The seemingly insignificant country preacher from Judah was directed by the Lord to deliver oracles of judgment and messages of condemnation to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and her enemy nations. Despite their sense of complacency and false security in times of prosperity, God’s people needed to be warned that they could not escape divine accountability for their sins of social injustice, exploiting the poor and just going through the motions with respect to their religious practices. The terrifying visions of coming desolation and destruction were only mitigated by a few short verses regarding eventual restoration and blessing for Judah. The Lord will not tolerate religious hypocrisy, arrogance, materialism, idolatry and widespread social injustice.
People of Privilege Are Not Immune from God’s Judgment and Must Return to the Lord in Repentance to Experience His Blessing
Amos 3:2 “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Amos 4:12 “I will not revoke its punishment . . .”
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”
(:1-2) INTRODUCTION: SETTING AND SEVERITY OF THE MESSAGE
I. (1:3 – 2:16) EIGHT BURDENS – ORACLES OF JUDGMENTS AGAINST THE NATIONS CLIMAXING WITH JUDGMENT AGAINST ISRAEL
A. (1:3-2:3) Against Israel’s Enemies
B. (2:4-16) Against Judah and Israel
II. (3:1 – 6:14) THREE MESSAGES OF CONDEMNATION AGAINST ISRAEL
A. (3:1-15) Message #1 — Judgment Should Be No Surprise –
Israel Stands Guilty of Idolatry, Violence and Materialism
B. (4:1-13) Message #2 — Judgment Could Have Been Avoided by Repentance —
But God Has Reached the Limits of His Patience and Forbearance with His Stubbornly Rebellious People
C. (5:1 – 6:14) Message #3 — Judgment Will be Severe Against Those Who Have Persisted in Sin
III. (7:1 – 9:10) FIVE VISIONS
A. (7:1-3) Vision of Swarming Locusts — Desolation
B. (7:4-6) Vision of Consuming Fire — Destruction
C. (7:7-9) Vision of the Plumb Line – Divine Righteousness = the standard of measurement
(7:10-17) ASIDE – Opposition to Amos and His Message
D. (8:1-14) Vision of the Perishing Summer Fruit – Destined for Imminent Judgment
E. (9:1-10) Vision of the Lord beside the Altar – Doomed with No Escape
(9:11-15) CONCLUSION: PROMISE OF MILLENNIAL RESTORATION
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To emphasize our accountability before God. Every person and every nation must answer to God. Amos pronounced judgment from God on all the surrounding nations. God is in supreme control of all the nations and they are accountable to Him.
• To address complacency among God’s people who live in comfort and luxury and thus have a false sense of security. Prosperity brought increased corruption and eventual destruction.
• To warn against social injustice and especially the oppressing of the poor. The wealthy and powerful people of Samaria, the capital of Israel, had become prosperous, greedy and unjust. Illegal and immoral slavery resulted from over-taxation and land-grabbing. There were also prevalent sins of cruelty and indifferent towards the poor. God is weary of greed and will not tolerate injustice.
• To expose superficial religion. Although many people had abandoned real faith in God, they still pretended to be religious. Merely participating in ceremony or ritual falls short of true religion.
• To be encouraged as we see how God uses seemingly insignificant individuals as His special servants to accomplish His will.
David Malick: Because of Israel’s false worship and abuse of the poor, needy, and upright in the land, the Lord their God promises to judge the people and Jeroboam their king, as he will the nations around them, by leading his people into captivity; and yet he vows to also restore them some day to a time of permanent blessing in the land under a revitalized Davidic dynasty.
J. Vernon McGee: Amos is, in my words, “The Country Preacher Who Came to Town.” I want us to get acquainted with him personally, because to get acquainted with Amos is to love him and to understand his prophecy better. We will find that he was born in Judah, the southern kingdom, but he was a prophet to the northern kingdom. His message was delivered in Bethel at the king’s chapel. It was most unusual for a man to have come from such a country, out–of–the–way place with a message of judgment against all of the surrounding nations. Amos had a global view of life and of God’s program for the entire world—not only for the present but also for the future. All this makes this man a most remarkable prophet.
Hampton Keathley: Overview of Book:
• Seven speeches pronouncing Judgment.
• Five messages describing the reasons for the judgment and just how bad they were.
• Five visions to show how bad the judgment will be.
• Promise of restoration in the future.
John MacArthur: Amos was a Judean prophet called to deliver a message primarily to the northern tribes of Israel (7:15). Politically, it was a time of prosperity under the long and secure reign of Jeroboam II who, following the example of his father Joash (2Ki 13:25), significantly “restored the border of Israel” (2Ki 14:25). It was also a time of peace with both Judah (cf. 5:5) and her more distant neighbors; the ever-present menace of Assyria was subdued, possibly because of Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah (Jon 3:10). Spiritually, however, it was a time of rampant corruption and moral decay (4:1; 5:10-13; 2Ki 14:24).
Amos addresses Israel’s two primary sins: 1) an absence of true worship, and 2) a lack of justice. In the midst of their ritualistic performance of worship, they were not pursuing the Lord with their hearts (4:4, 5; 5:4-6) nor following His standard of justice with their neighbors (5:10-13; 6:12). This apostasy, evidenced by continual, willful rejection of the prophetic message of Amos, is promised divine judgment. Because of His covenant, however, the Lord will not abandon Israel altogether, but will bring future restoration to the righteous remnant (9:7-15).
Chuck Swindoll: Amos was fed up. While most of the prophets interspersed redemption and restoration in their prophecies against Israel and Judah, Amos devoted only the final five verses of his prophecy for such consolation. Prior to that, God’s word through Amos was directed against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbor, who took advantage of others, and who only looked out for their own concerns.
More than almost any other book of Scripture, the book of Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others. It repeatedly points out the failure of the people to fully embrace God’s idea of justice. They were selling off needy people for goods, taking advantage of the helpless, oppressing the poor, and the men were using women immorally (Amos 2:6–8; 3:10; 4:1; 5:11–12; 8:4–6). Drunk on their own economic success and intent on strengthening their financial position, the people had lost the concept of caring for one another; Amos rebuked them because he saw in that lifestyle evidence that Israel had forgotten God.
With the people of Israel in the north enjoying an almost unparalleled time of success, God decided to call a quiet shepherd and farmer to travel from his home in the less sinful south and carry a message of judgment to the Israelites. The people in the north used Amos’s status as a foreigner as an excuse to ignore his message of judgment for a multiplicity of sins.
However, while their outer lives gleamed with the rays of success, their inner lives sank into a pit of moral decay. Rather than seeking out opportunities to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, they embraced their arrogance, idolatry, self-righteousness, and materialism. Amos communicated God’s utter disdain for the hypocritical lives of His people (Amos 5:21–24). His prophecy concludes with only a brief glimpse of restoration, and even that is directed to Judah, rather than the northern kingdom of Israel (9:11–15).