Amos 5:8

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his Name, This recognition of God amidst the phenomena of nature is characteristic of Amos. He looked on the Pleiades and Orion, as they shone radiantly in the heavens, changeless in their relations, calm amidst human vicissitudes, and constant in diffusing their light upon a troubled world, and bade men seek him who created them. He speaks of night, that "shadow of death," and reminds his hearers that, though it be long and fearsome, the light of dawn comes at last, and God turns it into morning; and again, after the work of the day is done, and tired men want rest, God draws the curtains, and "makes the day dark with night." The last clause is more obscure. Sometimes the waters have been "poured out upon the earth" in destructive deluge, and this has occurred at the command of God; but we prefer the application of the prophet's words to that familiar and constant display of the Divine power by means of which the waters are secretly gathered up into the sky, that they may be poured out in showers of blessing upon the earth. Our text is true of nature; but it is also true of that of which nature is the symbol and shadow, as we shall endeavour to show. It reminds us -

I. THAT GOD OVERRULES THE OUTWARD CONDITIONS OF HUMAN LIFE. "Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion." The words are literally true. Philosophy teaches us to find an adequate cause for all effects, and science acknowledges that the First Cause eludes its search, and is beyond its sphere. Revelation declares, "God made the sun to rule by day, and the moon to rule by night: he made the stars also." More than this primal fact is, however, asserted here. Amos was speaking to those who saw in the stars more than material lights. His hearers believed in astrology, which has been prevalent in all ages, from the very dawn of history. This superstition, which has left its mark on the earliest records of our race, in the literature of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Hindus, and Chinese, was not without effect on the people of Israel, as many passages in Scripture show. Indeed, it only received its deathblow when the Copernican system was finally established; for even Kepler would not deny that there was a connection between the movements of the stars and the fortunes of men. Now, two constellations so peculiar and brilliant as Pleiades and Orion naturally had special powers ascribed to them. Thus Rabbi Isaac Israel, in his remarks on Job 38:31, says, "Some of the stars have operations in the ripening of fruits, and such is the opening of the Pleiades; and some of the stars retard and delay the fruits from ripening, and this is the opening of Orion." In other words, the Pleiades were associated with the spring, when Nature was bursting into new life, when she was emitting the sweetest influences from every blade and flower, when ships which had been shut up through stress of weather could put out once more to sea. Hence the question, "Canst thou bind the sweet influence of Pleiades?" - Canst thou prevent the outpouring of vernal life? Whether you will or not, the change comes; for it is of God. Similarly, Orion was associated with autumn, when the earth was throwing off her beauty, and the voyages of the ancient times came to an end, and frost bound the streams as in fetters of iron. "Canst thou loose the bands of Orion?" - Canst thou check the storms, and break up the reign of frost? Now, says Amen, look beyond these constellations to him who made them; and when you rejoice in the spring, or dread the approaching winter, when you are glad over the pleasantness of life, or faint under its adversity; - think of him who is above and beyond all material forces and all visible influences. There is a spring and autumn known in human experience which have their sources beyond ourselves and beyond all visible agency; and our hearts rest in the assurance of this. Compare the lot of two children in dissimilar circumstances - the one with every comfort and care, as if "born under a lucky star," and sharing "the sweet influences of Pleiades;" the other in the drunken home, with curses temporal and moral on every side. These children do not choose their lot, they do not appear to deserve treatment so different; yet their circumstances are not the result of chance nor the decree of blind fate, but are to be ascribed to him "who made the seven stars and Orion," and, as the Judge of all the earth, he will do right. (Suggest other examples of seeming unfairness in men's circumstances.) This Divine revelation in Scripture affirms of God that he appoints the lot of each, and this with a view to the training of character, which far outweighs the pleasantness or the painfulness found in mere circumstances. Adversity will by and by appear to be but a small thing to him who amidst it proved himself faithful, and prosperity will seem in the retrospect of little worth to him who, through his thanklessness and prayerlessness, has failed to "lay hold on eternal life." Whatever influences surround us, we are, for our own sakes, called on to recognize God as overruling them. If we are prosperous, it is "the Lord who gives power to get wealth;" if we are in adversity, we are not to blame our luck or our friends, but to seek the comfort and help of him "who maketh the seven stars and Orion."

II. THAT GOD OVERRULES THE INWARD EXPERIENCE OF MEN. "He turneth the shadow of death into the morning," etc. The Hebrew word translated "shadow of death" almost always means more than natural night, however black that may be (see references in Job and Psalms). Admitting this figurative use of the word here, the reference of the prophet would seem to be to the changes from sorrowfulness to joyfulness, and from joyfulness to sorrowfulness, which we frequently experience. These are not dependent on circumstances. The wealthiest men have often said of their surroundings, "I have no pleasure in them;" while the poor and persecuted have sometimes made their miserable abodes resound with praise. We may illustrate this from the life of our Lord. At one time "he rejoiced in spirit" at another time he was "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;" yet the Father's hand was recognized in both experiences. God inspires the children's songs, and he gives the cup of agony. What abundant reason we have to praise God for certain inward changes - the carelessness turned into serious and sad penitence, and this again into the joyfulness of pardon! To many a weeping penitent, sitting in darkness, he has come and "turned the shadow of death into morning." Others have been in the darkness of doubt. They have cried, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" They have felt around them for some hand to help in their dire extremity; At last the sense of Christ's love has come home to them, and though their questions are not all answered, they believe in him, and enter into rest, and soon they find that "he that believeth does not walk in darkness, but has the light of life." God turns for them the shadow of death into morning. Soon "the shadow feared of man" will come. Yet even the darkness of death shall be transformed into the brightness of heaven; and in the place where "there is no need of the sun or moon to shine," because God himself is the Light thereof, we shall see how God has forevermore turned the shadow of death into morning.

III. THAT GOD TRANSFORMS CURSES INTO BLESSINGS. God "calls for the waters of the sea." They secretly ascend to heaven, and then descend in refreshing showers. The transformation effected in that phenomenon is noteworthy. If we pour sea water on flowers, they will die; but when it is called up into the heavens the pernicious salt is left behind, the water is purged from its destructiveness, and the curse is made a blessing. A transforming influence passes over all that comes to us, if it is caught up to heaven. Suppose prosperity comes to you. It may enervate and destroy your spiritual life, but if praise to God is associated with it, and habitual prayer that you may use this for God, you may become by your very prosperity a more generous, tender-hearted, and Christ-like man. If adversity is yours, and you take all your troubles before the Lord, they will be transfigured before you in the light of God's love and Christ's sufferings, and through your valley of Achor you will enter into deeper rest and nobler hope.- If doubts or temptations try you, they will not curse, but bless you, if they arouse the earnest prayer, "Lord, help me!" Christ was never more precious to Thomas than when, after his doubts, he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" But his doubts would have ruined him had they kept him from the presence of the Lord. Let all your troubles and joys be wafted, by prayer and praise, into the heaven of God's presence, and they shall be poured down upon you in showers of spiritual blessings.

CONCLUSION. If you would know the comfort of the text, you will only find it in obedience to its first Clause, "Seek him!" "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found," etc.; "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace." Then, under the quiet light of the stars, or in the splendours of sunset and dawn, or watching the fall of the heaven-sent showers, you will have thoughts of him who rules over all, as of one who through Jesus Christ is your Father and your Friend. - A.R.

Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion.
The text brings the works of God and the name of God into one focus, and makes use of both as an argument with man to raise himself from the low and unworthy pretences of religion, such as are represented by the calf-worship of Bethel, to Him who sits high above the magnificence of all material forms, yet deigns to listen to the whisper of a kneeling child.

I. Seek Him because He is IMMUTABLE. This is declared by "the seven stars and Orion," and by all the constellations among which the Pleiades are set. It is a wonderful thought, that when we look up to the mighty heavens, we see precisly what Adam and Eve saw. They beheld the Pleiades, that group of stars so beautifully likened to "a knot of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid." They beheld those shining orbs in which we detect the appearance of an armed warrior, and call Orion. Through all the changes of human history, those celestial bodies have shone with like brilliancy, and moved with like pomp in the great spaces overhead. The Chaldeans from their astronomical towers, the Phoenicians from their bold sea-tracks, the Egyptian sages from their mystic temples, the Idumean shepherds from their broad pastures, the Jewish kings from their palace roofs, beheld those august revelations of Almighty power and wisdom; and they are as superb, as radiant, now as then. "And the heavens are the works of Thine hands. They shall perish;... and they all shall wax old, as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shad be changed." "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shad have no end." And now look at man. "As for man, his days arc as grass: as a flower of the field so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." Thus frail, and in the midst of frailty, what is to become of us? Where is the arm on which we can lean? What is the hope to which we can cling? The reply to these inquiries comes not from the oracles of human wisdom, but from Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa. "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion." Let us seek Him as He bids us in His Word; and when the Pleiades are bereft of their sweet influence, and when the bands of Orion are loosed, his zone of mighty worlds unclasped, and his flaming sword sheathed in eternal darkness, we shall shine with light which can never fade, and be glad with a gladness which can never die.

II. Seek Him because He is ALL-POWERFUL. This also is declared by "the seven stars and Orion." Many have looked on the Pleiades as but an insignificant group in the heavens; but that constellation has depths of glory which the unaided eye cannot reach. We count seven stars, but the telescope announces fourteen magnificent sun-like bodies clustered comparatively near to one of the seven. This, however, is not the special peculiarity of the Pleiades. For some time it was suspected that there is one great central sun, round which our planetary system, and many, if not all, other suns and systems are revolving in measured and majestic movement; and at length an eminent continental astronomer decided that a bright star in the Pleiades is the sublime centre of this sublime march. Here, then, is a thought of almost appalling grandeur. Myriads of orbs keeping their own relative position, and sweeping round and round in the path of their own revolutions; yet the vast host — suns compared with which ours is but a speck of fire — worlds of such magnitude as to dwarf ours into a mere grain of sand — all rolling through space as if doing homage to the influence of what to us is but a point of light in the blue immensity. According to this theory, those thousands of bodies are speeding along with amazing velocity; yet such is the long curve on which they travel, that it will take more than eighteen millions of years for even some of the less remote to complete one circuit round that great luminary. Now glance at Orion, as he gleams aloft in more than imperial pomp and blazonry. We may well look on this constellation with awe and wonder when we take into account the following statement in reference to it. In what is Called the sword of Orion there is a hazy glimmer, which has been thought by some to be only a kind of nebulous fluid; but Lord Rosse, having scanned it with his powerful telescope, ascertained that it is another gorgeous universe, so far away, that to an ordinary glass it only appears as a dim streak, yet having heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, of creative power and diversity surpassing all that we behold in the whole canopy of the starry heavens. But even if this daring assertion should be proved to be incorrect, and all those worlds to be no more than a conjecture, we should scarcely be conscious that aught had been subtracted from our idea of the magnitude and multiplicity of Jehovah's works; for there are other streaks and misty appearances on the sky which are known by indubitable evidence to be gatherings of stars, huge in bulk and veiled in dazzling splendour. And here is another great motive to seek the Lord. The power evinced in "the seven stars and Orion," and the other orbs they represent, is power wielded for the advantage of those who respond to the Divine command, "Seek ye My face." And when terrors shake our souls, when our heart and flesh fail, what consolation we shall have in the thought that the Hand which measured out the heavens is over us, and around us, to keep us from ill. "Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would, put strength in me."

III. Seek Him because of His BENEFICENT ACTIVITIES. And turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waves of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth." How beautiful is morning, as it comes with golden sandals and rosy veil through the gates of the east! Beautiful on the silent peaks of the Himalayan mountains, beautiful on the green heights of Ceylon, beautiful on the icy pinnacles of the Alps, beautiful on the broad mass of the Grampians, beautiful on the isles of the Caribbean Sea. How it is welcomed as the apparition of a smiling friend; welcomed by the Arab as it gleams on his tent; by the mariner as it turns his sails to cloth of gold; by the sentinel as it gleams on the steel of his weapons. How beautiful is night! How soft and soothing the shadows with which it enwraps the earth! What images of peace it suggests to the mind! The bird spreading its wings over its nestlings, the sheep gathered in the fold, the child in its cot, and wearied labour calmly renewing its energies for another day. That calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the earth." How beautiful the silent processes by which the rain is distilled on the thirsty ground! Think of the oceans — those mighty reservoirs of the Most High. Think of the clouds drawn from them — now white as the snows which crown a mountain's forehead; now gorgeous, as if woven of a thousand rainbows; now black as a funeral pall. Think of the rain, how it falls; not in a sudden and overpowering splash; not in a flood, tearing the leaves from the trees and the young shoots from the soil, but in a succession" of gentle drops. Is not. this,, gracious. Being, whose hand is in the pleasing changes of day and night, and in ram from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness," One with whom it is desirable to live in filial relationship?

IV. Seek Him because of His NAME. "The Lord is His name." Now we come to the teachings of the written Word in reference to the Supreme Being. Glance at some of those ideas which the ancient saints attached to the Divine name. Jehovah-jireh — the Lord will provide. Jehovah-nissi — Jehovah my banner. This was the name which Moses gave to the altar he built as a memorial of Israel's victory over Amalek. What a banner! A Divine perfection for every fold, radiant with the heraldry of eternal truth, and bearing a name bright as if every syllable had been wrought out in a constellation of suns. This banner is for us if we seek the Lord. Jehovah shalom — the Lord is my peace. The angel said to awestricken, affrighted Gideon, "Peace be unto thee." Jehovah-Tsidkenu — the Lord our righteousness. This title is specially connected with the manifestation of God in Christ Jesus. "And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." In one part of the heavens there is a constellation known as the Southern Cross; and when Humboldt was in South America, he often heard the guides who con ducted him over the savannahs of Venezuela cry out, as they looked up to that constellation, "Midnight is past — the cross begins to bend." Thank God the cross bends over us, and our midnight is past — the midnight of our fear, the mid-night of our bondage.

(J. Marrat.)

There are some things which make me think that it may not have been all superstition which connected the movements and appearance of the heavenly bodies with great moral events on earth. Astrology may have been something more than a brilliant heathenism.

1. Amos saw that the God who made the Pleiades and Orion must be the God of order. It was not so much a star here and there that impressed the inspired herdsman, but seven in one group and seven in the other group. For ages they have observed the order established for their coming and going. If God can take care of the seven worlds of the Pleiades, He can probably take care of the one world we inhabit.

2. The God who made these two groups of the text was the God of light.

3. That the God who made these two archipelagos of stars must be an unchanging God.

4. That the God who made these two beacons of the Oriental night-sky must be a God of love and kindly warning. The Pleiades, rising in midsky, said to all the herdsmen and shepherds and husbandmen, "Come out and enjoy the mild weather, and cultivate your gardens and fields." And Orion, coming in winter, warned them to prepare for tempest. The sermon that I now preach believes in a God of loving, kindly warning, the God of spring and winter, the God of the Pleiades and Orion.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

The prophet first draws the attention of Israel to the living God who stands behind nature, determining all its movements. The atheist is rebuked by this view of things. The thought of the prophet is full of God; nature does not deny God — it demonstrates Him. God is. Those who identify God with nature until they confound the personal God with the laws and forces of the world, are also rebuked by the text. Nature is not God. "He maketh the seven stars and Orion." And the view that nature is independent of God is equally repudiated. On the contrary, the teaching of Amos is that God acts through nature. The people of Israel are summoned to look up and to behold the supreme, self-existent God, standing before and above the world, acting upon it, acting through it, with sovereign sway. He maketh the seven stars and Orion, etc. But the argument of Amos goes farther than this; he argues that God rules in the midst of the nations just as He rules in the midst of nature, and we must see His hand in human affairs as we see it in the rising and setting of stars, in the ebbing and flowing of seas. He setteth up kings and captains, and casteth them down; He smites the splendour of nations into desolation; and again He restores their greatness and joy. The argument of the prophet proceeds on the assumption that a Divine purpose, a vast design, runs through all the evolutions of nature and all the movements of history. And in this point of view, let us say, these primitive thinkers have been confirmed by the vast majority of the philosophers who succeeded them. A few erratic philosophers have failed to discern any direction or tendency in the career of the universe; they could not detect any coherency among events, or admit that such events were working together toward any assignable result whatever. From their point of view, things and events drifted and eddied about in an utterly blind and irrational manner; temporary combinations might accidentally assume a rational appearance, but it was only accidental. Worlds, they concluded, have no definite beginning, no connection or sequence, no dramatic consistency, no definite end; all is unrelated, arbitrary, accidental, purposeless. But this interpretation has found little acceptance. , who lived some centuries later than Amos, wrote: "In the unity of nature there is nothing unconnected or out of place, as in a bad tragedy." And nearly all philosophy since then has in different ways confirmed this view of the universe set forth by the prophet of Israel and the philosopher of Greece. But the prophets of Israel not only recognised a distinct design running through nature and history; they saw, and this was the special merit of their mission and message, they saw that that design was spiritual and moral. Many thinkers see design and orderly progress in the world who recognise design and progress as purely intellectual. They see in nature and history nothing more than a play dramatically conducted; a story artistically developed; a picture exquisitely balanced and harmonious; an organism complete in all its parts and functions; but they miss the real heart of the thing, that the universe is the intellectual working out of the purpose of the holy God. This was the point of view of the prophets. The design they discovered in the universe did not merely satisfy their logical sense, their aesthetic sense, or their scientific sense, but their moral sense. They wished to teach that God rules the universe with a view to reveal His righteous character; His government is wholly moral; and the end of all His rule in heaven and earth is to instruct His children in righteousness, and to discipline them into holiness until they are perfect, even as their Father who is in heaven is perfect. The religious and moral idea is subtly interwoven with the universal fabric, but it is only spiritually discerned, only the devout soul follows the golden thread that runs through nature and the long, mysterious story of the race. "We are nothing but the playthings of Fate," says the pagan mind; but we refuse the verdict of dismal atheism. He "that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night"; He who kindles the stars, and who darkens them in eclipse; He who causes His sun to rise upon the earth, and to set in night; He who makes the firmament a magnificent theatre of majestic and unfailing order, will not permit caprice and chaos in the far higher world of human history — souls are more than stars, and when a great nation is lifted up and cast down, great reasons and great ends must be assumed. If you look through this prophecy of Amos you must be struck by its intense and persistent moral tone. The fifth chapter is full of it. "Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion." "Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right." "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." "Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate." And it is thus throughout the whole prophecy — the destiny of the nation turns on righteousness, on matters of definite, practical honesty, clemency, humanity, justice, chastity, and temperance. The shepherd Amos, like David, like Job, was familiar with the constellations, and he felt how offensive the unjust and the unclean must be to Him whose faultless government is declared in the inviolable laws which govern the chaste and solemn stars. And God is still of Coo pure eyes to behold iniquity, and, according to their works does He deal with the mightiest nations. He calls us back to Himself, to His moral government and righteous laws. God has often "made the day dark" to us, and again He has "turned the shadow of death into the morning." We live with the consciousness of these impending possibilities. Any day, any hour may witness the mighty change. These changes, so extreme and searching, are to remind us that life does not exist either for pleasure or pain, but for the perfecting of the soul in love and nobleness. He who makes the seven stars and Orion, who turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night for the education of a nation in righteousness, does the same with and for the individual. And every change is good that unsettles us in the world to settle us in God, every variation of fortune is blessed that drives us to the central reality, and makes us richer in spiritual feeling and moral fruit. In some parts of South America all seasons are singularly blended within a year; in the same locality there are many returns of spring and winter, temporary calms and temporary snows rapidly and unceasingly succeed each other, but in such places plants bloom with the greatest vigour, and are remarkable for their beauty. So, if we seek Him who maketh the seven stars and Orion, and who orders so strangely the days and nights, the summers and winters of human life, these bewildering changes shall only discipline us into more perfect strength, and make us rich in the fruits of righteousness and peace.

(W. L. Watkinson.)


1. That of a Creator.

2. That of a Governor.

3. That of a Redeemer.


1. Faith in God's personal existence.

2. A consciousness of moral distance from God.

3. A felt necessity of friendly connection with God.

4. An assurance that such a connection can be obtained.What a grand thing is religion! It is not a thing of mere doctrine, or ritual, or sect, or party. It is a moral pursuit of "Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion," etc.


I. As THE CREATING GOD. "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion." This suggests —

1. His unlimited power. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and the host of them by the breath of HIS mouth."

2. His manifold wisdom. "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens."

3. His boundless benevolence. The sun rules the day, the moon and stars the night. God's bounty is lavished on the world night and day.

II. As THE PROVIDING GOD. "That calleth the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the earth." This implies —

1. God's government over the world. At His bidding the waters of the sea hasten to the clouds, and again fall in rain upon the face of the earth.

2. Man's dependence upon God. Rain is a universal blessing, and is essential for growth, fertility, and happiness. The earth must be irrigated, and none can command the clouds to pour out their contents but God.

III. As THE REDEEMING GOD. "And turneth the shadow of death into the morning," This indicates —

1. God's dominion over death.

2. His gracious presence with His people in the greatest emergency. His smiling countenance turns the shadow and darkness of death into a happy and refreshing day. They hope in death. They die in faith.

3. His faithfulness to His word unto the last. He will realise His promises to them in life, in death, and in eternity. Seek the Lord, the Creator, the Preserver, and the only Saviour. Seek Him who is mighty to save.

(Joseph Jenkins.)

And turneth the shadow of death into the morning... the Lord is His name
I. THE SHADOW OF DEATH FALLS UPON THE PATHWAY OF LIFE. It is the shadow of God's wrath, which fell upon the sunshine of His love, when man, a free agent, marred His work. No man knows when or how he will die.

II. IT IS BEST THAT WE DO NOT KNOW THE TIME OR MANNER OF OUR DEATH. If we knew the time was near we might be overcome by terror or despair. If we knew the time was distant, we might presume. As it is uncertain, we need to be "always ready."

III. WE MAKE THAT WHICH WAS INTENDED FOR OUR SOUL'S HEALTH ONLY AN OCCASION OF FALLING. The uncertainty of life is a subject commonly on our lips, very seldom in our serious thoughts. All men think all men mortal but themselves.

IV. YOU ADMIT THE ARGUMENT, DO YOU APPLY IT PERSONALLY? There can be no greater ignorance than to ignore the inevitable. Yet says, We will not know that which we cannot but know.

V. WHAT IS DEATH? To the generality of the Gentiles death was dreadful, and they spoke of it as terrible, cruel, black, and blind. One of the great Italian painters, Luino, the favourite pupil of Leonardo de Vinci, has represented these departures into the unseen world by a design which, though it is but an imagination, appeals forcibly to our hopes and fears. In a grand picture of the Crucifixion, which is in the Church at Lugarno he has represented the soul of the forgiven thief coming from his lips at the moment of his death in a miniature figure of himself, robed in white, in an attitude of prayer, and welcomed by a smiling angel sent to escort him to paradise. From the mouth of the reprobate who died reviling Christ, there issues a figure struggling in agony with a cruel demon.

VI. HOW SHALL WE PREPARE FOR DEATH? We must learn to overcome our natural reluctance to think, earnestly and constantly, about our own death. The way to overcome our fear is not to evade it, but to meet and master it.

VII. OUR MEDITATIONS ON DEATH SHOULD BE INSEPARABLY UNITED WITH PRAYER. Of this we have scriptural examples, as in Psalm 39, and 90.


1. He manifests Himself to the faith which worketh by love.

2. He blesses especially with His assured presence.

3. At the altar, most nearly, dearly, we realise His presence.

(S. Reynolds Hole.)

ng: — The Romans had thirty epithets for death; and all of them were full of the deepest dejection. "The iron slumber," "the eternal night," "the mower with his scythe," "the hunter with his snares," "the demon bearing a cup of poison," "the merciless destroying angel," "the inexorable jailor with keys," "the king of terrors treading down empires" — some of them were these, the bitterness of which is indescribable. The revelation which the New Testament furnishes breaks like beautiful sunshine through the unutterable gloom. Our Lord Jesus came to bring life and immortality to light in the Gospel.

In the last days of a good man's life the fear of death is usually destroyed. I am not about to assert that death has no solemnity, nor would I in any way lessen your sense of its importance. But many of our common conceptions concerning death are false and unreal. We have mistaken figures of speech for facts represented by them. Of death as a physical evil little need be said. Not seldom it appears sadly painful. Death is viewed as essentially evil, because it is assumed to be the direct result of sin. It is a penal infliction — the shame and curse of life, the outcome of our guilty rebellion. Thinking thus concerning it, many Christians are as much in fear of death as the heathen. But this theory cannot be true. It is contrary to the laws of reason and the conclusions of science, and it is opposed to the very spirit of our religion. Scripture, rightly interpreted, gives it no support. Death, instead of beings retribution, is a relenting; instead of a curse, a blessing. Whatever of death Adam by his wrong-doing introduced, Christ by His work has thrust out. The physical change called death is not the result of sin. Instead of being a dread shadow hanging over life, it is a beneficent arrangement in the constitution of nature by the infinite mercy of God. It is recorded that, among the half pagan legends which floated about Ireland during the Middle Ages, there was one in which two islands were mentioned, and named respectively Life and Death. Upon the one its inhabitants could never die. Yet all the ills of human life came to its people. At length these did their work. The cruel immortality became a curse which consumed the joy and love of life, and the people learned to regard the opposite island as a haven of repose. Then soon, with all eagerness, their launched their boats upon the gloomy waters of the lake; they reached the isle of death, leaped upon its shore, and were at rest. Death is a change from a known to an unknown state of existence. It is simply one of those changes ordained in the constitution of things through which we must pass. The eternal life is ours now, and in this world. We are within the sweep of the eternal. There is no break in the continuity of a life. Present and future are but sections of the one immortal state. This earth-side is but a small part of life. From the lower to the higher is the law of growth. Life and progress never cease. Death will check neither. Is there not sublimity in the thought that death will but free the spirit from the clogs of flesh, and usher it into a world that gives play to all its powers? Then the death of the body is nothing to be feared. It is but the laying down present powers to take up others. By it the soul becomes conscious of its relations with a new world and a new order of beings. To every Christian heart this happy revelation should come with regenerating power. He alone need fear death who is abusing life. What we are now determines what we shall be then.

(George Bainton.)

I. TO THOSE WHO HAVE TRULY SOUGHT GOD GRIM DEATH IS BUT A SHADOW. To the Christian death is but the semblance of a foe.

II. THE SHADOW OF DEATH USHERS IN THE ETERNAL MORNING. No sooner does the shadow of death fall than the light of heaven begins to dawn. Heaven's morning is without clouds. No cloud intercepts the intellect of the glorified. No moral mists are known there.

III. THE SHADOW OF DEATH IS OFTEN THE PRECURSOR OF BRIGHTER DAYS ON EARTH. Death of one has been followed by the conversion of others. The fortitude of departing saints often dispels the fear of death from the living.

(W. Williams.)

I. EVERY SORROW IS A SHADOW OF DEATH. Our deepest sorrows are not always to be measured by events themselves, but by thoughts and emotions which lie at the heart of them. When we see and feel how griefs and tribulations are used by God, for softening, purifying, and elevating character, we see even here how the shadows of death are turned into the morning.

II. NATIONAL OR PERSONAL JUDGMENT IS THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Perhaps this is the direct reference of these words. Israel may live again.

III. DECLINING STRENGTH IS A SHADOW OF DEATH. There comes the time when irremediable and irresistible disease does its steady work.

IV. UNBELIEF IS A SHADOW OF DEATH. Unbelief regarded as distrust of God as a Father and Redeemer; and distrust of ourselves as destined for the glorious immortality opened to us, and prepared for us by the death and resurrection of our blessed Lord.

V. BEREAVEMENT IS THE SHADOW OF DEATH. We realise nothing till it creates vacancy with us. Some losses we can bear. After bereavement there gradually comes a morning of humble submission and rest in God.

(W. M. Statham.)

The Tekoan herdsman had often seen daybreak.

1. How mightily,

2. How silently,

3. How mysteriously,

4. How mercifully God brought in the brightness of day after the gloom of night.Is not this an illustration of what God is always doing?

I. He turneth WINTER to SPRING. How, when the wild flowers perfume the glen, and the foliage buds in the hedgerows, and birds carol under brightening skies, the shadow of death, that winter so often seems to be, is turned into morning.

II. He turneth ADVERSITY into PROSPERITY. Thus was it with Job. Thus need it be with many in this season of commercial depression.

III. He turneth SICKNESS to HEALTH. As with Hezekiah, "He healeth our diseases."



Amos, Joseph
Beersheba, Bethel, Damascus, Gilgal, Gomorrah
Blackness, Calls, Dark, Darkens, Dawn, Death, Face, Makes, Maketh, Morning, Orion, Pleiades, Pours, Seek, Shadow, Surface, Turns, Waters
1. A lamentation for Israel.
4. An exhortation to repentance.
21. God rejects their hypocritical service.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Amos 5:8

     4006   creation, origin
     4060   nature
     4266   sea
     4281   stars
     4801   black
     4918   dawn
     4937   fate, fatalism

Amos 5:4-15

     5541   society, negative

Amos 5:7-12

     5383   lawsuits

Amos 5:7-15

     5270   court
     8783   neglect

Amos 5:8-9

     4810   darkness, natural

April 15 Morning
Their Redeemer is strong.--JER. 50:34. I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins.--I have laid help upon one that is mighty.--The Lord. . . thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob.--Mighty to save.--Able to keep you from falling.--Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.--He is able . . . to save them
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

The Sins of Society
'For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me, and ye shall live: 5. But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought. 6. Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Beth-el. 7. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, 8. Seek Him that maketh the seven stars
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Evidences Internal and Experimental.
1. The external evidences of revealed religion are, in their proper place and sphere, of the highest importance. Christianity rests not upon theory, but upon historical facts sustained by an overwhelming mass of testimony. It is desirable that every Christian, so far as he has opportunity, should make himself acquainted with this testimony for the strengthening of his own faith and the refutation of gainsayers. Nevertheless, many thousands of Christians are fully established in the faith of the gospel
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Whether, by Penance, Man is Restored to his Former Dignity?
Objection 1: It would seem that man is not restored by Penance to his former dignity: because a gloss on Amos 5:2, "The virgin of Israel is cast down," observes: "It is not said that she cannot rise up, but that the virgin of Israel shall not rise; because the sheep that has once strayed, although the shepherd bring it back on his shoulder, has not the same glory as if it had never strayed." Therefore man does not, through Penance, recover his former dignity. Objection 2: Further, Jerome says: "Whoever
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Kingdom of Judah.
II K. 18-25; II Chron. 28-36. Note: This period covers the time from the fail of Israel to the fall of Judah. It begins in the sixth year of the reign of Hezekiah, whose name is given as the first king of the period since most of his reign was in this instead of the former period. The Kings of this Period. 13. Hezekiah, 2 K. 18:1-20-21; 2 Chron. 29:1-32:33. Reigned 29 years and died. 14. Manasseh, 2 K. 21:1-18; 2 Chron. 33:1-20. Reigned 55 year and died. 15. Amon, 2 K. 21:19-26; 2 Chron. 33:20-25.
Josiah Blake Tidwell—The Bible Period by Period

The Greater Prophets.
1. We have already seen (Chap. 15, Nos. 11 and 12) that from Moses to Samuel the appearances of prophets were infrequent; that with Samuel and the prophetical school established by him there began a new era, in which the prophets were recognized as a distinct order of men in the Theocracy; and that the age of written prophecy did not begin till about the reign of Uzziah, some three centuries after Samuel. The Jewish division of the latter prophets--prophets in the more restricted sense of the
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Whether the Old Law Should have Been Given to the Jews Alone?
Objection 1: It would seem that the Old Law should not have been given to the Jews alone. For the Old Law disposed men for the salvation which was to come through Christ, as stated above ([2065]AA[2],3). But that salvation was to come not to the Jews alone but to all nations, according to Is. 49:6: "It is a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Degrees of Sin
Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous? Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others. He that delivered me unto thee, has the greater sin.' John 19: 11. The Stoic philosophers held that all sins were equal; but this Scripture clearly holds forth that there is a gradual difference in sin; some are greater than others; some are mighty sins,' and crying sins.' Amos 5: 12; Gen 18: 21. Every sin has a voice to speak, but some
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Books of the Old Testament as a Whole. 1 the Province of Particular Introduction is to Consider the Books of the Bible Separately...
CHAPTER XVIII. THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT AS A WHOLE. 1. The province of Particular Introduction is to consider the books of the Bible separately, in respect to their authorship, date, contents, and the place which each of them holds in the system of divine truth. Here it is above all things important that we begin with the idea of the unity of divine revelation--that all the parts of the Bible constitute a gloriously perfect whole, of which God and not man is the author. No amount of study devoted
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Ripe for Gathering
'Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2. And He said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon My people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. 3. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. 4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Arguments Usually Alleged in Support of Free Will Refuted.
1. Absurd fictions of opponents first refuted, and then certain passages of Scripture explained. Answer by a negative. Confirmation of the answer. 2. Another absurdity of Aristotle and Pelagius. Answer by a distinction. Answer fortified by passages from Augustine, and supported by the authority of an Apostle. 3. Third absurdity borrowed from the words of Chrysostom. Answer by a negative. 4. Fourth absurdity urged of old by the Pelagians. Answer from the works of Augustine. Illustrated by the testimony
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Journey to Jerusalem. Ten Lepers. Concerning the Kingdom.
(Borders of Samaria and Galilee.) ^C Luke XVII. 11-37. ^c 11 And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. [If our chronology is correct, Jesus passed northward from Ephraim about forty miles, crossing Samaria (here mentioned first), and coming to the border of Galilee. He then turned eastward along that border down the wady Bethshean which separates the two provinces, and crossed the Jordan into Peræa, where we soon
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Lord Coming to his Temple
The LORD , whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple; even the messenger of the covenant in whom ye delight: Behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like a fuller's soap, -- and he shall purify the sons of Levi -- that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. W hereunto shall we liken the people of this generation? and to what are they like? (Luke 7:31)
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

An Exhortation to Love God
1. An exhortation. Let me earnestly persuade all who bear the name of Christians to become lovers of God. "O love the Lord, all ye his saints" (Psalm xxxi. 23). There are but few that love God: many give Him hypocritical kisses, but few love Him. It is not so easy to love God as most imagine. The affection of love is natural, but the grace is not. Men are by nature haters of God (Rom. i. 30). The wicked would flee from God; they would neither be under His rules, nor within His reach. They fear God,
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

Being Made Archbishop of Armagh, He Suffers Many Troubles. Peace Being Made, from Being Archbishop of Armagh He Becomes Bishop of Down.
[Sidenote: 1129] 19. (12). Meanwhile[365] it happened that Archbishop Cellach[366] fell sick: he it was who ordained Malachy deacon, presbyter and bishop: and knowing that he was dying he made a sort of testament[367] to the effect that Malachy ought to succeed him,[368] because none seemed worthier to be bishop of the first see. This he gave in charge to those who were present, this he commanded to the absent, this to the two kings of Munster[369] and to the magnates of the land he specially enjoined
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

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