Amos 1-5 Listen
An introduction to Amos
Amos was a prophet during the reign of King Uzziah (790-739) of Judah and King Jeroboam II (793-753) of Israel. According to Amos 7:14, he was a shepherd and gatherer of Sycamore fruit, but he was called to go prophesy to the Northern Kingdom. Amos lived in Tekoa, 10 miles south of Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom. Uzziah was a good king of Judah at first, but went astray during the latter part of his reign. Jeroboam II, of Israel, was always into pagan worship as were all the kings of the Northern Kingdom.
1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel 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.
2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
3 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.
6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:
7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:
8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.
9 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:
10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
11 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:
12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
13 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:
14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:
15 And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.
2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:
3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.
Assyria would soon come knocking on everyone's door in that region. Ultimately, all would fall to Assyria except for the walled city of Jerusalem itself. Amos is prophesying against these nations (including Israel and Judah) for their wickedness.
Following are his prophecies against Israel's neighbors:
Amos prophesies the imminent fall of all of these nations.
Incidentally, nothing is known regarding the earthquake of verse 1.
4 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;
7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:
8 And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.
9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
10 Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
12 But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
13 Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.
14 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:
15 Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.
16 And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.
We see the judgment against Judah in verses 4-5 and the judgment against Israel in verses 6-16. It is interesting to note that all of these nations fell to the Assyrian army. While Judah did fall, the stronghold of Jerusalem itself survived the Assyrians - only to fall to the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
Amos condemns four kinds of crimes in the Northern Kingdom, Israel.
Amos gives a brief historical overview of how Israel has arrived where they are in their alienation from God. They are reminded of their deliverance through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt and their conquest of Canaan in verses 9-10. They are being called into account for their ill treatment of the prophets of God and the Nazarites in verses 11-12, and Israel's defeat is pictured in verses 13-16.
How are we going to settle this? (Amos 3)
1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?
6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
8 The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?
9 Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof.
10 For they know not to do right, saith the LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.
11 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.
12 Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.
13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,
14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.
15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD.
This chapter deals with the actual punishment of Israel i.e. their fall to the Assyrians. I think verse 7 is telling, "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." It should not be a surprise to Israel when they fall to the ravages of war; the prophets are there in advance to warn them. In verses 13-15 we see the Northern Kingdom's imminent fall to the Assyrians, the event that took place in 722/721 B.C. during the reign of King Hoshea of Israel (II Kings 17, see notes). Let's not lose sight of this reality: Israel fell because of their rejection of the principles of God.
Amos 3:3 is an oft-used verse to define acceptable relationships, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" The actual context here refers to Israel's broken fellowship with God and the resulting chastisement from God. Several illustrations from nature follow to demonstrate that it is within God's nature to deal with Israel's disobedience.
Notice the descriptive way Amos notes the fall of Israel in verse 14, "That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground." You will recall that Jeroboam established his new religion for Israel with one of the altars located in Bethel (I Kings 12:25-33, see notes). Bethel gets special mention here.
A message to some over-indulged wives (Amos 4:1-5)
1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
2 The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.
4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
In verse 1, "kine" is another word for "cow". "Listen up, you cows of Bashan!" Look further and realize that he's prophesying concerning the wealthy women of Israel who have their Jewish husbands at their beck and call. They will be led away into captivity. The Hebrew word for "palace" (harmown) in verse 3 really literally refers to a high place (like a palace) - probably the mountain on the way from Israel to Assyria where straggling prisoners were dumped to die on the journey to Assyrian exile.
You've refused all the chances God has given you (Amos 4:6-13)
6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.
Amos gives a history of chastisements from God for Israel's disobedience, but they did not turn back to God. These verses don't seem to be outlining the disobedience of previous generations, but Amos seems to be citing more recent demonstrations of God's chastisement; all were rejected by Israel. In verse 12 we see an oft-quoted phrase, "...prepare to meet thy God..." This meeting is one of judgment for Israel's sin. They had chances to turn back to God, but they declined.
It's simple; just seek the Lord (Amos 5:1-17)
1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.
2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.
3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading IS upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.
12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate FROM THEIR RIGHT.
13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it IS an evil time.
14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
Here, Israel is exhorted to seek the Lord to avert judgment. Wow! After all of Israel's rejection of God, they are offered another chance to make it right. Notice verse 4, "For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live." Amos encourages them not to depend on the cultic centers of worship in verse 5, but on God in verse 6 where he again says, "Seek the LORD, and ye shall live." In verse 8 they are again encouraged to "seek him" who made the universe. The penalty for not doing so? Assyrian captivity! Isn't it interesting that Israel always chose to hate the messengers (the prophets) rather than heed them. Are we ourselves not living in a day when those voices in our world who are calling for a return to the principles of God are dismissed as wackos and hate mongers? Some things never change. Notice verse 14, "Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken."
18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
20 SHALL NOT THE DAY OF THE LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept THEM: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
Notice the rebuke of Amos to many in Israel in verse 18, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light." "Bring on that day of the Lord," many in Israel cried. They were looking for a day when all of Israel's enemies would be defeated. In their minds, an enemy of Israel was an enemy of God. Here's what they did not realize: they had set themselves up as enemies of God also. The "day of the Lord" they were looking for was coming, but it would engulf them along with the surrounding nations. That "day" was the day the Assyrians would show up and take them into captivity and ravage their land and houses. The "captivity beyond Damascus" is the northern route they took past Damascus, then east to Assyria. So, while the misguided people of Israel were looking forward to the "day of the Lord," little did they realize that this would mark their own destruction.
By the way, Stephen quotes from this passage in his message before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:42-43 (see notes). He uses it to demonstrate that the fall of Israel was to be preceded by wide-spread idolatry, just as Amos had prophesied.