Amos was from Takoa in the southern kingdom, about six miles south of Bethlehem, where he worked as a shepherd, then
later as a fruit picker. He was unique amongst the writing prophets in that he was neither a trained prophet nor a priest.
Although living in Judah, he was sent north to prophesy to Israel. Amos was contemporary with Hosea and prophesied
during the reign of Jeroboam II.
Judgement on Israel’s neighbours
Judgement is pronounced on Damascus in Aram for acts of cruelty; on Gaza in Philistine and Tyre in Phoenicia for selling
their fellow men; on Edom for persistent hostility; on Ammon for atrocities committed to extend their borders; on Moab for
desecrating a corpse; and on Judah for rejecting God’s Laws.
Judgement on Israel
Amos now focuses on Israel’s crimes, which are a consequence of turning away from God. They oppressed the poor,
profaned religion with acts of fornication, and opposed prophets and Nazarites sent by God. For these things the day of
God’s judgement will come upon them.
Oracles spoken against Israel
Nothing is done without reason, and God does nothing without first revealing it through His prophets. Amos is sent to
testify against Israel and declare God’s intent to punish her for her sins and destroy the altars of Bethel.
Some of the women of Samaria (the kine of Bashan) receive particular mention because of their lifestyle at the expense of
the poor. Their religion is a facade, practised whilst all the while living a sinful life. Despite all God’s attempts to get His
people to return to Him, He is ignored.
A lament is quickly followed by a plea to seek God and be saved. God does not want their sacrifices and rituals, but a
change of heart in the way they conduct themselves, seeking good and not evil; then He will be gracious to the remnant of
Israel. Without their repentance, the Day of the Lord will not be the expected blessing to them, but a day of judgement.
Meanwhile, God will cause them to go into captivity.
The people are reproved for their complacency, having no fear of the ‘evil day’, their prophesied ruin. Their self-sufficiency
and pride will be their downfall, and they will be the first to be taken into captivity.
Amos has five visions. In the first two he beseeches God to hold back on His judgement. In a third vision, God shows Amos
a plumb-line, signifying the destruction of Israel, having been judged by God’s righteous standard.
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, makes a charge against Amos and advises him not to prophesy anymore against Israel but
to return to his own country to prophesy there. To this, Amos vindicates his calling and prophesies the fate of Amaziah and
his family, as well as that of Israel.
The basket of ripe fruit
Amos has a fourth vision in which he is shown a basket of summer fruit, signifying the northern kingdom being ripe for
destruction. Their oppression of the poor and their sharp practices are noted. They are not only threatened with ruin, but
will suffer the famine of not hearing the word of God, affecting the young and assuring the irrecoverable ruin of idolaters.
Evil destroyed; the faithful remnant restored
Amos’ fifth vision signifies the judgement of the people, a judgement from which none will escape, despite them being
God’s chosen people. Yet there is a promise of the restoration of David’s temple and the return of the people of Israel to
their own land, never more to depart from it.