth:

    People hate this kind of talk.
        Raw truth is never popular.
    But here it is, bluntly spoken:
        Because you run roughshod over the poor
        and take the bread right out of their mouths

    - Amos 5:10 (MSG)

Instead of doing evil, the people should seek to do good and aim to restore justice – then maybe, just maybe, there will be some mercy, says Amos. He also warns people not to look forward to the day of the LORD with false hope. For most of the people it will not be a day of rescue, but will be a day of judgment. “It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear (Amos 5:19a - NIV).”

Amos also notes that the LORD hates the insincere music and worship that is self-directed instead of directed at God. When the people's loyalties are divided the worship services are nothing but noise.

In chapter 6 Amos addresses those who have prospered and are living a life of luxury without any regard to the spiritual poverty of the nation. Therefore the LORD will “smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts (Amos 6:11b - KJV).”

Chapter 7 describes a negotiation between the LORD and Amos, who advocated for many of the people. The LORD held back from his threat to send locusts and fire, but said he would destroy the temples and the ruling party. When King Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom of Israel heard this prophesy he told Amos to hit the road and go back to Judah. In response, Amos shared more prophesies regarding the tragedies to be faced by Jeroboam’s family and the nation.

In chapter 8 the LORD points to a basket of ripe fruit to emphasize to Amos that the time is ripe for the punishment of Israel. The ruling class has oppressed the poor so they will be dealt a devastating blow from the creator of the universe. The LORD will turn the world upside down: “ ‘On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight (Amos 8:9 - NRSV).”

Then, the LORD says that at that time the people will thirst for him but they will not find him.

In Chapter 9 the LORD emphasizes that he is going to chase down every evil-doer, regardless of whether they attempt to run away, climb to heaven, dive to the bottom of the ocean, or perversely, seek the protection of captivity among their enemies. There will be nowhere to hide.

Having established good reasons for the folks to respect and fear him, the LORD concludes with a description of the restoration of Israel, as recorded in verses 9-15. He once again uses a vineyard as a symbol for prosperity:

    I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

    “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
        They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
        they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
    I will plant Israel in their own land,
        never again to be uprooted
        from the land I have given them,”

    -Amos 9:13 (NIV)

Reflection and Application

When we immerse ourselves in scriptures such as today's readings we recognize that many of the expressions used are more suited to the cultural period of the author. Consider the statement in Amos 8:5 (NRSV), in which the LORD characterizes the common views of the rebellious people: " We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balance." The words have been translated into English, but the meaning may not be immediately obvious. The ephah is a unit of measure. Thus, the LORD is saying that the greedy business men are tipping the scale so they can sell wheat or other produce for more than the current price. We may no longer measure our products in ephah, but we probably don't have to look very far to find someone overcharging for goods and services. Amos is calling people's attention to this practice because it was an affront to the LORD back then, and it still is today.

Another odd expression that may have stood out was the manner in which Amos defined the survivors of the calamity in the beginning of chapter 5 by noting that only 10 of 100 will survive. The math enthusiasts in his audience surely could have done the calculations if they wanted to - he's saying only 10% would make it. But in either case, the point was made clear: There was to be a devastating blow to be carried out by the one who made the Pleiades and Orion and who turns darkness into light and light into darkness. Why? Because the people turned from the real God to fake gods and the wealthy were taking advantage of the poor.

In today's reading we encountered another one of the king's officials who could not “handle the truth.” Amos told the priest Amaziah that Israel (the Northern Kingdom) would die by the sword and the remainder taken into exile because of the decay of morality in his kingdom. One would think that the king and his officials would be grateful to have received such a warning, and perhaps seek further counsel from Amos on how to correct their course. But instead the priest threw Amos out of town and told him to return to Judah. Perhaps if this official had listened with his heart and not with his pride he could have saved themselves or a greater percentage of others. When we hear a warning about our behavior we need to listen objectively, perform a self-audit and determine if it is legit. If so, we need to take corrective action.

We can run but we can’t hide from God. We may run from one trouble and find a bigger one, as described in verse 5:19. Instead of running we should take steps to correct ourselves. Are we celebrating the good life while our nation teeters on a precipice of immorality? The people of the Northern Kingdom did not worry about it and paid a price.

The people of Amos’s time were familiar with eclipses, like the one referenced in Amos 8:9. They must not have fully understood how it happened, but they knew it did, and the faithful attributed it to God. In the 21st century A.D. we have a fairly good understanding of how eclipses occur and can predict them many years in the future. We are smart enough to not look directly at it, even when the sun is covered. But to what force do we attribute the creation of the cycles that result in the eclipse? Was it God or just random forces that created these elliptical orbits that sometimes overlap?

If God’s planetary plan included the idea of eclipses, then what was the purpose? To scare us, to entertain us, to educate us? We may not know the answer to that, but when we safely observe an eclipse we can give the credit to the one who created it.

God says in chapter 8 that there will be a time when people who thirst for him will not find him because it will be too late (lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst, robust young men will faint of God-thirst - Amos 8:10 (NIV)). This quote brings to mind the quote from Jesus to the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel of John:

    “ ‘whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ "

    - John 4:14 (NIV)

The Samaritans were descended from the Northern Israelites that Amos addresses in these chapters. They were given a great privilege as the chosen people, but they took it for granted. Therefore, God took away the source of spiritual refreshment during the time of punishment, but he restored it in person through Jesus. Those who seek Jesus can receive this water and never thirst again.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Do you prefer using percentages, fractions, or a number pair like 1 out of 10 or 10 out of 100?
    2. Is there more we should be doing to respond to any indications of moral decay in our nation?
    3. We have been given a special privilege to accept Jesus’ offer of living water. Have we fully accepted it?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven we acknowledge that you created the stars in the cosmos, created the morning and the night and dip water from the ocean to give the land a drink. Help us to worship you with sincerity and a focus on you not ourselves.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    The percentage of people who are just getting by on their wages

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading will be Obadiah and Jonah (The Big Fish)

    Comments and Questions
    Please send any comments and questions to the author at or share your comments or question via the Listening for God Twitter account

    Click to follow Listening for God(@listeningforgod)