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But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. Seek the LORD and live.” (Amos 5:5-6)

The final warning from Amos concerns Beersheba, an extremely important part of Israel’s earliest history. It was at Beersheba (the Well of the Oath or the Well of the Sevens) that Hagar was rescued by God after Sarai banished her (Genesis 21:14-19). Hagar later became the mother of many nations through Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18), as well as the biblical type of the outcast and the bondwoman against the freeborn (Galatians 4:22-31).

Abraham improved the well at Beersheba and settled there during the time he made a covenant with Abimelech, the Philistine king (Genesis 21:23-31). At Beersheba, Abraham built a grove and “there called on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33). He was living at Beersheba when God told him to sacrifice Isaac in the land of Moriah (Genesis 22:1-4, 19). Moriah, the site of that willing sacrifice, may well be the very spot on which Jesus was crucified or perhaps the place of the resurrection (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Beersheba figured prominently in the long life of the nation. Isaac made a covenant with the Philistines there, re-dug the well, and lived at Beersheba for some time (Genesis 26:17-33). Jacob was encouraged at Beersheba on his way to live in Egypt with his entire family (Genesis 46:1-4). Elijah hid in Beersheba when Jezebel sought to kill him (1 Kings 19:3).

But just as the other places of great importance dwindled in time and memory, Beersheba became a place often associated with evil. Samuel’s wicked sons lived in Beersheba. They were entrusted with leadership as judges, yet they took bribes and perverted judgment (1 Samuel 8:1-3). They were the main reason Israel wanted a king (1 Samuel 8:4-5). Beersheba became known for political oaths (agreements) with the ungodly.

Lessons from Amos

As the country preacher used to say when he finished his sermon, “Well, so what?” Amos (who was a country preacher) said: Don’t seek Bethel or enter Gilgal or go into Beersheba—“for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. Seek the LORD and live” (Amos 5:5-6). As exciting as the beginning of the new Discovery Center is, as important as it may become, no matter the role that it may play in the lives of many, we do not find God in a place but in a Person. We do not find God in a campaign but in a commitment. We do not find God in promises from men but in power from God.

 God Looks Forward, Not Backward. Historical places and events are lessons, not laws.

 God Wants Obedience, Not Activity. Past victories are to be praised, not patterns.

 God Demands Truth, Not Compromise. Successful negotiations are details, not doctrines.

The original meaning of “Hebrew” is “the people that are crossing over from the other side.