Add parallel Print Page Options

Turn Back to the Lord

Listen, nation of Israel,
    to my mournful message:
You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
    never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
    with no one to help you up.

The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
    only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
    only a hundred will survive.”

The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
    and you will live!
Don’t go to Gilgal or Bethel
    or even to Beersheba.[a]
Gilgal will be dragged away,
and Bethel will end up
    as nothing.”[b]

Turn back to the Lord,
you descendants of Joseph,[c]
    and you will live.
If you don’t, the Lord
    will attack like fire.
Bethel will burn to the ground,
    and no one can save it.
You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
    and stomp on justice.

But the Lord created the stars
    and put them in place.[d]
He turns darkness to dawn
    and daylight to darkness;
he scoops up the ocean
    and empties it on the earth.
God destroys mighty soldiers
    and strong fortresses.

Choose Good Instead of Evil!

The Lord said:

10 You people hate judges
    and honest witnesses;
11 you abuse the poor and demand
    heavy taxes from them.
You have built expensive homes,
    but you won’t enjoy them;
you have planted vineyards,
    but you will get no wine.
12 I am the Lord, and I know
    your terrible sins.
You cheat honest people
and take bribes;
    you rob the poor of justice.
13 Times are so evil
that anyone with good sense
    will keep quiet.

14 If you really want to live,
you must stop doing wrong
    and start doing right.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
will then be on your side,
    just as you claim I am.
15 Choose good instead of evil!
    See that justice is done.
Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful,
will be kind to what’s left
    of your people.[e]

Judgment Is Coming

16 This is what the Lord has sworn:

Noisy crying will be heard
    in every town and street.
Even farmers will be told
    to mourn for the dead,
together with those
    who are paid to mourn.[f]
17 Your vineyards will be filled
with crying and weeping,[g]
    because I will punish you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

When the Lord Judges

18 You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
    But you are in for trouble!
It won’t be a time of sunshine;
    all will be darkness.
19 You will run from a lion,
    only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
    and be bitten by a snake.
20 The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
    without a ray of light.

What the Lord Demands

21 I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
    and your times of worship.
22 I won’t accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
    not even your very best.
23 No more of your noisy songs!
I won’t listen
    when you play your harps.
24 But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
    that never runs dry.

25 Israel, for forty years
    you wandered in the desert,
without bringing offerings
    or sacrifices to me.
26 Now you will have to carry
    the two idols you made—
Sakkuth, the one you call king,
and Kaiwan,
the one you built
    in the shape of a star.[h]
27 I will force you to march
    as captives beyond Damascus.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
    have spoken![i]

Footnotes

  1. 5.5 Gilgal. . . Bethel. . . Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
  2. 5.5 Gilgal. . . nothing: In Hebrew “Gilgal” and “dragged away” sound something alike. Bethel (meaning “house of God”) is sometimes called “house of nothing” or “house of sin” by the prophets (see Hosea 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8).
  3. 5.6 descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  4. 5.8 the stars. . . place: The Hebrew text mentions two groups of stars, Pleiades and Orion. Since the Lord is the Creator of the stars, he controls the seasons that are signaled by the different positions of the stars. Moreover, the stars are created objects and should not be worshiped.
  5. 5.15 your people: Hebrew “Joseph’s descendants” (see the note at verse 6).
  6. 5.16 paid to mourn: In ancient times some people were paid to mourn and make loud cries at funerals.
  7. 5.17 Your vineyards. . . weeping: Instead of happy celebrations that were often held in vineyards after the harvest.
  8. 5.26 star: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 26.
  9. 5.27 I, the Lord. . . spoken: Israel did not offer sacrifices and gifts to the Lord during the time they wandered through the desert. But now they have made idols to carry during their ceremonies. So the Lord warns that he will make them “march” away as captives beyond Damascus, where Israel had extended its borders by victories in war (see 2 Kings 14.28).

A Lament and Call to Repentance

Hear this word, Israel, this lament(A) I take up concerning you:

“Fallen is Virgin(B) Israel,
    never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
    with no one to lift her up.(C)

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.(D)

This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek(E) me and live;(F)
    do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,(G)
    do not journey to Beersheba.(H)
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
    and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.[a](I)
Seek(J) the Lord and live,(K)
    or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;(L)
it will devour them,
    and Bethel(M) will have no one to quench it.(N)

There are those who turn justice into bitterness(O)
    and cast righteousness(P) to the ground.(Q)

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,(R)
    who turns midnight into dawn(S)
    and darkens day into night,(T)
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out over the face of the land—
    the Lord is his name.(U)
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
    and brings the fortified city to ruin.(V)

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court(W)
    and detest the one who tells the truth.(X)

11 You levy a straw tax on the poor(Y)
    and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,(Z)
    you will not live in them;(AA)
though you have planted lush vineyards,
    you will not drink their wine.(AB)
12 For I know how many are your offenses
    and how great your sins.(AC)

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes(AD)
    and deprive the poor(AE) of justice in the courts.(AF)
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet(AG) in such times,
    for the times are evil.(AH)

14 Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.(AI)
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil,(AJ) love good;(AK)
    maintain justice in the courts.(AL)
Perhaps(AM) the Lord God Almighty will have mercy(AN)
    on the remnant(AO) of Joseph.

16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:

“There will be wailing(AP) in all the streets(AQ)
    and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers(AR) will be summoned to weep
    and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing(AS) in all the vineyards,
    for I will pass through(AT) your midst,”
says the Lord.(AU)

The Day of the Lord

18 Woe to you who long
    for the day of the Lord!(AV)
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?(AW)
    That day will be darkness,(AX) not light.(AY)
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
    only to meet a bear,(AZ)
as though he entered his house
    and rested his hand on the wall
    only to have a snake bite him.(BA)
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness,(BB) not light—
    pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?(BC)

21 “I hate,(BD) I despise your religious festivals;(BE)
    your assemblies(BF) are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings(BG) and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.(BH)
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.(BI)
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.(BJ)
24 But let justice(BK) roll on like a river,
    righteousness(BL) like a never-failing stream!(BM)

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices(BN) and offerings
    forty years(BO) in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
    the pedestal of your idols,(BP)
    the star of your god[b]
    which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile(BQ) beyond Damascus,”
    says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.(BR)

Footnotes

  1. Amos 5:5 Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see Hosea 4:15.
  2. Amos 5:26 Or lifted up Sakkuth your king / and Kaiwan your idols, / your star-gods; Septuagint lifted up the shrine of Molek / and the star of your god Rephan, / their idols

Bible Gateway Sponsors