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Bible verses about Amos, Book of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The book of Amos records God's assessment of ancient Israel's internal condition some forty years before she fell. The prophet was sent to warn the people and lead them to repentance, but they would not change. As punishment for her spiritual and moral decay, Israel was invaded by Assyria in 721 BC and crushed in a devastating war. The surviving Israelites were taken into captivity where they seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. This was God's answer to their sin and rebellion!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos writes primarily to or against Israel, but he approaches his primary subject like a bird of prey, circling overhead, effortlessly gliding in the sky searching for game, floating on the updrafts. The circle keeps getting smaller and smaller. Then—whoosh!—it dives for its victim.

Amos designed his prophecy exactly this way. Like an eagle, Amos starts in a wide circle, denouncing nations surrounding Israel—Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah—then he suddenly swoops down on Israel. He devotes a little over one chapter to these other nations but more than seven chapters to Israel.

Syria, Philistia, and Tyre were part of Israel's political world, and Edom, Ammon, and Moab were ethnic cousins. Judah was a brother. Notice Amos' method. He moves from associates to relatives, finally attacking Israel inside the house, the immediate family.

The prophet gets God's message across masterfully and powerfully. Imagine Amos going into Bethel or Samaria, two of Israel's chief cities, and to catch the attention of his audience, attacking Israel's enemies. He denounces the sins of the Syrians, Philistines, Tyrians, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites and—yes—Israel's rivals to the south, the Jews! Soon they begin to agree eagerly with his pronouncements. "Give it to them, Amos! I always knew those people were rats!"

But they had been set up for the kill. As they point their fingers at their neighbors, Amos, like the eagle with talons bared, descends upon them for their own sins.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Those who critically examine the Bible unanimously agree that Amos wrote the book that bears his name. Some researchers feel that some minor material may have been inserted later by an editor, but few doubt that a Jewish man named Amos was the author.

The prophet hailed from Tekoa, a small town about thirteen miles south of Jerusalem in the Wilderness of Judah. Since he was not from a large cosmopolitan city like Jerusalem or Samaria, Amos, shaped by his rural experiences, had a clearer perspective of the evils that he saw as he walked through the cities of Israel. While the Israelites accepted their lifestyle as normal, the prophet recognized it as a perversion and an abomination to God. Amos means "burden-bearer," and his message to Israel, one of continuous judgment and denunciation, was indeed a heavy burden.

Because of the distrust between the two peoples, it is ironic that God sent a Jew to warn the Israelites of their impending judgment. God obviously sent the best man available to do the job, though he was not a formally trained prophet. "I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet," he explains, "but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock and the Lord said to me, 'Go, prophesy to My people Israel'" (Amos 7:14-15).

Amos was more than "just a shepherd." In Amos 1:1 the Hebrew word noqed indicates a keeper or raiser of sheep or goats (see II Kings 3:4), though it is often rendered as "shepherd." In Amos 7:14 "herdsman" (bowker) refers to large cattle. God inspired two different words to show that he was a breeder of sheep (and maybe of cattle), supplying others with stock, and possibly developing and refining the breeds. Some of Amos' land may have also been set aside as a sycamore-fig orchard. His ranch seems to have been small enough that he was personally involved in its operation, though he also seems to have been successful enough to take time off to preach in Israel.

Judging from the book's language and style, Amos was also well educated. Scholars judge his use of language as particularly expressive, vivid, and forceful. Far from being an illiterate shepherd, the prophet was a man of refinement and substance, aware of past events and current conditions in Israel and Judah, as well as in the surrounding nations.

Amos wrote at a very significant time in Israel's history (Amos 1:1). Both kings Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 BC) and Uzziah of Judah (791-739 BC) enjoyed long and prosperous reigns. His prophecy can be dated before 750 BC, since Uzziah's son, Jotham (750-731 BC), who reigned as co-regent with his father for eleven years, is not mentioned.

The phrase "two years before the earthquake" helps to narrow the book's date. Archeological findings unearthed at Hazor in northern Palestine show that an unusually strong earthquake occurred about 760 BC. If so, Amos prophesied in about 762 BC. The phrase seems to limit his prophesying to this particular year, suggesting that his prophetic activity was very short.

Many historians have concluded that 722 BC—forty years later—was when Assyria marched on Israel. Beginning with Amos' warning message, God in His mercy provided His people with a forty-year period of trial and testing during which they could repent. History records, however, that Samaria fell and her survivors were dragged into captivity in 718 BC.

Tradition holds that Amos died a violent death at the hands of Jeroboam II, but no historical records have confirmed this claim. However, the prophet left a powerful message of warning and urgency that still rings with truth and fervor.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 4:4-5

Because of their connection to Israel's past, Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba all bore significant religious meaning to the common Israelite. Jeroboam I set up a golden calf at Bethel (I Kings 12:25-31), since the city had religious associations from the days of Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22; 35:1-7). Gilgal's significance sprang from Israel's entrance into Canaan after her forty years in the wilderness and the circumcision of her men there (Joshua 5:1-12). Beersheba had strong connections with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the nation's fathers (Genesis 21:22-34; 22:19; 26:32-33; 28:10).

Even so, Israelite religion displeased God on two counts. First, the Israelites of Amos' day were guilty of following the sin of Jeroboam I, combining the worship of the true God with that of idols. God hates idolatry (Exodus 20:1-6). Apparently, the people were thronging to these pagan shrines and punctiliously offering sacrifices. In all their religious fervor, however, their eyes were not upon the God of heaven. Their religious practice was not done in obedience to God as they claimed, but had been conceived in the mind of a man. In His denunciations of their religion, God tells them that their worship would do them no good because its foundations were in a source other than Himself.

Second, their religion was self-pleasing. Because of their careful observance of their form of worship, Israelites felt good about themselves, but they forgot their social responsibility. They failed to love their neighbors (Amos 8:4). Ritual sexual indulgence was common practice (Amos 2:7). Despite their sincerity, they abandoned all godly standards and values and despised authority and law (Amos 3:10).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 5:18-20

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you?" (Amos 5:18). It is always a prophet's responsibility to remind the people that the future is inextricably bound to the present. What one does today affects the course of events as time marches on.

Malachi asks, "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?" (Malachi 3:2). No such doubts assailed these people at all. They were confident that things would be all right. They felt they would march right through the day of their judgment because they were His chosen people.

But when Amos looked at his times, he became frightened. "It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him" (Amos 5:18-19).

There is no escape! People, living in their complacency, think that everything is fine. But the day of judgment will come upon them unexpectedly, and in utter hopelessness they will start running for their lives. They will escape one terror only to confront another! And just when they think they are finally safe, they will receive a mortal wound!

But, the prophet is not yet finished! "Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:20). Wailing and inescapable judgment are followed by darkness. In their complacency, the people think it logical to conclude that, since everything is presently all right, they must have overcome those things which plagued them. With that behind them, they think their future is full of gladness and good times. Amos disagrees! He accuses them of feeding themselves false hopes. When God comes, he says, He will be their enemy!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 5:21-23

Until his calling by God, Amos lived and worked in Judah. However, God elected him"apparently a Jew and thus from the rival Southern Kingdom"to bear His challenging indictment against the Northern Kingdom's sins, as well as His call for Israel's repentance. Amos prophesied several decades before Isaiah against a nation that was much farther "down the tubes" than was Judah. Israel was very prosperous but already in the moral gutter, wallowing in the filth of her sins. It could easily have been an intimidating assignment, but Amos resolutely fulfilled his responsibilities in denouncing, among other things, Israelite attitudes and the ways they observed God's festivals.

Amos 5:21-23 sounds similar to Isaiah 1:10-17, but it is addressed to Israel. It is not certain if this involved God's feast days since Jeroboam, Israel's first king, changed a number of things in Israel's worship after Solomon died. However, the context indicates that God may have accepted the days they kept and their offerings if everything else in their conduct had been righteous. They may well have been God's feasts because, as in Isaiah, God is not against the days per se, but the attitude, character, and conduct of those keeping them. Whether they were actually God's festivals is less important than the principles contained in the context. The entire chapter revolves around keeping the festivals in a way acceptable to God so that He might bless.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles


 

Amos 7:10-13

In Amaziah's accusations against him, Amos was tested in several ways. The accusations were very pointed, designed to raise his anger and hatred so that he would respond in a way that would "show his true colors." In reality, Amos' true colors did surface—that he was a true man of God!

Amaziah misrepresented him as disloyal, often the first accusation made against a true servant of God. The Jews accused Christ of rebellion against the Roman government, a totally unfounded accusation. In Amos' case the accusation was equally unfounded.

The priest accused Amos of saying that Jeroboam would die in battle (Amos 7:11). He was really tricky. To prove that Amos had said this, he quoted something the prophet really did say: "Israel shall surely be led away captive" (Amos 5:27; 6:7). In reality, the prophecy made no mention specifically of Jeroboam. Amaziah's false accusation was supported with something that was true.

The Jews tried this with Christ too. They used, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19), as proof that He would destroy the Temple (Mark 14:58). They misrepresented what He said because He did not refer to the physical Temple. This is one of Satan's frequent ploys.

A second way that Amos was tested is in his motivation for serving God. Amaziah charges Amos with preaching for selfish reasons, for money, represented by, "Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread" (Amos 7:12). Amos, a Jew, was preaching in Israel. To paraphrase, Amaziah said, "If you go back to Judah and tell them what you have preached against Israel, they will love you. They like hearing bad things about Israel! They will fill your basket with big offerings, and you'll be rich!" If Amos were not a true man of God, he might have swallowed this enticement.

Third, Amos was tested in his personal security. A threat implied that if he did not leave Israel, he would get hurt: "Never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is the royal residence" (verse 13). This test evaluated Amos' ability to confront authority. In referring to "the king's sanctuary, and . . . the royal residence," Amaziah warns him: "This is the national cathedral! What you say shouldn't be uttered in a hallowed, sacred place like this. It is dedicated to the welfare of Israel. In saying such things, you are challenging the king's authority." His ploy failed, though, since Jeroboam seems to have taken no action against Amos.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 8:9-10

These are subtle signs of a "ripe" society. When an earthquake strikes, one feels very unstable because he is not sure if the building will collapse and kill him. A similar type of instability occurs when society is rocked by crime, violence, immorality, and injustice. Amos describes the insecurity, bitterness, and death that result from failing to hold to the absolute standards of God.

One of the first signs of ripeness that society shows is instability. Just a few decades ago, most of us could leave our houses unlocked, but when society began to become unstable, we had to start locking our doors. In the recent past, we did not read a great deal about violence on the streets. Now society is so unstable that violence fills our news reports, and this constant source of worry produces more instability.

Within such a nation, all kinds of unstable factors constantly increase because everyone is running here and there in confusion. The confusion results from the lack of absolute standards of what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical. Thus, everybody does his own thing. Violence, divorce, suicide, and mental illness increase. We see this in our societies every day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Matthew 24:37

Some feel we have reached a time in history that parallels the period just before the Flood. God recorded what conditions were like as Noah was building the ark: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). What a horrifying thought! What danger and oppression must have lurked at every turn!

Yet Jesus predicts in a prophecy regarding the time of the end—the time we live in today, "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." In a larger, more general context, Jesus meant that, despite the dangerous, portentous events occurring all around them, people will be going about their normal routines without seriously considering the meaning of these events (Matthew 24:38-39). They will not take the time to wonder if these cataclysmic events are affecting them personally.

How about you? Even though we are living in momentous times, we are easily distracted from their importance by our high standard of living and convenient access to just about anything we desire. The nations of western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States are, for the most part, wallowing in unprecedented technological luxury. Much to our spiritual detriment, our lives are caught up in our possessions and keeping our noses above water economically.

But we must not allow this to happen any longer! Time and prophecy are relentlessly marching on. The book of Amos records an almost exact parallel account to what is happening in our day. It chronicles the social, political, economic, military, and religious conditions and attitudes prevalent in ancient Israel in about 760 BC. This was about forty years before Assyria invaded and completely devastated the nation. So awesome was Israel's defeat that, as far as the world is concerned, her people disappeared from history! They are known as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel today.

Amos is not a happy book to read. It does not contain the encouraging, soaring, and hope-inspiring prophecies of Isaiah. No, Amos speaks of almost unending gloom and doom. This presents an interesting contrast when seen against Israel's surging power, wealth, and influence. During the days of Amos' ministry, the nation was undergoing a burst of prosperity second only to Solomon's time. On the surface, it appeared that Israel's prosperity indicated God's pleasure, but Amos' words prove beyond any doubt that God was not pleased at all! He was deadly serious! If the people would not repent, they were doomed!

The Israelites did not repent. They suffered war, famine, pestilence, and captivity as a result. Tens of thousands died. They learned the hard way that God means exactly what He says through His prophets (Amos 3:7).

Though Amos describes what was literally happening in ancient Israel, God intended the message for us, the physical and/or spiritual descendants of Israel. It was written to stir us to action, seeing that the times indicate Jesus Christ will return soon.

Amos clearly shows that our nations are headed along the same path to destruction as ancient Israel. There is still hope that we will turn around and avoid the wrath of God, but as each day passes, it becomes more unlikely. We have many lessons to learn, and we seem determined to learn them the hard way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Hebrews 11:5

The fact that Paul states Enoch walked with God suggests a relationship had been established between them. Enoch had thus already experienced what Abel's example teaches. Enoch's example takes us to the next logical step in a faithful person's movement toward glorification. In his arrangement of examples of faith, Paul is emphasizing, not chronological, but experiential order, that is, faith as experienced in practical life. In a true life of faith, walking with God follows justification.

"Walk" and "walking" are the Bible's most frequently used metaphors for two related concepts. Depending upon the translation, they are used almost three hundred times to indicate interaction with another and making progress toward a destination. Somewhat related but used to a lesser extent, "walk" or "walking" indicates the passage of time as a person continues in a chosen direction of life and lifestyle. For example:

» Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly."

» Proverbs 4:14: "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil."

» Daniel 4:37: "And those who walk in pride He is able to abase."

» Micah 6:8: "And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

» Psalm 119:45: "And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts."

Scores of similar descriptions are scattered throughout the Bible. They provide a composite picture of the wide variety of the facets of the godly person's and the evil person's manners of life. Since Amos 3:3 shows that two cannot walk together unless they agree, a person walking with God illustrates that the two are in agreement. This does not mean the person is perfect, but it does imply God's acceptance of him at that stage of his life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

 




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