Amos Chapter Five

The Remnant Tithe

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In our study of Amos chapter five, we will look at the principle of the tithe and its relation to the remnant that is the followers of God. We will see how God has always preserved a portion of people that are truly His and how He will do so again on the Day of the Lord.

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Amos 5:1 & 2

Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you: 'Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up.'

Amos delivers a kind of funeral song for Israel as he mourns over them as if the judgment has already happened. "Fallen is Virgin Israel" refers to the fact that they had turned to idolatry. This blessed people had turned away from God and so there was nobody capable of restoring them. Just as a woman who has been with a man cannot become "pure" again, when people know the truth about God and choose to not believe, there is nothing left that can be done. In our world today, it seems like many want to say that we can all get to heaven and we are just taking different paths. This is the modern form of idolatry but only those that hold fast to Jesus Christ are that small portion that will be saved.

Amos 5:3

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel: 'Your city that marches out a thousand strong will have only a hundred left; your town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left.'

Now we are introduced to the remnant tithe. God tells the people that only one tenth of the people that are going to be led out as captives will survive. Throughout the Bible, God has always had a small portion of people that He claimed as His own and protected. It began with the Passover in Egypt when He preserved and claimed the first born sons as His own. As of January 2015, there are approximately 7.28 billion people on the earth and there are about 2.18 billion people that claim to be Christians. This demonstrates the principle of the tithe and also the principle of the wide and narrow gates as Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 & 14. This is further demonstrated in the last days with the 144,000 witnesses described in Revelation 7.

Amos 5:4

This is what the Lord says to Israel: 'Seek me and live;'

God reminds the Israelites that the cure for the death that they are facing is belief in Him.

Amos 5:5

'do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.'

Israel had slipped into religion and just going through the motions. God reminds them that it is their relationship with Him that saves them. He explains that their pilgrimages to certain towns and shrines mean nothing. The same is true for us today. There are many taking trips here and there seeking a closer relationship with God while He is waiting right where they are. Some even make a pilgrimage to a building each week for worship without having the relationship with the Lord. There is an entire religious tourism industry that is growing rapidly. For Christians, these tours of the Holy Land can be a good tool to help us to understand more about our faith but they cannot be a substitute for a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said that, in the last days, people would be running here and there but when He returns it will be obvious to all (see Luke 17).

Amos 5:6

'Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.'

We are used to seeing stories about wildfires on the news and that is sorta what God is telling the Israelites about. They were dead in their idolatry and just waiting for the spark to light the judgment. When the trees and brush get dry and dead, a small fire rapidly grows to where it seems that there is no way to put it out. Many times they simply must burn themselves out. God's judgment is the same way, when it starts, men are powerless to stop it. Once again, the only answer is to cry out to the Lord.

Amos 5:7

'There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.'

Not only were their religious practices corrupt but the leaders were corrupt as well. The same thing could be said of our world today as many people do their "religious duties" but, as soon as they leave the service, they go back to their corrupt practices.

Amos 5:8

He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land - the Lord is his name.

Amos reminds the people of God's power and the fact that He sustains all of creation. He makes the days and the nights as well as bringing the rains. This is a reminder to us, as well, that God is active in the world and is in control. That will be even more important as the last days draw to a close.

Amos 5:9

With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin.

God is not only in control of the natural things of creation but also the affairs of men. Amos reminds them and us that it is God who allows nations to be established and it is God that judges them. He does this on an individual basis as well. The fortified city speaks of the fact that Israel was hiding behind their religion and were not afraid of being judged. Sadly, there are many today who are hiding in and behind a religion. We are reminded that, in the last days, Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the ones that have a relationship with Him while the goats are not even related.

Amos 5:10

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.

This verse speaks to the fact that there were those who thought that the people were doing enough to keep God happy by going through the motions of religion. They also hated the messengers (prophets) that told them the truth. This seems to be even more fitting today as there are even Christians who think that we should all just get along with the religions of the world. They will go so far as to say that we are all going the same place just in a different method. This is a lie from the depths of hell and they hate anyone that will stand on the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to a right relationship with God.

Amos 5:11

'You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them, though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.'

We can see that our treatment of the poor can tell us much about our faith in God. As we see here, the rich were going through their religious rituals but abusing the working man in their dealings. They were building up treasured possessions on the earth instead of depositing treasures in heaven. The largest of mansions on the earth are but a tent compared to our home with Jesus.

Amos 5:12

'For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.'

God tells Israel that He sees what they do to the poor and that is something that we need reminded of as well. There are those who think that their lives are secret and they can do anything they want because they have money. Although that may seem to be true, everyone will answer to God on the last day.

Amos 5:13

'Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.'

"The prudent" speaks of those who are looking to the future. Those that are oppressing the poor are living for today and do not have a care about the ultimate tomorrow. Those that are looking toward the justice that will come with Jesus Christ do not fight the system. The system is not going to get any better and is going to be removed at the return of Jesus. The prudent await the return of the ultimate Judge and focus on Him. There are many that want to reform this earthly system but, as we see in this verse, "the times are evil".

Amos 5:14

'Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.'

God urges Israel to seek Him for He is the only thing that is totally good. Israel was claiming to be God's chosen people but were not seeking Him. It is much the same today as many will attend a worship service once a week and then seek the things of this world the other six days. They will lie and cheat in business and are out for all they can get for themselves. They may even give a portion of what they get to a collection plate in hopes of making it right with God. That is the exact same thing that Israel is being warned about by Amos. We are free in Christ to enjoy the things of this world but God knows where our hearts are focused. Are we, like Israel, just going to claim to be Christians or are we going to walk the talk as Jesus did?

Amos 5:15

'Hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.'

This verse speaks of a change of heart which is required for us to care about the poor or anyone else. That change of heart can only come from God with Him dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit. Once our hearts are changed, our actions will follow and glorify God.

Amos 5:16 & 17

Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says: 'There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst,' says the Lord.

A failure to repent brings judgment and mourning. We see the extent of the judgment on Israel as everyone is mourning and wailing and not just those who were paid to do so. In those days, it was common to pay mourners to stand outside the home where someone has died and to wail and mourn. There were people that made their living doing this but, here, we see that even the farmers stop tending their fields to join in the mourning. The phrase "pass through your midst" was meant to remind the people of the time when God passed through Egypt and the first born boys were killed (see Exodus 12).

Amos 5:18-20

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light - pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

This passage shows us the results of being religious. Amos gives them examples to demonstrate the fact that it is our relationship that saves and not what we "do for God". As it was in the example of the Passover in Egypt, only those who put their trust in the blood were preserved from death. It seems like Amos could be speaking to our world today as so many people are caught up in one religion or another and yet are missing the relationship that saves. Like Israel, many of these people are trusting in their religion and longing for the last day but, on that day, it will be as Amos described here.

Amos 5:21-23

'I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.'

God gives a list of the religious activities that Israel was doing but says that He rejects them. We might ask ourselves why and the simple answer is that they did not have any basis for coming into worship. Worship was to be based on their relationship with God and it is the same for us today. There has been a misconception that has entered the church where inviting someone to worship is substituted for telling them about Jesus. That is not what the Great Commission says and, if people do not know Jesus, they have no basis for entering a worship service. As the saying goes, "just because you go into a garage it doesn't make you a car".

Amos 5:24

'But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!'

Throughout the Bible, water is a picture of the Spirit of God and of purification. He uses the imagery of flowing waters to point out the fact that they were following the letter of the law with their religious activities but not the spirit as they did not put it into their every day lives. That is a good reminder for us as well. We can read the Bible a million times but we must apply it in our daily lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amos 5:25

'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?'

The answer to God's question is no they did not. They were in the wilderness because of disobedience. He compares their present idolatry to the disobedience of their fathers before them. It is a sort of warning as their ancestors had wandered for forty years until all the disobedient had perished.

Amos 5:26

'You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god - which you made for yourselves.'

Now, God plainly restates the charge of idolatry against the people of Israel. You almost feel the sense of a courtroom where a decision has been made. It is easy for us to say that this is all history and we know better than to worship idols but do we? You do not have to physically bow down in front of a statue for it to be an idol. If something (anything) means more to you than your relationship with God, it is an idol. The best way to find out if you have idols is to keep track of your activities for a week and at the end of that time look back at them. Break the things up into groups and how much time you spent thinking about them. Anything that gets more of your thoughts and time than God is an idol.

Amos 5:27

'Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,' says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

The verdict is in and the sentence is handed down. They would be conquered and led away as slaves. As Christians, we will probably not be led away in chains but we can be "free slaves". A "free slave" is one who legally has been set free but does not walk in that freedom. We are free in Christ but we can continue to live as slaves to the things of this world.