Introduction to Amos – The prophet’s name means “burden-bearer” and scholars strongly believe that Amos wrote this Book. He was a contemporary of Jonah, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah and ministered around 760 B.C. Since he lived in the Judean town of Tekoa, he was a prophet from the Southern Kingdom and prophesied against the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He pronounced judgment on Israel because of unfaithfulness and rebellion against God’s authority. The destruction of the Northern Kingdom was foretold, but this prophet, like several others, predicted that the Lord would preserve a remnant that was repentant and would draw all nations to Himself.

Amos 1 – A list of judgments against Gaza, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon.

Amos 2 – A list of judgments against Moab, Judah, and Israel.

Amos 3 – A judgment against Israel with the assurance that God never does anything unless He reveals it through the prophets. It is comforting to know that God warns people before judgments come. In the Old Testament times, God spoke in various ways through several different prophets, but in these last days, which started with Jesus’ first coming, God has spoken through His Son in whom all the fullness of deity resides (Hebrews 1:2 and Colossians 2:19). Therefore, let us pay close attention to Him.

Amos 4 – God tried six ways to get His people to return their hearts to Him: 1) He sent hunger, 2) He withheld rain, 3) He smote crops, 4) He sent a plague, 5) slew young men, and 6) overthrew them. None worked.

Amos 5 – A warning to seek God so they could live. Specific problems were: 1) they imposed high rents on the poor, 2) distressed the righteous, 3) accepted bribes, 4) barred justice for the poor, and 5) wealthy, lazy women ordering their husbands to provide more for them. If these were corrected, there was a chance for some. Another warning – for those who were longing for the *Day of the Lord – it would not be good. Exile beyond Damascus awaited them. This prophecy was fulfilled when the Assyrians overran Israel and took most of the people into exile in 722 B.C.

*Note: The commonly used phrase “day of the Lord” always means “judgment is coming.” It does not refer to the Second Coming of Christ most of the time.

I always appreciate God’s concern for the poor of this world and attitudes toward them. What other “god” of another religion has ever had this attribute?

Note on v8: This is an accurate meteorological fact recorded centuries before science discovered it. Rain that pours over land does come from evaporated sea water. I still wonder if science will ever catch up with the Bible.

Amos 6 – A harsh message to those who were at ease and still not following after God. God did not even like the music they played because it was simply an extension of their revelry. Another nation would take them off to exile.

The denomination called “The Church of Christ” uses v6 and the fact that the use of musical instruments was never mentioned in the New Testament as a justification to ban all musical instruments from church. While some may admire their motivation to keep worship holy unto the Lord, their reasoning is faulty and tends to breed legalistic attitudes. First, the context in which verse 5 finds itself has God hating the music at that time because it wasn’t really worshiping Him because their hearts were far from Him. It was not signifying a ban on the instruments but rather a rejection of the people’s attitudes. Second, the NT also never mentions the use of hymnbooks or something like them, but this does not mean they should be banned either. There are several examples in the OT mentioning the use of instruments in proper contexts. If people could use instruments to worship before Jesus came, why not after? If God changed “the rules of worship” He would tell us so. The one change He did mention was to the Samaritan woman, namely, the physical place is no longer important and we must worship in spirit and truth because God is spirit. This is a fairly “wide allowance margin” in my view and underscores the importance of the heart of the worshiper.

Amos 7 – Stand Against the Tide of This World

God shows Amos, who was a herdsman and a grower of figs, a vision of judgmental destruction to Israel by way of swarming locusts. God wants him to prophesy His message to Israel. But Amos pleads with Him not to be so harsh because they are small and weak. Amos’ attitude toward the Jews was a humble one, unlike the Jewish leaders who thought they were strong and invincible. God relented.

Then God said He would destroy them by fire, and again, Amos dissuaded Him. Then God showed Amos a plumb line. A plumb line was a string with a weight on the end. People used it, and still use it, to determine if a vertical structure is completely straight. God was testing something by a true standard. His judgment is not arbitrary. God would use an attack from outside enemies and they would destroy all the altars and places of false worship. These multiple places indicated that Israel was far off God’s standards (plumb line).

A priest named Amaziah found out about Amos’ prophecy against King Jeroboam and told the king about it. Amaziah may have made the prophecy sound even worse than what Amos actually said in order to ramp up the king’s wrath against Amos. Later Amaziah demanded that Amos go far away to do his prophesying. Apparently, Amos had become an embarrassment to the political and religious establishment in Israel. But Amos stood his ground against the priest knowing that God had called him to prophesy there. He prophesied to Amaziah that his wife would become a harlot and his kids would die by the sword, and he would die on unclean soil (probably a pagan land).

Applications for Today:

1) The prayers of a righteous person avails much (James 5:16) – even change God’s mind at times. This is not to say that everything is negotiable with God.
2) When God tells us to do something (and there are always things to do for His Kingdom while we are on earth), we need to stand our ground and not allow the voices of this temporary world prevent us from doing what God has said to do. This world will always resist God (2Timothy 3:12; John 14:17). The fact that we can expect it increases the likelihood that we will stand against it when it happens.
3) Be careful about where our loyalties lie. The priest’s loyalty was to the evil king, but Amos’ loyalty was to God. May our main loyalty always reside with the One that give Himself up for us. It is okay to have “righteous minor loyalties,” but Christ must have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).
4) Often people hear what they want to hear, but if we love someone we will speak truth to them in love. But whether or not to “speak truth” to someone must be decided by our hearing the Holy Spirit, which means we need to be in a close, humble walk with the Lord and not on some high and mighty self-righteous kick. If we are humble, non-vindictive, and have been praying for the person, our truth that we have to give them will be Truth, and not something concocted from our warped way of thinking.

Amos 8 – Using the illustration of a basket full of ripened fruit, God announces to Amos that His people were ripe for judgment and that their end has come. They have trampled the needy and disrespected the humble. They made their products smaller and the prices larger…(ya know, a Snickers Bar used to be bigger in 1960 and it only cost 5 cents! Now its smaller, unless you buy the giant sized one that costs an arm and a leg too).

Back to Israel – merchandising was their priority, not worshiping. God would send a “famine” – not a food shortage but a lack of His Word…ouch! God’s Word provides spiritual food for people, so when it is not available, people suffer spiritually (Matthew 4:4). In verse 9, God uses His symbolic language once again with words such as the “darkening of the sun” meaning “His judgment.” The sun never stopped shining literally. If it had, that event would have been recorded throughout many cultures. Here are the verses that speak of this concept: Ecc 12:1-2; Is 5:30; Is 13:9-11; Ez 30:18; Joel 3:15 all reflected in Matthew 24:29.

Amos 9 – God gives us a more specific glimpse into how He judges His people while not destroying all of them. For some who would not die by the sword, they would be shaken but preserved. For those who trust in worldly things to save their lives rather than God, they would be slain. This judgment would be unavoidable. No matter where people try to go to escape, they will be found by God. God would even command sea serpents to bite those who flee to the sea. This may be a metaphor, but God does have authority over all creatures. Amos ends with the promise of restoration of God’s people. The finishing verses in Amos 9 have two interpretations: 1) literal – Jewish people will return to their promised land from OT times and never be removed again and they will have plenty of food to live on; and 2) figurative – “God’s people” = the Church and this describes Christians (Jews and Gentiles) being restored in God’s Kingdom.

Application for Today: No matter which above interpretation is correct, we can see that God is sovereign and He consistently intervenes in the affairs of men on our behalf, and all things will be fair and great in the end.