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1. When someone “let you have it” for all the things they held against you, how did you feel? What did you do?
2. Where you live and work, are you among the “nobles” or the “masses”? Why?
3. This sermon elaborates what God said about the condition of the people in verse 7. What have the people in the first woe (verse 8) done that is so offensive to the Lord (see also chapter 3:14, 15)?
4. How would you react if you reaped only 10% of what you had sown (verse 10)? How does this curse contrast with the promise of blessing in Amos 9:13 – 15? Why will judgment come upon these people?
5. Who gets hit with the second woe and why (verses 11 – 17)? How contemporary does their lifestyle sound to you? What are their offenses? Does their judgment seem appropriate?
6. What role reversal do you see in the fate of the “arrogant” (verse 15) and that of the “lambs” and “sheep” (verse 17)? Who’s who in this portrait of justice?
7. Who gets hit with the third woe and why (verses 18, 19)? In today’s images, how would you describe what they are doing with these “cords of deceit”? What sarcasm do you hear between the lines?
8. How would you describe the sin of those deserving the fourth woe (verse 20)? The fifth woe (verse 21)? How do they relate? What effect would these woeful people have on others who tried to follow God’s ways?
9. Although the sixth woe (verses 22 – 24) starts off in a similar way to that in verses 11 – 17, what is the focus of God’s judgment here? How does Isaiah emphasize the completeness of the judgment they will face? On what grounds will that judgment come?
10. Verse 25 sums up God’s anger against all the “bad fruit” described so far. If judgment has already come to Judah (chapter 1:5 – 7), why is yet more punishment necessary? What will be the climatic judgment they have to face (verses 26 – 30)? What are these invaders like?
11. How will this prophecy be fulfilled by Assyria during Isaiah’s lifetime (see 2 Kings 18:17 – 25) and later by Babylon (see 2 Kings 25:1 – 7)?
12. Which one of these woes gets you cheering, “Hit ’em again, harder . . . harder!”? Is there any particular person or group where you live or work whom you would like to see get their due punishment?
13. Which of these woes could make you say, “Woe is me!”? Why that one?
14. “Trading places” is a common fantasy many poor people have in their view of the rich. Are there any rich in whose “pasture” you would love to graze (as do the sheep and lambs in God’s great reversal – verse 17)? In your society, what are some compelling examples of evil which others call good and vice versa (verse 20): pornography? abortion? adultery? cheating on taxes? cheating on exams? getting rich at the expense of the poor?
15. What lessons from war do you think God wants you to learn?
16. Does the woeful reality of chapter 5 make you hunger all the more for the hopeful vision of chapter 2:1 – 4? Why is it some people never appreciate the good news of peace without first hearing the bad news of war?