Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. — Amos 5:14
A Salvation Army officer told of an old Maori woman who, prior to her conversion, had won the name of “Warrior Brown” because of her propensity to fight when she was enraged or had been drinking. A week after she was converted, she gave her testimony at an open-air meeting. Someone in the crowd threw a potato at her, giving her a nasty blow. A week before, the cowardly insulter would have needed to make himself scarce, but without saying a word, Warrior Brown picked up the potato and put it into her pocket. No more was heard of the incident until the harvest festival, when Warrior brought a little sack of potatoes. She explained that she had cut up and planted the potato that had been thrown at her, and was now presenting the increase to the Lord.(1)
What an example of seeking good and not evil! Warrior Brown did not react as she would have reacted previously — she had been radically changed, and instead used the “weapon” to bring about good. She chose to seek good.
There are numerous ways in which we can seek good. First, we should seek God for salvation and cleansing from sin, which causes a radical heart change — good abides in us. Next, we should do good for others, exercise ourselves in profitable activities, and think on good things. Seeking good will keep us so busy that there will be little time left to even glance at evil. Then, we should engage in activities that bring about positive results. Examples would be teaching Sunday school, helping on the church cleaning team, and being ready to give our testimonies.
Some ways to seek good for others include: lend a hand; pray with and for another; have a conversation with someone or be a good listener; write an encouraging note to a sick friend; offer someone a ride to church; be a willing set of hands for a church project; or help a single lady with her car maintenance. If there is a quiet or timid person around us, we can do our best to include him or her in our activities. Let us allow God’s love to shine through us!
In part, it is simply our focus that must change. Like Warrior, we did not just get hit with a “root” weapon: we received a “potato” to plant! The glass is half full, not half empty, and the bad day may, in reality, be merely a rough five minutes. Pondering the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy details of life will not only inspire us, it could also encourage those around us.
Perhaps, like Warrior Brown, we can take a bad situation that is thrown at us, work with it, and present the increase to the Lord.
This chapter was a cry from God to His people to return unto Himself. The prophet Amos, a farmer and shepherd from Judah who prophesied around 760 B.C., was an unlikely person to proclaim the Word of the Lord. He did not use pretense as a tool, but was straightforward in his speech.
God desired true, righteous worship, rather than sacrifice. Although Amos’ listeners believed themselves to be safe because of their accumulated wealth and form of godliness, they hoarded more than they needed, neglected their poor, took bribes, and afflicted the just. They defied God’s laws, which said the poor were not meant to be helped only if they could repay the kindness served them: they were to be helped regardless of their ability to repay or how much they deserved it.
Amos came with a message of almost certain destruction. As God told Israel in verses 21 to 24, He would not smell the savor of their sacrifices nor listen to their melodies because of their lack of judgment and righteousness. Amos’ prophecy was, in effect, a funeral dirge before the actual event — which would be the decimation of the population of Israel (reducing it to only one tenth of its original size) at the hand of Assyria (Amos 5:3).
God was about to punish Israel by bringing about total military disaster. There would not be sufficient people to mourn the dead — even the professional mourners would be too busy to keep up with the deaths of ninety percent of the population. Failure to appropriately mourn the dead with loud wailing was seen as dishonoring the dead.
In verse 8, the admonition to “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion” was a reminder to seek the Creator, rather than His creation, as was the case in the heathen religions.
In spite of their evil ways, God still desired a close relationship with His people. Three times God told them, “Seek ye me, and ye shall live.” The reason God gave this message to Amos to proclaim was that He urgently wanted His people to seek Him. His desire was not to punish them. Instead, He urged them to follow Him so they could live.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The reasons for the judgment of Israel
C. Future judgment sure
1. Judgment deserved (5:1-15)
a. The lament over Israel (5:1-3)
b. The invitation to Israel (5:4-15)
(1) The offer of grace (5:4-9)
(2) The rejection of grace (5:10-13)
(3) The re-offer of grace (5:14-15)
2. Judgment delineated
a. The wailing (5:16-17)
b. The first woe (5:18-27)
(1) Warning concerning the Day of the Lord (5:18-20)
(2) Warning concerning false worship (5:21-27)
(a) Unacceptable and unheard (5:21-24)
(b) Results in captivity (5:25-27)
God is merciful, and the source of goodness, but He is a jealous God who requires that we worship only Him, have our heart cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb, and live righteously.
1. Gary E. Bowell, Treasures of the King.