Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff
In this fifth chapter of the Book of Amos, the first three verses (Amos 5:1-3) state the Lord's sorrow that the church - the truth from the Divine flowing into the world - has successively been devastated. (That was seen in Amos 4). When, in verse 3, it says, “The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left,” it means that very little truth is left to nourish the people. This bad state is their own doing.
In Amos 5:4-9, amid this dying out, the Lord entreats, almost anxiously, “Seek Me and live,” and then names traps, or spiritual states, that will turn people away from Him: Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba.
- The first, Bethel, here stands for falsifying knowledges.
- The second, Gilgal, signifies sensuous or external pleasures.
- The third, Beersheba, symbolized the last negative attitudes towards everything that constitutes faith and its doctrine. (See Arcana Coelestia 3923).
The next warning is to those “who turn justice into wormwood,” in Amos 5:7, i.e. they turn good into evil. (Arcana Coelestia 1488)
The Lord wants the people to return to Him, and explains clearly that He is the source of power, the one who, “made the Pleiades and Orion,” and the one who “rains ruin upon the strong”.
In Amos 5:10-13, in their love of their own intelligence, people continue to reject the Lord, to “tread down the poor,” rejecting even the little bits of truth coming to them. The people are warned, “Though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them."
Stone meaning truths in our natural minds. (Apocalypse Explained 745). The dictionary meaning of “hewn” means a workman making something, so it can be seen as coming from ourselves, or our own intelligence. Anything like that is “devoid of life from the Divine” (Arcana Coelestia 9852).
In Amos 5:14-15, the path is shown for the way the Lord can be with us: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” It can’t be any plainer. In that way the Lord can reach out with His mercy, and “be gracious to the remnant of Joseph”. That remnant is a small amount of truth, and Joseph is the spiritual part of us. (Arcana Coelestia 3921).
In Amos 5:16-20, people are warned of how bad it will be for them when the day of the Lord comes. “Is not the day of the Lord darkness?”, for those who are in evil, “with no brightness in it?” A person’s suffering will be painful, “as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him,” and terrorizing, “As though a man fled from a lion and a bear met him.”
In Amos 5:21-22, God warns that people's fear-spurred worship won’t be accepted. He says, “I hate, I despise your feast days”. The strong language of the Lord is the mirror opposite of the depth of the evil the people are in.
In verses 23-25, "Take away your noisy songs and melodies," the Lord says, i.e. take away what sounds beautiful to you but is hurtful to the Divine because it lacks internal goodness and truth. In its place, in one of the Bible's memorable images, Jehovah says, "Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mightly stream”.
Then, at the end, in verses 26-27, the warning is clear: if the people don’t return to the Lord, everything good will be taken from them, as shown in verse 27:
“Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus”.
Damascus was the furthest boundary of Canaan, or beyond where spiritual things reside. The “boundary of Damascus” is also referred to in Ezekiel 47:16-18. See also Apocalypse Explained 1088.