TODAY’S READING: AMOS 1-6
God’s judgment upon eight nations (chapters 1-2); the guilt and punishment of Israel (chapters 3-6)
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
One of the most beautiful things about the Book of Amos was who God used to write it. Amos was just a common, ordinary guy of average intelligence. He didn’t come from a well-to-do or noble family, so no family pedigree (i.e. Amos, the son of... ) is given. When God called him, he made his living as a “herdman” (1:1) – i.e. sheep-breeder, and as a tender of the sycamore trees (7:14). The significant thing about Amos, however, is that God used him in a very uncommon, extraordinary, and above average way! Always bank on it — God is a champion for the common man! Speaking of the time of Jesus’ ministry, Mark 12:37 says, “And the common people heard him gladly”! It was the nobility and intelligencia that had such a hard time with Him, spent their time contesting and contending with Him, and ultimately put Him to death! God has always taken great pleasure “[choosing] the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and!
things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (I Cor. 1:27-28). He even says in I Cor. 1:26 – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” Be sure you don’t take this further than God does, however. Notice that He says “Not MANY wise, mighty and noble are called.” He didn’t say, “Not ANY wise, mighty and noble are called.” There are SOME, there just aren’t MANY. Recognize today, that the same uncommon, extraordinary, above average thing God did with Amos is the same thing He wants to do with common, ordinary, average folk like you and me! That may not help you to understand the Book of Amos, but it’s well worth the price of admission, and will certainly help you to understand how incredibly God wants to use you!
Now, concerning understanding the Book of Amos. As verse one indicates, he prophesied during the days when Uzziah was king in Judah, and Jeroboam was king in Israel. That would mean he is a contemporary of Hosea, and places his prophetic ministry somewhere between the years of 783 to 753 B.C.
During this time, the physical aspects of the northern kingdom were going extremely well. Businesses flourished, the economy was good, and the government was stable. The spiritual climate, however, was something totally different. It was full and running over with idolatry, greed, injustice, immorality, pride and hypocrisy.
In the first two chapters, Amos pronounces judgment on eight nations, saying that God will attack them as a roaring lion (1:2; 3:8) and a consuming fire.(Heb. 12:29). Notice the repetition:
1:4 – “But I will send a fire”
1:7 – “But I will send a fire”
1:10 – “But I will send a fire”
1:12 – “But I will send a fire”
1:14 – “But I will kindle a fire”
There was certainly an historic application concerning these eight nations, but as always, the prophets are always pointing to a future fulfillment of these prophecies (i.e. the doctrinal or prophetic application). The eight nations are Damascus (of Syria) – (1:3), Gaza (1:6), Tyrus (1:9), Edom (1:11), Ammon (1:13), Moab (2:1), Judah (2:4), and Israel (2:6). In 2:6-16, Amos identifies the specific sins that had prompted God’s promise of judgment upon Israel: bribery, greed, adultery, immorality, selfishness, ungratefulness, drunkenness (even forcing the Nazarites to drink – vs.12), and rejecting God’s Word. Notice also the repetition of the phrase, “For three transgressions and for four” (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). Very simply, three plus four equals seven, the number of completion. In other words, God had “reached the top” (completion) with the transgressions of these nations, and was about to execute His complete judgment upon them.
In chapters 3-6, Amos delivers three sermons to identify God’s purposes in this judgment. Each sermon begins the same way, “Hear this word.” In the sermon Amos preaches in 3:1-15, he tells the people the reason for His judgment upon Israel. In his sermon in 4:1-13, Amos lists all the things God had already sought to do to get them to repent, all to no avail. Note the fierceness of Amos’ preaching in 4:12 – “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel”! In chapter 5:1-6:14, Amos preaches a message of lamentation, as he laments Israel’s fallen condition. In 5:3 he says that unless there is repentance, 90% of Israel will die. Amos tells the people to seek the Lord (5:4, 6, 8, 14), and not just religious activity (i.e. “But seek not Bethel” – 5:4). All three messages have a tremendous devotional application to us, and a tremendous doctrinal application for Israel in the future.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE – Amos 5:8 (Heb. 1:2-3; Rev. 4:11).