What does it say?
Contemporary with Isaiah, Jonah, Micah and Hosea, Amos prophesies during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel, specifically two years before the earthquake. This would probably date his ministry about 760 B.C. A sheepherder from Tekoa south of Jerusalem, God sends Amos north to confront Jeroboam of Israel. This was a time of prosperity and strength in both kingdoms, so his message of coming destruction would not be popular or credible. Amos does say that God will preserve a remnant that will be restored and through them all nations drawn to worship God.
Following the introduction, the first chapter through Amos 2:5 addresses the sins of surrounding nations including Judah. From Amos 2:6 Amos enumerates the sins of Israel that will bring God’s judgment. Amos 3-4 describes the coming judgment. Though chapter 5 continues the judgment theme, there is also hope as God calls on his people to turn to him and live.
What does it mean?
The message of Amos emphasizes God’s sovereignty over the nations and history. Also embedded in this book is the ability of people to submit to or reject God’s authority. In Amos’ day it was popular to think that God would never punish his people. Amos smashes this idea, but at the same time he reminds the people that God had chosen them for his mission (3:2). Our portion today ends with God reminding his people that what he desires is not religious ceremony and ritual or even their beautiful praise songs, but rather their faithfulness to his purposes.
In Amos 5:23-24 the personal pronouns suddenly turn singular rather than plural. This is an invitation, a message of hope to those who turn to him. The word judgment in 5:24 is not used in the sense of judgment for sins as in the preceding passages, but rather in this context as we would use the word justice today. In other words, instead of blood flowing from their many sacrifices, God desires that justice and righteousness would flow from them as a mighty stream.
How will I respond?
Am I caught in up what I DO to serve God, or do I serve him because of his justice and righteousness that flow from my life: products of his amazing grace? What is the evidence in my life of his justice and righteousness flowing from me?