Amos 5: Why are the prudent silent?

Have you ever wondered what the “Wormwood” mentioned in Rev. 8:11 is all about? There is an ongoing lesson in Scripture about the herb wormwood that helps explain what it has to do with God’s actions on the Day of the LORD (Dt. 29:18; Prov. 5:4; Jer. 9:15; 23:15; Lam. 3:15, 19; Amos 5:7; 6:12-13).

In Amos 5, the prophet takes on a new tone when compared with Amos 4. In Amos 4, the prophet mocks Israel and their leadership.

In Amos 5, God is done mocking them and just says, “you’re doomed whether you like it or not.”

Amos  speaks in a prophetically perfect tone, meaning that he is speaking in future tense as though it is past tense. What Amos says is guaranteed to occur. There is nothing Israel can do to undo this. Repentance is not an option to avoid the punishment anymore.

Amos tells Israel that God is done with them. God is going to bring about His correction in His time. Amos didn’t know when God would punish them, but Amos understood that punishment was a foregone conclusion.

Amos uses a phrase that is code that means that nothing is stopping the coming judgement. All that might happen is a delay. The Northern Tribes have gone too far in turning away from God.

God used all sort of “natural” disasters to try to correct Israel and bring them back to Him but He has been ignored. The last tool of correction God will bring on Israel is war and exile.

“She has fallen, she will not rise again ― The virgin Israel.” (Amos 5:2 NASB)

What is a virgin nation? It is a nation that has never been occupied by an invading force, conquered and occupied by another force. Israel will be conquered and another nation will rule over her people. War will happen on her land.

The nation of Israel faces a genocide that Judah will not face. Only 10% of the men of the nation of Israel will survive death. The women and young children will be slaves and concubines.

“For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live.” (Amos 5:4 NASB)

He says that the person who seeks Him might live but the nation will still be judged. Seeking God is establishing and upholding justice and righteousness. When you seek justice and righteousness, you end up in the Torah. Real justice and righteousness are not our nation’s laws, such as the IRS code, or the Rules of the Road, but in God’s laws. We see parallels in Is. 9-10.

Amos instructs them to look at Deut. 28, which shows the consequence for rejecting God. These very curses are going to come upon Israel.

“For those who turn justice into wormwood And cast righteousness down to the earth.”(Amos 5:7 NASB)

Wormwood here means three things: it’s delusional, poisonous and anti-parasitical. When you are living a lie, you are living in delusion, a self-delusion. Poison in small doses can be beneficial by killing bad things but in large doses kills the good too.

When it is used properly, herbs like wormwood can kill off parasites and diseases and returns one to health. Spiritually, you return to righteousness and justice.

“For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes And turn aside the poor in the gate.” (Amos 5:12 NASB)

If a judge takes a bribe, your justice is denied. The gate was where courts met. If you are turned away at the gate, the case wasn’t re-heard. They didn’t have appeals courts back then.

“They hate him who reproves in the gate, And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.” (Amos 5:10 NASB)

“Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.” (Amos 5:13 NASB)

The prudent person is a wise person who measures their action and exercises restraint when events are evil and can’t be changed. A prophet of God is not allowed to keep silent. They are not allowed to be “prudent.” The prophet is supposed to speak regardless of whether the times are good or evil.

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14–15 NASB)

God is not going to give all of Joseph mercy, only a small remnant. If you are one of the 10% of Joseph who survives, you have only one duty: establish and seek justice and righteousness. It is to be established in the community, not just in your house.

The remnant does not establish feast days, psalms, etc. Those comes after the community establishes justice and righteousness.

The prudent person will speak up after the evil has been swept away. Prudent, wise men and women help rebuild the remnant.

American society has not reached the evil that the nation of Israel had reached. We still have our First Amendment and still can speak. We are not yet in the time for the prudent to remain silent.

“Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.” (Amos 5:25–26 NASB)

Amos is telling them that Assyria will be the nation that will take them out. Sikkuth and  Kiyyun are Assyrian gods. Up to this point, Amos has warned of Israel’s destruction but here is the first time God reveals the tool of his correction.

Speaker: Daniel Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

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