Amos means Burden-Bearer.
Author: Amos, a native of Judean town of Tekoa, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem is the author of this prophetical book. He is said to be the first writing prophet; thus making this to be the first written prophetical book of the Bible with only exception if Jonah wrote the book of Jonah. Amon was not a prophet by profession, but a “herdsman and a dresser of Sycamore figs.” But God entrusted him with a special task of conveying the divine message to the people of Northern Kingdom.
Contemporary prophets: Hosea to Israel, and Micah and Isaiah to Judah.
Date: He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.) in Israel and Uzziah (792-740 B.C.) in Judah. His ministry is said to be only for two years period between 760 and 750 B.C.
Background: As we have learnt earlier, mid eighth century B.C. was a time of prosperity and victory for both Israel and Judah. Under Jeroboam II, Israel had gained control of the international trade routes (2 Kings 14). Both kingdoms reach new heights in politics and military, BUT the spiritual condition was at an all-time low. There were widespread Idolatry and immorality, and the poor were oppressed by the rich living in luxury. Judicial system was corrupt. People interpreted the prosperity as the sign of God’s pleasure on them. But Amos job was to deliver the message that God was displeased with the nation. God’s patience is exhausted and punishment was inevitable. But for change of heart, the nation would be destroyed. The possible fruit of change is recorded in Amos 5:24, “let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Content: Key message is the MESSAGE OF JUDGMENT, Judgement on 8 nations including Judah and Israel.
1. Damascus, 2. Gaza, 3. Tyre, 4. Edom, 5. Ammon, 6. Moab, 7. Judah, and 8. Israel.
Outline of Amos:
I. Introduction 1:1&2
II. Judgement on the nations 1:3-2:16
1. Damascus 1:3-5, 2. Gaza (1:6-8), 3. Tyre (1:9 & 10), 4. Edom (1:11 & 12)
5. Ammon (1:13 – 15), 6. Moab (2:1-3), 7. Judah (2:4 & 5), 8. Israel. (2:6-16)
III. Oracles against Israel 3:1- 6:14
1. Judgement on Chosen people
2. Judgement on God’s unresponsive people
3. Judgment on God’s unrepentant people
IV. Visions of Judgement 7:1 – 9:10
1. Relented vision, 2. Unrelated vision
V. Restoration of Israel 9:11 – 15
1. Tabernacle of David raised up, 2. The Land and the people restored and blessed
This indicated the judgment on Israel is not final and there will be a restoration.
Through book of Jonah we understood the love and mercies of God extended beyond the Chosen people. The key theme in Amos is the universal Justice of God.
Key Themes: (ESV Study Bible)
1. The Lord (Yahweh) is the Creator of the universe; therefore his ethical norms are universal, and all people are subject to judgment in light of them.
2. Justice and righteousness in the treatment of other people are the key evidences of a right relationship to the Lord.
3. Religious ritual in the absence of just and righteous treatment of others is disgusting to God.
4. Israel’s covenant with the Lord did not guarantee special protection for them when they broke the covenant. Rather, it meant that they would be held to a higher standard of obedience and would be subject to more scrutiny in judgment.
5. Thus, the “day of the Lord” would not be a time of miraculous deliverance for unrepentant Israel. Rather, it would be a time of terrible destruction.
6. Yet a faithful remnant would be preserved and would someday see a day of glorious restoration and blessing