Amos’s message has had an impact on God’s people throughout the centuries, and it needs to be heard today, by individuals and nations. Although they were divided from their southern brothers and sisters in Judah, the northern Israelites were still God’s people. But they were living beneath a pious veneer of religion, worshiping idols, and oppressing the poor. Amos, a fiery, fearless, and honest shepherd from the south, confronted them with their sin and warned them of the impending judgment.
Amos speaks with brutal frankness in denouncing sin. He collided with the false religious leaders of his day and was not intimidated by priest or kings. He continued to speak his message boldly. God requires truth and goodness, justice and righteousness, from all people and nations today as well. Many of the conditions in Israel during Amos’s time are evident in today’s societies. We need Amos’s courage to ignore danger and stand against sin.
As you read Amos’s book, put yourself in the place of those Israelites and listen to God’s message. Have you grown complacent? Have other concerns taken God’s place in your life? Do you ignore those in need or oppress the poor? Picture yourself as Amos, faithfully doing what God calls you to do. You, too, can be God’s person. Listen for his clear call and do what he says, wherever it leads.
Writer of Amos
The first verse of the book identifies it as the work of Amos, one of “the shepherds of Tekoa.” Nothing else is known about Amos apart from what he says about himself in 7:14-15. There he insists he is not a prophet by profession, but a “herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs” whom God entrusted with the special task of carrying a divine message to the people of the northern kingdom.
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Probably during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah (about 760-750 B. C.)
To Whom Written
This letter was written to Israel, the northern kingdom. The theme of the letter is the universal justice of God. The Israelites clearly expected a “day of the Lord” when all their enemies would be judged (1:2-2:5). What they were not prepared for was that the judgment of that day would fall on them as well (2:6-9:10). Far from enjoying the favored status, they would be held more accountable than their neighbors.
Theological Contribution of Amos
Amos is known as the great “prophet of righteousness” of the Old Testament. His book underlines the principle that religion demands righteous behavior. True religion is not a matter of observing feast days and offering burnt offerings but seeking God’s will, treating others with justice, and following God’s commands.
The book of Amos is one of the most eloquent cries for justice and righteousness to be found in the Bible. Amos was a humble shepherd who dared to deliver God’s message to the wealthy and influential people of his day. His message is just as timely for our world.
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