Amos means “burden” or “burden – bearer”, he lived in the rugged region of Tekoa, which is located in the territory of Judah about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. He was a shepherd and tended to sycamore fig trees. Despite the fact that he lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, God sent him as His prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel. Amos probably traveled to Bethel to give these prophecies a few years before Jeroboam II’s death.
It was a time of economic prosperity for the wealthy in both nations, which unfortunately led to their becoming morally and spiritually godless and corrupt. Specific warnings were also given to surrounding nations, explaining that their cruelty to Israel would not escape God’s notice and justice.
Amos, like many of the other prophets of God, prophesied of the Day of the Lord. A significant portion of biblical prophecy, including much of the book of Revelation, refers to this period of end-time events. After unsuccessfully pleading with nations to change their depraved ways. God will finally intervene in the affairs of this world to humble its citizens in order to bring them to genuine repentance. In Amos 5: 18-20 God declared that it will be a terrible time. People should not “desire the day of the Lord,” as “it will be darkness, and not light . . . with no brightness in it” ~ verse 18, 20.
The warning of punishment came true a few decades later when Shalmaneser and Sargon, kings of Assyria, invaded and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. The leaders and people of the land unfortunately refused to heed the advice and warning God gave through Amos and Hosea. Despite its predictions of punishment and destruction, the prophecy ends with a promise of a glorious future restoration ~ 9: 11-15.
Outline of the book of Amos.
1. Chapters 1:1-2:5 – Introduction and prophecies against Judah and the surrounding nations.
Syria ~ 1: 3-5
Philistines ~ 1: 6-8
Tyre ~ 1: 9-10
Edom ~ 1: 11-12
Ammon ~ 1: 13-15
Moab ~ 2: 1-3
Judah ~ 2: 4-5
2. Chapters 2: 6- 6: 14 – Judgment against the northern kingdom of Israel; “hear this word” introduces each judgment.
A. Sin is the reason for God’s judgment – chapter 3.
B. Destruction is the result – chapter 4.
C. Call for repentance – chapter 5 – 6.
3. Chapters 7-9 – Five visions of judgment; final restoration.
A. The vision of the locusts, fire and the plumb line – 7: 1-9; confrontation with Amaziah, priest of Bithel – 7: 10-17.
B. The vision of the summer fruit – 8: 1-14.
C. God standing by the altar; the utter destruction of Israel described – 9: 1-10.
D. Restoration of the tabernacle of David; blessings of the restored kingdom of Israel under the government and direction of Jesus Christ – 9: 11-15.
The Five Visions
1. The locusts: Destruction of the nations harvests. Amos begged for God’s’ mercy and God responded to Amos’ plea.
2. Fire: A fire that destroys not only vegetation but even underground water. Again, Amos prayed and God responded.
3. Plumb line: A weight attached to a string a builder uses to measure how straight a wall is. God was measuring how Israel’s religious conduct and behavior. The nation was falling far short of the standard God had set for them.
4. A basket of summer fruit: Israel was ripe for chastisement and discipline. One of the major problems was the lax and careless manner in which the people celebrated God’s holy Sabbath day. The people were desecrating the Sabbath by planning their business ventures even before the day had ended, thus profaning a period of time that God had declared holy from creation and in His Ten Commandments. They were also stealing from the poor with deceptive practices ~ Amos 8: 4-6.
5. The Lord standing at the altar: The altar is a symbol of worship. The meaning is not easily understood, but it may refer to the pagan altar and chief religious sanctuary in Bethel ~ 4:4, thus indicating punishment for false religious worship.
God’s accusations against Israel –
1. Despite God’s blessing them above all nations, they forgot him ~ 2:10; 3:2.
2. The greedy rich oppressed the poor ~ 2:6; 4:1; 5:11; 6:4-6; 8:4.
3. Their justice is corrupt and depraved ~ 5:10, 12-15.
4. They practiced dishonest business dealings ~ 8:5-6.
5 their religious worship and practices were superficial, empty ritual ~ 4:4-5; 5:21-27.
Years later Christ would state: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” Matthew 15: 9.
God pronounces seven disasters that will bring Israel to its knees:
1. Famine ~ 4:6.
2. Drought ~ 4:7-8.
3. Destruction of the crops ~ 4:9.
4. Disease epidemics ~ 4:10.
5. Defeat in battle ~ 4:10.
6. Fiery devastation of the cities in a way similar to how Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed ~ 4:11; also see Ezekiel 6:6.
7. Large – scale captivity ~ 5:3.
Few people realized that dramatic future events implicating our modern western nations have already been accurately recorded by the ancient prophets. Amos is one of the prophets who documented what is ahead for the nations of the world. Some assume that the prophecies recorded by Amos and the other prophets were completely fulfilled by past events, such as the demise of Israel in 722 BC and Judah in 586 BC, or the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Roman armies in 70 AD. Amos mainly prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel. However, under God’s inspiration he also wrote to all 12 tribes of Israel, including the Jews who originated from one of the 12 tribes – Judah.
The nations of modern Israel will face sever and unprecedented national calamities during the period described in the Bible as the Great Tribulation. Amos provides a brief rundown of these events in 4: 6-12 and 5: 1-3. Years later, Jesus Christ in His famous Olivet prophecy also referred to this time in Matthew 24: 21: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Also see Daniel 21:1.Amos predicted that after the nations had learned their lessons, Israel and all nations would be restored and abundantly blessed, both physically and spiritually ~ 9: 11-15. Among the many blessings:
1. The tabernacle of David will be raised up ~ 9: 11.
2. God’s presence on the earth will result in many benefits ~ 9: 12.
3. Farmers will reap bountiful crops ~ 9: 13-14.
4. Permanent peace will prevail ~ 9: 15.
As righteous judge, God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities ~ 3:2, because the people refused to agree or walk together with God ~ 3:3. Furthermore, they
adamantly refused to acknowledge God or submit to His teachings and warnings: “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and the abhor the one who speaks uprightly: ~ 5:10. The people stubbornly refused to heed God’s correction and admonitions. Yet God pleads: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live: so the Lord God of host will be with you …. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of host will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” ~ 5: 14-15. Unfortunately, God’s pleading for repentance fell on deaf ears.
The decision to accept or reject God’s offer for salvation is up to each human being. It is important to act before it is too late.
May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You