Read v.1,2 [OHP1]
- 765-760 B.C. time of Amos' ministry - contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah – Uzziah king of Judah, Jeroboam II king of Israel – two Jeroboams: the other was the first king of Israel, he split ten tribes of Israel away from Judah to the south. Had no temple so to break the link with Judah and the temple he set up calf idols at Bethel and Dan – that idolatry had continued right through to Jeroboam II's reign almost 250 years later. Jeroboam was idolatrous and his reign was at a time of material prosperity in Israel, an economic boom with luxurious living, moral corruption and rampant idolatry - Religious – form, no spirituality – must effect our lives – fruit of righteousness and justice. Amos directed his fiery oratory against these sins - Theme:God impartial – justice and righteousness
- Amos ("burden") not a trained prophet was a simple shepherd and dresser of sycamore fruit from Tekoa, a hill country town about 10 miles south of Jerusalem, from Judah (to the south) prophesied to northern kingdom. Assyria the great empire of the time (c.50 years before exile) Amos predicted this exile. But that seemed far away – everything prosperous, economy doing well.
Amos opens with prophecies of judgement - judgement upon nations surrounding Israel, then zeroing in on Israel herself. The LORD "roars" as a lion in mounting wrath against increasing sin. Repeated phrase: "For three transgressions .... and for four," - means sin multiplied on sin, more than enough
Not only did God speak against these sins by His prophet Amos but also by "natural" events – 2 years later He warned the nation with an earthquake - it must have been a major one for it was still recalled after the exiles returned in the time of Zechariah, some 200-250 years later! (cf. Zech 14:5 you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.)– judgement came and shook them out of their affluent complacency.
-Amos speaks, immediately his words would get the backs of Israel up: he speaks of יהוה roaring - they have rejected יהוה for their own gods, they don’t want to be reminded of the God they’ve forsaken. "From Zion" "from Jerusalem" - they had cut themselves off from Judah and would not appreciate being reminded that it was from there God spoke and not from Dan or Bethel. יהוה "roars" - His words were in anger, fierce. His words were of judgement - the pasture would mourn, Carmel dry up - drought and devastation. To those living at ease in luxury these disturbing words would not be welcome. Immediately the words went straight to the heart - the antagonism to Amos’ words would be immediate - he had barely started! When a man speaks יהוה’s words they make an impact! We may not like them but we cannot be indifferent to them.
- time of prosperity, taken up with material possessions, religious – but just culture, no reality – just like our own day
Read v.3-5 Syria - violence (north-west) [OHP2]
Having caused instant antagonism, the pressure eases as Amos, speaking יהוה’s word, directs his attention to Syria. Syria’s sin had built up - יהוה had been patient and overlooked their transgression but they kept multiplying it, adding sin to sin until יהוה could no longer ignore it but stepped in and decreed judgement - a punishment that He would not revoke or turn back from Their cruelty and viciousness towards God’s people was the repeated sin for which יהוה judged them. They had no mercy on Gilead but cut it to pieces, thrashed it, crushed it, trod it down with vicious sharp weapons of iron. It was Hazael, the usurper who threshed Gilead in Transjordan "with threshing sledges of iron" (2 Kings 13:7 For he left to Jehoahaz of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.). The nations will be judged on the basis of how they have treated God’s people and land. As Hazeal and Benhadad had done to Gilead so would יהוה do to them. God will have a day of vindication when He will pay back according to what men have done. They had consumed territory of Israel, so they themselves would be consumed. יהוה would send fire, even their citadels and fortresses in which they trusted would not be refuge - even they would be destroyed. When יהוה decrees judgement, who can stand? Who can resist?! Therefore the lesson we must learn is that we must be very careful how we treat God’s land and people - for as we deal to them so will it be dealt to us. Kir is in Mesopotamia and is the place from which the Arameans migrated (9:7) and to which they were exiled (2 Kings 16:9). The word of יהוה was fulfilled. Sin: inordinate violence. Consequence: fire, dynasty ended, people exiled
Read v6-8 Philistia - sold into slavery (south-west)
- Gaza deported God’s people. They took delight in it and carried out with such zeal and enthusiasm, without a trace of mercy, that they spared none. They exiled the whole population
it is יהוה in action! His hand at work in judgement! It is a fearful thing! Who can resist it?! (cf. Heb 10:31; 12:29). יהוה’s hand is mighty! Woe to him upon whom it falls! The judgement is thorough and complete.
Sin: inhumane, pitiless action in war. Consequence: fire, dynasty ended and death to entire population.
Read v.9-10 Phoenicia - inhuman cruelty against Israel - (north-west)
Again יהוה's judgment is because of their treatment of His people. Like the Philistines, they delivered them over into exile, to captivity of Edom. The deportation was thorough, complete, without mercy. Furthermore in doing so they broke a covenant of brotherhood that had been made "Covenant of brotherhood" refers to the covenant David and Solomon made with Tyre (cf. 1 Kings 5:1-12). Tyre was inhuman in its cruelty against Israel (cf. Joel 3:4-8).
Again it was יהוה Himself who would act in judgement. He would send fire, it would consume the defences in which they futilely placed their trust - their walls and citadels. They would not stand before the consuming fire of יהוה (Heb 12:29; 10:31).
Sin: merciless breaking treaty and moral obligation. Consequence: fire
Read v.11-12 Edom - though closely related to Israel Edom was pitiless in his hatred and cruelty (south)
His sin was particularly heinous because it was against his brother - Edom (Esau) being the brother of Israel (Jacob). He pursued his brother mercilessly, relentlessly and would not give up. He completely stifled the natural compassion. Edom was God’s instrument to punish Israel, the judgement was because he carried it out with enthusiasm and without let up, constantly maintaining it beyond what was reasonable. Cruel, unrelenting, merciless. Though closely related to Israel Edom was pitiless in his hatred and cruelty They had been relentless, so too would יהוה’s judgement. Sin: merciless fury, contrary to natural compassion. Consequence: fire
Read v.13-15 Ammon - barbaric cruelty (East)
Their sin was particularly disgusting and debased - cruel and immoral, lacking any human compassion or decency - they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead - aborting the life יהוה had planted in their wombs. Their motive was entirely selfish - they wanted more territory and they would stop at nothing to obtain it - they stopped Gilead’s population growing so that they could enlarge their own. These sins are practised by our present society without anyone turning a hair! We perform abortions for our own selfish reasons, for our own self interest. We increase our own possession at the expense of others, with no regard for them or for ethics - we call this "good business", "getting a good deal". We will stop at nothing to obtain what we want. "Extend", "enlarge", "expand" - these are our motives in business and in private life. But the LORD sees and will act in judgement. He will send his fire to consume our man made palaces and fortresses. Hallelujah! יהוה has spoken! Judgement will come! Judgement will come upon all those who pursue their own self interest and gain at the expense of the defenceless. Calamity will strike - both by the hand of man (enemies in war) and by the hand of God (in nature, storm). Their rulers will be exiled, the king and the leaders. יהוה has spoken! Disaster is in store for those who pursue their gain at the cost of the lives of the innocent and defenceless, killing God’s people.
Sin: barbaric cruelty, greed. Consequence: fire, war
Read 2:1-3 Moab desecrated the body of the Edomite king by cremation (south-west).
now He speaks again a word of judgement against Ammon’s cousin, Moab. The crime recorded against Moab is the only nation not to be judged for action against God’s people - her crime was against Edom. Not only was Edom’s king killed, he was disgraced even in death by burning his bones. The crimes have one feature in common: relentlessness - taking their sin too far - not satisfied with ending the king’s life they kept on in vindictive hatred even continuing to destroy him even though his life was ended. They just didn’t let up. So fierce was their hatred that they desecrated the body of the Edomite king by cremation (cf. 2 Kings 3:26,27). Cremation always is dishonourable in Scripture. יהוה Himself would act in judgement - He will send fire and their defences, their citadels, will be consumed. War would come and Moab would die amid cries of anguish and the tumult of battle. Judgment is decreed! Assured! יהוה has spoken! He will act: "I will cut off ......" "I will slay ....". All Moab’s leaders would be taken from her and slain. The nation would be left leaderless, directionless, to languish in anarchy. Sin: barbarism. Consequence: fire, war
Read 2:4-5 Judah [OHP1]
The word of the LORD swooped down and struck like a bird of prey (1:2) then circled around the surrounding nations (1:3-2:3) before closing in for the kill. Israel would happily concur that the neighbouring lands merited God’s judgement, but now things were getting more uncomfortable, closer to home - now it was their southern brother Judah that was addressed, not a godless heathen nation but one which worshipped יהוה. Their punishment, just like the other nations, is assured. It is because of the transgressions of all these nations that יהוה raised up the Assyrian terror to execute His judgement upon them for all their continual, unrepentant, sinning. None heeded the words of the prophet, so the judgement was executed.
All judged for cruelty, violence, inhumane behaviour, barbarism – they were heathen nations – they deserved judgement but יהוה isn't finished. Judah also judged but note for different reason. All will be judged but on the basis of the light that they've received. Nations judged according to basic moral principles inherent to man - they had violated the norms of human decency. But Judah judged on the basis of God's Word – Torah – judged on the basis of rejecting covenant relationship – they had greater revelation, brings greater responsibility. Judah and Israel were as guilty as the nations around them and would be punished. Judah was judged in regard to her failure to keep the law she had been given. Not only did she fail to keep it she didn’t even esteem it or regard it as an honour to have been given that revelation from יהוה Himself. No, rather, she despised it and rejected it. She did not keep its statutes - not because of trying and failing but because of rejection of that standard. They were given this great privilege and honour above every other nation - but instead of rejoicing in this honour they wanted to be like all the other less privileged nations. So they rejected יהוה the true God and followed the false gods of other nations, that were lies, falsehood and vanity! They rejected the true and went after the false! Fools! But are we any different?! Do we not delight in the attractions of the world and seek what it has to offer rather than seeking יהוה Himself? What have we done with the great honour and privilege given to us - Jesus Christ and in Him the knowledge and fellowship with the True and Living God? They may have the Torah, and consider themselves the chosen nation but they are no different to the nations round about in regard to the judgement they will receive. Just the same, יהוה Himself will send fire and it will consume the citadels of their pride and joy, Jerusalem.
Sin: rejected the law, disobedience, and idolatry, Consequence: fire
Read v.6-16 Israel
v.6 - Ever circling in closer and closer, יהוה now arrives at His real target of judgement in this prophecy: Israel herself! Now יהוה directs Himself to what is His major concern - the sin of Israel. True, the other nations had sinned and would be judged, but so too had Israel. Just like the other nations, Israel had piled transgression upon transgression until יהוה could overlook it no more but must act in irrevocable judgement. Their sin is a moral failure - they are concerned with gain, getting money, not with righteousness. Sound familiar? We too are likewise guilty! What do we spend most of our time and effort doing? Not only do they place riches before righteousness, they even exploit righteousness in order to gain money (cf. those using religion as a means of acquiring wealth - 1 Tim 6:5, televangelists, those with prominent ministries etc.). They exploited the innocent, took advantage of those who lived a simple righteous life; the poor, weak and defenceless they robbed of the little that they did have. The rich making wealth out of the poor this incenses יהוה!
v.7 -Their greed is insatiable - they even pant after the dust of the earth. They frustrate the plans of the poor, needy and helpless - they trample them into the dust of the ground. Immorality is rife - a man and his brother go to the same girl or prostitute for sexual gratification. This is abhorrent in God’s sight. They do it deliberately ("in order to profane the name of יהוה.) They knew it was contrary to His law but they show their utter contempt for יהוה and His standards - just as our society does today.
v.8 -Taking advantage of the poor by taking their garments as pledge, they have no conscience about going "to worship", to the altar with that incriminating evidence (cf. Deut 24:10-13). From those they have mercilessly fined they use the proceeds to buy wine to drink in God’s house. With no regard for justice, how can they enter God’s house? - they are devoid of conscience over their exploitation of the disadvantaged - it is so habitual and ingrained that they no longer see it as inconsistent with their religion because their religion has nothing to do with the God of righteousness, justice, mercy and holiness whom they claim to worship. Much the same could be said of the comfortable middle class churches of our land.
v.9 - Note the emphasis of "I" (and in v.10) - this is what He did for them but they in response disregarded Him and His holiness. יהוה doesn’t even talk to them directly; not "you" but "them" - so disgusted is He by their immoral conduct. He no longer relates to them directly - their sins have separated them from Him (Isaiah 59:2). יהוה destroyed the Amorites from before them yet Israel did not lay it to heart or recall what had done for them - they showed total disregard for Him but were totally absorbed with pursuing their own ends, accumulating wealth, possessions and comfort for themselves. How different are we? The LORD has done much more for us - not the Amorites, has He destroyed, but the power of sin and death over us! He has delivered us from sin! Made us sons and heirs! Yet how do we regard His holy Name? Do we indulge in injustice, take advantage of others and are we totally absorbed with accumulating things for ourselves?
v.10 - Israel's religion had become empty, meaningless observances - yet יהוה had done wondrous things for them. He had shown them nothing but consistent loving-kindness and undeserved favour in defeating their enemies, delivering them from slavery in Egypt and bringing revelation to them. But Israel despised it all, it meant nothing to them! יהוה had done. It was יהוה Himself who brought Israel on aliyah from Egypt and went with them for forty years in the desert, sustaining and preserving them despite their rebellion, wilfulness and grumbling; gave them the land as their own possession. All this good came from יהוה’s hand – they didn't deserve it. Should they not indeed be grateful and appreciate this God who had been so good to them? They scorned God's grace. How lightly we esteem the wonderful things God has done for us. How reluctant we are to honour Him for the things He has done.
v.11Having been given the land, Israel turned away from God and did not listen to His voice. But despite their waywardness יהוה was still kind and gracious: He raised up prophets from their sons, He spoke to them directly and they spoke His message to bring Israel back. יהוה gave them many opportunities and second chances but they did not heed them (Isaiah 65:2  “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,"). יהוה was patient and long-suffering - constantly kind and good to a people who deserved nothing but His wrath. They weren’t holy or separated to Him, so He raised up some of their young men as Nazarites - examples to them of the devotion they should have as a nation. But they did not respect these God appointed men.
v.12They made sport of the Nazarite showing no respect for the vow they made to abstain from drink - they made them drink, forcing them to break the solemn oath they had made to יהוה! They refused to listen to the prophets, to hear the word of יהוה. יהוה commanded the prophets to speak - but they commanded that the prophets not prophecy! - counter-commanding God! They hated these words of יהוה because they penetrated and convicted. They couldn’t ignore the words, they made them exceedingly uncomfortable, so they ordered them not to prophesy. We should welcome God speaking to us as a wonderful privilege but they deliberately and wilfully refused and rejected revelation from God. The same happens today - only "prophets" who speak pleasing, acceptable words are welcomed, just so long as they don’t draw attention to our woeful spiritual state.
Beginning with the house of God
v.13Israel had become an intolerable burden for Him to bear. The time of judgement was ripe. The load of carrying Israel in all her waywardness was like the burden of a rebellious child - it was like carrying a heavy weight, like a wagon fully loaded at harvest time that can barely carry its load. And harvest time it was! Judgement time had arrived, their sin had accumulated to such a weight that יהוה would tolerate it no longer.
v.14Judgment is decreed from יהוה trouble that will not be able to be avoided. All the natural abilities in which they relied will not be sufficient in that day but will utterly fail them. The fast will not be fast enough to flee. The strong won’t have sufficient power. The valiant will not be brave or mighty enough to deliver himself let alone save anyone else. All human resources will be proved to be utterly futile. All that man puts his trust in will fail. Judgement is unavoidable for those who have spurned יהוה and placed their reliance in anything other than Him alone. Where is my trust placed? On what do I truly rely and instinctively turn to in the time of trouble?
v.15None will stand, no weapon will prove sufficient. The archer will not stand. The swift runner will not escape. Note the emphasis on "will not save/deliver" (3x in 2 verses). Deliverance will not be found. Despite their frantic and desperate attempts they will not be saved - all their efforts will prove to be in vain. And we have scorned His previous period of patience and grace and not turned back to Him and trusted in Him for salvation (cf. Rom 2:4-6  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God,who will render to each person according to his deeds:). Now no one can deliver his soul or fight against what has decreed - salvation will not be found in that day! - It is too late! (Heb 2: 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? 2 Cor 6: 2 for He says, “Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”)
v.16 - יהוה has declared! He has declared judgement! Who can stand?! Who can escape?! "That day" is "the day of the LORD" - the day of judgement, the day of יהוה’s fierce wrath! The bravest of warrior will be completely undone and prove inadequate in that day - they will flee naked, defenceless, like a child. Man’s courage, strength and resource will UTTERLY FAIL in that day! Hallelujah! יהוה has declared! Who can prevent it coming to pass?! Full and terrible judgement is assured on God’s people who spurn יהוה . It is not enough to claim to be God's people, go to church, perform the ceremony – it is what we profess lived out in practice – in justice and righteousness.
Conclusion: - That was 650 B.C. - they deserved judgement – but what is the message for today? The King is coming – Jesus is coming to rule. He is coming to judge the world with righteousness and equity. Judgement is coming – how will we stand in that day? Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Jesus' throne, the very things Amos preached. Like Israel we may think the judgement is for others but it will come to us too (1 Peter 4:17  For it is time for judgement to begin with the household of God;) - we are quick to see the moral depravity around us – but we have received greater light and will be judged according to it.