Amos (Amos)

Amos is Book 30 of the OT, having 9 chapters. Time to read: 30 mins.

This minor prophetic book was written by Amos about 755 BC to Israel (the Northern Kingdom), pronouncing God’s judgment on them for their idolatry and oppression of the poor. Jonah and Hosea also had prophetic ministries about this time.  The key people are Amos and the people of Israel.

Outline.  Amos, a shepherd in Judah (the Southern Kingdom) was given a vision by God of some of the things that were going to happen to Israel (the Northern Kingdom).  He spoke out against the corruption that was widespread – both religious (worshipping idols) and social (exploiting or ignoring the poor and needy). He declared that God only acts after He has revealed His plans to the prophets first (Amos 3:7). Judgment because of sin was also announced on other nations living around Israel's borders.  Amos saw various visions that reflected God’s coming judgment and he prayed earnestly that Israel would be spared.  The message from God was ‘I will judge my people and scatter them, they will be sifted by other nations but it won’t be permanent’ (Amos 9:8-15). 

Main lesson: * Amos spoke out against those who were ignoring or exploiting the poor and needy.  We also must act with compassion to stop injustice and help those disadvantaged and in need. Jesus ministered to the down and outs, those shunned by society (Lk 4:18,19). Individually we might not be able to achieve much to relieve the situation of those in this position but as we team up with those of similar heart, the united effort becomes a powerful force for the benefit of others.

Key verses and thoughts. * “Can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:2,3).  God had chosen the Israelite nation through whom to show Himself to the world, but they were indifferent , not valuing or fully entering into this special privilege.  Sin had produced a barrier that prevented God having close fellowship with them.  God cannot change, and so for sinful humanity to walk with Him in harmony the change must take place in us – the message is to seek the Lord and live (Amos 5:4,6).

* “I despise your religious feasts and hollow worship” (Amos 5:21). There was pretense and hypocrisy in their worship, thus dishonouring God. The people practiced various specific sins – selling the poor as slaves, denying justice to those in need, engaging in sexual perversion, worshiping false gods, taking advantage of those in debt (Amos 2:6-8). They tried to impress others by observing external rituals but compromised on integrity, commitment and true obedience. What is my attitude when I worship God – is it with a pure genuine motive to bring glory to God or is it from a hidden agenda, putting on a show?

* "I will test my people with a plumb line" (Amos 7:7,8). A plumb line is a line with a weight on the end, which is used to check if a structure is vertical. Although such a simple device, it readily indicates any crookedness – this is a potential weak area that could cause a collapse. God’s word is like a plumb line showing if our ways are straight or defective. Do we measure up by His accurate standards?

See also: hypocrite, idol/idolatry, injustice, integrity, Minor Prophets, prophet.