Intro to Amos
The 1st of the writing prophets. The first prophet to have his collection of prophecies written out on a book for the people of God to read throughout the centuries.
For some context Amos prophesies less than 40 years after Elisha died. Amos would be on the scene during the time of 2 Kings 14-15, as well as 2 Chronicles 26
Amos is only known from this book. Although he prophesies in the days of the Uzziah king of Judah (who started well as king at age 16 but later became arrogant and tried to offer incense on the incense altar and lived the rest of his days as a leper) and Jereboam (II) king of Israel he is not mentioned in the books of Kings or Chronicles.
By the time Amos comes on the scene the kingdom had been divided for 150 years. If you recall from our time in 2 Kings both Judah and Israel were politically, militarily, and financially well off during those days. Unfortunately Israel was full of idolatry and though they were doing pretty well from the outside, they were in bad shape spiritually which is why God was sending His prophets to warn and correct them.
Besides all of the idolatry and extravagant living, the wealthy powerful elites of the day were incredibly oppressive to the poor, sick and needy, and Amos was there to deliver a rebuke and warning of God’s coming judgement because of that behaviour in the land.
Essentially Amos comes with a word from God for His people to repent immediately and return to Him and His laws. The people were to repent of their sin and outward religious hypocrisy and return to God’s standard of justice and mercy.
Even though the people were so wicked against God and were completely deserving of His judgement and punishment, God would also give Amos the message of His faithfulness despite their lack of faithfulness. God will announce through Amos that He will once again remember His covenant with Israel and restore them to Himself.
We will see much more about that in a few weeks when we study Hosea next after we finish Amos.
Amos = burden bearer
Amos’ prophetic ministry was mostly to warn of the coming judgement upon Israel and her neighbors. So Amos most definitely carries a burden to go along with His name.
The incredible thing about Amos is that he was a regular guy with a regular occupation who called uniquely called for a unique mission of taking His word to people.
When Amos calls himself a herdsman or sheep breeder he uses an usual word that isn’t the normal word for shepherd but rather a word that is used elsewhere in the OT for a person who owns the herds.
4 King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. He used to pay the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams,
he Hebrew word literally means one who raises sheep.
This is important especially considering that shepherds were typically uneducated illiterate people yet Amos writes like a highly educated man.
Later in chapter 7 Amos will again say that he has no formal training, but was a herdsman or sheepbreeder as some translations have it.
14 So Amos answered Amaziah, “I was not a prophet or the son of a prophet; rather, I was a herdsman, and I took care of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ ”
Unless Amos attended the school of the prophets that Elijah and later Elisha oversaw, it would seem that Amos had no formal Bible education to speak of. He like most of us was simply a man who loved the Lord and His word and was willing to do whatever the Lord asked him to do.
What he saw - The Lord gave these prophesies to Amos by way of visions and he took the word of God to the people that God sent him to.
Tekoa - about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. It seems that Amos delivered his messages at Bethel which was as you might remember a highly idolatrous place.
Bethel was one of the 2 cities that King Jeroboam set up golden calves for the Israelites to worship because he was fearful that they might go to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple.
Jeroboam made it look to the people as if he had provided convenient locations for them to go and worship but as you might remember from our study in 1-2 Kings he actually setup not just false idols with the golden calves, but also false priests, false religious holidays, and a false sense of salvation.
So as Amos will deliver the messages that God gave him at Bethel he is in a spiritually dark place. In fact later on we will see Amos get kicked out of Bethel for proclaiming the word of God there...
10 Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent word to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you right here in the house of Israel. The land cannot endure all his words, 11 for Amos has said this: ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will certainly go into exile from its homeland.’ ” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go away, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. Earn your living and give your prophecies there, 13 but don’t ever prophesy at Bethel again, for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Notice that Amos prophesies what he saw regarding Israel
Amos was primarily a prophet sent to rebellious and idolatrous Israel. He will prophecy to other nations as well, but his primary message was to Israel.
In chapters 1-2 Amos will proclaim a message of judgement against some of the neighboring Gentile nations as well as against Israel and Judah.
Amos uses famously vivid language that paints a very clear picture as he writes that has caused most scholars to believe that he was a highly educated man. I do not know if i believe he was highly educated as much as I believe he was anointed by the Holy Spirit for this task that God called him too just as you and I are today...
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Now notice how God begins to speak here and the immediate way in which He reminds Judah and Israel of His design for their worship.
The Lord roars from Zion and makes His voice heard from Jerusalem - God was not please with the false system of worship in Bethel and Dan that Jeroboam I had setup. God said that the place for His people to worship Him was to be in Jerusalem at the Temple through the system of sacrifices and offerings He prescribed to Moses up on Mount Sinai by way of the Levitical priesthood.
This of course was not the first time that God reminded Israel of that, but it is the way He starts off the prophetic ministry of Amos.
the pastures of the shepherds mourn - Since Amos was a shepherd he was all too aware of the way the land had been impacted by the wicked idolatry and disobedience of God’s people. God had withheld the rains, allowed plagues and enemies to invade and destroy parts of the land and the land suffered severely for it.
the summit (top) of Carmel withers - That is either a further reference or a reference to what God did on the top of Mount Carmel with Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
From here through the rest of the chapter God will announce His righteous judgment upon the pagan Gentile nations that neighbored Israel and Judah.
As we see Amos use this phrase “for 3 crimes, even 4” it will be the wording he will use repeatedly to announce God’s judgement against each nation throughout chapters 2-3.
As we know from our previous OT studies each nation was most certainly guilty of far more than just 3 or 4 sins that were worthy of God’s judgement against them. The basic idea of for 3 even 4 is that they had multiplied sins against God and Amos was sent to proclaim God’s word to them regarding those sins.
Although Gilead was living in idolatry and rebellion against God, they were still God’s covenant people and He is righteous and faithful and will uphold His end of the covenant He made with Israel even though they were living an unrighteous and unfaithful life against their God.
Because Damascus and thus the Syrians who were represented by their capital city (citadel) Damascus had threshed Gilead with iron sledges, (attacked and destroyed the land of God’s people and the people themselves) God was going to send fire against their King’s palaces to destroy them just as we saw happen when the Assyrians attacked and destroyed the Syrians after King Ahaz paid them to help Judah...
9 So the king of Assyria listened to him and marched up to Damascus and captured it. He deported its people to Kir but put Rezin to death.
You might remember that scene that is referenced here about Hazael from 2 Kings 8 when Elisha went to Damascus and King Ben-hadad was sick so he sent his commander Hazael to ask Elisha if he would die of the sickness or not and Elisha and...
9 Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him a gift: forty camel-loads of all the finest products of Damascus. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son, King Ben-hadad of Aram, has sent me to ask you, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’ ” 10 Elisha told him, “Go say to him, ‘You are sure to recover.’ But the Lord has shown me that he is sure to die.” 11 Then he stared steadily at him until he was ashamed. The man of God wept, 12 and Hazael asked, “Why is my lord weeping?” He replied, “Because I know the evil you will do to the people of Israel. You will set their fortresses on fire. You will kill their young men with the sword. You will dash their children to pieces. You will rip open their pregnant women.” 13 Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, do such a mighty deed?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you will be king over Aram.”
Gaza was at that time a Philistine city which is on the coast west of Judah and Israel.
The Philistines took captive an entire community (young, old, men, women, children and infants) of Jews when they captured their land (which was the custom of the day) but instead of putting them to work, they sold them to Edom.
This was especially heinous because Edom was the nation who’s descendants were from Esau. Esau was of course the twin brother of Jacob. In various places in Genesis we read “Esau (that is, Edom)” So the Philistines sold Israelites as slaves to their own blood relatives.
We will see what God says about that in a few verses.
Tyre was a city in Lebanon which is to the north of Israel.
he pursued his brother
The account of this is found in 2 Kings 8:20-22
20 During Jehoram’s reign, Edom rebelled against Judah’s control and appointed their own king. 21 So Jehoram crossed over to Zair with all his chariots. Then at night he set out to attack the Edomites who had surrounded him and the chariot commanders, but his troops fled to their tents. 22 So Edom is still in rebellion against Judah’s control today. Libnah also rebelled at that time.
God did not take that lightly.
Ammon was a neighboring country to the west of Israel.