Theme: Chosen for Blessing, Punished for Sin; Key Verses Amos 3:1-2; Amos 5:4-5 (Updated April 20, 2007)
Amos Bible Walk
Theme: Chosen for Blessing, Punished for Sin
- Chosen for Blessing, Yet Punished for Sin. Theme: God chose Israel (3:2) to be his priest nation through whom he would redeem mankind and restore rightful authority to himself. Both Israel and Judah departed from the Lord. Amos has a message for both, but especially to Israel. His message is one of judgment to the surrounding nations, to Israel, and to Judah. The Lord repeatedly call upon Israel and Judah to seek him and live (e.g. 5:4). Though the judgment will be severe, he will in the last times restore and bless the united nation.
- Amos 3:1-2; Amos 5:4-5.
- Amos 3:1-2, Hear this word which the Lord has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt, 2, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
- Amos 5:4, For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live. 5, But do not resort to Bethel….”
- Amos was the man to whom God revealed the messages of this book.
- He was from a town five miles southeast of Bethlehem called Tekoa (1:1). Tekoa was on an important road between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and the first ruler of the southern kingdom made Tekoa a defense city for Judah (2 Chronicles 11:5). Rehoboam’s story is in 2 Chronicles 10-12.
- Amos was a shepherd (1:1), herdsman (7:14), and a Sycamore fig tree farmer (7:14). He probably commuted to the Shephelah and Jordan Valley for his Sycamore fig tree work.
- Amos was not a professional prophet, nor was he a member of the prophet guild. God called him to preach and to prophecy to Israel, especially, and also to Judah (7:14-15).
- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Isaiah were prophets to Israel during this century (700s BC). Amos ministered after Joel and Jonah, and before Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah.
- Amos served during the kingships of Uzziah of Judah (r. 790-739 BC) and Jeroboam II of Israel (r. 793-755 BC).
- Uzziah (2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26) was the ninth kind of Judah after Solomon died. He reigned in co-regency from 792 BC until 767 and then ruled alone from 767-740 BC. God called the prophet Isaiah the year Uzziah died. Another prophet, Zechariah—not the prophet of the book of this name—also served during Uzziah’s time (2 Chronicles 26:5).
- Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23-29) ruled for 41 years. This was a time in Israel of prosperity and stability, yet it was also a time of great injustice, immorality, and idolatry (Amos 1:1; 7:9, 10, 11; and specific condemnations by Amos; Hosea 1:1; and 2 Kings 13:13; 14:16, 23-29).
- 4.2.1.He was the fourteenth king of Israel and the son of Jehoash. He ruled Israel from about 793-753 BC, 41 years.
- 4.2.2.He continued to lead the northern tribes into idolatry, drunkenness, commercial prosperity, oppression, and general immorality.
- 4.2.3.Jeroboam ended his father’s wars, and he defeated Syria to the extent that Israel was no longer subservient to Syria.
- 4.2.4.He restored the earlier northern and southern boarders of Israel, and recovered the cities of Damascus and Hamath.
- 4.2.5.The Lord pronounced judgment against Jeroboam and Israel for their idolatry.
- Amos. See number 3 above.
- Jeroboam II. See number 4 above.
Key Words and Phrases
- “Bashan” is the area east of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee (4:1). It was known for lush pastures and good cattle. Here Amos refers to woman as pampered woman who care only for themselves, like well fed cattle. The women will soon be taken away like cattle with meat hooks and fish hooks (2).
- “Punish” is used 3 times (Amos 3:2, 14).
- “Slay” is used 3 times (Amos 2:3; 9:1; 9:4)
- “Transgressions” is used 10 times in chapters 1-5.
- “For three transgressions and for four” is used 8 times (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). A poetic way of saying that the nation is guilty of repeated sin. This is also used elsewhere in the Old Testament (Job 5:19; Psalm 62:11-12; Proverbs 30:15-16, 18-19, 21-23, 29-31). God did not judge for one violation, but because of many sins for which they did not repent.
- “Bozrah” is used in 1:12. This was the capital city in Edom (Genesis 36:33; 1 Chronicles 1:44; Isaiah 34:6; 63:1; Jeremiah 49:13; Amos 1:12).
- “Seek” is used 4 times in 4 verses (5:4, “Seek me that you may live”; 6, “Seek the Lord that you may live”; 14, “Seek good and not evil that you may live”; 8:12, “To seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”)
- “Yet you have not returned to me” is used 5 times (Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11).
- “The day of the Lord” is used 3 times (Amos 5:18 and 29).
- “Will die” is used 5 times (Amos 2:2; 6:9; 7:11 and 17; 9:10).
- Indictments announced against nations, Israel, and Judah, 1-2
- Messages of Amos against Israel, 3-6
- Visions of Amos: judgments and finally blessing, 7-9
- Amos 1, God indicts the nations
- Amos 2, God indicts Israel and Judah
- Amos 3, Israel, chosen and responsible
- Amos 4, Israel, you have not returned to me
- Amos 5, Israel, seek me that you may live
- Amos 6, Judah and Israel will go into exile
- Amos 7, Locusts, fire, plumb line, Jeroboam
- Amos 8, Basket of summer fruit; famine for words of the Lord
- Amos 9, The Lord will shake Israel and later restore Israel
Trace the Theme
- God indicts the nations. Amos begins by relating the Lord’s revelation to him about the Lord’s judgment of the nations around Israel and Judah. He announces judgment against Damascus, Philistia. The phrase “For three transgressions and for four” is used 8 times in Amos (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). It is a poetic way of saying that the nation addressed is guilty of repeated sin. God did not judge for one violation, but because of many sins for which they did not repent. He is simply saying that the nation addressed has come to the end of its rope—no more letting the sin go.
- God indicts Israel and Judah. Moab will also come under God’s judgment (1). Along with judging the nations surrounding Israel and Judah he will severely judge Israel and Judah. They have rejected the law and statutes of the Lord (4); they lie (4); they sell people (6); they oppress the helpless (6); they commit sexual sins in the name of religious (7); they did not return collateral taken for loans (8); they drank wine (probably to the pagan gods) taken from others (9); they compromised the Nazirites and forbid the prophets from proclaiming God’s word (12). They did all of this even though God had blessed them throughout their history (9-11). God will judge them and they will not escape.
- Israel, chosen and responsible. This chapter emphasizes Israel’s privilege and blessing from the Lord. He has chosen them from all people of the earth (2). With that special position goes more responsibility. Israel has turned her back on the Lord. She has disobeyed him and flaunted her disobedience. In verses 3-6 the Lord expresses questions which have obvious answers: verses 3-5 require a no answer and 6 expects a yes answer. The Lord is saying that Israel’s failure is obvious. In 7-8 God has revealed his will and the prophets must proclaim his will. The Lord announces his judgment for “tumults and oppressions” and “they do not know how to do what is right” (9-10) in verses 9-15. It will be severe: “pull down your strengths” and “citadels will be looted” (11); “shepherd snatches from the lion’s mouth a couple of legs” and “sons of Israel…will be snatched away” (12); and “punish Israel’s transgressions (14) and so on.
- Israel, you have not returned to me. Amos condemns the indulgent women of Bashan for their self centered luxuriant living. They will be exiled like animals (1-3). God sarcastically told the people to go to the popular worship sites and sacrifice, tithe, and give offerings. They love to carry out religious ritual without any meaning at all (4-5). In 6-11 the Lord recalls his discipline that had the purpose of bringing his people back to him, but they had not listened and had not returned (5, 8, 9, 10, and 11). They were set in their rebellious and religious ways. Note the warnings: famine (6), drought (7-8), pests (9), disease and war (10), and destruction of the cities (11). Because they refuse to return to the Lord their God, he will bring them to him in judgment—“Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (12). He is the God who exists, created, reveals himself and his will to man, and he rules (13). Israel is trapped.
- Israel, seek me that you may live. A dirge is a mournful funeral song. Amos begins chapter 5 with this dirge. God will judge Israel for her unbelief and rebellion against him. And then in verse 4, 6, and 14 the Lord call them to seek him, seek the Lord, and see good and not evil. If they do seek him, they will live. This means that the Lord will withhold the destruction of Israel and bless the people and the nation. Some interpreters take this as only individual deliverance. That may be so, but the house of Israel is addressed. Also, Jeremiah 18:1-10, God talks about nations turning to him and he will relent on his judgment. Regardless, God is calling individuals and the nation to seek him. If they do, they will realize his blessing. Israel is not to worship at Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba. Jerusalem is the center for worship (5). Those who long for the day of the Lord (18) do not realize that that day will bring great judgment—indicating that Israel fails to apply the prophets’ messages properly. Israel is very religious, but there is no reality in the outward ritual. The Lord rejects Israel’s festivals, offerings, and songs and music. All are meaningless without justice and righteousness. They are acting like the Exodus generation acted (21-26). Therefore exile is in the future (27).
- Judah and Israel will go into exile. Chapter six begins with a woe (a word that expresses pain and dissatisfaction) toward the prominent leaders of both Judah and Israel, who think that they will survive coming judgment. Samaria is the capital of the Northern Kingdom. Samaria began with King Omri (1 Kings 16:24), who ruled Israel from 885-874 BC. Samaria was an idolatrous city. Calneh, Hamath, and Gath were city-states that had thought themselves great, but were defeated. Israel would do no better (1-3). These lazy, proud, and irreverent leaders will go into exile with Israel (4-9). People in hiding do not want the Lord’s name mentioned for fear that he will attack them (10). God will bring Assyria and Assyria will destroy Israel from Hamath in the north to the brook of the Arabah (goes into the Dead Sea) in the south (11-14).
- Locusts, fire, plumb line, Jeroboam. The Lord revealed three judgments to Amos. The first was a locust-swarm that would destroy the crops (1-3). The second was fire which would dry up the water (4-6). The third was a vision of a plumb line (7-9). A plumb line is a test for accuracy or correctness. Israel did not measure up. In answer to Amos’ pleading, the Lord canceled the first two judgments. Due to Israel’s idolatry the Lord will not cancel the third judgment. He will judge the idolatry of Israel.
- Basket of summer fruit and a famine for words of the Lord. The Lord God showed Amos a basket of ripe fruit. Ripe fruit in a basket is fruit that has been harvested. Ripe fruit marks the end of harvest. It will spoil if not used. Israel is like a basket of harvested ripe fruit (1-2). The fruit season is over and in the same way Israel’s season of rebellion is over because God will judge her. The Lord’s judgment on Israel will bring death and wailing in the palace (3). What kind of activity brought on God’s judgment? Oppression of he needy (4), perversion of the God designed days set apart for worship (5), and dishonest business practices are among the reasons for God’s judgment. The Lord has had enough. He will no longer ignore their sin (7). The judgment will be prominent like an earthquake and an eclipse of the sun—death dealing and terrifying (9-10). The language could be real or figurative. The effect will be the same. In the midst of this divine judgment, God will send a famine of words from the Lord—no revelation. Because they rejected it for so long, the Lord will not speak to them (11-12). The judgment will cover the entire land of Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea and from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. Those who had allegiance to the idols of Samaria will die (14). Rebellion against God and his word does not reap good; it only reaps bad.
- The Lord will shake Israel and later restore Israel. Because of Israel’s idolatry which was centered in Bethel, he will break down the columns of the worship place and kill the priest and people. They will not be able to escape regardless of where they try to hide. The Lord is sovereign, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent (1-3). The Lord will even follow them into captivity and judge them there (4). The sovereign and omnipotent Lord God controls the entire planet—the Lord is his name (5-6). Omnipotent God relocated pagan peoples (7), and there is no reason to think Israel can hide from him. He will judge sinful Israel, but he will not totally destroy Israel (8-10). In the future, “In that day,” he will restore the dynasty of David and make Israel better than the days of old (11). Israel will be the leading nation on earth (12). Israel will have unparalleled prosperity. Agriculture will flourish; cities will be rebuilt; food will be plentiful; and Israel will be back in her land never again to be driven out. God has given the land to Israel and he is the Lord her God. No one can challenge him or his plan for history of the world (13-15).
- God holds back his judgment until no other way will accomplish his will and the best for his people.
- Sin, and especially continual sin after many warnings, brings God’s discipline and judgment.
- The attributes and actions of Israel’s God are the foundation for his treatment of his people (4:12-13, 5:8, and 9:1-6).
- The best life is for those who seek the Lord (5:4, 9, 14).
- To spurn God’s word dangerous. It may not be available in a time when you want it (8:11).
- Israel’s promised future kingdom, named the millennial kingdom from Revelation 20, will come even though Israel has repeatedly sinned. This kingdom depends upon the nature and the promises of God. See Amos 9.
Lessons for Us
- The foundational doctrine upon which all life depends is the nature and acts of God. See Amos 4:12-13 for this truth in practice.
- Obey the Lord. Disobedient people never reap God’s blessings and never get away with sin. Why can we not learn this lesson? It is so clear. This lesson is so clear from all of God’s word, and especially the prophets. Amos 3:1-2 and many others in Amos state this.
- Learn God’s word while you have the opportunity and before you come to a crisis. God’s word may not always be available. And a crisis may short circuit your time, learning, and thinking for understanding and application. Amos 8:11 documents this doctrine for the life of the Israeli people who had rejected God’s word.
- Israel has a blessed future in God’s plan, regardless of what current history may seem to say. Amos clearly teaches this in chapter 9. Many other prophets also clearly teach this. The return of Messiah will bring this future into history. That means that Jesus Christ’s return to earth to set up the promised kingdom for Israel is a pre-millennial return.