December 14

December 14

 

Amos

 

Author: Amos

Amos means “burden” and truly represents the deep burden he felt over the sin of God’s people.  He lived in Tekoa, a small town about 12 miles south of Jerusalem (5 miles south of Bethlehem).  He was not a trained prophet…but was a sheepherder and raised sycamore trees…a cross between a mulberry and a fig (7:14).  This is perhaps the same area that John the Baptist would later grow up in.  But regardless of his lack of professional training, God had called him to preach (7:15).

Amos may have been slightly preceded by Joel (cf. locusts-4:9). He possibly knew Jonah (prophet to Nineveh) and Elisha (prophet to Israel) as a boy.  Hosea was his contemporary (prophet to Israel).  Isaiah and Micah appeared at the close of his ministry (prophets to Judah).

 

Time written & time covered in history:

While Amos lived in Judah, his prophetic ministry took place in Bethel (22 miles to the north of Tekoa), the religious capital of Israel (7:10-14).  His message was primarily to Israel…but included the whole house of Jacob.

The prophetic ministry of Amos took place between 760-753 B.C.…during the reign of Uzziah (King of Judah, 790-739) and King Jeroboam II (King of Israel, 794-753). He is sometimes called the “plumb line prophet” because he so clearly identified the sins of the people.  However, a crooked wall always hates a straight line.  We don’t know exactly how long he was at Bethel…but he was eventually run out by the King’s orders (5:10; 7:10-13).  So, he returned to Judah (755 B.C.) and wrote his prophecies down in a book so that all of the people could read and understand what God had said.

His prophetic ministry began some two years before a terrible earthquake struck Palestine (1:1).  The earthquake was so severe that Zechariah mentioned it some 200 years later (14:5) and Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that it took place at the same time that God punished King Uzziah for intruding into the office of the Priesthood by giving him leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:16-21).

 

Historical context:

It is just over 30 years before Israel is conquered by Assyria.  At the moment, Israel, under King Jeroboam II was at its zenith…they had regained the boundaries of the glorious reign of King David (through a strong military), and it was a time of extreme prosperity (2 Kings 14:23-29) and peace (Assyria was not yet a threat).  This made the ideas of this “preacher of doom” sound ridiculous and even irresponsible.  However, there was much religious apostasy and perversion.  The people were worshipping at Bethel.  This is where the Northern Kingdom (under Jeroboam I) had begun its calf-worship (2 Kings 12:25-33) some 200 years earlier.  It was still there (Hosea 13:2).  They had also adopted many of the religious practices of the pagan Canaanites who worshipped the god Baal.  Jeroboam II had a private chapel in Bethel…Amaziah was his priest. Israel was properous but there were many social evils (2:6-8; 3:10; 4:1; 1:10-12; 8:4-6).

God had sent Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah…but the people had not responded.  They only hardened their hearts more and more.  Finally, God sent Hosea and Amos as a last effort to bring them to repentance.

 

Doctrinal Theme(s):

The central themes of Amos are:

(1) “captivity” is one of the key words (1:5,15; 5:5,27; 6:7; 7:9,17)…referring the coming attack by Assyria (they literally led their captives away with hooks through their lip-4:2)…God’s judgment

(2) ”return” (4:1,6,8,9,10,11)

“seek Me…seek the LORD that you may live” (5:1,4,6,14)

(3) God’s sovereignty over all things (2:9-11; 7-9)

(4) God speaking…through the prophets (7:14-17)

 

Outline:

Subject/Theme                                     Chapter       

 

God Condemns the Nations                 Amos 1-2    

Amos 1-2               8 Nations Judged

Amos 1:3-5        Damascus (Syria)…had invaded Israel

Amos 1:6-8        Gaza (Philistia)…had conspired with Edom to enslave Judah

Amos 1:9-10      Tyre (Phoenicia)…had betrayed a covenant of brotherhood

Amos 1:11-12    Edom…had continued hostilities

Amos 1:13-15    Ammon…had attacked Gilead

Amos 2:1-3        Moab…had heathen practices

Amos 2:4-5        Judah…had neglected of God’s Law

Amos 2:6-8        Israel…had greed, immorality, drunkenness, and failed to recognize God’s sovereign care for them in the past

God Judges Israel                               Amos 3-6

Amos 3             The Call of God to Return to Him for Help

Amos 3:1-2        The Cause and Effect of Privilege

Amos 3:3-6        The Cause and Effect of Events

Amos 3:7-8        The Cause and Effect of Prophecy

Amos 3:9-15      The Cause and Effect of Judgment

Amos 4             The Failure of the People to Return to Him for Help

Amos 4:1-3        The Women are Consumed with Consumption

Amos 4:4-5        The Religious are Satisfied with Sacrifice

Amos 4:6-11      7 Examples of Their Failure to Return

Amos 5-6          The Future of the People Who Refuse to Return to Him for Help

Amos 5:1-3        There is no help from man

Amos 5:4-10      There is help from God

Amos 5:11-13    Don’t deny the need for help

Amos 5:14-15    Ask God for help

Amos 5:16-17    Everyone needs help

Amos 5:18-20    Don’t assume that you don’t need help

Amos 5:21-27    Don’t presume on your own help

Amos 6:1-11      The great and the small both need help

Amos 6:12-14    What happens when you trust in your own help

God Determines the Future                 Amos 7-9    

Amos 7-9          6 Visions of God’s Control over the Future

Amos 7:1-3        The Vision of Consuming Locusts

  • Amos prays…judgment is withheld
  • Amos 7:4-6        The Vision of a Destroying Fire
  • Amos prays…judgment is withheld
  • Amos 7:7-9        The Vision of a Perfect Plumbline…God measuring the city to show how far it was out of alignment with Him
  • Amos does not even have the heart to pray…judgment is justifiedAmos 8:1-6        The Vision of the Summer Fruit…like a basket of ripe fruit that appears to be beautiful…but is over-ripe on the inside and about to rot…the nation was ripe for judgment
  • Amos 7:10-17    Amos is Run out of Town
  • Judgment is declared to be imminent
  • Amos 8:7-14      God’s Declaration of Judgment
  • Judgment is declared to be absolute
  • Amos 9:1-10      The Vision of God beside the Altar
  • Judgment will be all-inclusive         Syria (Damascus-the capital, Arameans)…had invaded Israel (2 Kings 10:32-33).  Hazel was the founder of the Syrian dynasty and ruler during Amos' time.  Beh-hadad was his son.  They were known for their inhuman cruelty.
  • Amos 1:3-5        Prophecies concerning the judgment of Damascus.
  • Amos 1-2               8 Nations Judged
  • God Condemns the Nations                 Amos 1-2    
  • Amos 1-3
  • Amos 9:11-15    The Vision of the Future Kingdom

1:3 For three transgressions…and for four.  I.e., for repeated and innumerable acts of rebellion (also vv. 6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6).  The Syrians (Arameans) of Damascus literally threshed and mangled the bodies of prisoners under heavily studded threshing sledges.

The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Amos 1:3, p. 1359

 

There are many examples revealing Assyrian severity. A captured king was taken to the capital and compelled to pull the royal chariot of triumph. Rings were put through their lips or noses and sometimes hands, feet, noses and ears were cut off, they were blinded and their tongues were torn from their mouths. Prisoners were skinned alive and set on fire. Their skins were also hung near enemy city gates in order to collect tribute. The Lord allowed the ruthless Assyrians to capture the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC because of Israel's rebellion against Him. They were never seen again.

http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/assyrian-king-lips-eyes.html

 

For a gruesome description written by the Syrian kings themselves of how they treated those they had defeated see:

http://faculty.uml.edu/ethan_Spanier/Teaching/documents/CP6.0AssyrianTorture.pdf

 

Amos 1:6-8        Prophecies concerning the judgment of Philistia.

Gaza (Philistia, Philistines)…had conspired with Edom to enslave Judah (2 Chronicles 21:16-17; 28:18).  It was a center of slavery trade and many Israelites were sold into slavery there by Edom.

 

"The condemnation here is not against slavery in and of itself, just as the previous oracle was not against war in and of itself. The crime is not that soldiers were enslaved after being taken in battle, which was the standard practice, but that the Philistines used their temporary supremacy to enslave whole populations - soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, young and old - for commercial profit. Gaza did not even need the slaves. She merely sold them to Edom for more money." (Boice)

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Amos 1,

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Amo/Amo_1.cfm?a=880006

 

Amos 1:9-10      Prophecies concerning the judgment of Tyre.

Tyre (Phoenicia)… had betrayed a covenant of brotherhood (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1-12; 9:13).

 

1:9 covenant.  Between Hiram, king of Tyre, and David and Solomon, apparently including a prohibition against selling Hebrews into slavery.

The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Amos 1:9, p. 1359

 

Amos 1:11-12-Prophecies concerning the judgment of Edom.

Edom…had continued hostilities (Obadiah 10-12).

 

Amos 1:13-15-Prophecies concerning the judgment of Ammon.

Ammon…had attacked Gilead (2 Kings 8:12; 15:16).

 

Amos 2:1-3-Prophecies concerning the judgment of Moab.

Moab…had heathen practices (2 Kings 3:27).

 

Amos 2:4-5-Prophecies concerning the judgment of Judah.

Judah…had neglected God’s Law and not been faithful to follow it (Amos 2:4; 2 Chronicles 3-19; 2 Kings 25:9).

 

Amos 2:6-16-Prophecies concerning the judgment of Israel.

Israel (2 Kings 17:17-23)…had greed, immorality, drunkenness, failed to recognize God’s sovereign care for them in the past, and forced those who tried to be faithful to God to commit sinful acts (Nazirites were forbidden to drink wine-cf. Numbers 6:1-21).

 

God Judges Israel                               Amos 3-6

 

Amos 3             The Call of God to Return to Him for Help

 

Amos began his message by first proclaiming judgment on the nations that had historically caused so many troubles for Israel.  The people loved this.  Then he turned his message back upon the people of Israel and finally included Judah.  He told them that that made their sin even greater!  They were indifferent towards God…and saw religion as merely an outward pattern.

 

Amos 3:1-2        The Cause and Effect of Privilege

The “entire family” means all 12 tribes of Israel.  Because they had a higher standing with God…they would suffer a higher degree of judgment.

 

Amos 3:3-6        The Cause and Effect of Events

God uses warnings found in nature as an illustration that nothing happens without a warning.

 

Amos 3:7-8        The Cause and Effect of Prophecy

God says that He had sent plenty of warnings ahead of time of His coming judgment.

 

Amos 3:9-15      The Cause and Effect of Judgment

Sometimes when a shepherd tries to rescue a sheep that is in the mouth of a lion…all he gets is an ear, or a leg…just a small part of the sheep.  Even so, only a small part of Israel will be rescued from its attackers.

 

Prayer: Lord, we have had the prophecies of the Old Testament far longer than the people of Amos’ day.  And yet, we seem to be following the same course of sin as they did.  Please help us to hear and understand You, Lord.  Our hearing is bad.  Our heads are hard.  Our hearts are cold.  On our own, we will never turn from sin.  So, I plead with You…give us not just the conviction of sin, but also the power to turn from sin and to repent of sin.

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