Here are a podcast and notes on Amos, lesson A (30 minutes).

 

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O.T. background

  • Remember separation of Israel and Judah, two centuries years earlier (1 Kings 12:25-33), under Jeroboam I
    • Rival shrines – with idolatry
    • Rival priesthood – low standard of leadership
    • Rival holidays – to prevent northerners from choosing to blend the two religious systems
    • This evil king is immediately challenged by a prophet (1 Kings 13).
  • It just so happens that in Amos' time (8th C. BC) the northern king is Jeroboam II.
  • Amos was written near the end of his reign.
  • Amaziah is false priest at Bethel in the time of Amos (d.767)
  • Recall  the promises and threats related to covenant faithfulness (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28)
    • Blessings: physical and economic and military and national blessings
    • Punishments: agricultural failure, anxiety, pain, fear, exile
  • For more on the earthquake, see Zechariah 14:5) in days of Uzziah, the king of Judah (742 BC).

Economic situation

  • 760s-750s is a boom time
    • Neighboring nations are too weak or distracted to constitute any significant threat to the prosperity of Israel.
    • International trade is strong
    • Borders restored to limits of 931 BC (end of time of Solomon)
    • Leisured upper class with a decadent lifestyle (2:8, 4:1, 6:1)
    • The poor are oppressed
  • But the bubble is about to burst in a serious way!
    • The oppressive upper class will be brought down.
    • The nation will be delivered over to its enemies (Assyrian exile, 722 BC).

The man

  • Earliest writing prophet and earliest minor prophet
  • Contemporary of Isaiah, Hosea, Micah
  • A shepherd and dresser of fig trees (7:14-15)
  • From Tekoa, a town in southern Judah
    • 6-10 miles south of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:2,4,9; 2 Chronicles 11:6, 20:20; Jeremiah 6:1)
    • The modern Arab village of Tekua, 2700’ above sea level.
    • The wilderness of Tekoa sinks 4000’ to the east.
  • He was a southerner called to preach up north.
  • Amos is Hebrew for “load, burden”.  What was his burden? With what message had the Lord loaded him?

Prologue to the Book of Amos (1:1-2)

  • Roar of a lion -- see 3:8 (also Joel 3:16, Hosea 11:10).
  • Like most of the prophetic literature, Amos is a mixture of poetry and prose.
  • Usually prophets mix judgment and restoration oracles. In Amos, little hope is expressed till the very end.
  • Withering of the top of Carmel (usually green) signifies the extreme judgment of God
  • Spiritual drought > literal drought (e.g. 8:11-12)

Message of the Book

  • Religion without righteousness is worthless.
    • Malachi 1, Revelation 3.
    • Moderation, "balance" render religion worthless.
  • How we treat others reflects quality of our relationship with God.
    • Similarities to James. The James of the O.T.
    • No other prophet so carefully scrutinizes and condemns the justice system in Israel.
    • Demand for justice (5:24).
    • Idolatry has no ethical demands! True religion is invalidated if we do not love our fellow man.
  • God isn’t only interested in the covenant people; he’s concerned about the nations.
    • See 3:9, 4:10, 6:14, 9:7.
    • International vista!
  • Israel will be punished.
    • The 16 oracles mainly feature doom.
    • Not until the end of chapter 9 is there any hope.

Impact

  • In the Bible:
    • Amos significantly influenced Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets.
    • A couple of passages are quoted in the New Testament, which we will cover later on.
  • In our day
    • Inspiration for Civil Rights movement
    • Social consciousness among many churches today
    • Our own lives: If they were held responsible to practice the righteousness of the God whom they worshipped, aren’t we even more responsible to take a stand for the justice of God?

Conclusion

"The words of Amos burst upon the landscape of the Northern kingdom, Israel, with all the terror and surprise of a lion’s roar. Though their main targets were the palaces of Samaria and the shrines at Bethel and Gilgal, the prophet’s words were to resound throughout Israel’s entire landscape leaving no part nor person unscathed" (Tyndale commentary, p.87).

Advanced:

  • Amos comes immediately after Hosea in the LXX.
  • Learn about Jeroboam I by listening to Old Testament Character podcast 33.

Further study:

  • Francine Rivers, The Prophet (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House, 2006)
  • Hosea-Jonah, The Word Biblical Commentary (New York: Word, 1987)
  • The Twelve Prophets, Volume 1 : Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, The Daily Study Bible Series (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984)
  • Joel & Amos, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1989)
  • Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1999)
  • Podcast on the person Amos (at this website), here.


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