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Week 8- Lesson Objective
By the end of the lesson, we will:
ANALYZE how God establishes justice for the righteous and punishes deceivers.
RECOGNIZE and REFLECT on actions of injustice within the community of faith; and IDENTIFY unjust practices, commit to stop our participation in them and help others do the same.


 

Assignment #1- Watch the Opening Video
Instructions: Watch the opening video then click the GO button below to answer the opening reflection question.  Be sure to add your name to your answer.


                                                         Keep in Mind

“But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream”

(Amos 5:24, KJV).

Assignment #2- Focal Scriptures and Background TextInstructions: Read the Focal Scriptures and Background text, then click the GO button below to answer the questions. 

AMOS_edited.jpg

                                          Background

Amos begins chapter 5 as a eulogy for the “dead” nation of Israel. Israel was not yet dead, but the lament was meant to impress on the nation the severe danger it was in. The death of Israel is described as the death of a virgin (v. 2). The death of a virgin would have been considered particularly tragic because she had no children to carry on her memory. This type of death is distinctly permanent. Furthermore, the dead virgin is described as having been left lying in a field, unburied. To leave a body unburied would have been a shocking and appalling image to consider, yet this is how the demise of Israel is described. Its depraved moral climate and refusal to turn back to God had indeed set it on the path of destruction.

Israel could not trust in the power of its armies to defend them against the coming destruction. Amos declared that their armies will be systematically cut down in battle (v. 3). Their trust in false gods was misplaced. The Israelites were known to visit idol temples in Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba. But Amos announced that each of these is set for destruction as well. Their only hope was to return to God. Amos repeatedly declared the way of escape for some. If they will seek after God, they will live (vv. 4, 6). Despite Amos’ lament, he presented God’s offer to save a remnant who will turn to Him.

The People, Places, and Times 

Feast Days. There were three major feast days in the nation of Israel: the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost), and the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles). These were pilgrimage festivals that required participation from the entire Israelite community. All work was to cease and travelers made their way from all over Israel to celebrate these festivals in Jerusalem.

Sikkuth (Moloch). Sikkuth is another name for the Mesopotamian astral deity Sakkut (Ninib). This god was also associated with the planet Saturn. It was commonly believed that this god was not introduced until after the Assyrian conquest, but recent scholarship has revealed that Aramean merchants and other foreign travelers helped to spread the worship of Sikkuth in Israel.

Kaiwan (Chiun). Kaiwan was the Babylonian Saturn god. The name actually means “the steadiest one” and is taken from the planet Saturn’s slow-moving orbit. The differences in spelling are likely because when foreign gods were referenced, the original vowels were often replaced with the vowels from the Hebrew word for “abomination.” The Phoenicians were thought to offer human sacrifices to this god.




 

Assignment #3-Search the Scripture and Discuss Meaning
Instructions: After you have watched the lesson video and reviewed the focal verses, click the GO button below to answer the questions. 

                          More Light on the Text

Amos 5:14–15, 18–27

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

Amos continues with the refrain of seeking. The word seek (Heb. darash, dah-RASH) is used in verse 4 and 6 to refer to the people seeking the idol sanctuaries and then refer to seeking God. Now Amos uses it in reference to good as opposed to evil. The good that the people are to seek is justice for the poor. Amos holds out the promise of the Lord’s presence if they seek good. This highlights the fact that the Lord is not with them to begin with because of their injustice and oppression.

15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

This seeking of good is more than just an outward action. It must radiate from an attitude of the heart. Amos uses strong words here. Seeking good is spelled out as hating (Heb. sane’, sah-NAY) evil. In other passages of the Old Testament, this word is used to refer to an enemy. The Israelites had been friends with evil and stood on the side of injustice. By using this word, Amos confronts them and challenges them to choose sides. Being on the side of good means establishing “judgment in the gate.” The gates of the town were often used for courts of justice and centers of trade, and there the Israelites did most of their oppression of the poor. So this is where they could show that they love good and hate evil instead.

If the people would seek Him and seek good instead of seeking the sanctuaries at Bethel and Gilgal, then maybe He would be gracious (Heb. khanan, khah-NAHN) to them. Amos is communicating that there is still the possibility of God showing favor and mercy to them. A remnant of Joseph is offered grace. Afterbreaking away from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the ten tribes were often referred to as Joseph. To refer to the remnant of Joseph is to appeal to those who will choose to seek good.

18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. 

19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. 

20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

“The day of the LORD” is a term that refers to the Lord appearing and waging a holy war with His enemies. This is the first reference to the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament. Amos implies that those Israelites who are involved in oppressing the poor longed for this Day of Judgment. He lets them know it will not be a good time for them; it will be darkness and not light. The images of running from a lion only to meet a bear or running into a house only to be bitten by a serpent describe the Day of the Lord as a time when they will not be able to escape God’s judgment.

21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.

Outwardly impressive religious acts of goodwill that are selfishly done do not move the heart of God. The phrase “your feast days” (Heb. khag, KHAG) refers to the three main festivals that God established in Israel: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14–19; Deuteronomy 16:16–17). Israel was abusing all of these festivals at this time. God rejected what Israel did in these feasts, which had a form of godliness but lacked the power thereof. The implication is that God Himself may establish events, activities, or procedures, but His people can pervert, abuse, and misuse them to achieve their own selfish ends. The Lord says He will not smell in their assemblies (Heb. ‘atsarah, ahtsah-RAH). Amos is possibly referring to the solemn assembly on the seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:8, 36). The Lord would not be pleased with any of the worship practiced on those days because of the absence of justice and right living.

None of the offerings prescribed in the law would please God. The Lord would not accept their burnt offerings (Heb. ‘olah, oh-LAH), in which the whole animal was consumed with fire. This was a symbol of the total commitment of the worshiper’s life to God. He would not accept their meat offerings (Heb. minkhah, min-KHAH). These were sacrifices devoid of blood and intended as gifts to the Lord. Lastly, He would not accept their peace offerings (Heb. shelem, SHEH-lehm), as these gifts were a sign of reconciliation or friendship, and this was not the state of their relationship with God. All of the worship rituals here were to be symbols of the people’s real-life walk with the Lord, and offering them without the true reality behind them was hypocritical. This made their offerings unacceptable to the Lord.

23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

Celebrations and rejoicing in God’s presence played an important part in Israel’s temple worship, which God had established. The Israelites used many kinds of musical instruments to praise God for His goodness and faithfulness (2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 149). In this instance, the Lord actually calls their songs noise (Heb. hamon, hah-MONE). It is not the joyful noise of Psalm 100:1, but the noise and confusion of a host of people—noise that the Lord does not want to hear.

24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

God illustrates the nature of judgment (justice) and righteousness by using the phrases “run down as waters” and “as a mighty stream,” which speak of the ongoing and unobstructed movement of an everflowing body of water. The word for stream, nakhal (Heb. NAH-khall), is the word for the desert wadi. These small narrow valleys laid dry and barren for much of the year until a torrent of rain flooded them and made them into flowing streams. The Lord has already laid out the stipulations of justice in His covenant, and He is waiting for His people to fill the dry and barren land with justice and righteousness as the rains fill up a desert wadi.

25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 

26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. 

27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

The Lord ends His pronouncement of judgment upon Israel’s hypocritical worship with a rhetorical question. He asks if the Israelites have offered sacrifices to Him in the wilderness. While there were sacrifices made to the Lord in the wilderness, they were not a regular feature in Israel’s religious life until after the conquest. The Lord is affirming that His relationship with them was not dependent on sacrifices and offerings. He had been with them in the wilderness without regular sacrifices.

Next, He confronts them on their worship of idols. They have paraded images of foreign gods through their streets to their shrines. Sacrifices, sacred dancing, and other perverse forms of worship followed this parade. Many translations say the “tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images.” Other translations say “Sikkuth your king and Kaiwan your star god.” Sikkuth is more probable as Sikkuth and Kaiwan were worshiped as astral deities in Mesopotamia, while Moloch was associated more with Syria-Palestine, and the worship practices here seem to be associated with Mesopotamia and the influences of the Assyrians. Since this is the only time Sikkuth is mentioned in the Bible but Moloch is mentioned numerous times, the Greek and Latin translators probably provided the more familiar name for the astral deity so that their audiences would understand. The meaning of the text does not change as either epithet refers to a deity associated with Saturn in the ancient world. In ancient times, Saturn was observed as being a star and influencing agriculture. This explains the reference to “the star of your god” (v. 26). In the next verse, Amos predicts that instead of them carrying their gods to the shrine to worship, they will be carried away captive. The phrase “beyond Damascus” points toward the coming Assyrian invasion that would take place and the resulting demise of the Northern Kingdom.

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