Introduction to the Book of Amos
and Study of Amos 1-4
September 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Amos (Overview)

Amos was a shepherd in the southern kingdom of Israel during the time of King Uzziah, His ministry began before Jeremiah's and was probably during the time of Hosea and Isaiah - as indicated in the timeline below. Although he lived in Judah, Amos was called by God to be a siren of warning to the northern kingdom (Israel) before it was conquered.

Like Hosea and Joel, Amos is considered one of the Minor Prophets, but he is different in that his background is that of a shepherd rather than a priest. He had no formal training in theology, but like David was called from the field to serve.

Perhaps because of his background, Amos had a heart for the down-trodden. You can sense this bias in his story as he advocates for those whose voices are drowned out by the rich and powerful. He also speaks out against those who use religion to justify their evil schemes.

Some commentators say that Amos did not write the entire book. Instead, the content of the book may have been based on the actions and words of Amos, but was written by a group of editors. However, the question of the identity of the real author is one that should be reserved for a more in-depth study because the words and images are worthy of study and reflection - regardless of who actually put pen to scroll.

References used in this study include the following books:

  • Boadt, Lawrence, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ; 1984

  • Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993

  • Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, M; 1991 (with commentary from an inter-denominational team of experts)

  • Men's Devotional Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993 (with daily devotionals from Godly men)

  • Myers, Jacob M, The Layman’s Bible Commentary, Volume 14, The Book of Hosea, The Book of Joel, the Book of Amos, the Book of Obadiah, and the Book of Jonah; John Knox Press, Richmond, VA, 1959

  • The New American Bible, Sponsored by the Bishop's Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Catholic Bible Publishers, Wichita, KS, 1970

  • Peterson, Eugene, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 80920, 2005

Amos 1-4 (Siren of Warning)

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

- Amos 1:2 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

Amos begins in chapter 1 by poetically describing the sins of the neighboring nations and their forthcoming punishment.

In chapter 2 he applied the same poetic phrasing to Judah and Israel, and then gives added descriptions of the sins of Israel. He reminds the people that the LORD brought them safely out of Egypt into the land of milk and honey and he can take them out of that land. The people of Israel turned against their provider and LORD. Therefore they will be decisively crushed – even the swift and brave shall not survive.

In chapter 3 the LORD gives further explanation for the punishment that Israel deserves. They had been chosen from among all the nations to be the people of God, but had squandered their inheritance. Amos provided a clever sequence of illustrations in nature and human relationships in this chapter in order to point out a natural sequence of events. For example, just as a lion roars prior to pursuing its victim, the LORD roars through his prophets with a warning before he strikes. Amos explains that an enemy will come and deal a devastating blow, but there will be a remnant saved:

    “In the same way that a shepherd
      trying to save a lamb from a lion
    Manages to recover
      just a pair of legs or the scrap of an ear,
    So will little be saved of the Israelites
       who live in Samaria—
    A couple of old chairs at most,
       the broken leg of a table."

    - Amos 3:12 (MSG)

In chapter 4, the LORD reminds the people that he is the one gave them rain when they needed it and sent plagues when they deserved it: “he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth— the LORD God Almighty is his name (Amos 4:13 - NIV) “

Reflection and Application

Why did the LORD send so many prophets? Maybe the different styles allowed for more people to relate to the message. In the case of Amos, it seems that his down-to-earth language might be accessible to other shepherds and farmers. For example, his description of the remnants of an animal that were rescued from a lion in verse 3:12, as quoted above, is probably an experience to which his peers could relate.

Perhaps each of us are best suited to bring the message to those who are most like us – maybe the people we work with or others like them in other workplaces. We speak their language and understand their pain. Our mission may not be in a far away land but may be very close by with people just like us who need encouragement.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What words or phrases do you know in other languages?
    2. What type of language would make God’s word more accessible for the people you know?
    3. What is your mission today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven we know you sent many prophets to warn us and provided each of them with unique skills. Help us to use our unique skills to spread the word to those around us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People who make and sell furniture

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Amos 5-9 (We Can Run But Not Hide)

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