Amos copies the style of the funeral song in order to get across the point that the nation is as good as dead, because God will judge them. At the end of the song, he announces, "Seek me [God] and live; do not seek Bethel." Bethel was an important religious center. Amos's point is that the people must truly seek God; they must not simply go through the motions of worshiping God. If they seek God and reform their lives, they will live.
5Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:
2 Fallen, no more to rise,
is maiden Israel;
forsaken on her land,
with no one to raise her up.
3 For thus says the Lord God:
The city that marched out a thousand
shall have a hundred left,
and that which marched out a hundred
shall have ten left.*
4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
Seek me and live;
5 but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
or cross over to Beer-sheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
and Bethel shall come to nothing.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011