Notes From Amos
Yesterday was a great time with wonderful people at our Bible study in Cabot Park, Laguna Hills. Thank you all so much for coming! This coming Sunday, August 2nd, we'll be at the same location at the same time to go through the book of Obadiah.
Here are my notes from yesterday's study:
This is kind of the book of “social justice” in the Bible. Has a feel like the OT version of James with its emphasis on the poor and the destructive greed of the rich. We see God using Amos to condemn various specific actions of Judah. But “social justice” isn’t something that we can just make up; justice extends from God Himself. He determines what is right and wrong. We’ll look at some of these things as we go through these chapters.
 The words of Amos, who was among the herdman 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.
So this is around 760 B.C. And Hosea also was around this time since he also mentioned Jeroboam II in his book. Tekoa was a little ways south of Jerusalem and there was prosperity in Israel during this time, partially because the rich took advantage of the poor as we’ll see in this book.
Syria – guilty of cruelty.  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.  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:  But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad.  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.
Philistia – guilty of slave trade.  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:  But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:  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.
Phoenicia – guilty of slave trade and breaking a covenant.  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:  But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
Edom – Esau’s heritage, guilty of a lack of forgiveness.  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:  But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
Amon – cruelty for greed.  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:  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:  And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.
And then the chapter ends which seems like a strange place to end it.
Moab – violent vengeful hatred.  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:  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:  And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.
So Amos was prophesying in Judah right, and so far in his prophecy everyone that heard this message or read it would be have been cool with it right? Just like if this were the United States, and someone sent from God came and starting announcing the juddgment of God against China, North Korea, Iran, whatever. But now Amos turns to God’s wrath over Judah and Israel.
This is just like how it’s easier to see the specks in other people eye and we ignore the log in our own eye.
Judah – they despised the law of the Lord.  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:  But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
Israel – they received the harshest judgment of all for their corrupt oppression of the needy.
 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;  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:  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.
The judgment against Israel continues through chapter 3.
 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,  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.  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.
I don’t know of any instance in Scripture where God was angry at the poor, but we—people—are always looking to money, wealth, things, nicer cars, whatever. However, the truth is—whether we live this way or not—is that it would be far better to live in poverty with Jesus in your life than in the largest mansion without God.
And I can’t wait to study through Ecclesiastes where we really see this explained in depth.
 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.
What does your translation have here? This is kind of a funny expression in giving the people “clean teeth.” Why did they have clean teeth? No food!
 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.  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.  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.  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.  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.
And here is the answer to the problem of pain! God is saying, look at all I did to get your attention, but still you would not turn to me! We have a couple verses each for the neighboring countries, and a couple chapters, so far, of Israel.
How do we think that is for us? We are saved by grace alone of course, but shouldn’t we live to a higher standard if we call ourselves Christians?
 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  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.
Great couple verses there. God is Lord of all. He is the judge.
Amos.5  For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
God is the judge of all very clearly in this book but he is also merciful, always pleading with people to seek Him. It is for our best interest always to seek the Lord. God is not weakened or strengthened by what we do, but His love is so great that he earnestly desires for us to do what is best for us – seek Him.
There’s always a choice. Until it’s too late.
 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.  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.  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.
Verses 10-12 are so relatable to what we’re seeing today and here is more rebuke of abuse of the poor, corruption, and hatred of those that tell the truth! This is a big theme throughout Amos.
 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
 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.  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.
Hate evil and love good. And who defines what is good? God. That’s why it’s so important to always stand on the Word of God in any discussion because you take an argument out of the realm of opinion. If your authority for morality is not God’s Word, then your beliefs are based on fallible man’s ever-changing opinions.
 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.  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.  Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Like we saw in Joel, here is more mention of the Day of the Lord and it isn’t pleasant. Apparently people were desiring the Day of the Lord, probably because they were thinking it meant judgment for everybody else (see chapter 1), and God suggests that maybe they should be careful what they wish for.
It’s kind of like as a parent, you’re going to be harder on your kids than other peoples’ kids right? You expect better from your own and other kids aren’t your responsibility. God had a covenant with Israel; they were His own and they thought that they had a free pass because of that but really the opposite was true! It’s just like the church today as God’s people where Paul writes in Romans 6, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  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.  Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
What’s God condemning here? Religious rituals. As verse 26 below says, they were worshipping these other gods and it’s very likely that they were performing rituals God explained in the law but also worshipping other false gods. And that was common in Israel where every new false god they discovered they would bring into their religious worship and rituals. Didn’t want to miss any!
I think we need to be careful of that today also, we—the American church—has it’s “ritual” of going into church on Sundays for an hour, socializing, maybe grabbing a coffee and donut, going through the motions while people worship on stage then going home. Look at verse 23 again: even the songs and praise music God hated!
This makes me think of one of the scariest verses in the Bible, Matthew 7:21-23 (Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.)
The scary part is that these people are doing great things AND doing them in the name of Jesus even, but were not known by Him! We can go through the motions and go to church, even sing worship songs, but what does it do if we don’t have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ?
I truly don’t think we were called to “casual Christianity” or “part-time Christianity.” Titus 2:14 says, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” We were not saved to continue living like the world.
 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
Beyond Damascus to Assyria which happened within decades of this prophecy in 722 B.C.
Here in chapter 6 we see more judgment against the rich that are wasteful and indulgent while the poor suffer.
 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;  That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;  That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.  Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
So this short section is pretty cool, where Amaziah is the priest of false idols because Bethel was home to golden calves that were there (2 Kings 10:29), and he basically tattles on Amos for prophesying against Jeroboam. This is interesting: Amos is speaking the words of God, and the wicked priest says the land is not able to bear his words. Why? Because there is power in the words of the Lord. There is power in the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10).
 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.  Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
Like he’s saying, “Run along now, go eat bread with the other peasants.”
 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.
“We’re too important for the likes of you, sheepherder.” And then Amos gives such a great answer.
 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
He didn’t go to seminary, wasn’t trained in prophecy school, had no significant lineage. He picked fruit. He herded sheep. He was at the bottom of the socio-economic totem pole. It’s like he’s telling Amaziah that he’s not there out of selfish ambition to make a name for himself.
Who announced the birth of Jesus Christ? It wasn’t kings and royalty and priests. It was shepherds watching their flock at night that the angel came to: “And when they [the shepherds] had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
Amaziah told him to go away, and Amos says that he’s not there to do his own will but God’s will. He has received his commission from God. Just as we have received the Great Commission from God.
“Sorry, but your objection is null and void. Let me show you in the Bible what God says.” We can’t go out on our own power to change people. Even Michael the Archangel—and this is so cool—one of the most powerful of God’s creation for sure, didn’t rely on his own power against the devil but put it on God saying, “the Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9).
And then Amos said, “y’all are gonna die.”
 Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.  Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
Was Amos being mean and hateful for saying this? Was he being “unchristian” and not “Christlike”? No, he was preaching truth. It is not unkind to warn people of Hell any more than it is not unkind to warn someone who is about to walk into traffic.
 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,  Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?  The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.
We see more abuse of the poor, falsifying balances of deceit (corruption and bribery).
And the Lord will send a famine, truly the worst kind of famine of all:
 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.
There is nothing more precious than the Word of the Lord.
 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.  They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.  In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:  That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. This was quoted by James in Acts 15 talking to the Pharisees about how it had always been God’s plan to bring in the Gentiles. What a strange phrase that must have been in Amos’ day about the heathen “called by my name.”
The last 3 verses I think are about Israel becoming a nation again, especially the last verse.
 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.  And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.  And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.