“Introduction to the Book of Amos,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Amos,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
The book of Amos records some of the prophecies and teachings that the prophet Amos delivered to the kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Jeroboam II. The people rejected Amos’s warnings and teachings and wished he would take his forceful message elsewhere. By studying this book, students can gain a greater understanding of the critical role prophets perform in the Lord’s work and a greater appreciation for the calling of prophets in our day.
Either Amos or scribes wrote down selections of his teachings and collected them into the book of Amos (see Amos 1:1). Amos was a shepherd who lived in a city called Tekoa, which was about 12 miles south of Jerusalem (see Bible Dictionary, “Amos”). The Lord called him to prophesy to the Northern Kingdom of Israel—a calling he did not expect but which he obediently fulfilled (see Amos 7:14–15).
Although we do not know precisely when the book of Amos was written, the book begins with the explanation that Amos preached during the reign of Uzziah in Judah and of Jeroboam II in Israel in the eighth century B.C. (see Amos 1:1; Bible Chronology). Amos may have been a fellow laborer with the prophet Hosea in the kingdom of Israel. There is no clear information indicating where this book was written.
The book of Amos places an emphasis on prophets (see Bible Dictionary, “Amos”). Amos explained that God uses prophets to do His work (see Amos 3:7). Amos warned of the judgments that were about to come upon the people of Israel because they had rejected the prophets.
Additionally, Amos emphasized “the moral character of Jehovah, the righteous ruler of all nations and men. Amos [showed] that the offering the Lord most cares for is a righteous life—the sacrifices of animals lose their meaning if offered as substitutes for personal righteousness [see Amos 5:21–27]” (see Bible Dictionary, “Amos”).
Amos prophesied of a famine “of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). During this famine, people would “seek the word of the Lord”—the inspired and authoritative teachings of prophets—but would “not find it” (Amos 8:12). This prophecy was initially fulfilled following the apostasy of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. After the ministry of Malachi, more than 400 years passed without prophets ministering in the land of Israel. Amos’s prophecy was also fulfilled at a later time. After Jesus Christ established His Church on the earth, it too eventually fell into apostasy. Revelation for guiding the Church ceased, and the people of the earth were not able to receive the word of God through prophets for more than 1,700 years.
Amos 1–2 Amos prophesies that the Lord would pour out judgments upon Syria, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, the people of Ammon, and Moab because of their wickedness. Amos also preaches that Judah and Israel will be punished for embracing wickedness and rejecting the Lord.
Amos 3–4 Amos describes the various efforts of the Lord to save His people, including sending prophets to warn them, withholding rain, and allowing pestilence and war to trouble them. However, the people did not humble themselves and return to the Lord.
Amos 5–6 Amos teaches that if the people repent and sincerely seek the Lord, they can avoid destruction. In particular, he declares that the Lord does not accept the people’s offerings at the temple because the people’s hearts are focused on false gods. Amos prophesies that their casual approach to worshipping the Lord will lead them to destruction.
Amos 7–9 After prophesying of the doom and consequences Israel will face for rejecting the Lord, Amos delivers a message of hope promising that the Lord will gather His people together and restore them to their land.