Bible Character Study on Amos

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

Amos is one of the Bible’s minor prophets. These prophets are known by this name because the length of their prophecy is shorter than that of the major prophets. It should be noted however that there is equal importance given to both the major and minor prophets.

Let’s look at what we know about Amos along with the purpose and content of his prophecy.

The Prophet

Amos was from the southern tribes of the nation of Israel. During the divided kingdom of Israel, the southern tribes were known as Judah and the northern tribes were known as Israel. The capital of Judah was Jerusalem, and the capital of Israel was Samaria.

Amos was from the city name Tekoa which is located about 12 miles south of Jerusalem (Amos 1:1). This puts Bethlehem about half way between Tekoa and Jerusalem. Amos was a shepherd and a farmer of sycamore fruit which is a fruit somewhat like figs (Amos 7:14). It was commonly eaten by the poor.

We know that Amos lived and prophesied during the time of Uzziah and Jeroboam. Uzziah reigned in Judah from about 783 to 742 BC. Jeroboam II reigned in Israel from approximately 782 to 753 BC. Amos said he prophesied during the reign of these two men “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). The earthquake that is referred to seems to have taken place about 760 BC according to geologists studying the evidence in modern times. This puts the writing of this prophecy around the year 760 BC.

The Prophecy

While the primary focus of the prophecy is against Israel (the northern kingdom), there were six Gentile nations which were included in the prophecy. In chapter 1, verses 3 through 5 Amos pronounces judgment on Damascus and Syria for their cruelty. Verses 6 through 8 is against Gaza specifically, but the Philistines in general, for their participation in the slave trade. Tyre in Phoenecia is condemned for their slave dealings even though they had a covenant not to participate (Amos 1:9, 10). Edom is condemned for its hatred and unforgiveness in chapter 1, verses 11 and 12. Judgment on Ammon (Amos 1:13-15) for cruel aggression. And finally in 2:1-3 Moab is referenced, though their sin is not specifically called out.

After the Gentile nations are condemned, Amos turns his attention to his own portion of the nation, the southern kingdom of Judah (Amos 2:4, 5). Their sin was despising the law of the Lord and not keeping His commandments. Oh how I wonder how God views us today and our lack of interest in His Word.

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them ...

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them …

The rest of the book is directed toward Israel. Their sins are more clearly spelled out in the rest of chapter 2 and through the next several chapters finishing in chapter 6. Israel was found guilty of corrupting justice and improperly treating the poor and needy. Idolatry and impurity are mentioned along with a refusal to heed God’s prophets. Their punishment is spelled out in chapters 7 through the first part of chapter 9.

While the judgment is harsh, there is a wonderful promise in the last few verses of the book. The following passage from Amos is repeated by James in Acts 15:13-18. James tells us that it is a promise that God will use Israel once again to point people to Himself and that they will be used to bring many from the Gentile nations to a saving knowledge of the Lord.

Amos 9:13-15 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant 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.”

The Point

Through Amos, God pronounces judgment for sin. That is a theme throughout the Bible. Judgment for sin does not stop with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. However, what changes for us in Christ is that He offers to take the punishment for the sins of those who will trust in Him as their Savior.

God judged Israel. There were many years of captivity and hardship as Amos prophesied. Yet, God completed His promise by sending the Messiah to them and used Israel to begin evangelizing the world. God is not done with His people. It is exciting to think that the promises of Amos are still in effect today.

More reading: Prophets in the Bible: 7 to Know

Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version

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