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The Big Book–Cover to Cover: Amos

Michael teaches an overview of the book of Amos, perhaps the oldest book of the Minor Prophets.

The prophet Amos strives to remind God’s people who He is, what He has promised, and to contend that He will indeed do as He said. He is unchanging and His Word is sure.

Show Notes:

Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the
sheepherders from Tekoa, which he envisioned in visions
concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the
days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before
the earthquake.

Cross-reference: 2 Chronicles 26:16-20

“In the meantime, a great earthquake shook the
ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays
of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king’s face,
insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately; and
before the city, at a place called Eroge, which will half the mountain
broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled itself four furlongs,
and stood still at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the
king’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. (226) Now, as
soon as the priest saw that the king’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and
commanded that he should go out of the city as a polluted
person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper,
and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict, that he did as
he was commanded, and underwent this miserable and terrible
punishment for an intention beyond what befitted a man to have,
and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. (227)
So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life,
while his son Jotham took the government; after which he died
with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him, when he had
lived sixty-eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two; and was
buried by himself in his own gardens.” (1.)

Archeological excavations at Hazor (haht-zor) and Samaria have uncovered
evidence corresponding to a violent earthquake in Israel cir. 760BC

Amos prophesied during a period of national optimism in
Israel… But below the surface, greed and injustice were
festering.

Hypocritical religious motions had replaced true worship, creating a false sense of security and a growing callousness to God’s disciplining hand. Famine, drought, plagues, death, destruction—nothing could force the people to their knees.

Amos, the country-farmer-turned-prophet, lashes out at sin unflinchingly, trying to visualize the nearness of God’s judgment and mobilize the nation to repentance. The nation, like a basket of rotting fruit, stands ripe for judgment because of its hypocrisy and spiritual indifference. (2.)

Amos was a contemporary of Hosea, who also addressed the northern kingdom of Israel––yet, in some respects, the two prophets had different messages.

Amos was a peasant, a herdsman, a fruit picker from a small town in Judah. From his own admission, an unlikely if not unqualified messenger: Amos 7:14-15

In Hosea we read of God’s love even through the judgment to come. Amos’ message reminds Israel of God’s righteousness and justice, and that He will implement His wrath and justice

General Observations

9 chapters, 146 verses

Repetitions:

  • 88 times I most referencing the Lord speaking
  • 83 times The Lord
  • 51 times I will:
    • I will not revoke (8 times) its punishment
    • I will send fire
    • I will also break the
    • I will not revoke punishment
    • I will also cut off
    • I will even unleash My power
    • I will kindle a fire
    • I will punish you for all your iniquities
    • I will also punish the altars of Bethel
    • I will also smite the winter house
    • I will not accept
    • I will not even listen to the sound of your harps
    • I will rise up against
    • I will never forget any of their deeds
    • I will turn your festivals into mourning
    • I will shake the house of Israel
  • 21 times says the Lord
  • 10 times transgressions
  • 6 times hear (i.e. in reference to hear the word of the Lord)
  • 5 times in that day re. the to coming judgment

Outline:

  • Amos 1 – 2 Eight Oracles: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel (the most extensive).
  • Amos 3 – 6 Three Sermons: Present, Past, and Future
  • Amos 7- 9:10 Five Visions: Locusts, fire, plumb line, Amaziah, summer fruit, and the sword of judgment
  • Amos 9:11-15 Five Promises: United kingdom (“tent” over divided kingdom, returning to united kingdom, Davidic Dynasty – Messianic Kingdom), rebuilt walls, Israel’s remnant returned and other nations (goyim) welcomed as per Abrahamic Covenant (cp. also Is. 9:1-7; 11:113, et. al. Remarkable Amos 9:11-12 is cited at the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:1-20), God removes curses and brings blessing: prosperity in the land, return and “planted” in the promised land.

Palistrophe/Chiasm

Careful study of the book also suggests a palistrophe, i.e., the entire book can be views as an extended chiasm. Within Amos, chapter 5:8-9 is the “center” and generally regarded as a hymn fragment:

A Dirge – Fallen Israel 5:1-9
B Call to seek the Lord 5:4-6
C Complaint of injustice 5:7
D “Doxology” 5:8-9
C’ Protesting injustice 5:10-13
B’ Call to seek good and not evil 5:14-15
A’ Mourning – wailing 5:16-17

Doxology – ology is the study, doxa means glory. the study of glory. When we sing a doxology, we’re worshiping God for who He is. It’s a vertical offering of praise. Amos 5:8-9

Observations/Lessons

  1. The Lord roars. Amos 1:2, Amos 3:4, Amos 8 –– the image is evergreen. God’s judgments are loud, clear, and strike fear in our hearts. Yet, like Israel, when we ignore, live in sin, are apathetic, or perhaps in rebellion, we ignore the warnings. Interesting to see that this was a time of prosperity and relative ease.
  2. I will (51 times!) When I read those passages, it causes me to examine myself – what am I doing to which God’s saying, “I will–” In studying Scripture, if anything gives you pause, I would stay with it a while. When I read these ‘I will’s it gives me pause.
  3. What keeps us from returning to Him? Amos 4:6-11: ‘Yet you have not returned to me, declares the Lord.’ In close connection to ‘I will,’ the point of judgment, conviction, calling out sinners, is for us to repent, to come to Him. You can only warn/admonish a person so many times. Proverbs refers to those who won’t turn/repent as fools.Amos 4:12 Prepare to meet your God.
  4. Seek the Lord that you may live. (Amos 5:4, Amos 5:6) A casual reader can see the progression of this book. The Lord roars, His judgment is loud and clear and should strike fear in the heart of anyone. I will – He’s going to do these things and we can be sure of this. Yet, we don’t return. If we don’t return, prepare to meet your God––or, you can seek the Lord now!
  5. God will send a famine on the land (Amos 8:11-12). Hard to envision a time for Israel, or us, when there’s a famine and a hunger and thirst for God’s Word. In a post-Christian culture, an environment that is essentially hostile to Christianity, if you’re a Christian and you say something someone disagrees with, you’re going to be ridiculed for it. But the good news is that at some point it becomes inane, it will be so flat, so irrelevant, that no “truth” exists in this morally relative worldview––and maybe this is the context into which God will send His people to share His word, and it will be salt to to the dry hearts and minds of people who long to know His word.
  6. God’s future is bright. God’s future is perfect. Amos 9:11-15Interesting that a book this hard and heavy ends with these five promises. These promises are a wonderful ending that this book’s recipients would not see in their lifetime.

Special note on Amos 9:14, 15 plant: נָטַע

God brought a vine, his people, out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 15:17) and planted it (Psalm 80:8 [H 9]) with his own hand (Ps 80:15); cf. Psalm 44:2 among choice vines (Isaiah 5:2). Indeed, they were “his pleasant planting” (Isaiah 5:7). Yet with all this care, God’s vine became a wild vine (Jeremiah 2:21). He longed once again to call them “the shoot of my planting” (Isaiah 60:21) for they were meant to be the “planting of the lord (Isaiah 61:3). Before this could be, however, God told Israel that they must first be uprooted and exiled from their land: ”Thus says the lord: “What I have planted I am plucking up, that is, the whole land” (Jeremiah45:4; cf. Jeremiah 24:6). But this would not be a permanent transplant, for God specified in his covenant with David, “I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more” (2 Samuel 7:10; 1 Chronicles 17:9). Later, God’s last word through Amos reiterated the promise: “I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them” (Amos 9:15; cf. Jeremiah 31:28; 32:41). (3.)

 

Resources:

  1. Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody:
    Hendrickson, 1987), 260–261.
  2. Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 244.
  3. Marvin R. Wilson, “1354 נָטַע,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke,
    Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 575.
Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.



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