Read: Amos 1:1-5:17
The prophet Amos was not a member of any court or special status; rather, a simple man, a shepherd. His days of prophecy came just before Isaiah, during the reign of Uzziah, perhaps at the height of idolatry, extravagant living, immorality, corruption of judicial procedures and oppression of the poor. As a man in the field, I wonder if he could see social injustice better than those who lived in high places?
Amos is trying to wake Israel from their slumber:
“The Lord roars from Zion
and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up,
and the top of Carmel withers.”
The earthquake that everyone felt at that time (circa 750 B.C.) is the anchor for his message, but complacent, wealthy and comfortable people don’t hear well. Amos identifies eight groups in his opening remarks, “For three sins of ___, even four, I will not relent”
- Damascus: Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth — Amos 1:3-5
- Gaza: Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom — Amos 1:6-8
- Tyre: Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood — Amos 1:9-10
- Edom: Because he pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land — Amos 1:11-12
- Ammon: Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders — Amos 1:13-15
- Moab: Because he burned to ashes the bones of Edom’s king — Amos 2:1-3
- Judah: Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees — Amos 2:4-5
- Israel: They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. — Amos 2:6-16
Amos establishes himself as one who is keenly aware of all that is happening around him. The Lord has given him insight and shown him the incredible sins of the people. We must listen to his message!
The messages against the neighbors are convicting and brief, but against Israel, Amos goes into more detail. For example:
They trample on the heads of the poor
as on the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
Social injustice and a household prostitute…can it get worse than this?
There are few that remain loyal to God, a remnant of a remnant:
This is what the Lord says:
“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
with only the head of a bed
and a piece of fabric from a couch.”
Not much will be left for these huge transgressions.
The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness:
“The time will surely come
when you will be taken away with hooks,
the last of you with fishhooks.
The message of repentance is firm and bold, there is only one choice:
Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
Amos’ message was hard and pointed. Sadly, it was not fake news! He was revealing the true character of the people mislead for generations that started with Jeroboam I. They were so far from the path God had in mind they could not even see their sin.
The call of Amos to us today is to look closely at our lives, our motivation, our faithfulness to God, not to religion. In his day, the Israelites had built their own religion and were faithful to apostasy! Lord, open our eyes, hearts and minds to see what you see when you look at our lives, how we do church and how we treat our neighbors. Show us the way back to the narrow road you have envisioned for us.