Survey of Amos

Survey of Amos 

Amos’ bold proclamation is set early in the book.  “And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall morn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” (Amos 1.2) The book of Amos contains three major sections.  The first section begins with oracles against the nations (chaps. 1-2), then by judgements against Israel (chaps. 3-6), and finally with five prophetic visions (chaps. 7-9).  Amos is concerned with social injustice and the treatment of the poor.  This is a concern also viewed by the early Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:22; James 1:27; 5:1-6) God has a genuine concern for the poor as discussed in James 2:5.  The fierceness of the Word of the Lord should have caused a great repentance in the land.  However, the words that Amos brought to the kingdom of Israel only infuriated the rebellious inhabitants of the land, and Amos was required to return home. 

Authorship 

Amos 1.1 tells us that Amos from Tekoa is the author of this book.  While he is identified as a shepherd or a herdsman, and a caretaker of Fig trees, the general impression of most theologians is that Amos would have been in the middle to upper-class of society.  Tekoa was approximately five to ten miles south of Bethlehem.  This is located in the southern kingdom, so he was called to basically be a foreign missionary, as his mission was located in the norther kingdom in the area of Beth-el.  He was not a professional profit and he declared this to Amaziah in chapter 7.4.  Instead it appears he was called by God for a specific prophesy and then retired to write his book. 

Historical Settings 

During the time of Amos, Judah was under the direction of King Uzziah (791-740).  
Even though Judah was prosperous during this time King Uzziah was under the influence of King Jeroboam II, of Israel (793-753).  Israel in outward appearances was at the highpoint of power, however inwardly it was full of idolatry and corruption. Idolatry and sexual immorality had taken root in Israel and Judah was in apostasy.  “And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed above all that their fathers had don, For they also built them high laces, and images and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.  And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” (2 Kings 14:22-24)   
Social evils characterized the times (2.6-8; 3.10; 4.1; 5.10-12; 8.4-6). 

Key Verse

But let judgement run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream – Amos 5:24

Major Themes 

There are four major themes in the book of Amos.  Amos attacked social evils, idolatry and false worship within the kingdom.  Amos issued urgent pleas for repentance in order to escape the judgement of God. “That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Beth-el: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” (Amos 3.14) The themes are: 

  • Everyone answers to God 
  • Cruelty (1.6-8,11,13) 
  • Sexual Immorality 
  • Complacency (2.4,7-12) 
  • Oppressing the poor (2.6) 
  • Selling the poor into slavery  
  • Exploiting the poor 
  • Unlawful Usury 
  • Superficial Religion (5.18-27) 
  • Idolatry 

The end result of the book is a stern warning that no one escapes the judgement of the Most High. “Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.” (Amos 5.1). “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nation, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 61) Israel’s or no one’s status, for that matter, is no reason to take advantage of the blessings of the Lord.  God’s moral character must be satisfied.  Amos’ message is largely a “cry for justice”.   

The ending of the book is a promise that when the Lord has finished his chastisement of Israel, He will again restore her and keep her forever. “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:” (Amos 9.11)… “And I will pant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” (Amos 9.15) 

Outline of Amos 

  1. Identity of Author and Theme of the Book 1:1-2 
  2. The Prophecies 1:3-2:16 
    1. Damascus 1:3-5 
    2. Philistia 1:6-8 
    3. Tyre 1:9-10 
    4. Edom 1:11-12 
    5. Ammon 1:13-15 
    6. Moab 2:1-3 
    7. Judah 2:4-5 
    8. Israel 2:6-16 
  3. The Sermons 3:1-6:14 
    1. Doom of Israel 3:1-15 
    2. Depravity of Israel 4:1-13 
    3. A Dirge over Israel 5:1-6:14 
    4. Destruction in Judgement 5:1-17 
    5. Rebuke of the Religious 5:18-27 
    6. Reprimand of a nation 6:1-14 
  4. The Visions 7:1-9:15 
    1. Vision of Devouring Locusts 7:1-3 
    2. Vision of Fire 7:4-6 
    3. Vision of a Plumbline 7:7-9 
    4. Historic Interlude 7:10-17 
    5. Vision of a Basket of Summer Fruit 8:1-14 
    6. Vision of Future Blessings 9:11-15 

 References 

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print. 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print. 

Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Amos.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print.