Oct 7 Described in 5 Minutes

The Minor Prophets: Amos

Chuck Swindoll’s overview of Amos in his audio message from the Classic series God’s Masterwork.  You can go there to hear it.

Note 1: I added some additional maps and charts not in the original article and marked them out with *.

Who wrote the book?

The prophet Amos lived among a group of shepherds in Tekoa, a small town approximately ten miles south of Jerusalem.

Moody Atlas Map of Israel’s Prophets*

Amos made clear in his writings that he did not come from a family of prophets, nor did he even consider himself one. Rather, he was “a grower of sycamore figs” as well as a shepherd (Amos 7:14–15). Amos’s connection to the simple life of the people made its way into the center of his prophecies, as he showed a heart for the oppressed and the voiceless in the world.

Where are we?

Amos prophesied “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1; see also Zechariah 14:5), just before the halfway point of the eighth century BC, during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel. Their reigns overlapped for fifteen years, from 767 BC to 753 BC.

Chart of the kings of Israel and Judah

Chart of the Kings of the Divided Kingdom of Israel and Judah

Chart of the kings of Israel*

The Kingdom of Israel (or Northern Kingdom, a.k.a. Samaria or Ephraim) existed as an independent state until c. 731 B.C. when it was conquered by the Assyrian Empire.*

Chart of the kings of Judah*

The Kingdom of Judah (or Southern Kingdom) existed as an independent state until c. 586 B.C. when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire.*

Though he came from the southern kingdom of Judah, Amos delivered his prophecy against the northern kingdom of Israel and the surrounding nations, leading to some resistance from the prideful Israelites (Amos 7:12). Jeroboam’s reign had been quite profitable for the northern kingdom, at least in a material sense. However, the moral decay that also occurred at that time counteracted any positives from the material growth.

Why is Amos so important?

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.

What’s the big idea?

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). 

How do I apply this?

Injustice permeates our world, yet as Christians we often turn a blind eye to the suffering of others for “more important” work like praying, preaching, and teaching. But the book of Amos reminds us that those works, while unquestionably central to a believer’s life, ring hollow when we don’t love and serve others in our own lives. Do you find yourself falling into that trap at times—prioritizing prayer over service?

The prophecy of Amos should simplify the choices in our lives. Instead of choosing between prayer and service, the book of Amos teaches us that both are essential. God has called Christians not only to be in relationship with Him but also to be in relationships with others. For those Christians whose tendency has been to focus more on the invisible God than on His visible creation, Amos pulls us back toward the center, where both the physical and the spiritual needs of people matter in God’s scheme of justice.

Copyright © 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

My Observations

After reading Swindoll’s lesson, let’s reflect on the time gaps between the warnings and the downfall of various kingdoms. It’s fascinating to note that there were almost 100 years between Elijah’s first warnings and the final fall of Israel. Following Elijah, we had Elisha and Jonah, and then Amos. This raises a question: does this indicate God’s indifference or His patience?

If God is patient, then why does He show such patience? To help us understand, let’s think about our own experiences. Are we generally patient with people we love? And, on the other hand, are we generally impatient with people we dislike?

Moving on, we see that God did indeed punish Israel and Judah, just as He had warned. The passing of time can have a profound impact on us. It can blur our memories, erode our values, and even lead us astray. We must be cautious not to let this happen. It’s crucial to pay attention to our moral compass, making necessary adjustments along the way. We cannot allow time to distort reality or transform us into something wicked, as it tends to do with so many people.

In summary, let us consider the patience of God and its purpose. Additionally, let’s acknowledge the consequences faced by Israel and Judah as a result of their actions. And remember, time has a way of altering things, so it is vital to stay grounded and true to our values.

As seen at vlr.eng.br

2 Peter 3:1-9 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Click on the "Amos" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here. To join me in this study on Gab click here.