AMOS, THE PROPHET OF GOD

Printer-friendly version

[Amos:3:1-15]; [Amos:5:1-27]; [Amos:6:1-6]; [Amos:7:1-15]; [Amos:9:1-15].

Lesson No.: 
329
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

“The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21).

Cross References: 

I Called from Secular Employment
1. Amos was a herdsman of Tekoa and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, [Amos:7:14]; [Amos:1:1].
2. His early life furnished simple, but beautiful, illustrations for his prophecies, [Amos:2:13]; [Amos:3:8], [Amos:3:12]; [Amos:6:1].
3. Amos felt a keen responsibility to answer God’s call, [Amos:3:8]; [Amos:7:15].

II Amos’ Authority and Message
1. “Thus saith the LORD” or similar passages appear 40 times in this Book, [Amos:1:3], [Amos:1:6], [Amos:1:9]; [Amos:3:11], etc.
2. Impending judgements were spoken against the surrounding nations, [Amos:1:3-15]; [Amos:2:1-3].
3. The Word of the Lord was directed against Judah, [Amos:2:4-5].
4. The main weight of Amos’ messages was spoken against Israel, [Amos:2:6-16]; [Amos:3:1-15]; [Amos:4:1-13]; [Amos:6:7-14].
5. God called the Children of Israel to sincere repentance, [Amos:5:1-27].
6. Amos cried out against sin and selfishness, [Amos:6:1-6]; [Amos:8:4-6].

III Intercession and Persecution
1. Several of God’s impending judgements were stayed through Amos’ prayers, [Amos:7:1-9].
2. Amaziah persecuted Amos, charging him with treason, and tried to drive him from the land of Israel, [Amos:7:10-13].
3. The judgement of the Lord fell upon Amaziah, [Amos:7:16-17].
4. Amos’ closing message pictured the certainty of Israel’s desolation, [Amos:8:1-3], [Amos:8:7-14]; [Amos:9:1-10].
5. God gave an encouraging promise of light and hope, [Amos:9:11-15].

Notes: 

A Needed Prophet
The reign of Jeroboam, son of Joash (sometimes called Jehoash), king of Israel, was one of brilliant military success; but it was a reign also of terrible moral degradation. Much land had been restored to the Children of Israel through the military might of this king; and no doubt a great amount of plunder and riches had accumulated through these successful wars, resulting in a luxurious, idle, sinful life for these people. God’s prophets cried out against these sinful conditions, but apparently the Children of Israel took no heed. In fact, the people did their utmost to cause God’s messengers to be silent [Amos:2:11-12]).

Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country” [Matthew:13:57]). Would the Samaritans and the Children of Israel have given greater heed to a prophet who came from outside their own country? God sent Amos, a herdsman from Tekoa, of the tribe of Judah, to be a missionary to these ungodly people. The voice of Amos, enlivened and empowered by the Spirit of God, rang out in no uncertain sound against the evils practices by the Children of Israel. God’s message was directed to several of the neighbouring nations as well, but the main burden of Amos’ prophecy was aimed directly at the Children of Israel. The spirit of the simple shepherd was greatly stirred and grieved by the apostasy that he found among these people who once worshipped the God of Heaven.

No Excuse
God had been very good to and considerate of the Children of Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” [Amos:3:2]). The Lord had led these people out of Egyptian bondage and through the wilderness 40 years, that He might bring them into this Promised Land. The Lord destroyed the Amorites before them. He said their “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” [Amos:2:9]).

God had poured blessings without number upon these people: blessings in their cities and in their fields, blessings of the fruit of the ground and the increase of their cattle, blessings of basket and of store; but in return for all these blessings, the Children of Israel had committed one outrageous sin after another which profaned God’s holy name and stirred up His anger.

The sinful condition of these people, the Children of Israel, was further aggravated by their professing to be serving God; but God said, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” [Amos:3:3]). The Israelites had a form of religion, but they refused to fully honour the God of their fathers, and they denied Him the worship that was His due. God explicitly commanded: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, . . . thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” [Exodus:20:3-5]). The golden calves with their altars in Bethel and Dan were a blasphemy and an outrage of the true worship of God in Jerusalem. Daily sacrifices were held -– but with forbidden leaven; the tithes and freewill offerings were brought to the profane altars by proclamation; but God recognised no part of it.

God’s highway of holiness leads to Heaven, but the Children of Israel were travelling in the opposite direction. God allowed many physical judgements to overtake the Israelites to cause them to return unto Him, but they would not return. Amos certainly felt the burden of his message to these people. As he prophesied the final apostasy of these people from their God and the resulting judgement and calamity that were sure to follow, the message burned from his lips: “therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” [Amos:4:12]).

Higher Dispensation
The message of Amos to the people of Israel is the message of God to the world today. Under the Gospel dispensation God has not dealt with an individual nation, but with the people of the whole world. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” [Titus:2:11-12]). God has poured great blessings upon all people, the greatest of all blessings being the gift of His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John:3:16]).

Have the sons of men received and appreciated God’s greatest gift? No. on the whole, men have rejected the Lord Jesus. Has God dealt faithfully with people and nations even though they have rejected Him and His precious Gift? Yes. For nearly two thousand years and in myriads of ways He has reasoned with the children of men and tried to persuade them of their sins and responsibility. Will God hold guiltless the Christ-rejecting people? Never! Every person who rejects the Saviour will stand speechless before God in judgement for his neglect. May every living soul turn to the Saviour while in mercy He pleads: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [Matthew:11:28-30]).

God’s Ways
Men have sometimes hesitated to leave their secular employment to answer God’s call, because they felt unqualified for so high a calling; however, if the call of God is true, there need be no fear. Amos was a lowly herdsman, but God used the wisdom and experience that Amos had obtained, while tending sheep, to illustrate mightily the message to Israel. “Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? … The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” [Amos:3:4], [Amos:3:8]). Amos must have experienced the attacks of lions upon the flocks that he guarded, and he knew that the lion did not roar until the fatal charge had been started upon the prey. Amos ministered to a different flock now -– the flock of Israel. A new voice of judgement was heard -– the voice of God. Something had to be done quickly if the flock was to be saved, and Amos felt a keen responsibility to warn that flock and to try to save them from God’s wrath.

God can in like manner use the man, from any occupation, who will fully answer His call. Every born-again Christian has an interest in the work of proclaiming the good news of salvation, whether he can devote full time to that work or not. The life of ever man who professes to know and serve the risen Saviour is as an open book, and his life and actions are read by the people of the world. Whatever is read in the life of one who is merely professing Christianity, rather than what is read in the Word of God, is too often the sinner’s basis of judgement for all Christianity. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” [Matthew:5:16]).

Amos practices an essential in his ministry that is often overlooked by modern prophets. Amos brought God’s message, and he ordered his life according to God’s Word. Forty times in this small book we read, “Thus saith the LORD,” or some similar passage. Amos feared not to cry out against sin, for he knew the power of God to deliver from sin and keep free from sin. When Amos cried out, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria” [Amos:6:1]), no man found Amos sitting idly by to enjoy the pleasures of the world and sin; neither was Amos trusting in carnal security. The message of God stirred Amos to his very depths, and he could not abide the man who was not aroused to repentance by God’s message of impending judgement. Every true Christian should feel the same concern for the lost as Amos felt for Israel.

Persecution
Such a standard of conduct is sure to bring reproach and persecution. Amos soon felt the persecution. Amaziah, the priest, sent word to the king of Israel that Amos was conspiring against the king, and that the land was not able to bear all his words. The priest counselled Amos to flee from Israel and return to Judah to prophesy, if he had to prophesy. Amos was a humble man (another worthy, essential attribute of God’s true messenger). He did not hesitate to tell Amaziah that he had not been a prophet until the Lord called him from the shepherd’s life and commissioned him with this message to the Children of Israel. All of Amaziah’s threatenings could not stop God’s message. God overruled Amaziah’s evil design and spoke a message of dire calamity to that ungodly false priest. Amaziah would have fared much better if he had listened and hearkened to the prophet’s message instead of trying to drive the prophet away.

Jesus said to His followers: “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” [Luke:17:1-2]). Persecution has never stopped the true Church but has made it stronger in the Lord and in faith.

Real Love
Amos had a real love for the people of his ministry, as evidenced by the way that he cried out so strenuously against their selfishness, idleness, idolatry, and other sins. Also on at least two occasions the Lord, through a vision, showed Amos impending judgements to come upon the Children of Israel; but through Amos’ intercessory prayer, the judgements were diverted.

In like manner the world stands in need of prayer today. God’s judgements hang over the people of the world like a dark cloud of fierce indignation. The prayers of God’s people are as a bulwark holding back the fullness of the judgements from falling upon the world. Some day this restraining force will be removed and God’s wrath, in its unabated fury, will be poured upon the world. The Lord has called the people of the world to return unto Him, but they have refused to return. He is saying to the nations as He said to Israel: Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O nations: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God.

Questions: 

1. To what tribe did Amos belong?
2. What was Amos’ occupation before the Lord called him to prophesy?
3. Why were the Children of Israel’s sins so grievous in the sight of God?
4. What were some of the illustrations that Amos used in his prophecy?
5. What was the basis of Amos’ messages to the Children of Israel?
6. In what way was Amos able to turn some of God’s judgements away from the land of Israel?
7. Why was the Prophet Amos persecuted in the land of Israel?
8. How did Amos react toward the persecution from Amaziah?
9. How does the Lord regard the man who is “at ease in Zion”?