Having now reached prophet number five in our studies of the Minor Prophets, I trust everyone is keeping in mind that these are not sermons or a commentary but notes for personal study. Amos has nine chapters, and to get a flavour of the book I have kept my emphasis on God in Part 1. In Part 2 we will concentrate on Amos and his ministry! So, if the territory is unfamiliar, read with an open Bible, meditate, and enjoy God’s Word!
Background details for the setting and study of Amos:
Amos the Prophet. Among the herdmen, a sheep-raiser. From Tekoa in Judah, but his ministry was mainly to Israel, the Northern 10 tribes. A gatherer of sycamore fruit (wild figs). He had no formal training as a prophet and seems to have come from a humble background (7:14-15). In his commentary, John Phillips makes an interesting comment, “The miracle working prophets, Elijah, and Elisha, pointed men to God’s Works. Now a new breed of prophets points men to God’s Word” (John Philips, Exploring the Minor Prophets, Kregel Publications).
Israel the Nation. After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided into Judah (Southern Kingdom-two tribes) and Israel (Northern Kingdom ten-tribes). The first King of Israel was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the man who made Israel to sin. He was both an Idolater and an Imitator (1 Kings 12:25-33).
Jeroboam the King. In Amos, Jeroboam the son of Joash, often referred to as Jeroboam II. During his reign Israel enjoyed relative peace and great prosperity, with the enlarging of the borders as prophesied by Jonah (2 Kings 14:23-27). Note: both Jeroboam’s are mentioned in these verses. Sadly, prosperity generally in a nation, seems to mitigate against spirituality.
Captivity on the Horizon. Amos warns of the coming Captivity, (5:5, 27; 6:7; 7:11; 7:17; 9:4) and the eventual return from it (9:14). The actual experience of the Captivity by Assyria brought Israel as a nation to an end under their last king, Hosea (2 Kings 15:29; 17:6).
Amos and his Contemporaries. Amos was a contemporary of Hosea. In the opening chapters of their books, both are linked with Jeroboam King of Israel and Uzziah King of Judah. Hosea’s ministry continued for a longer period. I again quote John Philips, “Hosea spoke the language of love; Amos spoke the language of law. Hosea spoke from the heart; Amos speaks from the head. Hosea thought in terms of God’s outreach, Amos thought in terms of God’s outrage”.
AMOS-No hope, Israel has gone too far, and God cannot overlook their sins anymore!
Outline: Amos is possibly one of the darkest books of judgment in the Bible, set in the days of Jeroboam II when Israel enjoyed great prosperity (3:15; 6:1-6). However, in the nine chapters, chapter five has a great beacon of light with the threefold invitation to seek the Lord (5:4, 5, 8). This Book is all about God!
God’s Watching the Nations! All nations are before the eye of God and all are responsible regardless of their relationship with Him and to Him. Three gentile nations are mentioned, Damascus, Gaza and Tyrus. Then we have three near relations to Israel, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. Next is Judah, things are coming close. Then Israel! “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” (Gen 18:25). Paul in Romans gives a clear exposition of the standing of Jew and Gentile to God. God may give to some greater privileges than others (Matt 11:23) but is righteous in all His ways. This is a recurring theme in the Minor Prophets.
God’s Writing the Account! “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes” (Psalm 50:21). Here, it is not so much the number of sins, but three and four to express fulness or overflowing. They have gone too far, and God must now judge their sin. Gentiles, near relations and His own people, Judah, and Israel!
God’s Working to reach the Heart! Often in the mind of the sceptic is the thought, “Why doesn’t God do something?” In Amos chapter four it is evident that God did do something to bring the people back to Himself. From want of bread, withholding rain, to overthrowing some like Sodom and Gomorrah, they should have paused to hear the voice of God. “The Lord will roar from Zion and utter His voice from Jerusalem” (1:20).
God’s Waiting for Repentance and Return! To each working God waited for a response. How sad that the Almighty had to say five times, “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11). We need to be careful today that we do not conclude that God is not working, just because we do not see repentance or blessing in salvation! Amos chapter four is a solemn reminder that the working of God is not fatalistic, and that nations and the individuals who form part of them have a responsibility as to the choices they make.
God’s Warning of what He will do! With the entreaties refused, God now warns of coming judgment. “Prepare to meet thy God” (4:12). This, possibly the best-known verse in the book, is often applied in the gospel. However, the context of chapter four is a people who have not returned, so, “Therefore thus will I do unto thee O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (4:12). From the full quotation it should be clear that it is the inevitable that is in view, judgment, and not preparation in the sense of being saved!
God’s Welcome to the Seeker! Has God any heart? Does God really care? Well chapter five gives us the answer and as stated at the beginning of the outline, we have a great beacon of light with a threefold invitation to seek the Lord. In Amos (5:4, 6, 14) life is promised to those who seek! It is important to note that good and evil cannot dwell together (5:14).
God’s Woe to those that are at Ease! Although Amos’s message was primarily to Israel, through the book we can see references to the whole nation! In (2:4, 6) both Judah and Israel are mentioned. In (3:1) we have the whole family which God brought up out of Egypt. In (6:1) we have mention of Zion (Jerusalem), and Samaria, (Israel’s Capital). A nation will be raised up for their affliction (6:14), but it is not mentioned in Amos. In less than a generation they will learn by experience that it is the Assyrians!
God’s Will, will be done! What about the promises/covenants that God made with this nation? Is everything lost? In the final chapter it is interesting to notice, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David… and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (9:11), “I will bring again the captivity of my people” (9:14), “And I will plant them… they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them” (9:15). God will have His Way… Christ will have His Throne… Israel will have her Glory… United! As Christians, part of the Church, we too will have our Association with it all. “If we suffer (to endure, bear bravely and calmly; ill treatments… Thayer’s Greek Definitions), we shall also reign with Him…” (2 Tim 2:12).