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Amos 1-5 (The Message)

Amos 1-5

The Message of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa, that he received on behalf of Israel. It came to him in visions during the time that Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II son of Joash was king of Israel, two years before the big earthquake.

Swallowing the Same Old Lies

The Message:

God roars from Zion,
    shouts from Jerusalem!
The thunderclap voice withers the pastures tended by shepherds,
    shrivels Mount Carmel’s proud peak.

3-5 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Damascus
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She pounded Gilead to a pulp, pounded her senseless
    with iron hammers and mauls.
For that, I’m setting the palace of Hazael on fire.
    I’m torching Ben-hadad’s forts.
I’m going to smash the Damascus gates
    and banish the crime king who lives in Sin Valley,
    the vice boss who gives orders from Paradise Palace.
The people of the land will be sent back
    to where they came from—to Kir.”
        God’s Decree.

6-8 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Gaza
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She deported whole towns
    and then sold the people to Edom.
For that, I’m burning down the walls of Gaza,
    burning up all her forts.
I’ll banish the crime king from Ashdod,
    the vice boss from Ashkelon.
I’ll raise my fist against Ekron,
    and what’s left of the Philistines will die.”
        God’s Decree.

9-10 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Tyre
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She deported whole towns to Edom,
    breaking the treaty she had with her kin.
For that, I’m burning down the walls of Tyre,
    burning up all her forts.”

11-12 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Edom
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She hunts down her brother to murder him.
    She has no pity, she has no heart.
Her anger rampages day and night.
    Her meanness never takes a timeout.
For that, I’m burning down her capital, Teman,
    burning up the forts of Bozrah.”

13-15 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Ammon
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She ripped open pregnant women in Gilead
    to get more land for herself.
For that, I’m burning down the walls of her capital, Rabbah,
    burning up her forts.
Battle shouts! War whoops!
    with a tornado to finish things off!
The king has been carted off to exile,
    the king and his princes with him.”
        God’s Decree.

1-3 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Moab
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with her any longer.
She violated the corpse of Edom’s king,
    burning it to cinders.
For that, I’m burning down Moab,
    burning down the forts of Kerioth.
Moab will die in the shouting,
    go out in the blare of war trumpets.
I’ll remove the king from the center
    and kill all his princes with him.”
        God’s Decree.

4-5 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Judah
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with them any longer.
They rejected God’s revelation,
    refused to keep my commands.
But they swallowed the same old lies
    that got their ancestors onto dead-end roads.
For that, I’m burning down Judah,
    burning down all the forts of Jerusalem.”

Destroyed from the Roots Up

6-8 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Israel
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with them any longer.
They buy and sell upstanding people.
    People for them are only things—ways of making money.
They’d sell a poor man for a pair of shoes.
    They’d sell their own grandmother!
They grind the penniless into the dirt,
    shove the luckless into the ditch.
Everyone and his brother sleeps with the ‘sacred whore’—
    a sacrilege against my Holy Name.
Stuff they’ve extorted from the poor
    is piled up at the shrine of their god,
While they sit around drinking wine
    they’ve conned from their victims.

9-11 “In contrast, I was always on your side.
    I destroyed the Amorites who confronted you,
Amorites with the stature of great cedars,
    tough as thick oaks.
I destroyed them from the top branches down.
    I destroyed them from the roots up.
And yes, I’m the One who delivered you from Egypt,
    led you safely through the wilderness for forty years
And then handed you the country of the Amorites
    like a piece of cake on a platter.
I raised up some of your young men to be prophets,
    set aside your best youth for training in holiness.
Isn’t this so, Israel?”
    God’s Decree.

12-13 “But you made the youth-in-training break training,
    and you told the young prophets, ‘Don’t prophesy!’
You’re too much for me.
    I’m hard-pressed—to the breaking point.
I’m like a wagon piled high and overloaded,
    creaking and groaning.

14-15 “When I go into action, what will you do?
    There’s no place to run no matter how fast you run.
The strength of the strong won’t count.
    Fighters won’t make it.
Skilled archers won’t make it.
    Fast runners won’t make it.
Chariot drivers won’t make it.
    Even the bravest of all your warriors
Won’t make it.
    He’ll run off for dear life, stripped naked.”
        God’s Decree.

The Lion Has Roared

Listen to this, Israel. God is calling you to account—and I mean all of you, everyone connected with the family that he delivered out of Egypt. Listen!

“Out of all the families on earth,
    I picked you.
Therefore, because of your special calling,
    I’m holding you responsible for all your sins.”

3-7 Do two people walk hand in hand
    if they aren’t going to the same place?
Does a lion roar in the forest
    if there’s no carcass to devour?
Does a young lion growl with pleasure
    if he hasn’t caught his supper?
Does a bird fall to the ground
    if it hasn’t been hit with a stone?
Does a trap spring shut
    if nothing trips it?
When the alarm goes off in the city,
    aren’t people alarmed?
And when disaster strikes the city,
    doesn’t God stand behind it?
The fact is, God, the Master, does nothing
    without first telling his prophets the whole story.

The lion has roared—
    who isn’t frightened?
God has spoken—
    what prophet can keep quiet?

9-11 Announce to the forts of Assyria,
    announce to the forts of Egypt—
Tell them, “Gather on the Samaritan mountains, take a good, hard look:
    what a snake pit of brutality and terror!
They can’t—or won’t—do one thing right.” God said so.
    “They stockpile violence and blight.
Therefore”—this is God’s Word—“an enemy will surround the country.
    He’ll strip you of your power and plunder your forts.”

12 God’s Message:

“In the same way that a shepherd
    trying to save a lamb from a lion
Manages to recover
    just a pair of legs or the scrap of an ear,
So will little be saved of the Israelites
    who live in Samaria—
A couple of old chairs at most,
    the broken leg of a table.

13-15 “Listen and bring witness against Jacob’s family”—
    this is God’s Word, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
“Note well! The day I make Israel pay for its sins,
    pay for the sin-altars of worship at Bethel,
The horned altars will all be dehorned
    and scattered around.
I’ll tear down the winter palace,
    smash the summer palace—all your fancy buildings.
The luxury homes will be demolished,
    all those pretentious houses.”
        God’s Decree.

You Never Got Hungry for God

“Listen to this, you cows of Bashan
    grazing on the slopes of Samaria.
You women! Mean to the poor,
    cruel to the down-and-out!
Indolent and pampered, you demand of your husbands,
    ‘Bring us a tall, cool drink!’

2-3 “This is serious—I, God, have sworn by my holiness!
    Be well warned: Judgment Day is coming!
They’re going to rope you up and haul you off,
    keep the stragglers in line with cattle prods.
They’ll drag you through the ruined city walls,
    forcing you out single file,
And kick you to kingdom come.”
    God’s Decree.

4-5 “Come along to Bethel and sin!
    And then to Gilgal and sin some more!
Bring your sacrifices for morning worship.
    Every third day bring your tithe.
Burn pure sacrifices—thank offerings.
    Speak up—announce freewill offerings!
That’s the sort of religious show
    you Israelites just love.”
        God’s Decree.

“You know, don’t you, that I’m the One
    who emptied your pantries and cleaned out your cupboards,
Who left you hungry and standing in bread lines?
    But you never got hungry for me. You continued to ignore me.”
        God’s Decree.

7-8 “Yes, and I’m the One who stopped the rains
    three months short of harvest.
I’d make it rain on one village
    but not on another.
I’d make it rain on one field
    but not on another—and that one would dry up.
People would stagger from village to village
    crazed for water and never quenching their thirst.
But you never got thirsty for me.
    You ignored me.”
        God’s Decree.

“I hit your crops with disease
    and withered your orchards and gardens.
Locusts devoured your olive and fig trees,
    but you continued to ignore me.”
        God’s Decree.

10 “I revisited you with the old Egyptian plagues,
    killed your choice young men and prize horses.
The stink of rot in your camps was so strong
    that you held your noses—
But you didn’t notice me.
    You continued to ignore me.”
        God’s Decree.

11 “I hit you with earthquake and fire,
    left you devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick
    snatched from the flames.
But you never looked my way.
    You continued to ignore me.”
        God’s Decree.

12 “All this I have done to you, Israel,
    and this is why I have done it.
Time’s up, O Israel!
    Prepare to meet your God!”

13 Look who’s here: Mountain-Shaper! Wind-Maker!
    He laid out the whole plot before Adam.
He brings everything out of nothing,
    like dawn out of darkness.
He strides across the alpine ridges.
    His name is God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

All Show, No Substance

Listen to this, family of Israel,
    this Message I’m sending in bold print, this tragic warning:

“Virgin Israel has fallen flat on her face.
    She’ll never stand up again.
She’s been left where she’s fallen.
    No one offers to help her up.”

This is the Message, God’s Word:

“The city that marches out with a thousand
    will end up with a hundred.
The city that marches out with a hundred
    will end up with ten. Oh, family of Israel!”

4-5 God’s Message to the family of Israel:

“Seek me and live.
    Don’t fool around at those shrines of Bethel,
Don’t waste time taking trips to Gilgal,
    and don’t bother going down to Beer-sheba.
Gilgal is here today and gone tomorrow
    and Bethel is all show, no substance.”

So seek God and live! You don’t want to end up
    with nothing to show for your life
But a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground.
    For God will send just such a fire,
    and the firefighters will show up too late.

Raw Truth Is Never Popular

7-9 Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar
    and stomp righteousness into the mud.
Do you realize where you are? You’re in a cosmos
    star-flung with constellations by God,
A world God wakes up each morning
    and puts to bed each night.
God dips water from the ocean
    and gives the land a drink.
    God, God-revealed, does all this.
And he can destroy it as easily as make it.
    He can turn this vast wonder into total waste.

10-12 People hate this kind of talk.
    Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
    Because you run roughshod over the poor
    and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You’re never going to move into
    the luxury homes you have built.
You’re never going to drink wine
    from the expensive vineyards you’ve planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
    the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,
    taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.

13 Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
    Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless,
    a waste of breath.

14 Seek good and not evil—
    and live!
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    being your best friend.
Well, live like it,
    and maybe it will happen.

15 Hate evil and love good,
    then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will notice your remnant and be gracious.

16-17 Now again, my Master’s Message, God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Go out into the streets and lament loudly!
    Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom!
Weep loudly, ‘Not me! Not us, Not now!’
    Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces.
Enlist everyone in the general lament.
    I want to hear it loud and clear when I make my visit.”
        God’s Decree.

Time to Face Hard Reality, Not Fantasy

18-20 Woe to all of you who want God’s Judgment Day!
    Why would you want to see God, want him to come?
When God comes, it will be bad news before it’s good news,
    the worst of times, not the best of times.
Here’s what it’s like: A man runs from a lion
    right into the jaws of a bear.
A woman goes home after a hard day’s work
    and is raped by a neighbor.
At God’s coming we face hard reality, not fantasy—
    a black cloud with no silver lining.

21-24 “I can’t stand your religious meetings.
    I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
    your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
    your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

25-27 “Didn’t you, dear family of Israel, worship me faithfully for forty years in the wilderness, bringing the sacrifices and offerings I commanded? How is it you’ve stooped to dragging gimcrack statues of your so-called rulers around, hauling the cheap images of all your star-gods here and there? Since you like them so much, you can take them with you when I drive you into exile beyond Damascus.” God’s Message, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

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The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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