Amos, a native of Judah, came from Tekoa (Amos 1:1). This village was situated about ten miles south of Jerusalem. This is the same region where John the Baptist may have grown to manhood about eight centuries later. It is thought that Amos may have known Jonah, Elisha, and Joel. Hosea was a co-worker with Amos. Hosea was younger and continued his work after Amos was gone. Just as Amos was closing his work, Isaiah and Micah were beginning their work of prophecy.1
When questioned about his credentials, Amos claimed to be only a herdsman and tender of sycamore fruit (Amos 7:14). Yet he claimed the right to speak by saying, “And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:15). Evidently, Amos prophesied about 750 B.C. His effort was put forth after Israel had rejected the work of Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah.
The theme of Amos’ message was that Israel had rejected the one true God to worship and serve false gods. Amos warned of captivity to Israel and surrounding nations. Within 50 years captivity came to Israel and her neighbors.
The “earthquake” (Amos 1:1) must have been very severe because it was remembered for 200 years (Zech. 14:5) and was likened to a judgment day. The city of Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom (Israel). It was a beautiful city that heartless oppression of the poor had built. In chapter three Amos spoke from Bethel, the religious center of Israel. It was located 12 miles north of Jerusalem. It was the place where Jeroboam set up a golden calf (I Kings 12:25-33). This calf worship was still present in Hosea’s day (Hosea 13:2). Amos came to the very focal point of this degenerate and idolatrous people to warn them a final time.
The imagery of Amos’ prophecy is shockingly beautiful. He likens the women of Samaria unto the “cows of Bashan.” They were like fatted (pampered) animals awaiting the slaughter! It is said that within a few years the Assyrians literally led their captives with hooks through their lips (much like one may lead cattle).2
In chapter six, Amos contrasts again the self-possessed feelings of ease, security and independence of Israel. This resulted in total disregard for the warnings that they should repent. Though there was terrible suffering on the horizon of their existence, they were oblivious to it. In chapter seven there are three visions of destruction described: (1) the locusts represented a destruction of the land; (2) the fire represented a coming destruction; (3) the plum-line represented the measured destruction of the city. Though God had relented in His destruction of Israel twice, He would not relent again. Their case was without hope. Much like those in the days of Noah, these only became worse and worse. Destruction would occur.
The end of Amos’ prophecy had a happier prospect. About 30 years after Amos’ prophecy, the kingdom of Israel had ceased according to the prediction of Amos 9:1-8. Nevertheless, the restored throne of David (9:9-15) portended more radiant days ahead for God’s people. Although the ten tribes of the northern kingdom had for about 200 years declined to return to the fold of God, there would be a time when the despised kingdom of David would rise again. It would rule not only over one nation but over all kingdoms. This was a prediction of the Kingdom of Christ (His church) which would come when the time was right.
Again Jehovah showed His longsuffering toward the people. Just so, today, Christians should profit by the example of Israel in the days of Amos. Unless so many of God’s people, who are now apostate, heed the warning of His sacred Word and turn in repentance to worship and serve Him according to the old paths, the enemy will capture the apostate kingdom! May God help us to faithfully warn those who have left the way of truth. May God help us to take heed unto oursleves “lest we also fall.”
1Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, 24th Edition, p. 358.
2Op. Cit., p. 359.