An overview of the book of Amos
Books of the Bible
Amos means “burden.”
He was from the little town of Tekoa, five miles from Bethlehem, in Judea, and only twelve miles south of Jerusalem.
Amos was a herdsmen (1:1; 7:14-15) and a gatherer of sycamore fruit (7:14)
God called Amos from the country life to prophesy to the northern tribes of Israel for a period of 10-15 years. As an honest country boy, Amos proclaimed the words of God in the plain speech of the common man (7:10-17; 2 Cor. 3:12).
Amos preached with Hosea in the northern kingdom while Isaiah and Micah preached in the Southern kingdom.
THEME: “Prepare to Meet Thy God”
The main spiritual thought of the book is the spiritual preparation to meet the holy and just God (4:12). The main doctrine of the book is the national restoration of Israel under the reign of the LORD Jesus Christ. Amos begins the book with the fiery return of the LORD Jesus and he ended the book with the national restoration of Israel under the King of kings. He pronounced Judgment upon those who were dishonest in commerce, oppressed the poor, indulged selfishly, and worshiped idols.
The greatest priority of man is preparation to meet his Maker (Prov. 16:1). The first item is to meet the requirements of the righteousness of God (Isa. 64:6) by Faith in the atoning blood of the LORD Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-16). It is man’s duty to prepare his heart by the Word of God (Luke 8:15; 2 Cor. 4:2).
DATE: About 800 B.C. (About 40 years before the fall of Israel to Assyria in 721 B.C.) The book was written during a time of great prosperity in Israel, which had resulted in great evil.
The rich lived in luxury, drank and feasted to excess amid delicate perfumes and soft strains of varied music. (6:4-6)
All of this was obtained through violence and robbery. (3:10)
The poor and needy were sold as slaves, and the false weights and measures were used. (2:6)
The judges were corrupt. (5:7)
To be upright was to be unpopular and to be hated. (5:10)
There are three basic parts to Amos.
Part One – Amos 1-2 Judgment against the Nations
Part Two – Amos 3-6 Judgment against Israel
Part Three – Amos 7-9 Visions regarding the Future
Even though Amos was from the Judah, the southern kingdom, Amos preached to Israel, the northern kingdom, for thirty years. Amos was a contemporary of Hosea, and possibly knew Jonah and Elisha as a boy.
God reminds Israel that He has tried everything within His power to bring His people to Himself in order to prevent their destruction. He lists the things that He has tried. Let us notice them for the lesson.
Amos 2:9-11 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
10 Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
God did not succeed by His goodness at getting His people right, so He turned to punishment, but He had tried by His goodness to get them to turn to Him.
Notice in 4:1 that Amos addressed these people as animals because they were like the hypocritical murderers of Jesus Christ (Ps. 22:12; Matt. 23:33; Titus 1:12; 2 Peter 2:12).
This vicious sarcasm of God (4:4), called the people to sin in the house of worship because they liked to sin and transgress against the law. The phrase for this liketh you reveals the wicked desires of the people. All the religious rituals were for an outward show of self-righteousness, but inwardly the people lived by their own preferences. God uses sarcasm as biting humor to expose the hypocrisy of people (Job 12:2; Mal. 3:15; Matt. 23:24; 1 Cor. 4:10).
Amos 4:4-11 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
Drought. Amos 4:8, “So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet ye have not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
Famine. Amos 4:9, “I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
Sickness. Amos 4:10, “I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
War. Amos 4:11, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
At the end of each verse, notice the words, “yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” Each time after He listed something else that He had tried to do, He used these words.
III. DECLARATION OF JUDGMENT.
Amos 4:12, “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”
GOD’S BROKEN HEART. Amos 5:1-15.
THE CAUSE OF GOD’S JUDGMENT. God tells the Israelites that the cause was not from without, but rather from within. He uses the interesting little story of the lion, bear and serpent. Amos 5:19, “As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.” A man is walking down the street. He comes to a lion. He begins to run from the lion. He turns and runs, only to find a bear coming from the other direction. He turns and runs to his house, gets inside the door, is safe from the lion and bear, leans up against the wall, and a serpent inside his house bites his hand. This is always the case. Defeat comes from within, not from without.
Let us notice the causes of their downfall.
Insincere worship. God hates religious hypocrisy (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Isa. 1:10-15; Mal. 1:6-13). If the heart is not right, the actions are not accepted by God (Prov. 15:8; John 4:24). Righteousness and true judgment please the LORD (Jer. 9:23-24; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 2:15; 1 Thess. 4:1-7).
Insincere service. Amos 5:21, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.”
Insincere giving. Amos 5:22, “Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts.”
Insincere music. Amos 5:23, “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.”
Complacency. Amos 6:1, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!”
Laziness. Amos 6:4a, “That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches.”
Gluttony. Amos 6:4b, “…and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall.”
These beds were used to recline while eating (Esther 1:6; Matt. 26:20).
Pleasure. Amos 6:5, “That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David.”
Wealth. Amos 6:6, “That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”
Amos 7:10-17 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.
14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
Amaziah felt Amos was caustic, harsh, negative, and unloving, but the inspired words of Amos were from God. Amaziah was an educated hireling under the state-church of Jeroboam. Amaziah feared losing his income and position (John 11:47-48); therefore, he tried to silence Amos through a public official (Ezra 4-6; Acts 5:29). Amos wasn’t accredited, recognized, or qualified according to Amaziah, but Amos had the call of God and that’s what counted.
The pointed response of Amos was scathing and salty (Matt. 5:13; Col. 4:6; Titus 1:13).
CONCLUSION: Notice that God had done everything He could do to make His people right with Himself. In the end He had no alternative but to punish and judge His people.
INDIVIDUAL TRUTHS FROM AMOS
Amos 1:3-4 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad.
Amos uses the phrase I will send a fire seven times to picture the fiery return of the LORD Jesus (Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 14:12; Mal. 4:1-3; 2 Thess. 1:8; 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21).
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
The common phrase is birds of feather flock together (2 Cor. 6:14-18; James 4:4). You can tell much about a man by his associations (1 Cor. 15:33). Rebellion seeks out rebellion, apostates seek out other apostates, and true believers seek out true believers.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
A prophet of God is to be temperate in all things, but he is to be a fanatic about the holy words of God (Job 23:12; Jer. 15:16; Matt. 4:4, 1 Cor. 9:24-27). A true prophet believes the word of God and its flawless preservation (Psalm 12:6-7; Prov. 30:5-6; Jer. 36:27-32).
Amos 8:4-6 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?
These people had more desire for money than they did for God. The love of money hinders the work of God as any other sin (Matt. 13:22; 1 Tim. 6:9-10).
Amos 9:13-15 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
The fruitful and glorious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ over the nation of Israel and the whole earth is the greatest doctrine in the entire Bible. Crops, fruit, and vegetables will be harvested every season of the year (Isaiah 30:26). The earth will be regenerated back to the days of the Garden of Eden. The LORD Jesus Christ will teach the eternal truths of the Scriptures and rule over the most peaceful and prosperous kingdom ever known to man. What a glorious and joyous time this will be!