Bible Commentary Bible History General Theology

The herdsman and prophet named Amos

Amos was a common, ordinary, everyday, working man – a herdsman and a “dresser of sycamore tree.” Dresser means, “nipper” or “pincher” – which was for the sycamore fruit, which can be ripened by puncturing it. Amos was drafted by God to Preach National accountability to Israel in the North.

  • He pictures Christ as “The Restorer of the House of David.” (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-16)
  • The Key Word of the Book was Punishment.
  • Its Central Theme was “The Ultimate Reign of David” and “National Accountability for National Sins.”
  • Amos was known as “The Prophet of Justice.”
  • The main characters of the Book are the Prophet Amos, King Jeroboam II, and The Israelites.

Overall, society and religion were bankrupt. Amos was a strange personality that came from the Judean wilderness with a burning message from God. He was influenced by Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. We see the Land of Israel enjoy a season of peace. Then, King Jeroboam II came to throne and began a vigorous rebuilding program, to which, he recaptured lost territory and expanded the limits of his kingdom.

We then see King Uzziah built in much of the same in the south. Judah was a strong and vigorous Kingdom with armies, fortifications, trade routes, and other powerful political alliances – to which, these two aggressive Kings carried their small kingdoms along from victory to victory. Expansion came, as well as freedom, prosperity, and peace. There was also, though, sins such as drunkenness, extravagant meals, carousals, slumber, among other things – and retribution was coming.

The rich gained their wealth through injustice and oppression, as always, and the poor workers in the fields suffered cruelty on them from the landowners and heartless creditors. Dishonest merchants and unfair judges made attempts to keep the lives of the poor miserable beyond endurance.

The spiritual conditions involved that the people were outwardly religious, but had gross moral behavior – and it was openly aided and abetted by the religious leaders. The rich nobles took the lead in religious matters and were selfish, among indifferent, to the cries and groans of the suffering multitude. This suffering multitude suffered because of injustice, oppression, and violence. Lastly, they lacked knowledge overall.

Direct call from God

The Lord told him to, “…Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:15). He was not a member of any prophetical group or had any formal training (as we know). He was simply pulled from his animals in the wilderness by this overpowering conviction from God that He wanted him to take a message to Bethel. He must have felt God’s presence upon him.

In addition to that, he’s also been called the prophet of “woe,” because the message of his call was a stern one for a people living in luxury and self-indulgence. However, he received the call and moved in humility. He was industrious and productive before God, and was in harmony with nature. He sought wisdom and preached simply so that the hearer would understand. He was successful, as he had great influence over the Land of Israel.

He approaches the nations: He began in Damascus, and quickly caught their sympathetic attention. He turned the emotion of the people quickly toward Philistia, claiming to be a prophet from God with a genuine word against these bitter enemies of Israel. In rapid succession, his sharp tongue and quick wit lashed out the enemies of Israel and he hit broadside at Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab – closing in on the worst and wicked enemies; revealing justice was on its way to the rebellious nations. The crowd hung on to his every word and likely praised him with agreement. Next, he pointed his finger at Judah/Israel telling them they have despised the Law of the Lord and failed to keep His Commandments.

We see Amos quoted in Acts 15:15-16, “And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” This is known so that “men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (17).

Six gentile nations warned against harming Israel and Judah

  • Syria is condemned to destruction and captivity, because of its continual cruelty. They tortured and butchered its victims using brutal methods.
  • Philistia captured cities and sold entire populations as slaves – whether men, women, or children. In punishment, Philistia’s own main cities would be destroyed.
  • Tyre would be conquered and burnt to the ground for deceiving its treaty partners, and also they had bought and sold slaves like merchandise.
  • Edom is condemned for their savage attacks against Israel without question of the blood relation between the two nations.
  • Ammon also would suffer a devastating judgment, because of its merciless killings of whole populations, just so they could expand their territory.
  • Foreign armies would invade Moab, and in a large judgment from God, its cities would be burnt and leaders killed, because it acted with uncontrollable hatred toward its enemy.

Lessons people can learn

  • Hollow and insincere worship displeases God.
  • When one possesses power over others, there is danger.
  • God is not pleased when people turn away from Him, because He only wants what’s best for His People – and that is to be loved by Him and walk with Him.
  • God helps us through trials by guiding us and giving us wisdom to understand what’s going on.
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