Survey of Amos

Book Type: The third book of the Minor Prophets; the thirtieth book of the Old Testament; the thirtieth book of the Bible.

Author: Amos, specifically named in the first verse.

Audience: Though Amos was from Judea, he was called to minister to Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel who lived during the reign of Jeroboam II. This king did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 14:24) and lived during the same time as the prophet Jonah (2 Kings 14:25). Despite the evil of the time, the Lord saved Israel by the hand of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:27). Those living in this area and time experienced an evil ruler, yet God was still at work in their land. Amos called the people to repentance during this difficult time.

Date: Amos wrote during the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam II, with this book written two years before a significant earthquake in the area believed to have occurred approximately 760 BC, indicating a date of around 762 BC.

Overview: Amos includes nine chapters with three main sections. The first section (Amos 1—2) emphasizes the Lord's judgments against various nations. These include Israel's enemies (Amos 1:3—2:3), but also Judah (Amos 2:4—5), and Israel (Amos 2:6—16).

The second section provides further accusations against Israel for various sins (Amos 3—6). Chapter 3 addresses Israel's guilt and punishment. Amos 4:6–13 condemns Israel for not returning to the Lord despite all that had occurred to them. Amos calls the Israelites to seek the Lord so they could live and prosper once more (Amos 5). This chapter also includes the well-known passage cited by Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding the concept of letting "justice roll down like waters" (Amos 5:24).Chapter 6 is a proclamation of woes and warnings.

The third section includes a variety of visions given to Amos (Amos 7—9). The first two visions include locusts and fire (Amos 7:1¬–6). A third is of a plumb line (Amos 7:7–9). There is then a narrative break describing Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, accusing Amos (Amos 7:10–17). Two additional visions are then given: a fruit basket (Amos 8:1–14) and an altar (Amos 9:1–10). The Lord concludes with the promise to restore Israel in the future (Amos 9:11–15).

Key Verses (ESV):

Amos 2:4: "Thus says the Lord: 'For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.'"

Amos 3:7: "For the LORD GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets."

Amos 9:14: "I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit."