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The Book of Amos

The Book of Amos

I.       Introduction

A.     Author

The author of this book is Amos, whose name means “one who bears heavy burden”. Amos lived in a rustic town six miles south of Bethlehem in the southern kingdom of Judah, called Tekoa. Amos was not a professional prophet, but a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees by profession (1:1, ). Although he was born in Judah, Amos was called by God to go to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to be His spokesman there (7:15).

B.     Date

According to 1:1, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel. Amos ministered after the time of Joel and Jonah and just before Hosea, Micah and Isaiah. At this time Uzziah reigned over a prosperous and militarily successful Judah. In the north, Israel was ruled by the capable king Jeroboam II. Economical and military circumstances were almost ideal, but prosperity only increased immorality, and injustice among the people.

C.     Background

During this period, both Israel and Judah were enjoying prosperity and freedom from external threats. Egypt was in a period of decline, Assyria was also in a temporary decline and Babylonia had not yet come on the scene as a major power. Both Israel and Judah squandered the wealth that this period of peace brought them. The rich were becoming richer at the expense of the poor, who were becoming poorer. But instead of using their wealth to serve the needy, the upper classes were deaf to their cries. Bribery and injustice permeated the courts and immorality multiplied. Both nations were on their way to storing up for themselves God’s righteous indignation.

II.    God roars from Zion (1:1-2:16)

A.     Introduction (1:1-2)

1.        2 years before the earthquake in the time of Uzziah (Zech 14:5; Rev 16:18-20)

2.        The Lord roars (Rev 10:3ff)

3.        Pastures mourn and Carmel withers (Parallel)

B.     Damascus (1:3-5)

They killed Israelites with implements of iron.

C.     Gaza (1:6-8)

Sold the Israelites to their enemies for profit.

D.     Tyre (1:9-10)

1.        Delivered  the captives into the hands of  Edom.

2.        They forgot the covenant that was made with King Solomon (1 Kgs 9:11-13)

E.     Edom (1:11-12)

Unforgiving and revengeful

F.      Ammon (1:13-15)

1.        Waged war to enlarge their territory

2.        Commited great cruelty and was merciless to women with child

G.     Moab (2:1-3)

1.        Desecrated the tombs of the enemies

2.        Commited great atrocities

H.    Judah (2:4-5)

1.        Despised the commandment of the Lord (2 Sam 12:9)

2.        Did not keep the commandments of God

3.        Trusted in lies

 a.      Lies of the prophets (Isa 9:15; Jer 14:14)

 b.      Israel trusted in their own ways (Hos 10:13)

 c.      Idols (Isa 44:14-20; Jer 16:19)

I.       Israel (2:6-16)

God will punish Israel for her sins

1.        Lack of justice: “they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals.” (Mic 7:3, 3:11; Is 1:23; Amos 5:12; Isa 1:23)

2.        Greed: “they pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor.” (Job 27:16; Zech 9:3; Amos 2:7 RSV: trample; Dan 12:2)

3.        Oppressive: “they pervert the way of the humble.” (Pervert = turn aside, way of humble = way of meek)

4.        Sexual immorality: “a man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name” (1 Cor 5:1; Lev 18:8,11)

5.        Lack of mercy: “they lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge” (Ex 22:26, Deut 24:12-13,17)

6.        Idolatry: “they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.”

7.        Refuse to hear God’s word and to follow good example: “I raised up some of your sons as prophets, And some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?" says the Lord. "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, `Do not prophesy!'”

III. God declares ‘Hear this word’ three times (3:1-5:17)

A.     First message (3:1-15)

1.        Hear this word—God’s message against Israel (3:1-2)

 a.      Although the Israelites were chosen out of all the people of the world, they had disappointed God.

 b.      God will punish them for their disobedience

(a)     To those whom much has been given, much will be expected (Lk 12:48; Heb 2:1-4)

(b)     Live a life worthy of God’s calling (Eph 4:1; Phil 1:27; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:10, 12; 2 Thess 1:5, 11)

2.        Cause and effect (A3:3-8)

3.        God calls to Ashdod and Egypt to witness Israel’s oppression (3:9-10)

Those who plunder others will themselves be plundered.

4.        Only a few will be spared and go to captivity (:11-12)

5.        God’s promise to destroy the altar and the great houses (3:13-15)

B.     Second message (4:1-13)

1.        Hear this word – God’s message against women who oppress the poor (4:1-3)

2.        Israel’s superficial offering (4:4-5)

 a.      Their worship incurs more sins

 b.      They offer sacrifices but fail to change inwardly (Mt 6:1; Isa 66:1-4)

3.        God’s disciplines (4:6-13)

 a.      Famine (4:6)

 b.      Drought (4:7-8)

 c.      Blight, mildew and locusts (4:9)

 d.      War (4:10)

 e.      Cities destroyed by fire (4:11)

C.     Third message (5:1-17)

1.        Hear this word - Lamentation to Israel (5:1-3)

 a.      Israel will not rise again.

 b.      The people will not be brought back to the Land of Promise.

2.        Seek God and be delivered from His wrath (5:4-7; 1 Sam 7:1-12)

3.        God’s doings (5:8-9)

4.        Israelites’ characteristics (5:10-13)

5.        Seek good to obtain God’s grace (5:14-15)

 a.      Seek good and not evil (14)

 b.      Hate evil, love good (15)

 c.      Establish justice in the gate (15)

6.        Lord will pass through the Israelites (5:16-17; Ex 12:12, 23)

IV.  The Three Woes (5:18-6:14)

A.     The First Woe (5:18-27)

1.        Woe to those who desire the day of the Lord (5:18-20; Mt 24; Zech 2:3)

2.        What God desires (Amos 5:21-27; Mic 6:8)

B.     The Second Woe (6:1-2)

Woe to those who are at ease and trust in Samaria (Lk 6:24-26)

C.     The Third Woe (6:3-14)

1.        Woe to the oppressors (6:3-7)

2.        Prophesizing the destruction (6:8-14)

V.     Visions and Prophecies (7:1-9:15)

A.     The First Vision and its Prophecies (7:1-17)

1.        The vision of the plumb line (7:1-9; Isa 28:17)

Amos intercession (7:1-6)

2.        Prophesying Amaziah’s punishments (7:10-17)

‘Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah.  There eat bread, and there prophecy. Do not prophesy against Israel and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ (v.12, 16)

 a.      Amaziah did not reject men, but God, and as a result he lost everything.

 b.      He served for material benefits

 c.      He lacked discernment

B.     The Second Vision and its Prophecies (8:1-14)

1.        Vision of a basket of summer fruit (8:1-3; cf. Jer 1:11-15; 24:1-10; Dan 2:35; Mt 24:32; Mk 13:28; Lk 21:30)

The end is near and judgment is nigh.

2.        Prophesying against the oppressors (8:4-10)

3.        Prophesying the famine of hearing God’s word (8:11-14)

C.     The Third Vision and its Prophecies (9:1-15)

1.        The vision of striking the doorposts (9:1-4)

 a.      Standing by the altar (1 Kgs 1:50-52) = witness

 b.      Striking the door post = Destroying the whole building

(a)     Doorpost = lintel of the door = capital of the pillar

(b)     Like Samson, he destroyed the whole building by pushing the pillars (Judg 16:26ff)

 c.      No one can hide from the wrath and punishment of God.

2.        The prophecy of sifting among the chosen people of God (9:5-10; cf Lk 22:31; 23:32; Isa 30:28)

 a.      God will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob because of the righteous within.

 b.      God will destroy all the sinners who do not fear God and are righteous in their own eyes.

3.        Prophecy of raising up the tabernacle of David (9:11-12; cf Acts 15:16-17)

4.        Prophecy of bringing back the captives to the Promised Land (9:13-15)

 a.      People will reap what they sow

 b.      After God chastises, God will rebuild His kingdom and the chosen people will bear abundant fruits (Joel 3:18; Ezek 47:1-12).