The Minor Prophets: Amos

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Amos 1:1; during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam (son of Joash) in Israel; sometime between 786-742 B.C. (Lewis); 790-749 B.C. (Coffman); 765-750 B.C. (Waddey); 760 B.C. (Butler); 755 B.C., or “somewhere near the end of Jeroboam’s reign” (Hailey)
    B. “Two years before the earthquake”

      1. “There were many earthquakes in that part of the world, and even an unusually severe one would not make any permanent intrusion into the records kept by the people.” (Coffman)
      2. Mentioned 200 years later in Zechariah 14:5
      3. The uninspired Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 9:10:4) mentioned an earthquake in connection with Uzziah’s transgression in 2 Chronicles 26:18-21, but this cannot be verified with inspired information

    C. “This was a period of great peace and prosperity during which it seemed that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Some lived in opulence and luxury, but often at the expense of the poor and destitute….The people were careful to offer their sacrifices and to perform all their religious functions, but it had become mere formalism and religious ritual which was totally devoid of meaning.” (Highers)

II. About the prophet

    A. “‘Amos’ means ‘to bear,’ ‘to place a load upon’ (Laetsch), or ‘burdened’ or ‘burden-bearer’ (Eiselen). He lived up to his name; for as Jehovah laid upon him the task of declaring His divine oracles to apostate Israel, he bore the burden and fulfilled his mission.” (Hailey)
    B. Amos 7:14: “a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit.”
    C. “The fact that his father’s name is not mentioned suggests that he was probably from a poor, obscure family.” (Waddey)
    D. “God selected a rustic and rough-hewn man of integrity to be a prophet, and he sent him from a small southern village into the wealthy, sophisticated city of Bethel as a messenger of truth and righteousness. Amos may not have had impeccable manners, his fashion of dress may not have been flawless, and his accent of speech may well have been colored by his rural upbringing, but it is unquestioned that he was faithful to that divine imperative which, in essence, placed a farm-boy in the pulpit of the sanctuary at Bethel.” (Highers)
    E. “Although of a common ancestry, in one way he was an outsider, having come from Judah. As an outsider he could view the situation in Israel more objectively than the local residents could.” (Hailey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of righteousness, wherever and whoever you may be (1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6)

      1. After writing about the transgressions of Israel’s neighbors, Lewis notes, “The significant thing about this series, which in general denounces atrocities of war, is that Amos announces that God is concerned with sin wherever it occurs. God is not merely a god of the hills limited in power and dominion to his own people. He is the international God of justice punishing sin wherever it occurs, calling the neighbors who do not worship him into account.” (Lewis)
      2. “He shows that God is no respecter of persons. If Israelites sin against Him, He will condemn them as readily as other nations.” (Butler)
      3. This is why the Great Commission is so important – ignorance is no excuse for sin! (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)

    B. The “omni-” attributes of God

      1. “God’s omnipotence may be seen in His acts of creation (4:13; 5:8), in His control over the forces of nature (4:6-11), in His supremacy over the nations (chs. 1-2; 5:9; 9:7), and in the titles by which He is called: ‘Jehovah,’ ‘the Lord Jehovah,’ ‘Jehovah, the God of hosts,’ ‘the Lord.’” (Hailey)

        a. “‘Jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name…’ This means tht the eternal God has every conceivable power and ability to do as he wills. Blessed be his name forever.” (Coffman)
        b. “God is sovereign over things visible (the mountains), things invisible (the wind), and things rational (man and his thought). He is in direct executive control of the world, as is evident when he makes the morning darkness, brings about the sequence of day and night. No place is beyond his reach, even the heights fo the earth being beneath his feet.” (Motyer, quoted by Coffman)

      2. “The omnipresence of God is plainly taught (9:2-4) or clearly implied (chs. 1-2).” (Hailey)

        a. Concerning 9:2-4, Butlercomments, “These verses sound very much like David’s Psalm 139, praising God for His allseeing providence.” (Butler)

      3. “His omniscience is indicated (9:2-4) and declared in His knowledge of man’s thoughts (4:13).” (Hailey)

        a. “He is the omnipotent Creator; He is the omniscient Revealer; He is the benificent Sustainer. God is the searcher of the heart (Jer. 17:10; Psa. 139:2).” (Butler)
        b. Revelation 2:23

    C. The danger of indifference (6:1-6)

      1. “The things listed were not sinful in and of themselves. It was not evil to rest on a bed of ivory or to eat beef and mutton, etc. It was wrong because they were not grieved or concerned about the sad state of affairs in the nation.” (Waddey)
      2. “Indifference is a greater enemy of truth than opposition.” (Highers)
      3. “Their feasts were characterized by revelry, songs, music, choice meats, and the best of wines to satiate their lusts, and by cushions and silken tapestries upon which to recline (6:1-7). These luxuries were enjoyed by the wealthy, whose eyes were closed to the afflictions and needs of the poor (6:6). For this they would go away into captivity.” (Hailey)
      4. “They were blind, deaf and dumb to the spiritual rottenness then prevalent. They were not the least concerned that this nation whose destiny was holiness and truth was sick unto death with the leprosy of sin. The injustice, cruelty, decadence did not bother them. They were perfectly satisfied as long as they had food and drink and were rich enough to satisfy their desires.” (Butler)
      5. Revelation 3:15-16

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 1: Joel, Amos and Jonah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Highers, Alan. “The Living Message of the Book of Amos.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s