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Amos – Survey #1

06/04/2019

AMOS – Survey #1. 

Text. Amos 1-3.

Now we come to a larger book, and one of the better known prophets, AMOS.  We’ll look at the book over three separate studies, but remember these are just SURVEYS.  Let’s start at our usual point, and begin with finding out the basic facts.

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1. Background.  Amos 1:1  

So we being with the usual questions, WHO, WHEN and WHERE.

  1. Who is Amos?  Amos is NOT a professional prophet, something he makes very clear in Amos 7:14    He is a farmer, to whom God has given a commission and a call into his service.  Amos farmed near Tekoa, a region in Judah, where he breeds sheep and works in a fig orchard.  He is just an ordinary working man, who expects no financial reward from his ministry.   One commentator notes that his whole ministry may have lasted no more than a year.  .  
  2. When did he preach?  The date of Amos is very precise indeed. It was in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. A major earthquake had occurred in Israel c. 760 BC.  That’s very precise indeed!   Two kings are mentioned:-
    1. Jeroboam II, King of Israel.  
    2. Uzziah, King of Judah.  

So, there’s no doubt about the time frame of Amos’ ministry, and he was in very good company.  Hosea was preaching to the people of Israel at the same time, while down south, Isaiah was beginning his ministry, in the year that King Uzziah died.  Isaiah 6:1-9 It’s as if God is raising up a great witness, doing a work, promoting His people to revival.  

  1. Where is his ministry? His preaching (as we shall see next) extends well outside Israel and Judah, but it is all done from within the northern kingdom of Israel, – but Amos was born in the south, and lives and works in the south – but he has the nerve to come up north and preach at the people there!  You can well imagine how that went down!  Read  Amos 1:2,  God ROARS from Zion!  Jerusalem (the south) is preaching to Israel and Mt Carmel (the North) will crumble before God’s withering voice.

 

2. Amos  Preaching.

The message is about sin and judgement. One of the first features of his book is a sermon, so we can see his preaching method, and content.  Amos had a very public ministry.  See how he gets the attention of the crowds of people gathering in the squares of Samaria – he starts by roundly condemning the neighbouring nations – the nations that everyone dislikes. That’s how Amos began his sermon.  Look at the nations he condemns…Damascus.  Gaza. Tyre.  Ammon. Moab.  Now, all of that condemnation would have had a huge effect on the listening crowds.  It would have whipped them up into a screaming frenzy of agreement, they would be cheering Amos on, applauding his every line!   His next point in the sermon would have doubled that effect. Judah!  The people of Israel HATE the Judeans!  They are the southerners, pious, ‘holier than thou’ types who look down their noses at everyone else, just because they have got the temple, and Zion and Jerusalem.  They think they’ve got everything…  By now the Israelis are cheering and waving and clapping, and Amos has them just where he wants to them, and as they wait for his next line, he deals the killer blow… ISRAEL!  2:6 Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment,  Amos lists the crimes of Israel, the sins that violate God’s law and call forth his judgement.

    • Exploitation of the poor. v6-7 What value has the life of a human being? To the rich people of Israel, human life was cheap.  You could buy a slave for the price of a pair of sandals, two pieces of leather and a bit of cord.  
    • Vile Sexual Immorality. v7 The semi-pagan temples of Samaria were no more than brothels, where the temple prostitutes would lie with any man, so long as they paid, even fathers and sons using the same girl. 
    • Religious desecration. 8  Moses had declared in Deuteronomy that a debtor’s cloak must be returned to him by night.  Deuteronomy 24:10 But these arrogant Israelites were not only taking a man’s coat, but in an act of debasement, defilement of the holiness of God, they were laying the coat on the pagan altar, during their vile sexual depravity upon the coat.  

Yet in his mercy God has been gracious to Israel.  9-12  

Amos brings this devastating message to his audience.  – YOU, you who should have known batter, – you have offended a holy God, who loved you and brought you out of slavery.  Amos 4:2, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!

 

3. Amos Obeying.  Amos 3:7-8  

Here we get a bit of insight into what compelled Amos to leave the safety of his own town, and the security of tending his flocks, to travel to a hostile and, and stand up in front of hostile crowds and preach the word of God.  

  1. God always speaks to his people through the preached word. 3:7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets  Amos was a preacher, declaring God’s word and God’s will to his people. God uses preaching – no matter how foolish that may be to the modern mind. 1 Corinthians 1:18 -21 Romans 10:14.  God calls men like Amos to PREACH – and that’s what he did.
  2. Amos’s obedience to the call was instinctive. 3:When a lion roars the natural instinct is to fear. When God speaks – we tell others.  It’s a natural reaction.  
  3. God has a message for his people, and Amos must deliver it.   Again Amos uses a farming illustration.  What happens when a lion catches a wee lamb?  There’s not much left.  So it will be with Israel.  Amos 3:12-14 

In this study we have learned who Amos was, his background and occupation.  We’ve sat under one of his sermons and heard how he draws the people with him, only to shock them with his condemnation of their sins, and we’ve seen his call and commission. 

© BobMcEvoy April 2019

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