Amos
A Bible Study

I)  Jehovah's judgment upon the nations     1:1-2:1

A)   Prelude: the day of wrath at hand          1:1-2

B)   Judgment upon heathen neighbors for crimes of inhumanity (all these to suffer fire and destruction) 1:3-2:3

1)  Damascus  1:3-5
2)  Gaza 1:6-8
3)  Tyre  1:9-10
4)  Edom 1:11-12
5)  Ammon 1:13-15
6)  Moab 2:1-3

II)  Wrath upon the two covenant nations for neglecting God's Word           2:4-16

A)   Judah, having turned from God to false teachers, likewise to suffer fire and destruction

B)  Israel also to suffer overpowering destruction for sins of ex­ploiting the poor, of incest, thanklessness toward God, and persecuting the faithful

III)  Offenses of Israel and warnings of God   3:1-6:14          

A)   Judgment unavoidable because of Israel's complete depravity    3:1-15

B)  The greater the privilege? the greater the accountability  3:1-3

C)  Amos' credentials as God's messenger  3:4-8

D)  Israel's crimes of oppressing the poor, their luxuries and self­ indulgence to be punished by devastation and depopulation   3:9-15

E)  God's challenge to the stiff-necked pleasure seekers   4:1-13

F)  Their pursuit after pleasure and wealth and their carnal forms of worship to seal their doom        4:1-5

G)  The unheeded warning of the plagues; judgment to come           4:6-13

H)   Lamentation and final appeal  5:1-27

I)  The doom of exile for the pleasure-seeking upper classes  6:1-14

IV)   Five visions of Israel's fate  7:1-9:10

A)  Locusts-restrained   7:1-3

B)   Fire-restrained   7:4-6

C)  Plumb line-all to be leveled flat   7:7-9  (Interlude: the clash with Amaziah; his doom foretold, 7:10-17)

D)   Late summer fruit-the end at hand   8:1-14

E)   The smitten temple (of Bethel) Israel to be treated like heathen    9:1-l0

V)   Promises of restoration, 9:11-15

A)   Preliminary: the New Testament age  9:11-12

B)    The consummation of all things  9:13-15

Introduction to the Book of Amos

The meaning of the name "AMOS" is probably burden-bearer. It is derived from the verb "amas" which means to lift or carry a burden. The central theme of his prophecy was Jehovah's faithfulness to His covenant and to His Holy Law, and the strict accountability of His people Israel to a practical observance of their covenant obligations. Amos earnestly stressed their duty of cordial compliance with the legal code of the book of the Law, both in letter and in spirit. Israel's failure to present to the Lord a true and living faith and their attempt to foist upon Him the wretched substitute of empty profession could lead only to the utter ruin and destruction of the nation.

The Author

Since the name of his father is not given, it may be assumed that Amos was of humble birth His native town was Tekoa, situated five miles southeast of Bethlehem in the Judean highlands.

By profession Amos was both a herdsman and a cultivator of sycamore figs. He may possibly have tended cattle (implied in 7:14) end certainly he raised sheen, as we can see in 1:1 as he calls himself a shepherd of a small, speckled variety of sheep. He also made his living by cultivating sycamore or wild fig trees in 7:14. The fig exuded a ball of sap, and if nipped at the right season, hardened into a sort of edible fruit which the lower classes were able to afford.

Apparently Amos was an earnest student of the books of Moses, however Amos never enjoyed the advantages of a formal education in a "school of the prophets" like Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, nor was he ever officially anointed for his prophetic ministry.

At the call of God Amos left his home in Judea as a mere layman to proclaim a hostile message in the proud capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, again without any ecclesiastical authorization. Without any status as a recognized prophet, he braved the prejudice of the Ephraimite public to carry out faithfully his commission from God. A man of rugged convictions and iron will, he could not be deflected from his purpose even by the highest functionary of the Samaritan hierarchy.

The Date of Amos' Book

There is general agreement among Old Testament scholars that Amos' ministry is to be dated between 760 and 755 BC, toward the latter part of the reign of King Jeroboam II (799-753). This king had enjoyed a brilliant career from the standpoint of military success, he restored the boundaries of the Northern Kingdom to the limits with which it had begun in 931 BC. The result had been a considerable influx of wealth from the booty of war and the trade relations set up with Damascus and other countries to the north and northeast.

The wealth did not however "trickle down.” With the kingdom's success and new found wealth came a more conspicuous materialism and greed on the part of the rich nobility. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer! The rich shamelessly victimized the poor and cynically disregarded the rights of those who were socially beneath them. As one commentary puts it "A general disregard for the sanctions of the seventh commandment had undermined the sanctity of the family and had rendered offensive their hypocritical attempt to appease God by observance of religious forms.

Amos gives a precise date for his preaching mission to Bethel: "two years BEFORE the earthquake" (1:1), that is the severe earthquake in the reign of Uzziah, which was remembered for centuries afterward cf. Zechariah 14:5.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact date of this earthquake, but according to Amos it served as a preliminary sign from God Himself. The warnings of doom which Amos conveyed were to be of sure fulfillment. According to 1:1, we can say that the book of Amos was not published until at least two years AFTER he had orally delivered his message.

The world at the time of Amos

He was active during the reign of Uzziah, King of Judah, and of Jeroboam, King of Israel. (Amos 1:1) He belongs to the period of about 760-746 B.C. It was a time of great national prosperity, the 'golden age of Northern Israel'. Business was good, crops were abundant, wealth abounded. (Amos 3:15) However, a period of great moral corruption. Social conditions were appalling. People did not take their religion seriously, their hearts clung to worldly things, the rich took advantage of the poor. (Amos 2:6 8)

The Prophets

God spoke directly to the patriarchs, Adam, Abraham' Jacob, etc. After Israel became a nation, God chose representatives to speak to them. Moses is the first of these new servants of God. At the end of his life, Moses tells Israel of the manner in which God would continue to make His will known to them. (Deuteronomy 18:9-22) God would raise up a line of Prophets. (Deuteronomy 18:15) Children of Israel were afraid to hear God speak directly to them. (verse 16) These prophets would speak God's Word to the people. (verse 18) This line of prophets would find its fulfillment in THE Prophet, Jesus. Amos had a call from the Lord. (Amos 7:14, 15) Therefore he preached with power and authority. (7:16) ('Saith the Lord," 30 times; and 'Thus saith the Lord,' 14 times.)

The message of Amos

It is first a message of judgment. Amos 1:2 This judgment is on Israel. "Samaria must be destroyed." Not one single person shall escape. (Amos 9:1) The nation because of its sins is ripe for judgment. Amos is the first of the prophets to declare the doom of Northern Israel. It is a lost message of righteousness. Amos demanded that men live righteously, that they be in a right relation with their God as well as with their fellow people. Amos 5:14, 15

The whole message of Amos may be summarized in the statement of Amos "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." Amos 4:12

Points of contact with the five books of Moses

From the body of Amos' book we can see direct reference to the first five books of the Bible which God inspired Moses to write. Following are a number of references which Amos makes to the "book of the Law.”

1. Amos 2:7 "A man and his father ,go in unto the same maid" is a reference to religious prostitution, which was expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 23:17-l8. Amos' audience could hardly have been expected to know that this practice was a crime unless there had been prior laws which condemned it.

2. Amos 2:8 condemns the keeping overnight of "garments taken in pledge" a practice forbidden in Exodus.22:26. This offense is compounded when the creditor even sleeps on the pawned article overnight (cf. Deuteronomy 24:12-13)

3. Amos 2:12 refers to the consecration of the Nazarites, the sanction for which is found only in Numbers 6:1-21.

4. Amos 4:4 mentions tithing "after three days" a specification evidently unknown to the pagans, and ordained in the Old Testament only in Deuteronomy 14:28 and 26:12, which state that the tithe of the farmer's produce is to be laid up in store for the Lord.

5. Amos 4:5 "Offer a sacrifice...of that which is leavened" implies that this practice was forbidden by law--a prohibition contained in Leviticus 2:11 and 7:13.

6. Amos 5:23 implies that the ritual of sacrifice in Amos' day was accompanied by song, an ordinance attributed to the historical books of King David. 

7. Several terms for sacrifice are mentioned quite freely by Amos as if they were commonly practiced in his own time. These include...

a. The freewill offering in Amos 4:5 (cf. Leviticus 7:16-18; 22:18; Numbers 15:3; Deuteronomy 12:6-7)

b. The solemn assembly in Amos 5:21 (cf. Deuteronomy 23:36; Numbers 29:35)

c. Burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering all occur in Amos 5:22 (cf. Leviticus 7:11-14; 8:1-32)

God's Grace in the Book of Amos

The grace of God in the book of Amos is seen in the final mercy of God in spite of the sinfulness in Israel. Although business is booming and boundaries are bulging, the sin of the people are numerous: idolatry, self-righteousness, deceit, arrogance, greed, materialism, oppression of the poor, empty ritualism-they have, in brief, broken every aspect of their covenant relationship with God. God's grace, nevertheless, prevails. In the final five verses (9:11-15) Amos predicts a reconstituted Israel, in which David's greater Son, the Messiah, "will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it..." (9:11) by ushering in the kingdom of God-a reality for which the history of Israel served as a type.

Luther on Amos

"Amos is quoted twice in the New Testament. The first time is in Acts 7:42-43 where Stephen cites Amos 5:25-27 against the Jews and shows by it that the Jews have never kept God's law from the time they first came out of Egypt. The second time is in Acts 15:16-17 where James in the first council of the apostles quotes from the last chapter of Amos 9:11-12 as a proof of Christian liberty, that the Gentiles under the New Testament are not bound to keep the law of Moses which the Jews themselves have never kept and could not keep. As Peter preaches in Acts 15:10, these are the two most important bits in Amos, and they are two very good bits.” (LW 35:321)

Permanent lessons for us today

1. The moral responsibility of God, Who is not only all-powerful and international, but also ethical and spiritual. 4:13; 5:8; 9:5, 6

2. The most elaborate worship, if insincere, is but an insult to God. Religion is more than mere outward worship. It is not the smoke of the burnt offering that is acceptable to God, but the incense of a true and loyal heart.

3. There must be social justice between man and man. Morality was the one necessity for Israel. God's requirements are always moral. Moral issues determine the course of history. His whole message is a fitting prelude to James' definition of religion. (James 1:27)

4. Privilege involves responsibility. (Amos 3:2) Election to privilege is only another name for election to duty.

5. The meaning and purpose of calamity and trouble.  (Amos 4:6ff) See Luke 13:1-6.  Every disaster is but a new call to repentance.

6. The necessity of personal conviction in a prophet. (7:14, 15)  Religion is a personal matter; likewise conviction; they cannot be inherited.

7. Historical value of Amos.  Being the oldest of the prophetic writings which is undisputed, it becomes an important witness to the religion of Israel.  Militate against an evolution of Israel’s religion.  The language of Amos is among the purest and most classical Hebrew in the entire Old Testament.

AMOS CHAPTER 1

I)  Jehovah's judgment upon the nations     1:1-2:1

A. Introduction: Amos and God's Word (1:1-2)

1:1 "Among the shepherds" describes Amos as a typical keeper of a small flock. It could be that Amos was one of several keepers of sheep used for the sacrifices at Jerusalem or at the temple at Bethel.

Amos' home base was Tekoa, a prominent Judean highland city ten miles South of Jerusalem, 2,300 feet above sea level, which overlooked the desolate hills of Judah east toward the Dead Sea. (see map above).

No doubt the requirements of his occupation--for pasture and for delivery of its produce--led Amos along the main routes to the urban centers of the day.

Amos was allowed to see the things which God showed him. This suggests that he was given a revelation, which was not heard, but seen with the inner eye of prophetic perception. We also see that what Amos saw concerned Israel, the North Kingdom and not his homeland of the South which is Judah.

Amos' prophetic ministry is dated not only by the reigning kings but more specifically in relation to an earthquake of such severity that it was long remembered. Archaeologists have found evidence that Hazor in north Galilee was destroyed by an earthquake at about this time.

1:2 God's Voice of Judgment.

This opening word sounds the keynote of the rest of the book. Yahweh, with the panic-producing roar of a lion pouncing on his prey (cf. 3:4,8) is sneaking from Zion, His holy hill in Jerusalem, the center of worship for Judah

The voice of God announces immediate doom, the end of prosperity. As in the drought of Elijah's day (1 Kings 17:1) the pastures will cry out for rain and the Carmel ridge, a 12 mile long mountain headland on the coast, famous for luxuriant plant life, will lose its fertility.

The dread Judgment of the Lord strikes at agricultural prosperity, the means of livelihood, and with only one outcome-death

B. God's Judgment On the Nations and On Israel (1:3-2:16)

The opening oracles are a series of pronouncements of doom on neighboring nations. Amos will start with Syria, the nation immediately to the northeast. Next comes the Philistines, in the southwest. To the northwest is Tyre. To the south is Edom. To the east the Ammonites and Moab. This order forms a crisscross pattern of divine judgment. The climax however is the doom on Israel itself (2:6-16). Thus the grim delight of the hearers over Just judgment on enemies turns to terror at learning the fate of their own land.

1:3-5 Syria

Amos' hearers, only recently recovered from the serious blows of this foe, must gleefully have greeted the announcement of Syria's imminent destruction. The capital of Syria was Damascus, one of the oldest cities of the world. The devastating wars of Syria against Israel had been waged by King Hazael and by his son Benhadad (cf. 2 Kings 8:7-15, 28-29; 10:32-33; 13:3-7, 22-25)

Amos mentions .”..because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth" Gilead is east of the Jordan River and south of Syria. It had been the scene of wartime atrocities such as running over prisoners of war with iron-toothed instruments of torture. (cf. 2 Kings 13:7)

The punishment for such cruelty will be...

a)      fire --destroying the royal citadel

b)      ruined defenses as the bar of the city gate is destroyed.

c)       the death of the royal house or provincial governors d. the return of the Syrians to Kir--a fate as horrible as for the Israelites to be returned to Egyptian slavery.

"The Valley of Aven' literally means "valley of vanity" or "wealth" or "idolatry" "Beth-eden" literally means "house of delight."

These two phrases may be Amos’ ironic play on words. However the Hebrew consonants of "Aven" can be read as "On" the name of the Egyptian center of sun worship, which was later applied to Faalbek. Betheden may refer to a Syrian city-state on the upper Fuphrates Fiver gentioned in Assyrian records.

Amos' prediction was strikingly fulfilled wben in 733 the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III reduced Pamascus to a pile of rocks from grhich she never recovered! (cf. 2 Kings 16:9- Isaiah 22:5-6)

1:6-8 The Philistines

Amos now turns for the northeast to the southwest and he lays the second curse on Israel's perennial enemy, the Philistines. Gaza is singled out as the south most of the five principal cities lying at the gateway between Egypt and Asia.

In this curse Amos mentioned Ashod, Ashkelon, and Ekron but not Gath There might be a reason. Gath had not yet recovered from its destruction by Hazael decades before (cf. 2 Kings 12:17)

The cruelty of mass slave trade, in which not Just individuals but whole nations are involved, is the reason for God's curse in verse 6 This could be a reference to a collaboration in slave trade between the Philistines and the "Arabs" in the days of King Jehoram of Judah nearly a century earlier (cf. 2 Chronicles 21:16-17)

Amos' prediction was partially fulfilled in the overthrow of Gaza by the Assyrians in 734.

l:9-10 Tyre

Tyre is the object of the third curse. Tyre is the chief city of the northwest coastland, Phoenicia. Tyre was proud and wealthy because of its maritime world trade.

1:9 What do we make of the "unremembered covenant of brotherhood?"  King Hiram of Tyre "loved David" (1 Kings 5:1) and once, though disappointed, called Solomon "my brother" (I Kings 9:13; cf. 2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1-12; 9:10-14)

In the 9th century the political marriage of King Ahab of Israel with Jezebel, daughter of Phoenician king (1 Kings 16:31) had results that hardly cemented fraternal relations and pacts between Phoenicia and Israel.

Also, in the 7th century Tyre twice sided with the Assyrians against other Phoenician cities. Thus this phrase is a reference to a pact that was broken and it can also stand for Tyre's later inhumanity to man.

Amos' prediction came true when Tyre was seriously weakened by Nebuchadrezzar's 13-year siege in the 6th century and was finally subdued by Alexander the Great in the 4th

1:11-12 Edom

Edom is the fourth oracle of God's judgment. Edom 1ying south of the Dead Sea was an important spot in the history of God's people. Here is hatred between blood brothers, for Israel and Edom were traditionally descended from the twins Jacob and Esau, whose rivalry was perpetual. The enmity between these two groups grew with the Fdomites' refusal to let Israel pass through their territory on the way from Egypt to the Promised Land (cf. Num.20:14-21)

The anger became fiercest over Edom's plundering of Judah after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 (cf. Psalms 137:7; Obadiah 10-14).

Here the breach against brotherhood is emphasized in a word play used by Amos. The root of the Hebrew word translated "pity" refers to the womb, the place where Jacob and Esau first struggled (cf. Genesis 25:22). The unceasing fierceness of Edom's wrath is like that of a wild beast tearing its prey.

"Teman" was the largest and most important city in central Edom, and "Bozrah" was the strongest city in northeast Edom.

1:13 The Ammonites

The fifth oracle against the Agmonites most resembles the first. Traditionally related to Israel (Cf. Genesis 19:30-38) the Ammonites apparently began their wars of aggressive expansion in the days of Jephthah in the 11th century (cf. Judges 11:4-33) Saul's first military exploit was inspired by their threat of gouging out eyes (1 Samuel 11:1-11) and they were later subjugated by David (2 Samuel 8:11-12; 12:26-31 1 Chronicles 18:11; 19:1-20:3)

In the 9th century they attacked the Judean king Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-23) They paid tribute, perhaps in Amos' day, to King Uzziah of Judah (2 Chronicles 26:8) and later to his son Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:5)

Though no specific occasion is known when the Ammonites disemboweled pregnant women in gaining Gilead territory it was a notorious event, and its mention would stir feelings of revulsion in Amos' hearers. It may have occurred during the campaigns of Hazael against Israel toward the end of the 9th century (cf. 2 Kings 8:12). At that time all Israel's territory in the Transjordan fell into the hands of the Arameans.

1:14-15 The Ammonites' capital city Pabbah, is the only Ammonite city named in the Old Testament. Amos' predicted doom of exile for Ammonite leaders may have occurred at the command of Nebuchadrezzar after Jerusalem's fall in 586.

AMOS CHAPTER TWO

2:1-3 Moab

The last oracle against a foreign nation is 'Moab. Here Amos condemns and censures the desecration of the bones of the king of another of Israel's enemies, Edom. Amos is not just cursing his country's traditional enemies. Rather he is asserting Yahweh's judgment on any nation's cruelty, even including the sacrilege toward the dead.

The defilement of any tomb or corpse was looked on with horror. This may be seen in tomb and coffin inscriptions pronouncing terrible curses on anyone disturbing their contents (cf. 2 Kings 23:16-20). To deliberately burn royal bones for the purpose of making lime or plaster was an unthinkable sacrilege. (cf. Deuteronomy 27:2,4) The occasion for this act may have been the 9th century war of Mesha king of Moab against the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, and Edom (cf. 2 Kings 3:5-27)

The Moabites were traditional relatives of Israel (cf. Genesis 19:30-38) however poor relations between Israel and Moab continued from the days of the Israelite conquest (Cf. Numbers 21:10-25:5). For many years Israel and Moab continued to make war with each other (cf. Deuteronomy 23:3-6).

Kerioth was a fortified city in Moab, and perhaps was the capital in Amos' day. According to evidence by archaeology Moeb was already being depopulated in this period of time. It was taken captive by Tiglath­pileser III in 733, and from the 6th century on it was practically no more.

II)  Wrath upon the two covenant nations for neglecting God's Word    2:4-16

2:4-5 Judah

Now Amos has an oracle of Judgment against his own homeland. Judah is specifically referred to only here and four other times (1:1-2; 6:1; 7:12; 9:11). "The law of the Lord" probably means the instruction or the teaching of God's word which was spoken by His prophets (cf. verses 11-12) rather than any written law which is recorded in the first five books of the Bible. The perverting "lies" are the deceitful ways of idols or false gods.

2:6-16 Israel

If Amos' hearers received his first oracles with self-righteous gloating over their enemies they must have become increasingly uncomfortable as Amos now turns to Israel. Now the thunder of God's Judgment falls on them!

In this oracle of judgment Amos declares that...

(a) God's judgment will come upon His own people because of their cruel exploitation of the people and false worship (verses 6-8)

(b) with base ingratitude for what God has done for them they corrupt His spiritual guides (verses 9-12)

(c) Therefore none can escape the eminent doom of the nation of Israel (verses 13-16)

2:6-8 The Exploitation of the Poor

Cruelty is the chief sin here just as it has been with the other neighboring nations. With Israel however it is not national crimes against other people but exploitation of the underprivileged by the privileged within the society. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer has been the outcry of many today. Here Amos' words have much to say to us even today.

The righteous, i.e. the innocent and honest subjects whose rights have been taken away either in lawsuits or in economic deals. They are called the poor, the needy, and the afflicted or "meek" because they are helpless before their unscrupulous exploiters. Though the poor man owes no more than the price of a pair of clean sandals, they that is, the exploiters foreclose his mortgage or sell him into slavery. They brutally grind the poor man's head down into the ground. They are so greedy that they pant after the dust which the poor throw on their heads in their rite of mourning.

2:7 The charge that son and father resort to "the same maiden" refers either to secular prostitution or to the mistreatment of a slave girl in the household. Most likely, it is Amos' way of castigating the practice of temple prostitution.

In Baal worship the reviving of vegetation after the rains accompanied the marriage rite of Baal, the resurrected god of vegetation with his "wife" Asherah who had rescued him from his temporary death in the underworld. (cf. Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 15:13; 18:19) Worshipers celebrated this season of hope with relations with young men and women employed at the shrine (cf. Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7).  The female devotees were called "holy women.” Thus Amos is saying that this supposed holiness of harlotry purposefully profanes God's name which is holy

2:8 Amos goes on to declare that exploitation not only is in the places of business and law but is a rot at the core of the religious life. In their shrine revelries “beside every altar!”  they recline on "garments' the poor have had to pawn (cf. Exodus 22:26-27) and the wine they imbibe has been paid for by levies, perhaps a shrine tax which is laid on the poor and the underprivileged.

2:9-12 God's Revelation is ungratefully corrupted.

In sharp contrast to what Israel is doing in profaning God's name is what God has done to guard and guide His people. In the past he cleared the holy land for them. The Amorite were the people in the land of Canaan before Israel. Traditionally they were regarded as giant in both stature and strength (cf. Genesis 15:16; Numbers 13:32-33; Deuteronomy 1:28). Yet they were the ones who received God's redemption from Egyptian slavery.

2:11-12 Instead of being grateful for God's provisions for His people's welfare, Israel corrupts the very means for spiritual preservation by making Nazirites forget their vows and by silencing the prophets. (cf. 7:12-16)

2:13-16 The Judgment of Inescapable Disaster

God shows the deep hurt in His heart at the rebellion of His people for whom He has done so much as He says, “I am pressed under you.”  We can see this also as the inescapable pressure of God's awful Judgment on Israel. Not only will the nation as a whole perish, but its skilled defenders--the "mighty" and the "swift" infantry and cavalry will be unable to save even themselves as they strip for fast flight. "In that day" refers to the day of the Lord (cf. 5:18-20) The concluding expression, "says the Lord" means that the utterance or oracle of God is the solemn prophetic declaration from God Himself.

AMOS CHAPTER THREE

III. God's Testimonies Against and Woes Upon His People (3:1-6:14)

The bulk of the book of Amos seems to be composed of two series of prophetic oracles. The first, and the longest series (3:1-5:17) pro­claims God's repeated testimony against His people. He says this three times (3:1; 4:1; 5:1) with the words "Hear this word!"

The second series (5:18-6:14) is a series of "woes" upon the people. (5:18; 6:1; 6:4)

A.  The first testimony (3:1-15)

Amos' shocking prediction of Israel's imminent doom at once raises inevitable questions. These questions come up because under king Jeroboam II Israel had come under unprecedented prosperity. "You've got to be kidding Amos!'7 was the response the prophet got from the people. They reasoned that contrary to the prophet's pessimism, the people were reaping the material rewards. This they reasoned was because they were 'God's chosen ones" and God was on their side, much like the "theology of success" we find in some areas of the church today. In a series of testimonies spoken in the name of the Lord Amos deals with the meaning of Israel's unique relationship to God and the reasons for discerning the signs of disaster.

3:1-2 Privilege and Responsibility.

The doctrine of Israel's election as God's own people stems from the tradition of his miraculous deliverance of the whole people from Egypt (verse l; cf. 2:10; 9:7). While God directs the course of history of all earth's "families" (cf. 9:7) to Israel God says, "You only have I known.”

Amos starts with the premise that Israel is God's elect nation, but his conclusion is radically different: such a high privilege carries a high responsibility for obedience. Israel's multiplied iniquities mark her for the severe punishment which is to come.

3:3-8 Prophetic Certainty, Authority, and Warning

3:3-6 Amos' argument begins with a transitional question: Do not two people seen walking together have at least something in common; have not Israel and her God had a close relationship through the years? The questions in w .4-6 imply both disaster and the fact that an effect has its cause; the lion's roar on sensing the nearness of prey, followed by the cub's growl of satisfaction in eating the kill; the bird's swooping down to the lure of bait, followed by the snap of the trap; the chill of terror of the city dweller at the blast announcing the approach of an invading enemy.

Amos has cast these questions in the meter of a funeral dirge. The doom they portend comes, not by chance, but as divine discipline and judgment which is the inescapable result of sin.

3:7-8 Amos gives his authority as a prophet. He hears the voice of the Lord. As a prophet he has been given "special revelation.” Amos the prophet can listen in on the Lord's secret heavenly council planning sessions. the true prophet hears God's lion roar and even though he may be unwilling by divine compulsion he must speak. This is Amos' authority for warning his people before it is too late!

3:9-12 Amos calls on the strongholds and citadel fortresses of Israel's enemies to gather round her capital to witness her utter confusion and destruction. Here in bitter irony Amos is calling on Israel's past traditional enemies, Philistia and Egypt, neither of whom has intimate knowledge of God's will, to be public observers of God's privileged people's confusion.

Israel's capital Samaria, the strong walled hilltop political center was readily observable from surrounding mountaintops. The "tumults" in her life are the "oppressions" of the poor by unscrupulous exploiters who have gained their wealth by "violence and robbery.” Conscience has been killed; they simply "do not know how to do right" they do not know what is straight forward and honest.

The doom of Samaria will be a siege and conquest by an invading foreign army. What happened is that Assyria under Tiglath-pileser III in 743 made war and the final blow which fell Samaria care in 722. Amos predicts total destruction for what will be left will be but the shreds of former finery, a "corner" of a broken couch and "part” of a ruined bed.

3:13-15 Punishment on Sanctuary and Mansion.

The climactic oracle of this first testimony predicts destruction of the religious sanctuaries which presumably provide national security, together with the symbols of material prosperity. The wealthy material comforts the people once enjoyed will not help. The "winter house" was occasionally heated in the cold rainy season of late autumn and winter (cf. Jeremiah 36:22) The "summer house" was either an upper story open to cool breezes in the hot, dry harvest season (cf. Judges 3:20) or a separate dwelling high on a hill. "Houses of ivory" refers to ivory inlays used in furniture and decorated paneling in the homes of the wealthy (cf. 6:4; 1 Kings 10:18,22; 22:39; Psalms 45:8)

We now turn to the second testimony which Amos makes against his people as he uses the phrase "Hear these words..."

AMOS CHAPTER FOUR

B. The Second Testimony (4:1-13) 

4:1-3 Punishment of Corrupt Womanhood

Sarcastically Amos calls the women "cows of Basham" this is perhaps a term used for the sleek, fat cattle of this fertile land. While women were occasionally involved in business dealings they could be heartless exploiters. Amos pictures fine ladies of Samaria as continuously nagging their husbands.

Here Amos is using a play on words. He declares to these ladies with their husbands which he calls "lords" that the real "LORD" Yahweh has vowed the most awful vow possible, by His own nature as God, they will find themselves in a procession of captives going out through the breached wall of the city, caught-like helpless fish, with hooks piercing their lips.

4:4-5 The Rebellion of Worship

With more biting sarcasm Amos invites whoever hears-probably not just the pampered women of the previous verses to come to the two chief sanctuaries of Israel and carry on their beloved sacrificial rituals. But to do so, says Amos, he is not to worship God; it is rather to multiply rebellion against the Lord.

Bethel and Gilgal were the two chief worship centers of the nation of Israel. Here Amos uses satire as he speaks of the elaborate piling up of sacrifices as merely a public show--"for so they love to do.” This detailed reference to the types and frequency of the sacrifices shows how the people were only going to the worship centers for selfish reasons.

Sacrifices were animals slaughtered and eaten in a festival meal with God, priests, and worshipers all participating. Such an occasion would take place no more than three times a year for any individual worshiper, as it involved making a pilgrimage to the sanctuary. When Jesus was killed during the Passover feast it has been said that close to 250,000 lambs were slaughtered during that one feast. How ironic that the One lamb, the very lamb of God, paid for the sin that hundreds of thousands of lambs could not fulfill!

Tithes according the law (cf. Deuteronomy14:22-29) were the required annual offering of a 10th of the yield of agricultural products, each year involving a shared festival mean, and every third year to be shared with the landless Levite, sojourner, fatherless, and widow.

Leaven, which produces fermentation, was prescribed in certain "peace offerings " for thanksgiving. Leaven was clearly prohibited in feasts where any sacrifice to God was made. Amos may mean that the 'sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened" is typical of the participants' concentration on their festival enjoyment even when sup­posedly engaged primarily in thanksgiving to God.

Free will offerings never required by any law, should be the voluntary expression of the worshipers' response to God. But what is the motivation of those who proclaim and publish such gifts? Jesus Himself gives us the answer in Matthew 6:1-16

4:6-12 Chastising Experience Unheeded.

Amos begins with a declaration of what God has done or will do "to you, O Israel" and ends with the refrain “yet you did not return to me" expressing God's mingled sorrow and judgment that His chosen people have paid no attention to His repeated chastisements, which should have caused them to repent. The conclusion is therefore "prepare to meet your God' O Israel!" The five specific disasters which follow are not identifiable with any known historical calamities, however we can take these words at face value and be assured that in time they did in fact happen.

4:6 The phrase "cleanness of teach" because of no bread to put between them-is a striking figure of speech for famine.

4:7-8 Contrary to much popular belief that the Canaanite god Baal is the fertility deity responsible for rain and hence abundant crops, it is really the Lord who is the controller of nature, who on occasion has delayed the heavy November rains until February so that g the farmer has had no April-June harvest, or who has sent sporadic rains so that some communities have gone staggering to others' cisterns to get a bit of precious water.

4:9 Complete agricultural failure has been due to blight caused by the scorching east wind (cf. Genesis 41:6) the yellowing of crops from mildew and a locust plague (cf. Joel 1:4-13)

4:10 The expression "pestilence after the manner of Egypt" may be a proverb for diseases as terrible as the famous plagues before the Exodus (Exodus 7:14-11:10) but the scene here is the tragedy of war, with the youth of the nation slain, the stench of unburied corpses, and the capture of cavalry often in the prophets a symbol of pride. (cf. 2:15)

4:11 The brand plucked out of the burning when God overthrew some of you expresses the miracle of anything's having been saved in a disaster compared to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, presumably by earthquake and the ignition of released sulphurous gases, asphalt, and petroleum (cf. Genesis 19:24-25)

4:13-15 A doxology is said at the conclusion of this oracle. This is an exalted description of the God whom Israel is to encounter. This is just the first of three "doxologies" which will be spoken. The other two are in 5:8-9 and 9:5-6.

In this doxology we learn that God is the creator of all the universe, who yet reveals to man His thoughts, through the prophets (3:7) and through His created world (cf. Psalms 19:1-4). This we call the natural and revealed knowledge of God.

We have looked at the first two oracles against Israel. Now we look at the third as Amos starts with the phrase "Hear this word..." 

AMOS CHAPTER FIVE

C. The Third Testimony (5:1-17)

5:1-3 Virgin Israel's death Amos opens his third testimony of God against the nation of Israel with a funeral dirge over the death of the nation. Perhaps Amos appears in mourning clothes and accompanied by a musical instrument sings (cf. Isaiah 5:1). In this "funeral song" the imminent future event of the nation's death is portrayed as already happened as the prophet figuratively gazes on the virgin corpse lying on her land. Realistically, in the coming invasion which is God's judgment 90% of the Israelite warriors who go into battle from a city or village will come out corpses.

5:4-7 Two Calls to Seek and Live

Death and life--these are the choice which Israel yet has. Convinced that Israel is practically dead because of her sins, yet three times (verses 4, 6, 14) Amos holds out hope for life, a survival possible only if Israel will seek the right object. Here is the light of hope found in Amos.

5:4-5  First, seek Me and live, God calls; do not seek the traditional sanctuaries of worship which are doomed. To "seek" God usually means to come to worship at one of His shrines, but Amos seems instead to counsel direct encounter with God, getting into a right relationship with Him through obedience.

In this passage Amos uses an ironic play on words. The name "Bethel" was also that of a Semitic deity well attested through the study of archaeology (cf. Genesis 31:13; Jeremiah 4:13) "Beth-el" "the house of God" will become "Beth-aven" "the house of nought.” God's house will become the house of idolatry and wickedness." (cf. Hosea 4:15 5:8; 10:5, 8)  Playing on the sound of the name of the famous sanctuary Gilgal, Amos declares that "Gilgal" shall go into "galling captivity'. In English it would be the same as saying God is NOW HERE and changing it to read God is NOWHERE.

5:6 The second summons warns that God's Judgment-as on the neighboring nations (1:4; 7, 10, 12, 14, 2:2, 5) and in the second of Amos' visions (7:4) will be a miraculous fire which no rain magic of the cult at Bethel can quench. The North Kingdom is called the "house of Joseph'' because of the importance of the traditional tribal territory of Joseph's sons Manasseh and Ephraim.

5:7 Amos now turns on those who "turn justice to wormwood.” In his preaching Amos never defines justice and righteousness, he takes it for granted that his hearers understand what they mean. Amos also uses these two words side by side or as a parallel of each other. The righteousness of which Amos speaks is based on the relationship between the chosen people Israel and their God. Amos understands this relationship to be the hub or the center of Israel's life. Here he deplores it being turned to wormwood by those who have followed after false gods.

5:8-9 Amos now gives his second doxology. As the creator and the constant sustainer of all nature the Lord God has set in the heavens the constellations "the Pleiades" and "Orion" (cf. Job 9:9; 38:31) He provides dawn and dusk and the rain cycle (cf. Job 36:27-30) He who controls all nature also controls human destiny, and so, He may destroy mere human strength

5:10-13 The Exploitation of the Poor

Exploiters despise those who protest against their injustices "in the gate" the civic center where the elders and the Judges held court (cf. Deuteronomy 21:19;22:15; Ruth 4:1,11; Isaiah 29:21)-though they know that these defenders of the exploited speak the truth Amos speaks of extortions in the grain market and bribes in the law courts. He warns that the profiteers will never enjoy the security and luxury of their houses built of expensive hewn stone.

5:13 In the evil time of God's judgment to come the man who thinks that in manipulating God and fellow man to his own advantage he has been "successful" will be shocked into stunned silence.

5:14-15 The Third Call to Seek and Live

In this his final plea Amos defines what it means to seek after God. It is to seek good, to respond in obedience to God. In His dealings with His people God has shown His goodness and His care for the poor and the afflicted. His people's primary concern must therefore be to search for good rather than evil. Here Amos pins down the idea of "good" to specific acts of justice in the gate, the fair dealings in the law court. It must also go deeper; it must be the inner motivation of life. God's people must not simply do good acts and refrain from evil ones; they must hate evil and love good.

Only by such transformation of an inner character will it be possible that in the coming Judgment by God's grace a regnant will be left. Amos denies the false illusions of those who proclaim that Israel's present prosperity is the evidence of God's presence with them. In our time the "theology of success" needs to heed these timely words of Amos.

5:16-17 Mourning Rites at Israel’s Death

In this climax of this third series of oracles of God’s testimony against his people Amos returns to the funeral dirge meter with which he began in verses 2-3. In the doom to come, mourning will be complete among all classes of society, both city dwellers in their squares, and farmers in their fields.

Those skilled in lamentation means professional mourners hired for the funeral of any citizen of rank or possibly Paa1 cult weepers whose wails now fail to bring the dead god of vegetation back to life (cf. 1 Kings 18:26-29) As in the covenant ritual of passing between the pieces of the sacrificial animals symbolizing the death of those who fail to keep the covenant (cf. Genesis 15:7-17; Jeremiah 34:18-20) and as in the final plague in Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:12-30) The Lord will "now pass through the midst of you" in deadly pestilence or in devastating war.

D. The First Woe (5:18-27)

As the book is now organized Amos' series of testimonies against God's people (3:1-5:17) is followed by a pronouncement of woes (5:18-6:14), in which God's imminent coming is seen as a day of destroying judgment.

5:18-20 The Pay of the Lord

In the first woe Amos turns expected joy into lamentation light into darkness in one of his most important contributions to Israelite prophecy, his reversal of the popular conception of the coming day of the Lord.

At the annual celebration of the new year a ceremony would be held which included the re-enthronement of the king, ceremonial victory over the enemies, renewal of the promise of prosperity, and the setting of fates for the year to come. This day of the glorious coming of the Lord to bless His people for another year may have suggested the idea of a great day of his coming to inaugurate a permanent era of bliss.

It is this pious expectation, supposedly assured by sacrifices, on which Amos pronounces his first resounding Woe! gar from security for a fugitive from a lion or a bear this house of Israel's improper piety contains a hidden venomous serpent. There will be no shred of brightness in that day of the Lord for when He comes it will not be in reward, but in punishing judgment (cf. 8:9-14; Isaiah 2:9-21; Zephaniah 1:7-18)

5:21-27 The Sacrilege of Sacrifice.

In the most vigorous passage in his book Amos hears the Lord Himself condemn a flourishing cult which assumes that rites without righteousness will continue to buy the Lord's favor. The Lord despises the feasts. He will "take no delight in" (literally "refuse to smell) the clouds of incense from the solemn assemblies.

Burnt offerings were the most expensive type, for the whole animal was consumed on the altar, leaving nothing as food for the worshiper or payment for the priest. Cereal offerings or grain or peace offerings of specially fattened animals, were samples of the food eaten by the worshipers in the communion meals. The accompanying "noise of your songs" and "melody of your harps" were the ancient equivalents of our choral anthems, congregational hymns, and organ voluntaries. .Surely God does not refuse to listen to the sacred worship of His pious people! Indeed yes declares Amos, because even the most elaborate and devout ritual has no worth in itself (cf. Matthew 6:7) Mere religiosity, however fervent, misinterprets the nature of both God and His covenant relation with man.

5:24 Amos here affirms that God's people's loyalty is shown, not in elaborate and expressive ceremony, but in steady rather than sporadic justice in human relationships and righteousness in obedience to God's will. (cf. Isaiah l:10-17)

5:25 It is no new commandment, no new ethical standard that Amos is lifting up. Father, it is a recall to the heart of the covenant, the faith Or the fathers in the period of the desert wandering under Moses. Amos is convinced that ritual is not what is necessary, perhaps not really commanded, in that unique time what really counted and what still counts is Cod's gracious care for His people. Question: where does liturgy play in our worship life today?

5:26-27 But now, says Amos manufactured idols of Sakkuth and Kaiwan, which were Mesopotamian star deities associated with the planet Saturn, are carried along in sacred procession, Another sort of procession is forming, it is one which will go into "exile beyond Damascus.” This is the closest Amos comes to identifying Assyria as the conqueror he foresees (cf. 3:11-12; 4:2-3; 6:7; 14; 7:11, 17)

AMOS CHAPTER SIX

E. The Second Woe (6:1-14)

This second and final woe condemns the proud leaders of all Israel for their false sense of security (verses 1-3) and callous self-indulgence (verses 4-6) and declares that these First citizens" will become the first of the many to suffer and be carried off into exile (verses 7-14)

6:1-3 Amos pronounces woe on the leaders of both Israel and Judah.

To these notable men in their role as judges all the house of Israel naturally come. In their eyes Israel as God's chosen is first of the nations.

6:2 But how does Israel compare with neighboring kingdoms? Calneh refers to a Syrian city-state. Hamath the great was an important city located on the Orontes River. In Amos' day is was the capital of a Syrian kingdom bordering of Israel's north frontier (cf. verse 14; 2 Kings.14:25) Gath was one of the five Philistine city-states west of Judah.

The meaning that Amos is getting at is that since Israel is the largest and the most prosperous of the states of Syria her leaders have so much the more obligation to be responsible. These three will be later destroyed by Assyria and therefore this verse is a warning addressed to Judah that her doom will be coming.

6:3 The address of this verse is to the complacent leaders of verse 1 who refuse to acknowledge the coming of the evil day of God's wrath and in their law courts render judgments of violence rather than justice.

6:4-6 Irresponsible Indulgence

The prophet’s curse on these leaders continues with an unforgettable picture of self-indulgence. These who should be Israel's leaders show no concern over the imminent disaster about to befall their land; they "are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph (vs.6). Instead they sprawl on luxurious couches inlaid with ivory (cf. 3:15) they feast on specially fattened lamb and veal (cf. 5:22) they babble drinking songs as they quaff their wine from large sacrificial bowls rather than ordinary cups; and they apply expensive oil cosmetics to their bodies.

6:7-14 The Final Doom

These irresponsible leaders will indeed lead when, their revelry suddenly ended, they head the line of those going into exile. The oath of the Lord (verse 8) sworn by Himself, for nothing is more powerful in the universe--expresses His abhorrence of His deceitful people's pride (cf. 8:7) and their human achievements such as their military strongholds. But no human power can now avert His destruction of their city.

6:9-9 Destroying pestilence will follow devastating war and wipe out all of a household together. If one survivor huddled in the corner of an inner room of a large house sees the nearest kin come in to find the corpses, to burn them in hope of stopping, the Sprague-the terror stricken survivor will beg that the name of the Lord not even be whispered lest His fury break forth anew.

6:11 The destruction of the palace described in this verse may be from an earthquake or frog the razing, which was common in ancient warfare.

6:12-13 Israel's tragic conduct is unnatural. Her pattern of injustice (cf.5:7) is as futile as trying to race horses on a stony cliff or plow the sea like farmland. Israel's pride is silly. {s examples Amos refers sarcastically to the boasting over Jeroboam II's recapture from Syria of two small cities in Gilead: Lo-debar and Karnaim.

6:14 In contrast to such unnatural human pride let Israel look up, for she will see the Lord Himself coming as He causes oppression by a foreign conqueror which will spread to the farthest ideal boundaries of His chosen people's land.

The Arabah was the deep Galilee-Jordan-Dead Sea valley which continued south to the Gulf of Aqaba. Amos is ironically quoting Jeroboam II's boast of having enlarged the border of his kingdom to the Dead Sea in the south The accomplishments of kings will be forgotten as the final doom comes upon this nation.

AMOS CHAPTER SEVEN

IV. Five visions of Israel's fate  7:1-9:10

The Third section of the book of Amos contains a remarkable series of five visions (7:1-9; 8:1-3; 9:1-4) with interspersed biography (7:10-17) and concluding oracles made by Amos (8:4-14; 9:5-8)

Many interpreters regard the visions as Amos' account of the experiences which constituted his call to become a prophet. They therefore assume that these should be read as a prelude to the oracles which we have just studied. In the biographical section of this book (7:10-17) Amos indicates that he does not regard himself as being "officially called" to be a prophet despite the fact that God has called him from his daily work to prophesy. It is hard to say definitively whether these visions describe Amos' "call" or if they are a succession of experiences during his prophetic ministry.

A. Three Visions & A Biographical Episode (7:1-17)

When God causes Amos to see first-the locusts and then the fire, his immediate plea is heeded and God does not let His people be destroyed (7:1-6). But, when Amos is shown the plumb line of judgment against the wall of His nation (7:7-9) he makes no reply; and there follows the account of his encounter with Amaziah, the priest of King Jeroboam's sanctuary at Bethel (7:10-17). In the third vision Amos sees a plumb line which also will show calamity which will befall Jeroboam and the rest of the nation.

7:1-3 The First Vision:  The Locust Plague

While locusts may seem but a natural plague occasionally suffered in the Near East, Amos sees it as God's own warning (cf. 4:9).  Possibly the "king's mowings" were the harvesting of the first crop of grass after the autumn rains, much of which went for taxes. (So what is new?!) Thus, before the spring crop can develop the locusts are devouring everything, so that the poor common man will have nothing.

Amos' plea is not that the locust plague is unjust but simply that God forgive His people. The Lord repented is a Hebrew way of saying that God's mercy exceeds His Justice, so that His mind may be changed by the intercession of the prophet Amos (cf. Genesis 20:7; Exodus 32:11-14; Joel 2:12-14)

7:4-6 The Second Vision:  Supernatural Fire

Probably the occasion in nature of this judgment is drought caused by the scorching summer sun (cf. Joel 1:19-20) Put this is no ordinary burning heat. Rather it is supernatural fire which devours even the subterranean deep, on which the earth rests, and which flows forth in springs and rivers. Hence Amos blurts out not "Forgive!" but 'Cease!" And, marvelous to relate, God does!

7:7-9 The Third Vision:  The Plumb Line

Amos now sees the Lord Himself standing beside a wall, but Amos' eyes are not on God but on the plumb line he holds. Seen against this cord with its weight at the end, Israel, God's wall, is obviously so out of perpendicular that it must fall. God's patience is now at an end. There is no chance that He will again pass by in forgiveness. Doom will fall on the high places, i.e. hilltop shrines, of Isaac-possibly a reference to long-esteemed patriarchal centers such as Beer-Sheba, traditionally associated with Isaac (cf. 5:4) The proud nation will die with the death of the royal dynasty. (cf. verses 11, 17, Hosea 1:4)

7:10-17 Amos' Encounter with the Priest of Bethel

'The high priest at the royal religious center reports to King Jeroboam II that Amos is a traitor. Perhaps Amaziah, mentioned only here in the text fears that Amos has power by which his predictions (verse 11) will actually be effected (cf. Jeremiah 19:1-20:6) Hence "the land in not able to bear all his words,” and Amos must be banished. whether or not in calling him a "seer" the priest derides Amos as a mere dreamer, in his order the expulsion Amaziah declares that Amos may "eat bread" i.e. earn his living in rival Judah, perhaps at the sanctuary there, but certainly no longer speak at Israel's holy temple at Bethel.

7:14-15  Amos' reply makes this scene one of the most vivid and important in all Old Testament prophetic books. Amos declares that he is neither such as a court or temple prophet who may profiteer from his profession nor is he a member of one of the organized prophetic orders (cf. 1 Samuel 10:5; I Kings 22:6; II Kings 2:3,5).  With high regard for the function of being the Lord's prophet (cf.2:11-12; 3:7-g) Amos simply testifies to God's inescapable call. It came to him when as a shepherd he was watching his flocks and herds. His second occupation was in the lowlands.  There the sycamore-fig tree grow, and his job was to puncture the unripe fruit to make it edible and therefore salable.

7:16-17 Far from recanting, Amos repeats his refusal to he silenced either by officialdom or by popular demand (cf.2:12) and he predicts details of the imminent disaster. The high priest's own wife will be openly ravished by invading soldiers, or perhaps become a pro­stitute for economic survival. The holy land of the Lord's presence will be sold in parceled lots rather than be inherited as a united trust. God's people will be exiled in a land unclean because under the sovereignty of a foreign god.

AMOS CHAPTER EIGHT

B. Fourth Vision and Another Testimony (8:1-14)

8:1-3 The Fourth Vision: Summer Fruit

This vision brings to a conclusion the movements seen in the preceding three. A springtime locust plague and mid-summer drought are now followed by late summer's ripened fruit, perhaps figs. The an­nouncement of the exhausted patience of God in the plumb-line vision has now resulted in the sentence of doom: THE END HAS COME.

In a play on words (which Amos uses many times in his book) the words "summer fruit" also mean "the end" if spoken and viewed from God's perspective. The irony is that in the popular view the harvest of summer fruit at the end of the long dry season is the moment when God's people anticipate the immediately coming autumn rains with their promise of renewal. Not so, declares Amos. This is not the end of a season BUT the end of Israel. "In that day" of God's awful Judgment now at hand the temple songs of joy will become howls of lamentation. The mass of corpses will be stunning that all Israel will fall into a terrified hush (cf. 6:9-10)

8:4-14 The Final Judgment Pay 

In the language of God's previous testimonies against His people,­ "Hear this" (cf. 3:1; 4:1; 5:1;), Amos now announces details of the awful judgment day ahead. But first he spells out in further detail (4-6) the exploitation of fellow man which is Israel's rebellion against God and the reason of the coming doom (cf.2:6-8)

8:4-6 The monthly religious festival of the new moon and the weekly Sabbath require holy celebration and stoppage of daily employment. Ironically, the greedy exploiters reluctantly keep holy days and then hurry to cheat their customers. They cheat in a number of examples:

Ø      they use an undersize "ephah" to measure the product they are selling. An ephah was the approximate equivalent of 1/2 a bushel.

Ø      they use an overweight shekel to balance the customer's silver . A shekel was the approximate equivalent of .33 oz.

Ø      they use untrue scales

Ø      they sell the sweepings of the wheat as good grain.

8:7-9 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, i.e. Himself that the very land producing the grain will suffer earthquake shock as evident and as ir­resistible as the well-known annual flooding of the Nile river. Amos may mean not just a figurative event hut of actual events such as an earthquake or an eclipse of the sun (verse 9) such as took place in mid-July 763-a most frightening experience to ancient peoples.

8:10-14 In the language of "mourning rites" for the Baal god the coming awful day of the Lord is described. Frenzied ritual searching will be carried on to the very ends of the earth but the God of their fathers will be absent.  He will send His word no more to His faithless people.

AMOS CHAPTER NINE

C. The Fifth Vision (9:1-8b)

9:1 Destruction of the Temple In the previous four visions Amos says: "God showed me" in this climactic one, Amos says "I saw the Lord." What is interesting is that there is no description of God. God's holy presence is beyond words for Amos. God is now at the Bethel temple, standing upon its holy altar. He commands one of His heavenly host to ruin the temple, from it column capitals holding up the roof to its foundations, until it comes crashing down on the heads of the worshipers (cf. Judg.16:23-30) Thus the coming new year festival day of the Lord ends in doom.

9:2-4 The Fugitives.

What has been called the practical "monotheism" (the worship of One God ) of Amos is seen here. Though the fugitives from the final doom may flee to the remotest parts of the universe, there is no place where they can escape the Lord's hand or His eyes. People can go as low as Sheol (the abode of the dead) or the upper limits of the sky (heaven) but they can not escape from the Lord. Even as captives in a foreign land the fugitives can expect no protection from the Lord.

9:5-6 The Third Doxology

The inescapable power of the Lord of the universe is now underlined by this doxology. The mere touch of the Lord God's almighty hand causes the earth to undulate in earthquake waves like the annual Nile inundation (cf.8:8) By the sound of His voice the waters of the sea are drawn up and rained down on the land.

9:7-8b The Destroying Gaze of the Lord

The words of Amos come to a startling conclusion with two searching questions and a final assertion. Amos' hearers must have been pierced to the quick by his questions. Is their chosen status of no significance in the Lord's eyes? Amos is affirming that Israel's failure to be loyal to God means that they are no better than a distant heathen nation.

Does Amos' mention of God's care and control of these peoples dare to suggest that God is about to choose a new people as His own, even Israel's enemies, to replace faithless Israel?  According to Amos, God's peculiar people by their faithlessness are now deprived of their privilege in His sight. The "sinful kingdom" which is the object of God's devastating gaze is now to be wiped off the face of the earth

V. Appendix Of Hope (9:8c-15)

In the last few verses of the book comes a "light of hope.” Some scholars which are critical hesitate to assign this section to Amos because "the contents are almost diametrically opposite to his clear message of impending door with no hope.” Some say it is by Amos but written a long time later when he had "mellowed with age.” We simply let Amos' final words speak for themselves. Yes, most of Amos is all Law, but with the law comes the message of forgiveness. Amos' final words for his hearers are for the next generation. He tells us that a righteous remnant will survive the exile (verses 9-10).  David's empire will be restored (verses 11-12) and overflowing material blessings will follow (verses 13-15). Following are Amos' final words of hope for a doomed people.

9:8c  An exception to Doom

This clause is a deliberate statement to state that in the fall of Israel Judah would survive. History tells us that this is just as it happened in the year 722.

9:9-10 The Righteous Remnant

The figure of the sieve in which the Israel among all the nations i.e. in exile, is shaken apparent]y expresses the turbulence of the experience of captivity in which the sifting of the good from the bad took place. Though violently tumbled about in God's sieve, every pebble i.e. every faithful one of the righteous remnant of Israel will by God's grace be kept from falling to the ground and perishing, but not so, of course with the sinners of My people.

9:11-12 Restoration of David’s Empire

With the destruction of Jerusalem in 586, David’s once glorious "house" (cf. 2 Samuel 7) became a ruined booth, a mere cattle shed or vineyard watcher's hut. But now his empire will be restored to its ancient boundaries, embracing all nations called by my name. This prediction we can see coming true in the coring of Christ our Savior.

9:13-15 The Blessings of a New Day

In the golden age which is to come the famines and disasters of Amos' warnings will be replaced by miraculous fertility. The abundance of the crop of grain in May will be such that harvesting will be incomplete at October plowing time. Grape gathering, always completed by October will still be going on at November grain-planting time. The hills will seem to be melting with flowing wine. The final picture of the rebuilt cities, the fruitful vineyards and gardens and the security of being firmly planted in the land--never again to be plucked up and taken off to exile is a message of hope needed for these people.

So ends our study in the book of Amos the prophet.

Sources

Concordia Self Study Bible – New International Version Robert G. Hoerber Editor Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO. 1986 pp.1350-1351

Concordia Self Study Commentary, Martin H. Franzmann Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1979 pp.606-615

The Interpreter’s 0ne-Volume Commentary on the Bible, Charles M Laymon editor Abingdon Press Nashville and New York, 1971