Amos Table of  Contents

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Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Five of Amos

Amos 5:1-3

“Hear this word which I take up against you, a lamentation, O house of Israel:

The virgin of Israel has fallen;
She will rise no more.
She lies forsaken on her land;
There is no one to raise her up.

For thus says the Lord God:

The city that goes out by a thousand
Shall have a hundred left,
And that which goes out by a hundred
Shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “A lamentation over the church, that it was successively laid to waste, vers. 1-3...”

AR 620

·        “‘For they are virgins’ signifies because they have loved truths because they are truths, thus from spiritual affection; the reason why these are meant by ‘virgins’ is because ‘a virgin’ signifies the church as a bride, who desires to be conjoined with the Lord, and to become a wife; and the church which desires to be conjoined with the Lord, loves truths because they are truths, for by truths, when one lives according to them, conjunction is effected. Hence it is that Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem, in the Word are called ‘virgins’ and ‘daughters’; for by ‘Israel,’ ‘Zion,’ and ‘Jerusalem,’ is signified the church.”  Amos 5:2 is cited.

AE 836[13]

·        “Because the church is a church from the spiritual affection of truth, which is the love of truth for the sake of truth, the following expressions are frequently used in the Word.... ‘The virgin of Israel...’” Amos 5:2 is one of the references cited. 

AC 576[2]

·        “In Amos.... Where speaking of remains it is said that very little would be left, being only a ‘tenth part,’ or remains of remains.” Amos 5:2, 3 are cited. 

AC 468[4]

·        “The residue or remains of a man, or of the church, were also by the tenths, which were holy represented.... And in Amos...a city is preserved for the sake of the remains of the church....” Amos 5:3 is cited. 

Derived Doctrine

 “I take up against you, a lamentation....”

·        In addition to the word lamentation, we might consider looking up “lament,” “mourn,” “weep,” and “wail.” The reasons for lamenting vary.

·        In an AR 767 reference, those who had been in positions of authority weep and wail in embarrassment over the loss of wealth and being cast down from positions of dominion.

·        In AE 695[24], we have a picture of angels and men of the church lamenting and howling because of the vastation of all good and truth.

·        AE 659[4] tells of a wailing because knowledges did not “...take form as effects, conclusions, and confirmations from the truths of the spiritual man...

·        The Lord wants lamentation to come upon the church so it might grieve over any wrong it has done.  Asking for forgiveness prepares the way for repentance, reformation, and regeneration. These three “r’s” restore spiritual vitality to a growing church.

 “The virgin of Israel has fallen...”

·        This signifies that Israel gave up its regard for the Lord’s truth. Truth became a tool to prove or justify whatever they wanted.

 “She will rise no more.” 

·        The word “rise” in the affirmative sense is beautifully explained in the Arcana: When the “...words of the sense of the letter are wonderfully changed, when it ascends from a man who is reading the Word to the sphere in which the angels are, that is, to heaven....” one is said to “rise.” (AC 2333[2])

·        In the opposite sense, “rising no more” indicates how the Word remained in the literal sense and was not being “wonderfully changed” for the Israelites. The Word for them was not ascending in their heart and mind to where angels were.

 “She lies forsaken on her land...”

  • The correspondences of the words “forsaken” and “land” are important for our understanding. In AE 768[24], we read that “forsaken” signifies estrangement from the Lord. This “...signifies they have rejected Divine good and Divine truth.... [and] turn themselves backward from the Lord....”
  • “‘Land’ in the internal sense signifies...the external man of the church...signifies the region where the church is...the church itself.... [and] that which is their essential, namely, love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, for on this they all hang....” (AC 2571)

“There is no one to raise her up.”

  • So long as the church ignores the Word, communication or conjunction with the Lord is impossible, and it appears that no one can “raise her up.” But if the church returns to the Word with a desire to find genuine truths, the Lord will raise her up again. This verse then is the Lord reminding the Israelites that they cannot count on any human prudence to rescue them. Only those who listen to Him will find the way out of their ignorance, as is so aptly described in the gospel of John: “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not....” (John 1:5)   “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

Thousand, Hundred, Ten

  • “The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which goes out by a hundred shall have ten left....”

·        AC 576[2] tells us that this verse is “...speaking of remains...that very little would be left...or remains of remains...

  • Each of these numbers, thousand and hundred, are multiples of ten. How we are to apply these numbers doctrinally is not quite clear to me, but the teachings in the Arcana about the reduction or loss of “remains” down to the “remain of remains” gives me some insight to follow.
  • The Israelitish people at one time had an abundance of truth adjoined to good, but over time, they squandered these assets away until the Lord needed to act on behalf of His people. He preserved their remains. “...for unless remains were preserved by the Lord in every one, he must needs perish eternally...if there were not always some with whom the church, or true faith, remained, the human race...a city, nay, sometimes a whole race would perish...sometimes a whole kingdom, is saved for the sake of a few.” (AC 468)
  • That a “thousand” signifies “ infinite abundance of rational truth adjoined to good, is evident from the signification of a ‘thousand’ as being much and countless; here infinite, or an infinite abundance, because predicated of the Lord....” (AC 2575)
  • In a nutshell we are given an overview of the Lord’s Providence mercifully working with what “little” He is given when in blindness we turn away from the “countless” the “infinite abundance” He offers to all.

Putting It All Together

1. Pride, an out-of-control love of self, needs to come to its senses. “Lamenting” is an essentially healthy emotion. Saying to the Lord that we are sorry for not letting His knowledges “...take form as effects, conclusions, and confirmations...” is so much better than lamenting over the loss of wealth or power over others. When the heart is hardened to the gentle leading of Providence, we close, lose, or wall out all that the Lord could do for us.

2. Like a virgin, our innocence falls, and it feels unable to get up. Innocence, seeing our confusion and indifference (stiff neck, heavy ears, troublesome nature), senses that we are unaware of the gravity of the situation. With no spiritual plan to follow, innocence feels there is no real hope for the future. “Is there anyone who will restore my dignity?”

3. “Rising”: We need that positive sense that reading the Word of the Lord can, and does, carry us into that sphere where angels are.  The words we read will be “...wonderfully changed...” for us. These words will put away any estrangement that might have crept into our hearts and minds.

4. The “remains” the Lord has watched over from our infancy and stored up in the internal will be called forth when needed, and we can go out by the “thousands,” drawing on the infinite abundance of the Lord.

We need to put the image of thousands going in and out of the city as our goal. Just saying the words “remain of remains” draws the soul into the decision-making process.

“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil....therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him....” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:1-3.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      There is a part of us that wants the Word to be happy, bright, cheerful and free of anything that inspires guilt. There are elements of these themes throughout the wonderful stories of the Word, and yet there are those “heavy” themes of separation or estrangement. The Rev. Cairns Henderson wrote a series of article in New Church Life about the “hard sayings” of the Lord. Ever read them?

The punishment of evil and the loss of opportunities is a repetitive theme. How do you keep a balanced perspective of these states so that you find comfort when it is needed and be made uncomfortable when you have gotten lethargically comfortable?

2.      Have you ever done a doctrinal study on the correspondence of numbers? Why are there times when the meanings of the numbers are explained by multiplication, division, or addition?

Amos 5:4-9

“For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
Seek Me and live;
But do not seek Bethel,
Nor enter Gilgal,
Nor pass over to Beersheba;
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
And Bethel shall come to nothing.
Seek the Lord and live,
Lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
And devour it,
With no one to quench it in Bethel-
You who turn justice to wormwood,
And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!
He made the Pleiades and Orion;
He turns the shadow of death into morning
And makes the day dark as night;
|He calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth;
The Lord is His name.
He rains ruin upon the strong,
So that fury comes upon the fortress.

Passages From the Writings


·        “ exhortation that they should seek the Lord, lest all things of the church should perish through evils and falsities, vers. 4-9...” 

AC 3969[12]

·        “In Amos...(v. 4, 6, 15)...where...the spiritual are signified by ‘Joseph;’ the ‘house of Israel’ is the spiritual church.... ‘Joseph’ is the good of this church...”   

AE 448[14]

·        “In Amos...(v. 4, 6, 15)...‘The house of Israel’ signifies the spiritual church, and ‘the house of Joseph’ that church in respect to the truths of doctrine. That truths of doctrine will perish unless they are in the affection of truth and good and a life according to them, is meant by ‘lest He fall like a fire upon the house of Joseph’...”

AC 2723[1&2]

·        “...‘Beer-sheba’ signifies the state and quality of the doctrine, namely, that it is Divine and to which what is of human reason is the doctrine of faith; and because they are...adjoined...the doctrine thus became adapted to human comprehension, it is called a ‘city’....” Amos 5:5 is noted as representing “the opposite sense.”         

AR 410

·        “ ‘wormwood’ is signified infernal falsity.... Wormwood...from its intense bitterness... renders food and drink abominable....” Amos 5:7 is cited as a representative example of this from the Word. 

AE 519[6]

·        “...‘wormwood’ signifies the evil of falsity....” Amos 5:7 is cited as an example of this teaching. 

Coronis 56

·        This number cites Amos 5:9 as one of the many references in the Word to the “vastation” and “desolation” of the good and truth “of the church, whence there is nothing but evils and falsities.”

Derived Doctrine


 “Seek Me and live...”

  • Seeking the Lord involves an effort of the will, from the love of truth, for the sake of truth. Seeking the Lord is not a gathering of facts merely to know them, but it means drawing them into ourselves so that we may live by them.
  • The Writings give us a symbol to reflect on: “Drawers of waters.” AC 3058 teaches that “To ‘draw waters’ is to be instructed, to understand, and to be wise.” This number then warns us that there will be some who “...continually desire to know truths, but for no other end than to know them, while caring nothing for the use.” Seeking means loving truth so spiritual uses may be offered to the Lord, to the neighbor, and to ourselves. Such “drawers of water” bring constructive amendment to the will, and their lives are lived to the fullest measure.

 “ not seek Bethel....”

  • The word Bethel means “House of God.” In the best sense, the Writings teach that Bethel represents the knowledge of celestial things. See AC 3720.
  • Worship for the Israelites had fallen into a routine. They believed just entering the house of God was enough. The Lord said no, it isn’t. Quoting celestial things is not enough. They carried the water, but they did nothing with it to quench their spiritually parched souls.
  • The words of the prophet must have seemed inappropriate to his listeners. They looked up at the temple. There it stood, beautifully and esthetically awesome. “What is this man talking about? We have given of our wealth to make this the most special ‘House of God.’”

 “Nor enter Gilgal...”

·        Gilgal represents “...the doctrine of natural truth, which is serviceable for introduction into the church.” (AE 700[14]) Natural truth apart from a love for the Lord would not help carry the Israelites into spiritual life. The facts of spiritual law needed to be added to their knowledge of natural law.

“Nor pass over to Beersheba...”

  • Please note that in AC 2723[1&2], we were told that in the good sense, “Beersheba” represents the adjunction of human reason to the doctrine of faith so that human comprehension might be assisted.
  • The word ADJUNCTION is not the same as CONJUNCTION.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, adjunction means “...something added to another thing, but not essentially a part of it....” By contrast, conjunction is the entering into and blending or marriage occurring where the two become as a one.
  • Therefore, we are told in the Arcana that the Israelites took what could have been a helpful adjunction and turned it to the “opposite.” They did not seek to adjoin their human reason with the doctrine of faith. The loss? Human comprehension of the Lord’s Word dimmed like a fading or flickering light.

What were the results of the Israelitish failure to seek the Lord?

1)      “...Gilgal shall surely go into captivity...” Natural truths that could have been introductory truths will become enslaved.

2)      “...Bethel shall come to nothing...” The “house of God” ornate, beautiful, and impressive, will mean little to the spiritually ignorant.

3)      “Seek the Lord and live...” Here is the solution, cries the prophet. Listen and obey the Lord.

4)      “ in the house of Joseph...and [he] will devour it....” If you fail to repent, the truths of doctrine will perish. I believe the “he” here refers to the enemy of truth, not to the Lord.

5)      “With no one to quench it in Bethel...” Human prudence, the priesthood, the gods, whatever they had great hope or faith in could not take away the great thirst for spiritual waters. Not wealth, not armies, not expanded territories, nothing will work! Only the Lord can give you what you so desperately need and don’t know it.

6)      “You who turn justice to wormwood...”

a)      The word “wormwood” is used in the Word to convey a sense of bitterness and sorrow. The Writings teach that “wormwood” in food renders the food and drink “abominable.” How so? Is it just the taste, or is there a more subtle but deadly reason?

b)      In some countries, “wormwood” is used in the making of absinthe. It is a green alcoholic liquor containing oils of wormwood and anise and other aromatics. If over-used, this disguised, sweet-tasting, alcoholic drink will eventually cause a serious nervous derangement. The culprit? “Wormwood!”

c)      Justice in Israel’s society was being lost. Like the drink of absinthe, their morals, reasoning, caring, and sense of fairness were becoming deranged. The justice of the day, as explained by the priests, was like the cleverly mixed abominable “wormwood.” Ambition, greed, and laziness covered their bitter taste of injustice with sweet anise and other aromatics.

7)      “And lay righteousness to rest in the earth.”

a)      Simply put, this means that righteousness was put to sleep in the minds of people. The end justifying the means was acceptable as long as it gave them what they wanted.

8)       “He made the Pleiades and Orion...”

a)      Pleiades is a group, or cluster, of bright stars. There are seven stars in this constellation. The ancients had some elaborate myths about all of the stars in the heavens. One of these stars of Pleiades, according to tradition, became hidden or banished when it mistakenly fell in love with a human. (Isn’t it interesting what lengths human self-love will go to even in myths?)

b)      Orion is also a constellation of stars which, for the ancients, formed a gigantic warrior with a belt and sword. Orion was a man of great strength who at his death was transferred to the heavens.  Did Israel find the story of these myths appealing? Or did the myths represent the foolishness of those who trusted in their own strength instead of the Lord? Did Israel consult the stars for answers? Did they seek their “powers” by offering gifts or sacrifices? The source I checked, Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary, indicated historians think they probably did.

c)      The point here is that the Lord reminded them that it was He who made these stars, and that which the Lord creates is not greater than its Creator.

d)      Before leaving this portion of the text, let’s look at two wonderful quotes in the Writings regarding stars and Pleiades and Orion.

e)      “...I can, from all experience, and thence testimony from heaven, declare with certainty, that it is impossible to derive a single genuine theological truth from any other source than from the Lord alone; nay, that to derive it from any other source is as impossible, as it is to sail from England or Holland to the Pleiades, or to ride on horseback from Germany to Orion in the sky.”  (Brief Exposition 98)

f)        “...truths are all like stars, which by their light make the faith manifest and give it form. Man acquires this faith from the Word by means of his natural light, in which light it is knowledge, thought, and persuasion; but the Lord causes it, in those who believe in Him, to become conviction, trust, and confidence; thus faith becomes spiritual-natural, and by means of charity becomes living.” (TCR 137[5])

9)      “He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night...”

a)      “‘Spiritual thick-darkness,’ ‘the shadow of death,’ and ‘darkness,’ are nothing else but the states of those in hell, who are in the falsities of evil.... The Word in many places treats [of the above words to mean those] whose eyes the Lord will open; and by them are meant the Gentiles...Christians...they know the Lord indeed, but do not approach Him, and they have the Word, but yet do not search for the truths therein.” (AR 110)

b)      There is hope and deliverance for those who are blind from ignorance and are lost but a stern warning to those who insist on turning the Word to their own ends.

10)  “He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth...”

a)      There is a lesson in AC 2162[7] that explains Revelation 10:1-2. In that text, a strong angel is seen with a little book open in his hand. He has his right foot upon the water of the sea and his left foot upon the earth. We are taught that the “‘sea’ denotes natural truths, the ‘earth’ denotes natural goods....”

b)      The Lord is offering relief from the parched and thirsty condition of poor spiritual leadership. He will bridge the gap. He promises to restore a wholesome communication if they return to the knowledge and love of the Lord alone. Their spiritual thirst can only be quenched with "living waters" and not the cleverly mixed delusions the drink of "wormwood" was giving them.

11)  “The Lord is His name.”

12)  “He rains ruin upon the strong so that fury comes upon the fortress.”

What a powerful finish to the above conditions:

1.      Seek Me and live.
2.      Don’t look to the physical temple you built.
3.      Don’t count on your natural-introductory truths
4.      Don’t destroy the adjunction of the doctrine of faith and human reason.
5.      If you do, you will destroy all the things of the church, and you will perish through the evils and falsities of the drink of “wormwood” hell has prepared. It will give you a deranged sense of justice and righteousness.
6.  I will remove the shadows of death. I will turn your nights into mornings.
7.  Remember, it is not the myths of Pleiades or Orion that will help you.
8.  Don’t waste your time courting their favor or power. There is only one Source of help:
9.  The Lord is His name.

Putting It All Together

I feel we just did that. Maybe you want to add your own summary to the above. Please do so, and share that summary with one of your study partners.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:4-9.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Do you feel the sense of mercy here from the Lord? He is showing the Israelites the series of causes and effects their actions brought about, but He doesn’t leave them without a solution. He shows them the way out of the confusion: “Seek Me and Live.”

2.      What excuses do you think will be offered up when people have their spiritual eyes open in the World of Spirits and they see all that the Lord did for them when they had imagined they fought evils alone? Do you think the excuse of ignorance will offer up an “airtight alibi”?

3.      As clear a picture as the Writings give us about the prophecy of Amos, I still feel some sympathy for the plight of the “laymen” Israelites. Some of them could not read nor write. They could not go to the Word and reflect on the words the way we can. But then I remember that none of this would have happened if they had stayed committed to the ways of the Lord. The Lord provides for all states and conditions and makes sure His Word is sufficient for the day.

How far have we strayed, and what false faith have we built up that seeks to offer substitutes for the real things of faith?  How does the Lord provide for people like the Israelites who could not read the Word for themselves?

4.      I found the information about “wormwood” quite interesting and valuable. What about you? Are we still in subtle ways drinking hell’s artificially sweetened, but bitter and sorrowful, hoax? What are some ways to detect “wormwood” before we drink it?

5.      Have you noticed the number of ads on television encouraging people to seek the advice of “psychics”?  Is this harmful to those who use their counsel? What about the man who claims he can contact family members or friends in the spiritual world? He has a best-selling book telling about his most celebrated contacts. Someone said, “He has told me things that only I had knowledge about.” A great following of “readers” and clairvoyants seem to be pulling people away from “Seek Me and live.” What do you think about this?                                                            

Amos 5:10-13

They hate the one who rebukes in the gate,
And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.
Therefore, because you tread down the poor
And take grain taxes from him,
Though you have built houses of hewn stone,
Yet you shall not dwell in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards,
But you shall not drink wine from them.
For I know your manifold transgressions
And your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.
Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time,
For it is an evil time.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that they reject truths because they are in self-intelligence, vers. 10-13.”

AC 1071[5]

·        “In Amos:- ( v. 11) This is said of the spiritual church, or ‘Israel,’ of which planting vineyards and drinking the wine thereof is predicated, when it becomes such as to have faith from charity...’ Here is described the opposite condition, when the spiritual church is vastated.’”

AC 8941[4]

·        “By ‘hewn stone’ is signified that which is from self-intelligence....” Amos v. 11 is one of the verses cited. 

AR 316

·        “ is provided by the Lord that the holy goods and truths, which lie interiorly concealed in the Word, shall not be violated and profaned. ‘Oil’ signifies the good of love, and ‘wine’ truth from that good....” In the larger quote, it references Amos 5:11 as an example of how the Lord cuts off the wine from the mouths of those who seek evil.

AE 376[17]

·        In AE 376[17], the Writings translate the text as: “Vineyards of desire shall you plant...” The Revised King James Version text reads: “You have planted pleasant vineyards....”

·        “...spiritual wealth, which is the knowledges of good and truth....when devastated one profits nothing and receives nothing, even though he listens to them, and sees them in the Word...” Like things are meant in Amos 5:11, we are told in this number.

AE 919

·        This number quotes many passages from the Word where ‘vineyard’ signifies the spiritual church. Amos 5:11 is one of the citations.

AR 899

·        “Since ‘gates’ signify introductory truths, which are knowledges from the Word, therefore the elders of a city sat in the gates, and judged; as is manifest from....” Amos 5:12 is cited as one of the examples. 

·        “Because ‘gates’ signify introductory truths, therefore it was among the statutes:- ‘That the elders should sit at the gates and judge’...” Amos 5:12 is one of the examples cited.

Derived Doctrine

 “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.”

  • We can see from some of the above quotes that the “gate” and those who sat there were the elders of the city. By divine statutes, they were to be there for the people. They were to judge and lead the people according to the precepts of the Word.  But those who sought to deceive did all they could to discredit the truthful or faithful elders so their opinions would not interfere with their plans to cheat or defraud others.
  • Apparently, it became difficult, and unpleasant, for the elders to speak from principle. Those in the city hated the “messengers” because a righteous elder made the thieves feel exposed or uncomfortable as they went about their nefarious business.

Treading Down the Poor and Taking Grain Taxes from Them

  • There is an interesting quote in AR 489 that tells us that where the literal sense states there will be those who will seek to trample the holy city for forty-two months, it represents their attempt to “...disperse every truth of the Word, even so that nothing would remain.”
  • “...seeds, barley, wheat, and the like denote interior truths and goods...” (AC 7112)
  • The Concordance suggests that it is useful to use “tribute” when looking up the word “taxes.” A quote from AC 6659 seems to serve our present study well: “...princes of tributes...signifies falsities that would compel to serve....”
  • Those who hated the elders at the gate wanted to “trample” every truth of the Word so that nothing would remain, and they worked to destroy interior truths and goods so that they could “tax” or compel falsity to serve their interests and gain from the “poor” because of their ignorance of the Word.

Houses of “hewn stone”

  • We need to note the difference between a “stone” and a “hewn stone.” A stone that is “unhewn” represents the wholeness of the Lord’s truth. A “hewn” stone represents “ intelligent person who falls into perversities, and calls or makes to be true things that are false...‘hewn stone’ denotes what is fabricated.” (AC 1296)
  • “If thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it thou hast polluted it.” (Exodus 20:25)
  • The Lord wanted them to see that they had built “houses” in their minds that seemed attractive and lofty but were actually misshapen distortions of their memory knowledges. In other words, they lived in mental houses where perversities fabricated lies and distortions.

“Yet you shall not dwell in them....”

  • What they thought was so secure and stable would not last or survive in the presence of the Lord’s clear and eternal truth.

Planting Vineyards of Desire, But Not Drinking Wine from Them

  • When Noah drank of the wine from his vineyard, we are taught that this represented “...he desired to investigate the things of faith, and this by reasonings....” (AC 1071)
  • From this explanation, may we assume that the Lord was telling them that their desire to investigate the things of faith was from a “hellish” desire and that their reasoning therefore would never have them taste of the true wisdom of the Word?

Manifold transgressions; mighty sins; afflicting the just; taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate

·        Transgressions are evils done against the truths of faith. See AC 9156.

·        Sin is different than evil. Evil is somewhat passive. It is a thought or a temptation. Sin is the giving in to that thought and a giving in to the temptation. When we sin, we make some evil our own. There is a wonderful passage in the Writings that presents a challenge to reflect on: “In order for anyone to know what evil is, and consequently what sin is, let him merely study to know what love of self and of the world is...” (AC 4997) Evil and sin bring about disjunction from the Lord and the heavens.

·        A just person is one who lives according to divine laws. (AR 815) Those who sought to live according to divine laws were scorned and afflicted by those in power.

·        Taking bribes: In AC 8711, we have an explanation of what is meant by those “...‘hating gain,’ as being aversion to persuasions from falsity and evil.... By ‘gain’ in general is signified all the falsity from evil that perverts the judgments of the mind...and withdraws from truth and good....”  This is the case with those who have the world as their end.

·        Diverting the poor from the gate: A gate is representative of the entrance into the mind. It also represents teachings or doctrines which introduce the truths of faith. See AC 2943 and AC 3721 for more insights into the meaning of a gate.

·        Essentially, those who were “poor” in matters of faith were being ignored and purposely kept ignorant of the introductory ”riches” of the Word.

The Prudent Keeping Silent, the Evil Time.

  • “By means of His Divine providence the Lord leads the affections of a man’s life’s love, and at the same time leads his thoughts, from which human prudence is derived.” (DP 200)
  • It seems to make sense if the people were intent in shutting out the Word of the Lord that “prudence” would keep silent at that time. Human prudence would take over and try to present its ideas as more important and vital for life. Such a state of mind would make for “an evil time.”

Putting It All Together

1. The key to these verses seems to be the problem of self-intelligence. When it takes control of one’s mind, it does not wish to hear any of the judgments from the “elders” of the city gate. Instead, self-intelligence will make the spiritual principals unwelcome and hated. Self-intelligence will trample down and discredit the spiritual laws, and will build up its own secular altar with “hewn stones” that fit its concepts and feel comfortable worshiping the love of self and the world. 

2. The Writings translate “pleasant vineyard” as “vineyard of desire.” Self-intelligence is a vineyard of desire, and those who grow their grapes of desire would become spiritually drunk with the intoxicating disorder that would destroy freedom and rationality. The Lord urges His children not to drink this wine.

3. Another condition that hurts the spiritual potential is acceptance of bribes. Accepting a bribe is a release of internal restraints so as to be “bought off,” a willingness to pervert the judgment of the mind and to have the mind withdrawn from good and truth. When we allow this to happen, the “elders at the gate” cannot lead us. Providence cannot lead our affections and thoughts. Prudence loses its willingness to follow the internal dictates of the Lord’s truth.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:10-13.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      We learn from the three-fold Word. We have to read, reflect, and make applications. A good portion of this process uses the intelligence. How do we keep self-intelligence in a healthy state?

2.      The human mind can arrange “selected” teachings from the Word in such a way as to prove whatever we want.  What can we do to prevent such a “hewing” of the stones so that we don’t fabricate falsity?

3.      Is there a way that you keep the “poor” from coming to the gates of the city?  Is there a way you keep the “poor” coming every day to the gates so that introductory truths refresh the heart, the mind, and the soul? Do you do this to yourself? To others?

4.      Have you ever felt this way? In matters of daily discrimination, you feel uncertain about your stance on current issues and hesitate to speak up. But as you read the Word, and see its internal sense, you feel more confident to express your insights on the things taught in the lesson.  Why do you think this happens?

5.      How do you explain the difference between evil and sin? Does it make sense that we are not held accountable for the inherited tendencies toward evil, but we are accountable for sins we confirm through our loves?

6.      What do you think of the difference in translations regarding the vineyard? Is there a significant difference between “pleasant vineyards” and “vineyards of desire”?

Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken
Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Passages From the Writings


·         “...[an exhortation] that they should turn themselves, vers. 14, 15...”

AE 573[7 &8] 

·        “The tribes were called ‘hosts’ because the twelve tribes taken together represented all the truths and goods of the church, and each tribe some universal essential of the church.... From this it can be seen that the truths and goods of heaven and the church are meant in the Word by ‘hosts’...” Amos 5:14 and 16 are cited in the numerous references in the Word.

AC 2943

·        “ Amos...That a ‘gate’ also signifies the way of access to the rational mind, and that this mind is compared to a city...” Amos 5:15 is the cited passage. Also it is important to note that this number encourages us to read more about the ‘gates’ of a city in AC 2851.

Derived Doctrine

“Seek good and not evil...”

  • Seeking requires an effort to find something. The Lord identifies what that “something” is. He asks the Israelites to find “good.” Good has a whole host of meanings, and here are just a few: Love, Will, Affection, Esse, the First, the End, the Substance. In other words, the Lord was directing them to seek Him in the things of the affections. If His Love became important again, they would have the “substance” out of which “form” (wisdom) might bring use back into their worship of the Lord.

 “That you might live...”

  • AC 39 has a wonderful way of describing whether a person is “alive” or “dead.” When the Lord is permitted to “illuminate” the internal man, the person is alive. When the person seeks to be resuscitated (regenerated), he or she is living. When people imagine that they live from themselves, they are dead. The Lord calls all to live but not all choose to “live.”

 “...the Lord God of hosts will be with you...”

  • In the simplest of terms, the Lord is promising the children of Israel that He will give them the “truths and goods of heaven and the church...” (AE 573[7])

“Hate evil, love good...”

  • Abhor evil, and it loses its power. Evil cannot stand having its life rejected. Evil thrives when we give it recognition it does not deserve. Therefore, the Lord tells us to hate evil.
  • We might find this teaching hard to share in our age. Hell has been working hard to color all of its disorders with respectability. Profanity is now called “adult language,” so children grow up thinking that when they reach adulthood, they should use profanity. Profanity is seen as a way to express emotions. Telling our age to hate profanity (and many other evils we could cite) would meet with some strong resistance.
  • There seems to be a message here: When we hate evil, we then can come to the point where we love good.

 “Establish justice in the gate.”

  • The mind is a gate. “Something” sits at the gate. If the gate keeper is of the Lord’s appointment, we will call, or invite, into the mind the things of spiritual importance. If the gate keeper is of hell’s appointment, it will invite in the things of hell. The Lord calls for a gate keeper of justice. 

The “Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

  • Joseph represents the Lord. He also represents “...the celestial of the spiritual from the natural....the celestial is good from the Divine, and the spiritual is truth from that good, and thus is the truth of the good from His Divine Human.” (AC 5307) Putting this more simply, we might say that the Lord was promising to return the Israelites to the “remnant” remains that would help them love the wisdom of the written Word so that they might regain the glimpse of the Divine Human they had lost. God for them had become “invisible,” and it was hard for them to love what they could not see or conceptualize. They had to come back to seeing God again. Isn’t this a powerful promise to reflect on?
  • Don’t we, with the revelation of the Writings, have a wonderful way of seeing the Divine Human?  The Lord has truly been gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Putting It All Together

1. When each of us enters into the World of Spirits, we will pass through three states if we have chosen Heaven within our hearts. In the first state, there is an unfolding of the externals so our internals will shine forth. In the case of those who have hardened themselves against the Lord, there is often a denial of what was loved. There is an attempt by some to complain that they did not have a fair chance to find heaven. They blame parents, poor educational opportunities, etc. The Lord shows them a summary of their life and calmly points out the numerous opportunities they had to choose heaven, but they refused to accept the opportunity. They again deny this was so. They see their life again. This may go on for twenty or thirty years. Finally, they can’t deny it any longer, and they dive head-long into their hell.

2. As we read these verses, this insight from Heaven and Hell may add a sense of the Lord’s patience with those who deny His merciful offers. “Seek good and not evil. That you may live.” The Lord offered them the chance to once again use the “host” of truths and goods of heaven and the church. The Writings in P&P plainly teach that the Lord exhorting them to turn themselves around.

3. This passage says to the Israelites, “Hate evil, love good, and put justice back at the entrance of your minds so love of the Word may manifest itself in the spiritual truths as presented in the literal sense.” The great “reward” was that they would “see” the Lord in the Divine Human. They would no longer have an invisible God in their concepts, but the remnant of Joseph would graciously turn them about.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:14-15.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      The stated goal of the New Church is that it will have a faith in the visible God within whom is the invisible. (TCR 339) “For what is invisible does not fall into an idea of thought....” (AC 10737) “There can be no conjunction with an invisible God.” (TCR 786) How are you doing with this important work of bringing the invisible into the visible?

2.      Do we have a conscious sense of how often opportunities present themselves to help us “turn” ourselves? Or will we be like those who have to see the whole of our life played over and over before we admit the Lord tried often to turn us? How can we become more alert to those opportunities when they occur?

3.      Why does the Word “seem” to reverse the call to repentance?

“Seek good and not evil... 
Hate evil, love good

4.      Do you remember a course, a sermon, an article, or a book that helped you the most with the doctrine of the Divine Human? Would you be comfortable telling someone what the phrase seeing “the Lord in the Divine Human” means?

5.      What question(s) came to you while you were reading these two verses?                                         

Amos 5:16-20

Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, says this:

There shall be wailing in all streets,
And they shall say in all the highways,
Alas! Alas!
They shall call the farmer to mourning,
And skillful lamenters to wailing.
In all vineyards there shall be wailing,
For I will pass through you,
Says the Lord.

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
It will be darkness, and not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion,
And a bear met him!
Or as though he went into the house,
Leaned his hand on the wall,
And a serpent bit him!
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?
Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

Passages From the Writings


·        “...a lamentation over the destruction of the church, and over their ruin, when the Lord comes, vers. 16-20...”

AR 501

·        “‘By streets,’ in the Word, almost the same is signified as by ‘ways,’ because streets are ways in a city; but still by ‘streets’ are signified the truths or falsities of doctrine....”  There are many verses from the Word cited. One of the examples cited is Amos 5:16.

AE 652[18]

·        “In Amos...‘Lamentations shall be in all the streets, and they shall say in the open places, Alas, alas!’ signifies grief because truth and good are everywhere laid waste; ‘and they shall call the husbandman to mourning’ signifies the grief of the men of the church on this account, ‘husbandman’ signifying the man of the church, because a ‘field’ signifies the church in respect to the implantation of truth.”

AC 9139[5]

·        “In Amos:- ‘In all vineyards shall be wailing; I will pass through thee. Woe unto you that desire the day of Jehovah! What to you is the day of Jehovah? It is of darkness and not of light (v. 17, 18); this is said of the last time of the church, when there is no longer any good and truth of faith, which time is ‘the day of Jehovah, a day of darkness and not of light;’ whence it is said, ‘in all vineyards shall be wailing.’”

AR 650 

·        “That ‘a vineyard’ signifies the church where the Word is, by which the Lord is known...” Amos 5:17 is one of the verses cited for this teaching.

AR 573

·        “ ‘a bear’ are signified those who read the Word and do not understand it, whence they have fallacies.... ‘The lion and a bear’ are mentioned (in the Word) because by ‘a lion’ is signified falsity destroying the truths of the Word, and by ‘a bear’ are signified fallacies, which also destroy, but not in so great a degree....” Amos 5:18, 19 are cited.

AE 781[16]

·        “‘The day of Jehovah’ means the coming of the Lord, who is the Messiah whom they expected; and as they believed that He would deliver them from the enemies of the land, and would exalt them in glory above all the nations, they desired Him. But as the Lord came into the world not for the sake of any kingdom on earth but for the sake of a kingdom in heaven, and as the Jewish nation was in the falsities of evil, and these were at that time manifested, it is said, ‘Woe unto you, that desire the day of Jehovah. What to you is the day of Jehovah? It is a day of darkness and not of light,’ ‘darkness and not light’ meaning the falsities in which they were; ‘as one who fleeth from a lion meeteth a bear’ signifies fear because of the domination of falsity when truths are sought from the sense of the letter of the Word, which they cannot but falsify; for one is said ‘to flee from a lion and to meet a bear’ when he is interiorly in falsity from evil, and is led to investigate truths from the sense of the letter of the Word, which he then, because of the interior domination of falsity from evil, cannot but pervert; ‘who cometh to a house and leaneth with his hand upon a wall and a serpent biteth him’ signifies that when such a man in seeking goods consults the Word in the sense of the letter he does not see that evils pervert it; ‘the bite of a serpent’ signifying falsification, here the falsification that arises from the interior domination of falsity from evil.”  Amos 5:18, 19 are cited.

AC 1839[5] 

·        “In these passages, the ‘day of Jehovah’ denotes the last time and state of the church; ‘darkness and thick darkness’ falsities and evils.” Amos 5:18, 20 are cited.

AC 7688

·        “...thus ‘to be darkened’ is to be in falsity; and as the devastation of those who have been of the church and have known truths, but have lived a life of evil, is here treated of, therefore by ‘the land was darkened’ is signified falsity where truth was.” Amos 5:18-20 is one of the examples cited to illustrate this teaching.

AR 413

·        “ ‘being darkened’ is signified not to be seen or known by reason of evils from falsities and falsities from evils. Evils from falsities are with those who assume the falsities of religion, and confirm them till they appear as truths, and when they live according to them they do evils from falsities, or the evils of falsity. But those have falsities from evils, who do not regard evils as sins; and still more those who, by reasonings from the natural man, and more still from the Word, confirm with themselves that evils are not sins.” Amos 5:18, 20 are among the passages from the Word cited.

TCR 761

·        This number tells us that the end of a church is signified with “night” as a sign of the Lord departing from it and going “to a new church.”

AE 526[5]

·        This number cites Amos 5:18 and 5:20 as an example of the Lord coming to judge a church because there is no longer “any good of love or truth of faith, but the evil of falsity and the falsity of evil, that day is called ‘a day of darkness and of thick darkness.’”

Derived Doctrine

We are given such a full and complete explanation that there seems to be no need to offer additional references. However, if you think of some references that might add to the study, it would be appreciated if you would add them during the discussion period.

Putting It All Together

Before making a summary, let’s look at key words that lead us to a summary:

1.      The domination of falsity: The Israelites were interiorly in falsity from evil. The interior domination of falsity from evil cannot but pervert.

2.      The streets and highways wailing is representative of the devastation of good and truth. Where once there had been truth, there was now falsity.

3.      Where there had been hope and longing for the Messiah, they were now told their reasons for hope and longing where all wrong.

Any summary we make cannot match what we have in AE 781[16] and AR 413. We are taught that Israel did not have a clue about what the Lord was going to do for the world and to eternity. They focused on belief in falsified traditional thinking that they were the Lord’s “chosen” people. They wanted Him to come so that they would be the “greatest” among all nations.

How do you tell a nation they are wrong? The wonderful story about the lion, the bear, and the serpent illustrates the hopeless efforts of their traditional expectations of the Lord. Instead of having “light,” they had “darkness.” AR 413 explains how “darkness” entered their minds: “ reasonings from the natural man, and more still from the Word, (they) confirm with themselves that evils are not sins.”

The “serpent” biting their hand is such a graphic description of sensual reasoning overcoming the power of the natural man’s ability to perform the ultimate uses so necessary in the life of worship to the Lord and love of the neighbor. Uses were turned to self-interests.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:16-20.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      With so much given to us from the Writings about these verses, did you find it easier to anticipate the summary of them? What skills do you learn from studying the Word regularly?

2.      Past and present political indiscretions have produced a need for the White House advisors to hire people who are gifted as “spin masters.” What this means is that these people are to work on “spinning” a positive interpretation on any news that would appear harmful to the president of the United States or any other important senator or congressperson. Does hell have a gifted crew of “spin masters” employed in its effort to dominate interior reasonings that bring about darkness? What are some of their techniques?  How can we spot them and see through them?

3.      Israel longed for the coming of the Lord. He told them they didn’t really want Him to come. He told them that when He walked among them, there would be great wailing and their streets and cities, vineyards and husbandmen would wail, crying out “Alas, alas.”

4.      As New Church men and women, what do we think about when we reflect on this prophecy? Do we make assumptions like those the Israelites made? Have we built a system of traditional beliefs that are blinding us to the Lord’s truth? Do we put too much emphasis on traditional forms of worship?  How do we distinguish tradition from theology?

5.   How much time do we spend studying the three-fold Word?  What happens when we study regularly?  When we don’t? Are we fleeing from the lion to encounter the bear? When at home, are we allowing our hands to be bitten by the serpent? Can we reflect on this question with a determination that some positive alternatives will come forward?  

Amos 5:21-22

I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that their worship cannot be acceptable, vers. 21, 22...”

AC 925[4]

·        “In Amos:- ‘I hate, I have rejected your feasts, and I will not receive the odor of your holidays, for if ye shall offer Me your burnt-offerings and gifts, they shall not be acceptable (v. 21, 22).... Here ‘odor’ manifestly signifies what is grateful or unacceptable.”

AC 922[1&2] 

·        “ is evident that burnt-offerings and sacrifices were nothing else than representatives of internal worship; and that when they (internal and external sacrifices) were separated from internal worship they became idolatrous. This anyone of sound reason may see. For what is an altar but something of stone, and what is burnt-offering and sacrifice but the slaying of a beast? If there be Divine worship, it must represent something heavenly which they know and acknowledge, and from which they worship Him whom they represent...It is by internal things, namely, charity and the faith therefrom, that He who is represented is to be seen and acknowledged and believed, as is clearly evident in the prophets....” Amos 5:22, 24 are verses used to illustrate the above.

Derived Doctrine

 “I hate, I despise....”

·        “...when we read in the Word concerning Jehovah or the Lord ‘hating’ the internal sense (it) is not ‘hatred,’ but mercy, for the Divine is mercy; but when this (mercy) flows in with a man who is in then appears as hatred.... Above all other peoples the Jewish and Israelitish people were such that as soon as they observed anything unfriendly, even in associates, they believed it lawful to treat them cruelly, and not only to kill them, but also to expose them to wild beasts...and therefore...they could not believe otherwise than that Jehovah also entertained hatred, was angry, wrathful, and furious, and for this reason it is so expressed in the Word according to the appearance; for such as is a man’s quality, such the Lord appears to him.... (AC 3605)                                               

Burnt-Offerings and Sacrifices of Every Kind

  • “The burnt-offerings and sacrifices in the Jewish Church represented nothing else than the celestial things of the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens, and of the Lord’s kingdom on earth (that is, in the church), also of the Lord’s kingdom or church with each person, and in general all things which are of love and charity, for these are things celestial; and each kind of sacrifice represented something special and particular.”  (AC 2165[3])
  • The laws for burnt-offerings may be found in Leviticus 1.
  • The laws for bread-offerings may be found in Leviticus 2.
  • The laws for sin-offerings may be found in Leviticus 4:1-35.
  • The laws for offerings for defilement may be found in Leviticus 5:1-13.
  • The laws for trespass-offerings may be found in Leviticus 5:14-19 and 6:1-7.
  • The laws for peace-offerings may be found in Leviticus 3 and 7:28-34.
  • The meanings of many of these sacrifices are covered extensively in the Arcana. The teachings are so extensive it would be impossible to quote all of them. For those who wish to pursue the quotes, turn to AC 2176-2185 for the meaning or use of each offering.

“I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fatted peace offerings.”

  • Why wouldn’t the Lord accept their offerings? Was He interested in something deeper than the smell of burnt offerings and showy celebrations? The power of the literal sense is very clear with an answer in Micah 6:6-8:
    • “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doeth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Putting It All Together

1. The children of Israel were making noise and sacrifice that was empty. Their hearts were not intent on repentance and change. They thought they were “buying” the Lord’s favor. In effect, they were saying, “Look at what we are doing. See how special our assemblies are. Look at the cost of what we offer. Be pleased with us, give us more stature with other nations, and increase our possessions.”

2. The Lord wanted nothing to do with these offerings. He wanted clean hearts and minds. He wanted charity and faith to increase. He wanted them to walk humbly with Him, shunning evils as sins.

3. When Israel sensed His displeasure with their offerings, they thought He hated and despised them. The message could have brought them to their knees beseeching help, asking for forgiveness, but it did not motivate them to do so.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:21-22.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      “What is an altar but something of stone, and what is a burnt-offering but the slaying of a beast?” As a child, growing up in a non-New-Church environment, I wondered at the requirement to offer up sacrifices. It seemed somewhat cruel and barbaric. I even wondered at Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac. I remember my teachers telling me it was a test of one’s faith. God needs to test our mettle. He needs to see whether we can endure the tests of faith. Does God really not know me? Is it somewhat questionable to Him what I will do under certain stresses? I never liked the explanations of sacrifices. Thankfully, I can now read what the Writings teach regarding this subject.

What were some of your earliest questions or doubts when you heard or hear of sacrifices?

2.      “...for such as is a person’s quality, such the Lord appears to them....”  Looking at the history of religious faith, the Lord has been represented as a cruel, demanding taskmaster. He has been presented as the “absentee Creator.” The Lord is seen as one who became so angry with the world that He demanded payment for the sins of all peoples.

The teaching in AC 3605 clearly indicates that we project on to the Lord what is in our own hearts. How can we work on improving our perceptions of the Lord? How can we project a more representative image of His mercy to ourselves and others? 

3.      “What shall I render to the Lord?” What kind of worship is acceptable to the Lord? These verses told Israel, “Your worship cannot be acceptable.”

Amos 5:23-25

Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.
Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings
In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that it (their worship) will be acceptable if they possess good and truth, vers. 23-25...”

AC 4137[3]

·        “He who does not know that in everything of the Word there is the heavenly marriage...might believe that joy and gladness are one thing, and that both are mentioned merely for the sake of greater emphasis, thus that one of the expressions is superfluous. But this is not the case....‘joy’ is predicated of good, and ‘gladness’ of truth....”  Amos 5:23 is cited as one of the examples from the Word.

AC 2235

·        “In the Word, ‘righteousness and judgment’ are many times named together, but what they signify in the internal sense has not yet been the internal sense ‘righteousness’ denotes that which is from good, and ‘judgment’ that which is from truth. Good is all that which belongs to love and charity; truth is all that which belongs to the derivative faith....” Amos 5:24 is one of the many verses used to illustrate this point.

AC 9263

·        This number contains similar statements to those in the above reference.

AC 9857

·        This number quotes Amos 5:24, “let judgment flow like water....” with the following explanation: “...‘judgment’ denotes intelligence from Divine truth, and the consequent life.”

AR 668

·        “ ‘judgment’ is signified the Divine truth, and by ‘justice’ the Divine good, therefore, in many passages, where the Lord is spoken of, ‘justice and judgment’ are mentioned....”  Amos 5:24 is cited.

TCR 751

·        This number offers a range of quotes from the Word where justice and righteousness are predicated of love and the judgment of wisdom. Amos 5:24 is one of the references cited.

Derived Doctrine


  • Noise may have several meanings: “...tumult, or disturbance, and also on the occasion of any happy [also] denotes accusation.” (AC 375)


  • “ the Ancient Church and afterward in the Jewish Church the songs were prophetic and treated of the Lord, especially that He would come into the world, and would overthrow the diabolical crew...and would liberate the faithful from their assaults....the songs contained such things...[that] signified a glorification of the Lord, that is, a celebration of Him from gladness of heart....” (AC 8261[2])

Stringed Instruments

  • “In general, by wind instruments were expressed affections of good, and by stringed instruments affections of truth...” (AC 8337[2])

Forty Years in the Wilderness

  • “...‘forty’ denotes the duration of vastation and desolation; and in the internal sense forty years are not meant, but only, in general, the desolation of faith...”
  • See AC 730[2&4].

Putting It All Together

1. We can probably get a mental picture of what is being represented here if we can recall a chapel service with a piano playing a hymn.  Two hundred or more were standing, out of custom, with hands in their pockets. Hymnals were not open, and certain in attendance were not singing from the heart. With glazed eyes, they stood waiting for the song to finish so they might sit and comfortably go to sleep.

Israel lost the “joy” of singing about the coming of the Lord. They did not feel the joy of the Lord rescuing them from their spiritual enemies. There was no glorification of the Lord and no celebration within their hearts.

Instead of a melody, that had harmony to it, there was a “noise” of tumult and disturbance within their minds. The Lord had to let them know there was no excitement in their voices.

The Lord offered them a “new song” the words of which encouraged them to let justice and righteousness flow like water and a mighty stream. He wanted them to pursue good and truth that would renew their lives with works of charity and a derivative faith.

2. The closing question asked them if sacrifices were necessary when they were in the wilderness for forty years. No! The Lord led them and provided those things that helped sustain them through those periods of vastation and desolation. Why would they think that offering sacrifices would be necessary to “win” His favor now? The Lord cannot be bribed with the offerings of tired and meaningless acts of worship.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:23-25.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Music can touch the depths of our souls. Certain songs bring back memories of wonderful experiences we had with a friend or friends. But not if the tune is a song of one note. Some of us get so tied up with the sameness of religion that our melodies probably lack the chords and parts that blend and enliven the song of our hearts. What is your impression of this idea? Can we allow the Lord to teach us “a new song”? How?

2.      Justice and righteousness running like water and a mighty stream are illustrative of a land where the running water gives life to an abundance of things. The plant life is lush and hearty, and it draws from rippling pools that are not stagnant.

The Lord is challenging us to put our principles of faith into practice. Don’t let them gather in the memory like stagnating facts. Let good and truth flow like a mighty stream.

How can we do these things? What does it take to put the things the Lord wants from us into action? Do we need to rethink and sing enthusiastically about the Lord’s Second Coming? Do we need to talk more about His liberation work? Can we show others by our actions that we are free of the curse of hell? What will keep us from having to hear the Lord say, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs....”?

I think this is a wonderful challenge presented to us. Talk about ways that individuals and organizations can accept and meet this challenge.

Amos 5:26-27

You also carried Sikkuth your king
And Chiun, your idols,
The star of your gods,
Which you made for yourselves.
Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,
Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that otherwise they will be deprived of every knowledge of truth and good, vers. 26, 27.”

AC 1715

·        “The farthest boundary of the land of Canaan, beyond Dan, is described as being Damascus, as in Amos...(Amos v. 26, 27).”

Derived Doctrine

Sikkuth and Chiun

  • Is it Sikkuth or Sakkuth or Moloch? Is it Chiun or Kaiwan or Rephan? The Writings have no references or representations that I can find for these two pagan deities. They were Assyrian deities.  Acts 7:42-43 quotes the prophecy of Amos but uses the names of Moloch and Rephan in the place of Sikkuth and Chiun. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says that Moloch had a title: “the king.” That seems to fit in with the text when Amos accuses the Israelites of carrying Sikkuth (Sakkuth) “your king.”
  • Rephan or Kaiwan was worshiped by the Assyrians as an astral deity, and it is the Babylonian name for Saturn. This also seems to fit in with the prophecy of Amos when he told the Israelites they had an idol that was “the star of [their] gods.”

The Idols that They Made for Themselves

  • In this charge, it is clear that idols are the works of their own hands and are powerless creatures that should not be in the house of the Lord. It is a reference to the futility of pagan worship.

Going into Captivity beyond Damascus

  • Is this like the idea the world had prior to Columbus sailing to the new world? Did the Israelites think that there was little or nothing beyond Damascus? 
  • Damascus, the oldest city in the world, a city that once had the remains of the Ancient Church, represented in the positive sense the knowledges of good and truth. (AC 1715)
  • Was the Lord telling the Israelites that they were about to lose all knowledge of good and truth? Was He telling them that their worship of other gods was taking them to a dangerous unknown point where they would be deprived of the holy representatives given to the church?

Putting It All Together

That is what we did above. With only two short references, we had little doctrine to follow. Therefore, I feel all of the above will serve us as an “open summary” with the Lord leading us to any tentative conclusions.

Read and Review

Read Amos 5:26-27.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      What questions or thoughts occurred to you in connection with these verses?

2.      Think about the teaching about gods made by human hands. What are the gods of today that seek to supplant the Lord? What are their origins? How can we recognize them?

3.      When He speaks of going into captivity beyond limits known to us, what is the Lord telling us?  What was He telling the Israelites? Is the Lord warning us about the depth of depravity we can fall into when we make a religion of convenience that we would call “the king”? What other meanings do you see?

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