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Old Testament Overview - Amos

God justly deals with man's injustices

Introduction (1:1-2)  (1) Introduction to the ministry of Amos (1:1)  (Amos was "one of the shepherds of Tekoa" who prophesied "when Uzziah was king of Judah  and Jeroboam . . . was king of Israel.")  (He was a shepherd.  "Amos answered Amaziah, 'I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’" 7:14-15)  ("Tekoa" was "twelve miles southeast of Jerusalem and six miles south of Bethlehem." (Feinberg, The Minor Prophets)  ("before the earthquake"  The earthquake is also mentioned by Zechariah. See Zech. 14:4-5)  (Jeroboam's reign was very successful militarily and, as a result, Israel had become prosperous and self-indulgent. See II Kings 14:25-29 and Amos 2:6-7, 5:11, 6:1, 4-7, 8:5-6)  ("The days of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel were marked by great prosperity, in fact, the most prosperous for the Northern Kingdom.  Israel was at the height of her power under this king.  The period was one of great wealth, luxury, arrogance, carnal security, oppression of the poor, moral decay, and formal worship; the moral declension and spiritual degradation of the people was appalling." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets)  (Because of Israel's self-indulgence and oppression of the poor, Amos' words provide us with God's attitudes toward social injustice;  whereas, Hosea teaches us about the love of God; Amos teaches us about the righteousness of God.)

(2) Introduction to the message of Amos (1:2)  (The message: "The Lord roars" out in judgment.")  (As when a lion roars; when "the Lord roars," there is a need for fear.  Here, God's judgment will also be as a hot wind that dries up everything, even Mt. Carmel—the place in Israel that received the most rain. See also Joel 3:16)

The overflowing cup of God's wrath (1:3-2:16)  (God's wrath will be poured out on eight nations)  (The reasons for the judgments: inhuman cruelties, 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 2:1; Judah's rejection of the will of God, 2:4; and Israel's brazen rejection of God's grace. 2:6-12)  (The judgment: fire, 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 2:2, 5)  (Fire cleanses by burning away evil and the pollution it causes.)  (The judgment on Israel, 2:12-16)

(1) God's judgment on Syria (1:3-5)  (Each of the judgments in this section is introduced in the following way: "For three sins of . . . , even for four, I will not turn back my wrath")  ("my wrath" is added by the NIV)  (In other words, "three sins" means their sins were filled up to the top and "four sins" means their sins were overflowing—their sins had filled their countries to overflowing. See also Rev. 14:14-16)  (There obviously were not just three or four sins that they had committed, they had committed innumerable sins—too many sins.  Their sins were so many and so great that God's patience with them had reached an end!)  (The reason for the judgment on Syria: Syria was so cruel and heartless when they attacked "Gilead" in eastern Israel (to the east of the Jordan River) that they killed the Israelites by mangling their bodies with iron threshing sledges.)  ("Gilead" was the region east of the Jordan River given to the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh. See Numb. 32; II Kings 10:32-33  These tribes that chose this land were outside of the Promised Land and were particularly susceptible to the attack of Syria.  It is symbolic of Christians who try to live on the borderline between living a Christian life and a worldly life.  (God's judgment on Syria: fire, 1:4-5 See Jer. 49:27)  ("Hazael" and "Ben-Hadad" were kings of Syria; and "Damascus" is the capital city of of Syria.  The "valley of Aven" and "Beth Eden" are regions in Syria."  ("Kir" See II Kings 16:9)

(2) God's judgment on Gaza—the Philistines (1:6-8)  (The reason for the judgment: they sold entire communities into slavery to Edom. 1:6 See II Chron. 21:16-17; Joel 3:4-8  See also II Chron. 28:18)  (The judgment: the destruction of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron—the major cities of Philistia.)

(3) God's judgment on Tyre (1:9-10)  (The reason for the judgment: they also sold entire communities to Edom as Philistia had done. 1:9)  (And, in doing this, they broke their treaty of brotherhood with Israel. See II Sam. 5:11; I Kings 5:1-6, 15-18, 9:10-14  See also Joel 3:4-8)  (The judgment on Tyre: God will destroy their fortresses. 1:10)

(4) God's judgment on Edom (1:11-12)  (The reason for the judgment: Edom's continual merciless attacks on Israel 1:11)  (The Edomites are descendents of Esau, Jacob's brother. See Mal. 1:2-5)  (The judgment: the "fire" of judgment ON Teman and Bozrah, the key cities in Edom. 1:12) 

(5) God's judgment on Ammon (1:13-15)  (The Ammonites were descendents of Lot's youngest daughter. See Gen. 19:38)  (The reason for the judgment: They "ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead." 1:13)  (The only mention of this is in the Bible. See II Kings 24:2; I Sam. 11:1 for references to the Ammonites attacking Israel and Gilead  Gilead was vulnerable to attack because of its location on the eastern side of the Jordan River. See 1:3; Numb. 32)  (The judgment: "fire" on Rabbah their capital city and "their king would go into exile." See Deut. 3:11; Jer. 49:1-6

(6) God's judgment on Moab (2:1-3)  (The Moabites were descendents of Lot's eldest daughter. See Gen. 19:37)  (The reason for the judgment: they burned the bones of Edom's king to lime. 2:1 See II Kings 3:26-27)  (The judgment: "fire" on one of Moab's key cities "Kerioth." 2:2-3 See Jer. 48:24, 41)

(7) God's judgment on Judah (2:4-5)  (The reason for the judgment: they rejected the law of God and followed false gods. 2:4 See Isa. 44:6-22)  The judgment: "fire" on Judah and Jerusalem. 2:5)

(8) God's judgment on Israel (2:6-16)  (The reason for the judgment 2:6-12)  (They are characterized by an injustice 2:6-7a See also 2:8)  (Bribery ruled their courts and not the guilt or innocence of those being tried. See Deut. 16:18-19; I Sam. 8:3; Prov. 17:8  See also 4:1, 5:11, and 8:6)  (Lust characterized their society's pleasure seeking 2:7b)  ("Father and son use the same girl")  (Idolatry characterized their society's religious pursuits. 2:8)  (Amos mixes in here their injustices with their idolatry: they lie down by their idols on garments taken in pledge from the poor—they were supposed to be returned at night so these poor people could use them for warmth. See Exod. 22:25-27; Deut. 24:12-13  Then, while participating in idolatry, they drank wine gained through unjust fines.)  (They rejected God's grace. 2:9-12)  (God first lists His gracious acts toward Israel.  He destroyed the formidable Ammonite giants. See Gen. 15:16, 48:22; Numb. 13:22, 32-33; Deut. 1:20, 28, Josh. 7:7 24:8  He brought them out of Egypt and raised up prophets and Nazarites, but Israel made the Nazarites drink wine against their vows and commanded the prophets not to prophesy. See Numbers 6 for information about the Nazarites  See also 7:12-14 and Jer. 11:21 for Israel's antagonism against the prophets)  (Notice that in Numbers 6 the Nazarite vow is a voluntary vow, but here we are told that Nazarites are raised up by God.  So, both are true.)  (The judgment: God will crush down on them as a cart is crushed when too much weight is put in it. 2:13-16)  (There will be no escape even for the strong, the swift, the skilled, or the brave.)  (This judgment was the coming invasion of Israel by the Assyrians.)

Hear this Israel, prepare to meet your God (3-6)  (God has seen your sins and the time of justice is at hand.)  (Amos gives Israel three sermons on God's judgment on them.  Notice that each sermon begins with "Hear this word." See 3:1, 4:1, and 5:1  Each sermon then gives the reason for the judgment. See 3:1-10, 4:1-11, 5:1-15  Then, each sermon gives a "therefore." See 3:11, 4:12, 5:16  At the end of each sermon, there is a judgment. See 3:11-15, 4:12-13, and 5:16-6:7

(1) Sermon #1 (3)  (Israel must be judged because they rejected God's gracious choosing of them. 3:1-2)  (They think that because they have a privileged position with God, He will overlook their sins.  Rather, the very opposite is true—their place of privilege means that they will be even more severely judged.  Greater privilege means greater responsibility.  How does this apply to us Americans?)  (For just as it is true that there is a reason for everything, so it is true that when the prophets speak, there is a reason for them to say what they say. 3:3-8)  (If we see two walking together, we can assume that the reason for it is that they have previously agreed to walk together.  If we hear a lion roar, we can assume that there is a reason for it—it is because he has caught some animal or is about to attack some animal.  Therefore, Amos' words do not just come from him.)  (God has roared out in judgment like a lion and Amos the prophet of God speaks out God's words of judgment!  When a lion roars, something fearful is going to happen or has happened, for a lion does not roar and then do nothing.  So, when God roars at Israel, they can be sure that something is about to happen, and that God's prophet must proclaim it.)  (Israel's sin is the reason that God must judge and the prophet must proclaim it. 3:9-10)  (Amos must proclaim to even the pagan nations about the sin in Israel and their oppression of the poor. 3:9)  ("Ashdod," a city in Philistia, represents all of Philistia.  "Samaria," a key city of Israel, represents Israel.)  (Israel's sin is so great that they no longer "know how to do right." 3:10 See Jer. 4:22)  (God's judgment on Israel. 3:11-15)  (Amos must declare that God's judgment on Israel will be so severe that only a few will survive 3:11a-12)  (The few that will be spared will be like the few bones of a lamb rescued from a lion. Compare 3:11 and II Kings 17:5-6)  (God's judgment will demolish their false worship and their luxurious homes. 3:12b-15)  (Notice in 3:15 how great their prosperity had become. See I Kings 22:39  For the history of their false worship at the altar at Bethel, see I Kings 12:25-13:3)

(2) Sermon #2 (4)  (God was not blind to the fact that Israel's women were getting fat at the expense of the poor.  Because of their inhumanity, they would soon be inhumanely dragged out of their homeland. 4:1-3)  (Amos paints a picture of Israel's women lounging like fat cows, demanding a drink from their husbands and doing it all at the expense of the poor.  "Bashan" is a territory immediately to the east of the upper Jordan River, to the north of Gilead where the cattle were especially fat and healthy. See Deut. 32:14; Ps. 22:12; Ezek. 39:18  See also Isa. 3:16-26 and 32:9-13 for a similar charge against the women of Isaiah's day.)  (Amos predicts the way they would be led out of Israel with "fishhooks"; and go through the holes "in the wall" made by their conquerors:  "The Assyrians were a cruel and savage people, they did not chain prisoners together; they put a hook through the lip or nose of the captive and attached it to the preceding victim so that line of their prisoners was a pitiful sight of people with hands tied behind their backs stumbling along, no one daring to slow down because of the agony of pain in the face." (John Hunter, Major Truths from the Minor Prophets See also II Kings 19:28; II Chron. 33:11; Jer. 16:16; Ezek. 29:4; Hab. 1:15)  (Scholars are not sure where "Harmon" was located.)  (So, go ahead and pretend that you are worshiping God, and go through your empty motions as if your were offering sacrifices to God. 4:4-5)  (They were adhering to their formal worship and tithing, but their hearts were far from God. See Deut. 14:28, 26:12)  (God had disciplined them again and again, seeking that they would return to Him; but they had refused again and again to return to Him. 4:6-11)  (God disciplined them with famine, 4:6 see I Kings 8:1; and He disciplined them with drought, 4:7-8)  (The drought was obviously from God because it ruined the harvest in one city and did not touch another city.  He disciplined them with mildew and locust plagues, 4:9. These plagues were predicted in Deut. 28:22, 42  He disciplined them with disease, 4:10. This type of disease was predicted in Deut. 28:60  He disciplined them with Sodom-like judgments, 4:11.)  (Amos uses the repetition of the phrase, "yet you have not returned to me" to dramatize Israel's stubbornness.  It was similar to the stubbornness of the Pharaoh who would not let Israel go in spite of plague after plague. See Exod. 7-11  Also, it is similar to the hardness that the world will have in the last days. See Rev. 16:21  See also Isa. 9:11-13; Jer. 5:3)  (Therefore, they must prepare to meet their all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God. 4:12-13) 

(3) Sermon #3 (5)  (Mourn, for Israel is doomed. 5:1-3)  (God prophetically mourns for Israel and predicts their up-coming death.  At that time, 90 % of their armies will be annihilated by the Assyrians.)  (Yet, there is still hope that God might be merciful.  If you "seek" Him, you will "live." 5:4)  (But if they do not seek His mercy, He who controls the heavens will pour His judgment against them for their many injustices. 5:5-15) (If they seek God and not the idolatry of Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba, they will live.)  (Each of these cities were important cities in Israel's history. For Bethel, see Gen. 28:10-22, 35:14.  For Gilgal, see Josh. 5:1-12.  For Beersheba, see Gen. 21:22-34.  But, in Amos' time, they had become centers of idolatry. See 8:14; I Kings 12:25-33)  (Amos lists their injustices.  They had turned sweet justice into "bitterness," because they loved evil.  As a result, God will give them evil.  Also, they will not be able to enjoy what they cheated to get. See Deut. 28:20, 30)  (Notice: the times had become so evil that it was not wise to say the truth, for it would be despised and it would accomplish nothing. 5:10, 13)  (The "day of the Lord" will not be a day of rejoicing for them as they think, but a day of judgment. 5:16-20)  (They were looking forward to the "day of the Lord," thinking that God's promises to Israel were not related to their seeking or not seeking God.  But, the "day of the Lord" will be a day of judgment on their sin, not a day of rejoicing for those who love sin.  It will be a time when there will be no escape from God's anger, and men's attempts to escape will lead to even worse calamities.  "It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him." 5:19)  (Their injustices and idolatry had made their worship services nauseous to God. 5:21-27)  (They no longer offered sacrifices to God as they had done in the wilderness, but their sacrifices were made to idols.  Therefore, God was going to send them into exile beyond Damascus of Syria and into Assyria.)  (Their life of luxury had blinded them to their sin, but God was not blind to their sin; and He would judge them for their sins as He had judged the other nations for their sins. 6:1-7 See Eccl. 8:11)  (The people of Samaria felt secure in their fortified mountain city, but Amos points to three secure cities that had not been able to resist the wrath of God—Calneh, Hamath, and Gath. See also Obad. 3-4)  (Amos gives us some evidences of Israel's national decline at that time—and the national decline of any nation—in verses 4-6a.  A nation is declining when the focus of the nation is on comfort, 6:4a; on eating, 6:4b; on enjoying music, 6:5; and on alcohol. 6:6)  (Notice that they drank wine by the bowlful and not by the glass. Does this not remind us of the fall of Rome?  How does all of this apply to our nation?)  (They were partying when they should have been mourning over their sin.)  (God will humble their pride. 6:8-14)  (God will humble their pride by smashing their houses and by destroying their households.  Then, the fear of God will come into their land. 6:8-11)  (They will become so fearful of God that the few survivors of this judgment will be afraid to talk about what has happened, for fear that God's name will be mentioned and He will strike at them in wrath, also.  They will have an attitude that is completely the opposite of the flippant attitude in Israel that Amos described as being present at the time that he was writing these words.)  (They rejected the way of justice and righteousness, so God was going to judge them by turning them over to another nation. 6:12-14)  (Horses do not run on "rocky crags" and "oxen" do not "plow" there; yet, God's nation has chosen ungodliness, has preferred injustice to justice, and has chosen to take credit for what God has done.  So, a nation will assault them from their northern border at "Leb Hamath" to their southern border at "Arabah."


Five visions of judgment (7:1-9:10)  (1) Vision #1—a vision of locusts (7:1-3)  (Amos intervenes for Israel with God and God spares them from the locusts.)
(2) Vision #2—a vision of fire (7:4-6)  (This may have been a draught)  (Again, Amos intervenes for Israel and God spares Israel.)  (3) Vision #3—a vision of a plumb line (7:7-9)  (The plumb line is used like our carpenter's level.  It is a line that is weighed down at the end so it will line up perpendicular to the ground.  God's plumb line placed next to Israel measured how much they had deviated from His perfect will for them.  The result of the measurement: the time had come for God to judge Israel. See II Kings 21:13-15 for when God would use the same plumb line to measure Judah, the southern kingdom.  See also Isa. 28:17, 34:11; Lam. 2:8)

Parenthesis: A personal note about the type of opposition that Amos faced (7:10-17)  (1) Amaziah's charges against Amos (7:10-13)  (Amaziah was a priest at Bethel.  He was not a priest of the Aaronic priesthood.  The priesthood in the northern kingdom was changed in the time of Jeroboam I. See I kings 12:25-33, especially 12:32)  (Amaziah's charges against Amos that were made to king Jeroboam II. 7:10-13)  ("Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel."  "Amos is predicting your death and the end of the nation of Israel." 7:10 Compare to I Kings 18:17; Jer. 37:13-15; Jn. 19:12; Acts 17:5-7)  (Amaziah's charges made to Amos. 7:12-13)  ("Get out you seer!  Go back to the land of Judah." 7:12)  (He implies that Amos was prophesying just for money.)  (Notice: Amaziah does not say that Bethel is the temple of God but the temple of the king and his kingdom.)

(2) Amos's defense (7:14-17)  ("I  did not choose to come up here; God sent me." 7:14-15)  (He was a simple farmer and he had no intention of being a prophet; but God had specifically called him to go to Bethel.  He must obey God rather than man. See Acts 5:29)  (He was a common farmer who was sent to the big city—much like a farmer from North Dakota being called to be a prophet in Los Angeles.)  (God shows us that he can use a simple and untrained man in a powerful way.  If he used Amos, he can also use us.)  (Amos' message from God to them: "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will certainly go into exile, away from their native land.'" 7:17)  (When one moves away from God, they are moving toward these types of consequences.)  (Notice that Amos concludes by demonstrating that it is not him talking, but God talking. Compare 7:11 and  7:17)

(3) Vision #4—a vision of ripe fruit (8:1-14)  (The fruit is ripe because judgment is near. 8:1-2 See Rev. 14:14-20)  (The judgment will be severe. 8:3)  (Their sin is complete—they trample on the needy and they can't wait until the holy days are over so that they can get back to cheating the poor and making them their slaves.  As their sin is complete, so their judgment will be complete. 8:4-8)  (He will not forget anything that they have done. 8:7)  (Nor would God forget anything we have done, except that because of Jesus' blood our sins are forgiven and are remembered no more. "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;" Psalm 103:8-13)  ("I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isaiah 43:25 See also Isa. 38:17, 44:22; Jer. 31:34, 50:20; Mic. 7:19)  (The judgment on Israel will be bleak. 8:9-10)  (The judgment on Israel will make them go from sunshine to total darkness and from joy to mourning. See Jer. 6:26; Joel 1:8; Zech. 12:10)  (The judgment on Israel will be fair and just. 8:11-14)  (They did not want God's words, so God will remove His words from them. See I Sam. 28:6; Ezek. 7:26; Mic. 3:7)  (Then, when they do not have God's words, they will want them. See 8:12)  (Even the loveliest women and the strongest young men will be weakened by this famine of God's words.)

(4) Vision #5—a vision of the Lord over the altar (9:1-10)  (Neither height nor depth can save them. Compare to Ps. 139:7-10)  (For God is able to do whatever He chooses to do. 9:5-6)  (In 9:5, Amos describes God's power in terms of the most powerful force known to our modern-day world—the power of the nuclear bomb.  Does not this sound like a description of a nuclear explosion? See also II Pet. 3:7, 10-13)  (Israel's place of privilege will not save them. 9:7)  (Israel had become like the heathen, for their sin was like the sins of the pagan nations.)  (Just as God had moved Israel out of Egypt and moved the Philistines and the Arameans out of their land, so he would move them.)  (For God will judge Israel. 9:8-10)  (Yet, He will not judge them totally. 9:8b)

God's grace toward Israel (9:11-15)  (1) God will restore the house and kingdom of David. (9:11-12)  (They will be restored and placed above all the nations. (9:13)  (In Acts 15:16-18, James quotes Amos 9:11-12 and interprets "Edom" as referring to all the nations.)  (2) God will restore Israel's fruitfulness. (9:13) See Isa. 65:21-23(3) God will restore Israel back to their land. (9:14-15)

Key Verses in Amos:  3:3-8, 4:6-11, 5:6, 14-15, 6:4-7, 7:10-17, 8:11-12, 9:11-15

Key Teachings in Amos:  There comes a time when God's patience with man's sin reaches its end. (1:3-2:6)  Affluence can lead to self-indulgence, laziness, injustice (4:1, 5:7, 6:4-7)  God disciplines people to bring them to Him. (4:6-11)  Israel thought that the Day of the Lord would be a good time for them, but it was to be a day of God's judgment on them. (5:18-27)  God can use anyone, even a farmer in an important way. (7:10-14)  We should hunger for God's words, for if we do not hunger for it, God could take it away. (8:11)

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi