The prophecy of Amos should simplify the choices in our lives. Instead of choosing between prayer and service, the book of Amos teaches us that both are essential. God has called Christians not only to be in relationship with Him but also to be in relationships with others. For those Christians whose tendency has been to focus more on the invisible God than on His visible creation, Amos pulls us back toward the center, where both the physical and the spiritual needs of people matter in God’s scheme of justice – Chuck Swindoll
It is seldom that ahabiblemoments.com uses a quote from someone else to introduce a new series of chapter-by-chapter book studies, but Chuck Swindoll says is so well. Seldom does one seriously consider a balanced service and prayer life outside of church attendance, perhaps a mid-week bible study and prayer at church or for one’s dinner. Our prayer lives suffer intimacy with God. In ignorance we pray for God to “be with us” (or so-in-so) even though both the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 36:6 and the New Testament in Hebrews 13:5 state God IS with us and will not forsake his followers. That is rote (preconditioned) prayer, not intimacy with God. Amos points this out to the northern ten tribes of Israel. It certainly applies to too many of us here and now.
Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea (and Isaiah), took a different prophetic approach to the very same sins Hosea prophesied against, but included seven other neighboring kingdoms. Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judah while Hosea was a member of the northern kingdom of Israel. We will see in Amos chapter 7 that he determines he is neither a son of a prophet nor “graduate” from their School of Prophecy. One might legitimately say that he is a layman minister; i.e. not a son of a preacher nor a product of some denominational seminary. It is not unusual for a prophet to first identify himself as to who, what and the where of his very being. In a sense, they source themselves for the sake of legitimacy that can be verified. Amos is a bit odd in that he is not quoted in any other book of the Bible. Many other prophets are quoted, paraphrased, or identified within text of other scripture.
Over and over again many commentaries and articles mention that this is “two years BEFORE the famous Amos earthquake. What earthquake? We refer you to the earthquake most likely to be the one to which Amos refers [next page]. Amazingly, this is evidence of both Amos and of his ministry since this earthquake is a benchmark in history. Keep it in mind that this website does not distinguish between histories of scripture and secular. They are within each other; the same history content but under differing contexts. Bible history and secular history are HIS-story after creation in Genesis 1.
The picture to the left is of Israel. The Amos earthquake occurred in or around 750 B.C. Researchers and archeologist “diggers” place this earthquake at or around a mid-8 seismic event. Isaiah, Zechariah, and Joel mention the damage and reference this quake. Isaiah and Zechariah come shortly after Amos in His-story.
During this time, 780 B.C. to around 740 B.C. Jeroboam II of the northern kingdom of Israel had defeated and conquered portions of Syria, Moab and Ammon. An interesting historical fact is that these territories had been the possession of the “east of Jordan Tribes of Manasseh, Gad, and Rueben”. They did not want to cross the Jordan during the time of Joshua as the pasture lands were very good to the east of the Jordan River. However, as we will point out in a later Amos article, they did send their troops across the Jordan to help their “cousins” conquer the Canaanites.
JIV NOTE: National Geographic 2017 DNA samplings have discovered that by far most of Lebanon is where the Canaanites moved after warring with Joshua and the Israelites.
Amos did not travel throughout the Northern Kingdom with his message to the Kingdom of Israel. He spent most of his time in and around Bethel, just north of his own home town in Tekoa, Judah. Bethel was one of two worship centers for the northern Tribes of Israel. The other was in Dan. Dan was to the northern sector of Israel and Bethel to the southern. Both were established to deter the members of the ten northern tribes from going to Jerusalem and the Temple in Judah to worship; even on festival days.
Chuck Swindoll puts it this way in defining the Book of Amos and the man himself.
“Amos was fed up. While most of the prophets interspersed redemption and restoration in their prophecies against Israel and Judah, Amos devoted only the final five verses of his prophecy for such consolation. Prior to that, God’s word through Amos was directed against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbor, who took advantage of others, and who only looked out for their own concerns.”
As we will read in a later article, Amos was personally “invited” to leave the northern kingdom and return to his home in Tekoa of the southern kingdom. The elite did not wish him well and the fact that he was pointing out that there was a growing wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots in the kingdom of Israel. PLUS, he notes in his book several visions he has regarding this northern territory of Israelites. We will be able to see in this series on the Book of Amos and by using just a little insight, how the message Amos leaves with Israel and God’s frustration with what was once a nation under God parallels America today (2020).
For the sake of identifying bible persons, places and things, understand that Syria at that time was NOT Assyria. They were enemies of each other. It was a physical buffer zone between northern Israel and Assyria. Syria is often referred to as Aram. They are one and the same. Damascus was once what is called a city-state; a government to itself; i.e. Aram/Syria/Damascus; one and the same.
For a great summary of Amos and his prophetic mission, click the link below.
Rev. Dr. Jstark