Introduction: Recently, I’ve seen a number of programs about the
“plastic surgery” performed on a number of people. I’ve seen people
who had the fat sucked out of their middle, fat cut out of their
eyelids, fat pumped into other places and the skin tightened on their
face. Why do people pay a lot of money for this? Because they prefer
the look of youth over age. Perhaps we do not like to look old
because it reminds us that we are closer to death. Amos gives us a
formula for life that does not involve moving our fat anywhere, so
let’s give it a closer look.

  1. Seek Life

    1. Read Amos 5:1-3. The original Hebrew in verse 2 is written
      in a form that you would use at a funeral. Of what does
      verse 2 remind you? (It reminds me of someone who is so
      old and weak that when he falls down he cannot get up by
      himself. One of the fears of age is (v.2) to have no one
      to help you.)

      1. If we are looking at old people, why call them
        “Virgin Israel?” (This sets up the contrast if it is
        a reference to youth. What was formerly young, is now
        about dead.)

      2. Does verse 3 suggest that death for Israel is a
        matter of old age? (No, although verse two sounded
        like we were speaking of old age, verse three makes
        clear that the source of the problem is not age but
        combat. You march out to war with 1,000 soldiers and
        come back with 100 alive. This is not death from
        natural causes.)

    2. Read Amos 5:4. What is the solution to the problem of
      death? How do the people avoid their own funeral? (Seek
      the Lord and live.)

      1. Is that our best solution to the problem of aging?

        1. Is that our solution to the problems of war?

        2. Is that our solution to the problems of sin?

    3. Read Amos 5:5. Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba were all
      famous places in the history of Israel. Bethel was where
      Jacob had the dream of the ladder between earth and heaven
      and committed his life to serving God. (See Genesis 28:11-22) In Beersheba, Abraham was recognized as having God
      with him ( Genesis 21:22-33) and Jacob was promised by God
      to become a great nation ( Genesis 46:1-4). In Gilgal was
      the memorial to God’s people crossing over to Canaan
      ( Joshua 4:19-23) and where God reinstituted the covenant
      symbolized by circumcision. ( Joshua 5:2-9)
      1. Does it encourage you to visit places where God moved
        mightily in the past? How about recalling times when
        God worked in your life? (If you read Joshua 4:5-6
        God specifically commanded that a stone memorial be
        set up at Gilgal so that in the future people would
        be reminded of His great work and the obedience of
        the people.)

      2. How about national monuments: does it energize you to
        visit great national historical places and think of
        what happened many years ago?

      3. Why would God say not to go to these places that had
        such great history and significance for God’s people?
        (Most commentators I consulted said that they had
        idols at these locations. That is the simple
        solution. The J.A Motyer commentary on Amos, however,
        suggests a more complex answer: these ancient shrines
        of what God did in the past for His people could not
        substitute for a living relationship with God.
        Therefore, God says, “Don’t rely on history with Me,
        I want you today to have a living relationship with

      4. If Motyer is right, do you see this attitude as a
        problem today? I have heard worshipers say they like
        the kind of worship or the kind of hymns that they
        remember from when they were children. Is there a
        danger that this kind of sentimental worship will
        cause us to lose sight of the Living God?

    4. Read Amos 5:6. What options did the people have? Are those
      the same options open to us today? (Seek the Lord and live
      or reject Him and burn. These are rather stark

      1. We started out in the introduction talking about the
        path to life. Is seeking God the only sure route to
        eternal youth and life? (The answer to our march
        towards death is not found in the offices of plastic
        surgeons or gyms, it is found in a relationship with
        the Living God!)

  2. The Power of God in the Face of Evil

    1. Read Amos 5:7-9. Compare how the wicked change things
      with how the power of God changes things? (This is a great
      text. It says the wicked turn good things into bad. But
      God turns the night into day and He decorates the darkness
      of night with the light of the stars! God evaporates the
      waters of the sea and then returns them to earth as rain.
      God does not, however, respect the power of man.)

    2. Read Amos 5:10-11. Will God allow the wicked to enjoy the
      “fruits” of their labor? (God exercises His power to
      deprive the rich of their unjust wealth.)

    3. Read Amos 5:12-13. Verse 13 goes against my nature. When I
      was a kid I fought the “bully” and now I defend in court
      the “little guy” against evil. Does verse 13 suggest a
      different course? (This text certainly made me pause. I
      don’t think Amos is telling us, as a general principle, to
      sit quietly in the face of evil. Instead, he is saying
      that the evil among God’s people was so great, the
      injustice so pervasive, that the prudent just kept their
      mouths shut.)

  3. Seeking God

    1. Read Amos 5:14. In Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus tells the story
      of the shepherd that went on a search for the one sheep
      out of a hundred that was missing. This suggests that God
      comes searching after us. However, Amos 5:14 seems to say
      we need to seek God first. How do you reconcile the
      parable in Matthew with this verse in Amos?

      1. Is the formula, seek God and then He will be with us?
        (All of Amos so far is about God pursuing His people
        to have them return to Him. However, we always have
        to make the decision (v.14) to “seek good.” When we
        make this decision, then “God Almighty will be with

      2. Let’s be practical. What does it mean in your place
        of work to “seek good?”

        1. What does it mean in your home?

        2. What does it mean with your neighbor?

        3. What does it mean at church?

      3. Notice the last part of verse 14. Verses 11-12
        described the evil actions of these people. Were they
        aware of the extent to which they had wandered into
        evil? (Apparently not! Verse 14 tells us that they
        “say” God is with them even though they pursue evil.)

        1. How do you explain this? (If you do a word
          search in the gospels for the word “blind” you
          will find that Jesus often describes false
          teachers as “blind.” The problem with sin is
          that it dulls our senses. We cannot see how evil
          we are.)

          1. Could you be suffering from this same type
            of delusion? ( Revelation 3:14-19 describes
            the “last day” church of Laodicea. Their
            problem is, in part, that they are “blind”
            (v.17) and they are in desperate need of
            “salve to put on your eyes, so you can
            see” (v.18).)

            1. Where can we get this eye-opening
              salve? ( Revelation 3:18 tells us that
              we can only “buy” it from God.)

            2. It is strange to hear that we have to
              “buy” something from God when we know
              grace is a free gift. What do you
              think Revelation means when it says
              to “buy” this eye salve?

              1. Let’s give Revelation 3:18-19 a
                close look. What is your sense
                about the meaning of “gold
                refined in the fire” (v.18) and

                its relationship to verse 19?
                (If you look at the “big
                picture,” it seems to say that
                God uses difficulties to help us
                see our true condition. We “buy”
                eye salve when we go through

    1. Read Amos 5:15. What prescription does God give for the
      people to follow? (Hate evil, love good, maintain justice
      in the courts.)

      1. Hating evil and loving good are emotions or
        attitudes, not behavior. How can we import new
        attitudes into our live? (This is the work of the
        Holy Spirit to change our hearts.)

      2. Court justice is not an attitude. It is not something
        that an individual can do. What would you do to try
        to satisfy this requirement? (I love the way God lays
        this out. He tells us first that we need to have our
        own hearts converted so that we love good and hate
        evil. Next, He tells us that we have a
        responsibility to ensure that the “rule of law”
        exists in our courts. This not a call for us to
        individually mete out justice to wrongdoers, but
        rather is a call to make sure that the structures for
        a just society exist. It is a call to every Christian
        whose heart is converted to be “politically” and
        “socially” aware.)

    2. Friend, do you love good and hate evil? Can you trust your
      heart to know? God calls on us to turn to Him. In His
      presence we can see more clearly the way to life. Will
      you seek Him today?

  1. Next Week: Pass Over or Pass Through?