Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Amos 5:18-20 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  Amos 5:18-20

(18) 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. 
(19) 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! 
(20) Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? 
Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? 

New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

The Israelites of Amos' time were like many in the Western world today. Those who at least nominally believed in God had fooled themselves into thinking that when He intervened, He would be on “their side.” Certainly, they were in a privileged position because of God's covenant with them, not remembering that this relationship made them more accountable (Amos 3:2).

Over time, the Israelites had turned God's promises to their fathers into a sort of inflated divine favoritism, as though God had no choice but always to bless them no matter how they lived. Here in Amos 5, however, God pronounces a woe against them for this approach. They would not enjoy the fireworks from a safe distance; His judgment would overtake them, personally and painfully.

There is a mystery in verse 18 about the phrase “the day of the LORD.” Amos mentions it as something Israel was already familiar with, not a new event he was foretelling. This mention is curious because Amos is one of the earliest recorded prophets, and none of the earlier ones—such as Moses or Elijah—refers to a “day of the LORD.” Isaiah, who does speak of the Day of the Lord by name (see Isaiah 2:1213:6, 9; 34:8), did not come on the scene for another forty years, and Joel, with his dramatic imagery (Joel 1:152:1, 11, 31; 3:14), would not prophesy for nearly two hundred years. Yet, at this early date, Amos refers to the Day of the Lord as if it is already part of the national consciousness.

Perhaps one of the earlier prophets had spoken about the Day of the Lord, and we simply do not have a record of it. But another possibility fits the context. Even though what we call the Old Testament had not yet been canonized, the Israelites of Amos' day still had Scriptures to draw upon to learn history and religion. The Pentateuch, some of the histories, and much of the wisdom literature were already available.

Significantly, they had the psalms, many of which are prophetic. None of the psalms use the specific phrase “the day of the LORD.” Still, the book contains enough mentions of God's deliverance and protection during the day of trouble that a clear picture emerges of His future intervention and judgment.

In addition to prophetic psalms, the Israelites had psalms of praise for God's mercy, watchfulness, and regard for His people. These inspired and encouraging psalms were among the songs they sang at their feasts. However, God declares in the very next verse: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies” (Amos 5:21). God does not use such words carelessly! The Israelites' singing of His psalms did not impress Him because they mixed truth with debased practices. They felt good about themselves even as they mistreated others.

Whatever the source of their concept of the Day of the Lord, the Israelites had concluded that God's intervention would be spectacular—which was true. Yet, they willingly overlooked what God required of them and what it truly meant to be His people.

— David C. Grabbe

No comments:

Post a Comment