Amos Table of  Contents

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Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Six of Amos

Amos 6:1-2

Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,
And trust in Mount Samaria,
Notable persons in the chief nation,
To whom the house of Israel comes!
Go over to Calneh and see;
And from there go to Hamath the great;
Then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory?

Passages From the Writings


·        “Concerning the spiritual church which had been instituted, that it became worse than the religious systems of the other nations, vers. 1, 2...”

AE 163[4]

·        “Those that ‘trust in the mountains of Samaria’ are those that trust in themselves, and from self-intelligence hatch out doctrines. ‘Samaria’ is the perverted spiritual church...” Amos 6:1 is cited. Note: We will be using this quote again when we get to Amos 6:4-6.

AC 1180

·        “Calneh” (along with other nations mentioned) signifies the type or sincerity of worships themselves, “...the externals of which appear holy, but the interiors are profane.” Also see AC 1183 for another reference to Amos 6:2.

Derived Doctrine


  • Regarding those who are “at ease,” the Swedenborg Concordance directs our attention to the word “secure” instead of the word “ease.”
  • The wrong kind of security will let a person acquiesce to evils and falsities. See AC 2220[3].

·        DP 340[4] warns that the person who reasons that the Lord’s mercy will save all people so therefore it doesn’t matter what kind of life one leads “...such a security makes nothing of adultery, frauds, injustice, violence, defamation, and revenge...he lets his spirit run riot in them all...”

·        AE 706[7] cites a conversation the Lord had with the Pharisees and Scribes about what signs they were to look for. They were not really interested in signs but were tempting or mocking the Lord with their questions. They were so at “ease” with their security that they lacked the spiritual quest that would have shown them the signs of truth. The AE 706[7] quote ends with these words: “...they had no knowledge of the Lord, and lived securely in falsities from evil...”

  • Could these passages help us see what is meant by “Woe to you who are at ease...”

Ease in Zion

  • Zion in its positive correspondence represents “...the church as to love.” (AR 612) Used in the opposite sense, it would appear that the Lord was telling the Israelites that they were careless with their love toward Him.

Trusting “ Mount Samaria...”

·        AC 10050[2] tells us “ ‘them that dwell in Samaria’, are those who are in external worship...”

  • A mountain usually represents the extension of worship from either love of the Lord or a love from self. It seems reasonable to assume that this passage is speaking of the extension of external worship from the love of self. They were very much into the worship of the Lord for what it would do for them.

“Notable persons in the chief nation, to whom the house of Israel comes!”

  • This quote seems to carry a warning instead of a compliment. Excellence, eminence, dignity, and sovereignty are terms that, when involving the Lord or a representative of the Lord, are spoken of with the word “glory.” Truth of faith and the good of charity are the uses the Lord allows to flow through His representative “notable persons.” (See AC 6345). But this verse gives no hint of genuine dignity or notableness. It sounds like they were in love with the human prudence offered from those not seeking to impart wisdom from the Lord.

 “Go over to Calneh and see...”

  • This directive to look at Calneh had as its end a lesson about the consequences of external and profane worship. Would the Israelites look at the tragic results of Calneh so they might amend their worship of the Lord? Or would they rest in their belief that they were a chosen people and therefore continue on in their false sense of “ease” or security?
  • Nimrod, as a descendent of Ham,” was mighty “in hunting before Jehovah....And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech, and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (Genesis 10:9-10)  These cities, in the land of Shinar, were in external worship where all holy things were profaned. See AC 1183.

“And from there go to Hamath the great...”

·        AC 1205 describes “Hamathite” as one of many nations representative of those who “...are entirely unwilling to know internal things, and when instructed reject them, are very prone to all...idolatries...whose interiors are unclean (who will) rush into interior idolatries...”

 “Then go down to Gath of the Philistines.”

  • Those who pervert the truths of the Word are seen as having “streets” that are filled with offensive and disgusting refuse. Evil reigns in the street, and to represent this, the streets appear “...full of dung, mire and clay.” In II Samuel 1:20, Israel was told, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice.”

 “Are you better than these kingdoms?”

  • What a powerful question! The sadness of this is that Israel probably responded, “Yes, we are.” They had no sense of how full of spiritual decay they were. They probably saw no validity in the contrast of the nations of heathens with themselves.

 “Is their territory greater than your territory?”

  • We have no direct teaching on the word “territory,” but what might this question mean if it were phrased this way: “Are you any better off than those who openly reject the Lord? Are you enlarging or expanding the borders of your mind into new territories of the Lord’s truth?”

Putting It All Together

1. This chapter offers us a valuable consideration of contrasts. The contrast is not to make us feel proud or special. Instead, it is offered to see if we are making the progress necessary to increase the “borders” of knowledge. Are we, as readers of the three-fold Word, clearing away the falsities of the other nations? Are we intellectually and affectionately open to the things of internal worship, or are we worse than the religious systems of the “other nations”?

2. The streets of the New Jerusalem, as shown in Revelation 21:21, are to be like “...pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” Gold, when refined, is free of impurities and represents the pure love we are to give to the Lord. Revelation describes gold that is like transparent glass. Our worship is to be open and free of any blockage or hidden agendas.

3. These questions need not be ominous. Instead, they are liberating and challenging to improve whatever we do in our worship of the Lord. Falling into a lazy form of ease or security is not in our best interest for spiritual health. Expanding, growing, forging ahead into the wonders of spiritual territory is our challenge.

Read and Review

Read Amos 6:1-2.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      When you reviewed these verses, were you able to see the progression of the prophecy regarding the demise of worship?

2.      We all like what is comfortable, familiar, and non-threatening. We must be aware of dull routines. On the other hand, changing for the sake of changing doesn’t ensure success, so what is the best way to invite the Lord’s sphere into our lives?

3.      Self-intelligence “hatching out” doctrines: does this sound like anything we ought to participate in? In other references, the Writings warn about “innovators” who seek to impose their ideas and doctrines on the church. Where is that fine line between being creative and spontaneous, and becoming “hatchers” or “innovators”?

This reminds me of a classic argument that took place in the organized church when a debate raged on about “doctrinalists and personalists.” Those who rigidly followed doctrine were seen as unfeeling and “uptight” individuals who were short on emotional responses. The personalists saw themselves as free and caring individuals who were ready and willing to take “risks” to explore new forms of worship. Bitter feelings and words were exchanged between them. We still see some of this suspicion in the church. How do we resolve this and keep self-intelligence out of the process?  

Amos 6:3-6

Woe to you who put far off the day of doom,
Who cause the seat of violence to come near;
Who lie on beds of ivory,
Stretch out on your couches,
Eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall;
Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments,
And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;
Who drink wine from bowls,
And anoint yourselves with the best ointments,
But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that it (the spiritual church) possesses in abundance all things of the church, and that they think nothing about the ruin of the church, vers. 3-6...”

AE 163[4]

·        “...‘beds of ivory’ are fallacies of the senses on which doctrine is founded; ‘to stretch themselves upon couches’ is to confirm and multiply the falsities therefrom; ‘to eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall, to drink out of bowls of wine and to anoint themselves with the firstlings of the oils,’ is to draw the truths and goods of the Word out of the sense of its letter and to apply and falsify them. ‘Not to be grieved over the breach of Joseph’ is not to care that the spiritual church is perishing, and that its truths are being infringed upon. (That ‘Joseph’ in the highest sense signifies the Lord in respect to the Divine spiritual; in the internal sense the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, thus also the spiritual church; and in the external sense the fructification of good and multiplication of truth, see AC  n. 3969, 3971, 4669, 6417, 6526.)”

AC 9391[5]

·        In Amos 6:3-4: “ are described those who are in abundance of the knowledges of good and truth, and yet live an evil life; ‘eating the lambs out of the flock’ denotes to learn and appropriate to one’s self the goods of innocence that belong to the internal or spiritual man; ‘eating the calves out of the midst of the stall’ denotes to learn and appropriate to one’s self the goods of innocence that belong to the external or natural man. (That ‘eating’ denotes to appropriate...‘lambs’ denote the interior goods of innocence...‘calves out of the midst of the stall’ denote the exterior goods of innocence...Moreover the ‘stall’ (used for fattening) and ‘fat,’ signify the good of interior love... ”        

AE 279[4]

·        In Amos 6:3-4: “Here those who have an abundance of the knowledges of good and truth are treated of; ‘to eat the lambs out of the flock’ signifies to imbibe the knowledges of internal good or of the spiritual man; and to ‘eat the calves out of the midst of the stall’ signifies to imbibe the knowledges of the external good or of the natural man; and ‘to cause the habitation of violence to draw near’ is to live a life contrary to charity.”

AR 137 

·        “That ‘a bed’ signifies doctrine, is from correspondence, for as the body rests in its bed, so does the mind rest in doctrine. But by ‘bed’ is signified the doctrine which every one acquires to himself either from the Word, or from his own intelligence, for therein the minds resets and, as it were sleeps. The beds in which they lie in the spiritual world, are from no other origin; for there every one’s bed is according to the science and intelligence, magnificent for the wise, mean for the unwise, and filthy for the falsifiers.”

AR 774           

·        “‘Ivory’ signifies natural truth, because it is white and can be polished, and because it protrudes from the mouth of an elephant, and likewise makes his strength....”

AE 1146[3]

·        In Amos 6:4 “Reasonings from falsities are thus described, ‘beds of ivory’ being doctrines seemingly from rational truths, and ‘to stretch themselves upon their couches’ being to reason in favor of these from falsities.”

AC 6188[3]

·        In Amos 6:4, 6 “....‘beds of ivory’ denote the pleasures of the lowest natural, which are those of the proud; ‘not to be grieved for the breach of Joseph,’ is to have no concern about the dissipation of good from the internal.”

AE 448[12]

·        In Amos, “[the passage describing those who devise for themselves instruments of music like David, etc.] treats of those who counterfeit good affections in externals, and bring together for confirmation many things from the Word, and yet are interiorly evil. To counterfeit good affections in externals is signified by ‘playing upon the psaltery, devising for themselves instruments of music, and anointing themselves with the firstfruits of the oils;’ to bring forth many things from the Word for the sake of appearances is signified by ‘drinking out of bowls of wine;’ that they have no regard for the truths of doctrine of the church, even though the church should perish by falsities, is signified by ‘they are not grieved over the breach of Joseph,’ ‘Joseph’ meaning the spiritual church, which is with those who are in the truths of doctrine.”

Derived Doctrine

Day of Doom

·        What is meant by putting off the “day of doom?” In the positive sense, “day” means the Advent of the Lord. In the context of these passages, where the children of Israel had little regard for the perishing of the church and their counterfeiting truth, the advent of the Lord would appear to them as a day of doom. See Doctrine of the Lord 5 for references to the many meanings of the word “day.”

Seat of Violence

·        Causing the “seat of violence” to come near has many interesting possible meanings. A seat represents things in the natural which receive the goods and truths “inflowing from the internal.”  See AC 6675.

·        Coupling this with “the seat of violence,” we get a picture of “those who destroy the truths of faith and the goods of charity.” (AC 6353[8]) The attitude of indifference was the seat of violence that worked systematically to prevent the inflowing of anything good from the Lord.

“Singing idly to the sound of stringed instruments”

  • Singing is a way of glorifying the Lord for His wonderful liberation. See AC 8261. Here, we get a picture of the children of Israel “idly” or mindlessly singing or mouthing the words, but their hearts were not filled with a joyful melody of gratitude.
  • Stringed instruments represent the exciting of the affections by truth. See AC 8337[2] for a fuller explanation. But the nexus of this verse is that the Israelites were void of any real excitement about what the Lord was doing for them.

Putting It All Together

1. With so much information given to us that we can see clearly what the Lord was saying to the children of Israel. He told them they had an abundance of all things of the church. He told them that they were counterfeiting the truths of the church. Cleverly, they were applying the literal sense of the Word so that it would appear to justify their ends. By doing this they were offering a “seat of violence” to all incoming truths. Before truth had a chance to take hold, grow up, and cause a change in their lives, they killed the messengers of spiritual hope.

2. Their beds of ivory were well-polished forms of reasoning that lulled their minds to sleep. They appropriated for themselves the things of innocence and ruined their quality in both the internals and externals. They took the best of the “first” oils for themselves, ignoring the need to offer them up first to the Lord.

3. Therefore, the Israelites were ignoring the day of doom. They did not seek the Advent of the Lord into their hearts and mind.  

As a result, they didn’t see or care that the spiritual church was dying in their hearts and minds. Even sadder is the fact that they had plenty of spiritual resources to use, but they chose to ignore them. To use an analogy, they were starving in the midst of plenty.

Read and Review

Read Amos 6:3-6.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      We could use many issues for our discussion. What specific applications to today’s issues could we place in our text to examine? Are there any indications of the “day of doom” being put off? Remember, this day of doom is to be a happy advent, but to the mind occupied with self, it seems like doom.

2.      The beds of ivory make for an interesting thought. They refer to well-polished forms of reasoning that lull the mind to sleep. Can you think of examples in our world?

3.      The seat of violence is something to ponder, too. How effective were the Israelites at blocking the entrance so that they stopped the in-flowing from the internal (soul)?

4.      The “singing idly” is a wonderful point to ponder. Do we sing (talk) enough about the liberating power of the Lord from the forces of hell? Do we instead seem to be more prone to sing about “poor me, look at how sad my life is!”?

5.      How can we help our children feel excitement for the Lord and His New Church? Historical faith can carry them just so far, and then they have to move on to a genuine experience of their own. Explanations are good, but discovery seems best and the most lasting. Do we have discovery in our educational techniques?  What are some ways we can help our children find the Lord?

Amos 6:7-9

Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives,
And those who recline at banquets shall be removed.
The Lord God has sworn by Himself,
The Lord God of hosts says:
I abhor the pride of Jacob,
And hate his palaces;
Therefore I will deliver up the city
And all that is in it.
Then it shall come to pass, that if ten men remain in one house, they shall die.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that therefore all things shall perish, vers. 7-9...”

AC 6297[3]

·        The reference in Amos 6:8 to “fullness” is explained as denoting “...truth and good...”

AR 474[2]

·        That by “...Jehovah...swearing “by Himself” signifies...that the Divine truth testifies....and the Lord’s conjunction with the church was thence represented by a covenant, such as is made between two who swear to their compact; therefore, because an oath was a part of the covenant, it is said that ‘Jehovah sware;’ by not meant that He sware, but that the Divine truth testifies....” Amos 6:8 is cited.

AE 608[2]

·        “Now as ‘to swear’ is only an external corresponding to the confirmation that belongs to the mind of the internal man, and is therefore significative of that...[swearing] signifies confirmation, asseveration and simply verity, or that it is true...”  Amos is cited twice: Amos 6:8 and Amos 4:2.

AE 750[20]

·        “Jehovah is said ‘to swear by His soul’ when He confirms by His Divine truth, for ‘to swear’ signifies to confirm, and ‘the soul of Jehovah’ Divine truth.”  Amos 6:8 is cited.

AC 576[2]

·        In Amos 6:8-9 “...where, speaking of remains it is said that very little would be left, being only a ‘tenth part,’ or remains of remains.”

AE 675[14]

·        “In Amos...(vi. 8,9) ‘The pride of Jacob and his palaces which Jehovah hates,’ signify the love of falsity and belief in it with those who are of the church, ‘pride’ meaning the love of falsity, and ‘palaces’ the falsities themselves, which are called ‘palaces’ because they belong to the proud, and because the falsities of such are embellished in external form so as to appear magnificent, although they are most vile, like huts full of rubbish and filth; ‘to shut up the city and the fullness thereof’ signifies to condemn the doctrine, because it is full of the falsities of evil, and is possessed by them, ‘city’ meaning doctrine, and ‘fullness’ the falsities of evil; therefore ‘if there remain ten men in one house they shall die’ signifies that all the truths of good with every one shall perish, ‘ten men’ meaning all truths, ‘house’ man in respect to good, and ‘to die’ to perish.” 

Derived Doctrine

Going as the First of the Captives

  • I’m not sure of the meaning of this verse. However, there are some interesting possibilities. AE 811[27] says that those who bar others from truth and good will themselves be captive to falsities. Might we assume that this verse is telling us that those who are most guilty of perverting truth and good will be the first to be captives? 
  • Could this be a reference to love, that it is first in end and first to go captive?

Reclining at Banquets

  • “... by banquets and feasts is signified conjunction, specifically initiation to conjunction....” (AC 5698)
  • Reclining, the Concordance tells us, means to “press” or to “encumber” or to be “weighed down.” Probably, this represents those who seek to make the “initiation or conjunction” of spiritual food seem impractical or lacking in nourishment. Those who would “press” truth would direct others away from the Word to things that seem more interesting than doctrine, saying that it is impossible to fulfill the commandments of the Lord. The Lord, they say, is a “hard taskmaster.”

Putting It All Together

1. The Lord “swears” that if we break our covenant with Him, we will become captives. Hell will carry us away on its torrent of falsity. Hell will press us down with a long list of excuses why we do not read the Word and apply its teachings to our lives. They will press us to put off what is essential for our souls. Excuses will spill forth about the “style” of the Word. We will be pressed with doubts about correspondences, significatives, and representations.

2. Once evil rationalizations possess the mind, they will build “magnificent” palace walls to

hide their true selves. The walls cover up the vile scenes and are “like huts full of rubbish and filth.”

Remains gathered will “die” off, and as AC 576[2] tells us, “very little would be left being only... remains of remains.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 6:7-9.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      How many covenants do we have with the Lord? Was our baptism a covenant? Is Holy Supper a covenant? Is a marriage a covenant? How about the rite of confirmation?

2.      Are there specific things we can do to cooperate with the Lord to keep remains alive and well? Admittedly only the Lord knows where remains are stored, but we can tune them out.

3.      The walls of Jacob, instead of being protective from evil, seem to be set up to perpetuate a hoax that we are spiritual. How do we overcome the pretense so that we can be open to the Lord and get rid of the trash in our lives?  How might the pretense of spirituality bar us from achieving actual spiritual life?

4.      What did you think about the meaning of “reclining” being more like “pressed” or “encumbered?”

5.      The Lord tells us that His burden is light, but we tend to think of it as heavy or difficult. Why? How can we come to see His way as easy or light?                                                                 

Amos 6:10-12

And when a relative of the dead, with one who will burn the bodies, picks up the bodies to take them out of the house, he will say to the one inside the house, “Are there any more with you?” Then someone will say, “None.” And he will say, “Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the Lord.”

For behold, the Lord gives a command:
He will break the great house into bits,
And the little house into pieces.

Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there with oxen?
Yet you have turned justice into gall,
And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...insomuch that nothing (of the spiritual church) will remain, vers. 10-12...”

AC 1488

·        Houses are compared, or likened, to “memory-knowledges that are collected.” When collected in the mind, it is like that which “frames the external man, and build(s) it up, is not unlike building a house...In Amos...(vi. 11, 12)...‘houses’ denote in like manner falsities and the derivative evils...” We can see from the latter part of this quotation why the Lord says that He was going to “break the great house into bits.”

AE 519[6]

·        “In Amos...(vi. 11, 12)...‘Jehovah will smite the great house with gaps, and the little house with clefts,’ signifies much perversion and falsification of truth with the learned, and some with the unlearned, a ‘great house’ signifying a learned man, and a ‘little house’ an unlearned man; ‘gaps’ signify truths destroyed by falsities, and ‘clefts’ the same, but in a less degree...”           

AC 5895[4]

·        “In Amos...(vi. 12) ‘shall horses run on the rocks?’ denotes shall the truth of faith be understood? For ‘rock’ in the spiritual sense is faith....and ‘horses’ are those things which are of the understanding....‘will one plow with an oxen?’ denotes shall he do good? ‘Oxen’ being good in the natural.... That this could not be done is signified by the words which follow: ‘because ye have turned judgment into gall and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.’”

AC 9263[9]

·        “ ‘judgment’ is signified the truth which is of faith; and by ‘righteousness,’ the good which is of charity...”

AC 9857[5]

·        “In Amos...(v. 24) [we read]...‘ye turn judgment into gall....’ ‘Judgment’ denotes intelligence from Divine truth, and the consequent life.”

Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 85

·        This number contains a rather long description of the meaning of the expressions “righteousness” and “judgment.” Quoting all of these references would take up quite a bit of the paper, and listing the references from the Word would be quite extensive. I therefore leave that for you to follow up on as needed.

AR 410

·        “‘Wormwood’ signifies infernal falsity, from its intense bitterness, whereby it renders food and drink abominable....” Amos 5:7 and 6:12 are cited. We covered “wormwood” in our study of Amos 5:4-9. Go back and review that section if you have forgotten it.

AR 668

·        AR 668 cites the signification of “judgment” and “justice.” Judgment is of Divine truth, and justice is of Divine good. Amos 5:24 is cited.

TCR 51

·        TCR 51 says that “ the Word justice [or righteousness] is predicated of love, and judgment of is by means of these two that God’s government is carried on in the world...” Amos 6:12 is cited.

AE 355[34]

·         “In Amos...(vi. 12)...‘Shall horses run upon the rock?’ signifies, is there any understanding of truth? ‘Shall any one plough with oxen?’ signifies, is there any perception of good? This is plainly the meaning, for it follows, ‘for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of justice into wormwood;’ ‘to turn judgment into gall,’ signifies to turn truth into falsity, and ‘to turn the fruit of justice into wormwood,’ signifies to turn good into evil.” 

Derived Doctrine


  • In the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, we are told that gall is a poisonous juice extracted from the herb “Conium maculatum,” and that in the Word, it is often mentioned with “wormwood.” Gall is a poison, and wormwood causes one to lose a sense of what is right or wrong.

Relative, Family

  • Looking up the word “relative” is not helpful at this juncture. “Family” member is somewhat more helpful. Turning to the Arcana, we read that in the process of regeneration, all the goods and truths, or things of charity and faith, are brought together by the Lord and are represented by families. (AC 917) Therefore, could this reference in Amos 6:10 of the relative of the dead be a powerful contrast of the total burn-out of the soul to the celebration of the newness of life that should have occurred? 

Burning the Bodies

  • The burning of the bodies I think represents the destructiveness of self love. AE 1173 describes the grief of the mind when it sees the “burning” or “punishment on account of the direful falsities that flowed from their loves.” It is self-love that consumes and destroys the very essence of its victim, not the Lord.

The Dead

  • The question posed to them was, “Are there any more [dead] with you?” Taking stock, counting the losses, does not escape the Lord’s attention. He knows the extent of our deadness, but do we?

“Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the Lord.”

  • What could this mean? I think it ties into the bold answer the Israelites gave, saying that there were no other dead within the house. Maybe they hadn’t looked carefully, and maybe there was a bit of rebellion there. Evil cannot mention the Lord’s name. The mere mention of His holy name would put them to flight. In other words, the “relative” of all that was good in them recognized that evil should not speak idly in the Lord’s presence. “Hold your tongue” could mean, “Be careful what you say, for we are in the presence of the Lord.”

Putting It All Together

1. As in so many stories in the literal sense, it appears in these verses as if the Lord is angry or “fed-up” with the decisions of His people. The Lord breaking up great and little houses into bits and pieces seems harsh and a “rush to judgment” until we are given the internal meaning of the text. The Lord is lovingly righteous, and His judgment is full of mercy. Love and wisdom are the means by which “...God’s government is carried on in the world.” (TCR 51) There cannot be a variance from His laws of Providence. So the great and the small will have their houses brought before His Divine “fairness.” Will they stand?

2. Their “houses” of memory-knowledges had been framed up with such gaps and flimsy falsities that the great and small houses just couldn’t stand. The foundation pieces were not solidly anchored. The Lord’s truth placed along side of these distorted frameworks just knocked their props out. Can we picture our experience in the world of spirits when our “book of life” is opened? Might there be some structures we built falling apart? Yet, we thought the world of those “great houses.”                                          

3. Turning the Lord’s things into gall and wormwood is a serious blunder by those who turn against the Lord. They must stop offering poisonous and delusional drinks offered to themselves and others. Only the Lord can call out the dead, and only the Lord can give us the perception of good and intelligence. Otherwise, we try the silly acts of horses or oxen ploughing rocks: futile work with no returns.

Read and Review

Read Amos 6:10-12.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Have you ever seen a “house” you thought would last forever only to see that it had to be torn down and built again? It would seem that this is par for us as humans. The problem comes when we become defensive and deny the building is in danger or we become lazy and fail to apply ourselves to the rebuilding efforts. What is your experience with this?

2.      Have you ever confronted someone about their speaking disrespectfully of Divine things? Have you been looked at as a fanatic for caring so much for holy things? Have you ever wanted to say, “Hold your tongue. You don’t know not what you’re saying.”?

3.      It’s interesting to consider the teaching about mixing gall in with justice. It poisons the intellect and kills the conscience so that nothing bothers us. The result is that the fruit of justice is spoiled by wormwood, causing delusions in the rational mind. What might be some examples of this?  What is the antidote to “wormwood” and “gall”?

Amos 6:13-14

You who rejoice over Lo Debar,
Who say, “Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves
By our own strength?”
But, behold, I will raise up a nation against you,
O house of Israel,
Says the Lord God of hosts;
And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath
To the valley of the Arabah.

Passages From the Writings


·        “ reason that they have acquired these things [the worst religious system] to themselves from self, vers. 13, 14.”

AC 2832

·        Note: In the New King James Version, “Lo Debar” is mentioned. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says that this name is an alternate form of “Debir.” In Everyman’s Bible Commentary, on page 143 in the chapter on “Hosea and Amos,” it says that “Lo-debar are two Hebrew words that are the idiom for ‘nothing’. Even in modern Hebrew one says lo-debar when he wants to say, ‘It’s nothing; it doesn’t matter; forget it.’”

·        The AC 2832 translation of Amos 6:13 agrees with that in the quote above: “Ye who rejoice in a thing of naught, who say, have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? ‘horns here denote the power of falsity’.”

AC 10182[7]

·        “In Amos...(vi. 13) ‘horns’ is signified power, is evident, and indeed power in both senses, namely, the power of truth against falsity, and of falsity against truth....”

AE 316[21]

·        “In Amos...(vi. 13) ‘To take horns by our own strength’ signifies by the powers of self-intelligence to acquire falsities by which truths will be destroyed.”  Amos 6:13 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

“Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves....”

  • The Writings give us little or no help with the meaning or correspondence of this region. One Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary source says that Karnaim means “the horns.” That seems consistent with what we have been presented in the passages regarding the people’s boast of taking power (the horns) by their own strength.

The affliction “from the entrance of Hamath...”

  • The Hamathites were many nations, and they signified many different idolatries. The nature of these idolatries is that they are “entirely unwilling to know internal things, and when instructed reject them....” (AC 1205)


  • Where is this place called Arabah? There is no mention of it in the Writings. Scholars debate its location. Some place it between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). Do we try to make some application? It seems better not to because our information about it is so uncertain. To “press” some application might take us away from the spiritual issues.

Putting It All Together

1. Under King Jeroboam II, Israel had become extremely confident in its military strength. They had been boasting about their most recent conquests. To hear from an unknown prophet that these conquests were “Lo Debar” (“of no importance”; “it doesn’t matter”; “forget it”) seemed so inappropriate. They probably responded, “Look at what we have done by our own strength. It seems evident the Lord is not upset with us. We have recaptured lands that our forefathers had possessed and then lost. We are moving forward, and other nations can see we are a military force to be feared.”

When the Lord to told them that they had lost all of their spirituality, it must have been hard to match up that failure with the events of their recent past. To be told they practiced the worst forms of idolatry didn’t seem right for the “chosen ones.”

2. How do we see this in our own life story? We get so wrapped up in the effort to get ahead in our work that we set religion aside. We face the competition in the work world and have to be “politically astute” to navigate that fine line, and we compromise our morals to avoid standing out. Talking religion is not the corporate thing to do, so we avoid it as a topic of conversation. Over the years, other priorities force religion out, and we fail to have a devotional life that has substance to it.

When this happens, we lose the “check and balance” that spirituality offers to a person living in our world, where most people want fewer and fewer restrictions to “doing it my way.” When we get into this mindset, we do feel as though we have taken the bull by the “horns” and wrestled all successes for ourselves. 

3. What was the idolatry of the Hamathites? They became “entirely unwilling to know internal things, and when instructed rejected them....”

We need to pray that this condition of mind will not come to us and infill us with its coldness toward the things of the Lord.   

Read and Review

Read Amos 6:13-14.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

At this point, we need to allow you to come up with some questions. The ability to put oneself into the text is important. I will give you one question to start you off, and then you can use the space provided to write out questions of your own.  Write as many as you wish. When you are finished, please share your questions in the group discussion.

1.   Are there examples of an unwillingness to know internal things present in our times?





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