Preparation The book is a bit out of sequence. It launches right into the prophecies, without any introduction. We don't learn anything about Amos until he reflects on his call in chapter 7. You may wish start with that passage. Prior to the study session, participants should read:
Amos 7: 12-17 Amos describes how he wound up a prophet
Amos 7: 1-11: Visions of locusts, fire, and a plumb line
Amos 9: 11-15: Prophecy of the restoration of Israel
Orientation Amos is book #30 of 39 in the Old Testament, and the third book of the Minor Prophets. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Amos is a farmer and shephed in a small village at the edge of the desert in Judah. God calls him (7:14) to go north into wealthy Israel, and deliver a message. Israel, along with their general disrespect for God, has split into two separate classes: the rich and the poor. His message is blunt, and focuses on injustice. The poor are oppressed and denied justice (2:7). The rich get away with everything and use the poor. Fathers and sons use the same prostitute (2:7) beside the altars, and drink the holy wine offerings (2:8). He calls the women "fat cows" who laze around the house and demand drinks (4:1) Amaziah, a priest, is not impressed - and tells Amos to "get out!" (7:12). Outline 1:1 - 2:16: 8 prophecies one each for Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah - the nations surrounding Israel - and Israel itself .
3:1 - 6:14: 3 sermons Israel's present (3), past (4), future (5).
7:1 - 9:10: 5 visions Locusts (7:1), fire (7:4), plumb line (7:7), summer fruit (8), stricken doorposts (9)
9:11 - 15: 5 promises
Discussion points Amos is the first of the prophets to take on the topic of social justice: Israel's treatment of their fellow man, rather than their relationship with God. Obeying God is more than attending temple and observing feast days. It also consists of treating our fellow man by God's standards of justice and love. How does, or how should, today's church balance spreading the gospel and advocating for social justice? Do some churches focus on one and ignore the other?
Consider the vision of the plumb line (7:7): a method for measuring whether is structure is up to standard. How is God measuring Israel here? What is the standard to which they are measured?
Connections Martin Luther King, Jr., used the themes from Amos in his "I Have A Dream" speech, quoting Amos 5:24.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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