Introduction and Background

Amos, the author of the book that bears his name, was from the small town of Tekoah, about six miles south of Bethlehem. He lived as a shepherd until he was called to speak the word of God to the nation of Israel. Amos prophesied from approximately 786-746 B.C, during the reign of Uzziah in Judah, and Jeroboam in Israel.His name is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “to carry a load”. His name is in no doubt congruent to his message, which was a huge burden to anyone who heard it.
The theological theme of Amos is the justice of God’s judgment, not only in reference to Israel, but for all the nations. God uses Amos to show that, regardless of the Mosaic Law, Israel’s judgment is fair because of their own injustice towards other people. The fact that Israel is a privileged nation only makes their judgment greater, because they knew the law of God, and still chose to disobey.

Is God’s judgment fair?

Upon hearing the decree against them, Israel starts questioning God’s justice. Their reasoning: We are God’s chosen people, how can we be judged with the other nations? However, it is this very thing that condemns them (Amos 4:2). As a nation with special access to God, Israel was held at a higher standard than the other nations, and for their failure to worship God alone they would be judged. Israel also attempted to plead ignorance, but this was even more futile. Israel had the Law of the LORD since before they were an established nation, and the Lord sent numerous prophets to his people, warning them about their sin (Amos 4:6-7).
Amos goes on to list the offenses that God holds against Israel. The first item on the list was Israel’s arrogance (Amos 4:1). They thought they could oppress the poor and the needy and get away with it; they thought God would not hold them accountable. Israel was also grossly involved in idolatry(Amos 4:4). Since God brought Israel out of Egypt, the nation had always worshiped other gods. Even now that Israel faced extermination as a people they refused to return to the Lord their God. Israel was also held accountable for their ignorance concerning judgment (Amos 4:6-13). The Lord lists many plagues and hardships he set upon Israel, to alert her to the judgment to come, but she would not listen. The final accusation is against Israel for their great injustice. The judges are consumed by greed, and use their position to gain possessions for themselves.

Israel’s Judgment

The next image Amos gives is of great mourning (Amos 5:1-2). Amos describes a funeral, because the Lord has passed through Israel and has left her completely destitute. Just as the Lord passed through Egypt and brought death to the first born, so will the Lord pass through Israel and bring death to the all the people.
Amos’ message continues with the Lord pronouncing two woes. The first woe is against Samaria for their false security. Instead of placing their confidence in the Lord, the people of Samaria put their trust in the strongholds and fortresses which the Lord gave them (Amos 6:1). The second woe is against those who are ignorant concerning the Day of the Lord (Amos 5:20). Israel viewed the Day of the Lord as a time when they will be uplifted and their enemies obliterated. While this is true, Israel will also be judged for her transgressions. If Israel was as devoted to the Lord as they claimed to be, then they would have known the full implications of the Day of the Lord, and not have questioned the Lord’s justice (Amos 5:21-22).

Visions of God’s Judgment

In this next section, Amos describes four visions that he received from the Lord. The first two visions are not actual prophecies, but are hypothetical judgments that the Lord could have instigated, if he were not just (Amos 7:2-3). The third vision is of the Lord with a plumb-line, a tool for measuring straight lines. The Lord declares that he will set Israel against this plumb-line to expose their crooked paths, and then he will destroy them because they do not measure up (Amos 7:8). In the fourth vision, the Lord compares Israel to a basket of summer fruit. The Lord is saying that as summer fruit is incredibly ripe, so is Israel ripe for judgment. Another thing the Lord could be inferring is that Israel’s sin has gone so far that they are only good eating, or being tossed out. Either way they are destroyed.
Amos has already proved beyond any doubt that the Lord is righteous in his justice, so now he describes just how Israel will be judged. The end is already known, Israel will be exiled, but there will also be immediate judgment. Israel will be judged in four ways. First, they will encounter an earthquake like they never experienced before (Amos 8:8). This earthquake is undoubtedly the one referenced in 1:1 of Amos. The earthquake was direct judgment on the land itself, which had been corrupted by the wickedness of the people.Israel will then expereince an eclipse. The sifnificance of the eclipse is that Israel will lose the sun. Israel depended on the sun for knowing the times and seasons, but most importantly for their religious rituals. Not only would Israel not be able to continue their pagan rituals, but they would also not be able to worship the Lord, if they attempted to appease his wrath (Amos 8:10). This leads into the next judgment, which was a removal of revelation from Israel. Amos describes the event as a famine for the word of the Lord (Amos 8:11). The people could search from sea to sea, and over all corners of the earth, and they would not find the Lord. Israel's final judgment is physical thirst (Amos 8:13). Israel's spiritual thirst for the word of the Lord is manifested in a drought that will affect the entire nation.

Prophecy of the Day of the Lord

Amos sums up this section on judgment with the final and complete judgment. The vision is of the Lord, standing at the altar and pronouncing judgment on all the nations. (Amos 9:1) In the past, Israel would not have been included, but now the Lord sees them as every other nation. The scene Amos describes is of extreme terror as Israel attempts to flee from the wrath of the Lord, but no matter where they go they cannot escape the hand of the Lord.
Amos ends his prophetic book with a promise that the Lord’s indignation will not last forever. (Amos 9:13) The prophecy describes a complete reversal of everything the Lord has taken away: the land, the food, and the people. Amos also prophesies concerning the resurrection of the Messiah. He refers to the Messiah as the “fallen booth of David”, (Amos 9:11) but declares that the Lord will raise him up, and rebuild the line of David to its former glory.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref1|[1]]] Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1957.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref2|[2]]] Limburg, James. Interpretation: Hosea-Micah. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1935.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref3|[3]]]Hubbard, David Allan. Joel and Amos. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref4|[4]]]Hubbard, David Allan. Joel and Amos. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref5|[5]]]Limburg, James. Interpretation: Hosea-Micah. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1935.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref6|[6]]]Hubbard, David Allan. Joel and Amos. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989.

[[file:/C:/Users/Ruth/Documents/Fall 2010/Minor Prophets/WIKI Article- Amos.docx#_ftnref7|[7]]] Smith, Gary V. Amos: A Mentor Commentary. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications,