The Word Is Alive

The Book of Amos

The prophet Amos lived among a group of shepherds in Tekoa, a small town approximately ten miles south of Jerusalem. Amos made clear in his writings that he did not come from a family of prophets, nor did he even consider himself one. Rather, he was ‘a dresser of sycamore trees’ as well as a shepherd (Amos 7:14–15). Amos’ connection to the simple life of the people made its way into the centre of his prophecies, as he showed a heart for the oppressed and the voiceless in the world.

Amos prophesied during the mid-8th Century BC, during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. Their reigns overlapped for fifteen years from 767-753 BC.

Although he came from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Amos delivered his prophecy against the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the surrounding nations, leading to some resistance from the prideful Israelites (Amos 7:12). Jeroboam II’s reign had been quite profitable for the Northern Kingdom, at least in a material sense. However, the moral and spiritual decay that also occurred at that time counteracted any positives from the material growth.

While most of the prophets interspersed redemption and restoration in their prophecies against Israel and Judah, Amos devoted only the final five verses of his prophecy for such consolation. Prior to that, God’s Word through Amos was directed against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbour, who took advantage of others, and who only looked out for their own concerns.

More than almost any other book of Scripture, the Book of Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others. It repeatedly points out the failure of the people to fully embrace God’s idea of justice. They were selling off needy people for goods, taking advantage of the helpless, oppressing the poor, and the men were using women immorally. Drunk on their own economic success and intent on strengthening their financial position, the people had lost the concept of caring for one another; Amos rebuked them because he saw in that lifestyle evidence that Israel had forgotten God.

Introduction Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three
Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Summary

There is some supplementary material for the book and a mind map of its structure that may prove useful for study.