The Prophet. His name means “Burden,” and he is called the prophet of righteousness. His home was at Tokea, a small town of Judea about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, where he acted as herdsman and as dresser of sycamore trees. He was very humble, not being of the prophetic line, nor educated in the schools of the prophets for the prophetic office. God called him to go out from Judah, his native country, as a prophet to Israel, the Northern Kingdom. In obedience to this call he went to Bethel, where the sanctuary was, and delivered his bold prophecy. His bold preaching against the land Of Israel while at Bethel aroused Amaziah the leading idolatrous priest, who complained of him to the king. He was expelled from the kingdom, after he had denounced Amaziah who had perhaps accused him of preaching as a trade, 7:10-14, but we know nothing more of him except what is in this book, which he perhaps wrote after he returned from Tekoa.
The Time of the Prophecy. It was during the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah and of Jereboam II, king of Israel, and was outwardly a very prosperous time in Northern Israel. But social evils were everywhere manifest, especially the sins that grow out of a separation between the rich and poor, 2:6-8, etc. Religion was of a low and formal kind, very much of the heathen worship having been adopted.
The Significance of the Prophecy. One need but read the book of Amos to see that he expects doom to come upon foreign nations, that he foretells the wickedness of the Jews and their coming doom, showing how the nation is to be dissolved and sold into captivity and that he predicts the glory and greatness of the Messianic kingdom. He thinks of Jehovah as the one true God, an a11 wise, all-powerful, omnipresent, merciful and righteous person whose favor can only be secured by a life of righteousness. He sees that justice between men is the foundation of society, that men are responsible for their acts, that punishment will follow failure to measure up to our responsibility, that worship is an insult to God, unless the worshiper tries to conform to divine demands.
I. The Condemnation of the Nations. Chs. 1-2.
1. Introduction, 1:1-2.
2. Israel’s neighbors shall be punished for their sins. 1:3-2:5.
3. Israel’s sins shall he punished, 2:6-16.
II. The Condemnation of Israel, Chs. 3-6.
1. For civil iniquities, Ch. 3.
2. For oppression of the poor and for idolatry, Ch. 4.
3. Repeated announcements of judgment with appeals to return and do good, Chs. 5-6.
III. Five Visions Concerning Israel, Chs. 7:1-9:10.
1. The locusts, 7:1-3.
2. The fire, 7:4-6.
3. The plumb line (a testing), 7:7-9, a historical interlude (the conflict with Amaziah), 7:10-17.
4. A basket of summer fruit (iniquity ripe for punishment), Ch. 8.
5. The destruction of the altar (No more services), 9:1-10.
IV. Promised Restoration and Messianic Kingdom, 9;11-15.
For Study mid Discussion, (1) Gather from the book a list of illustrations, sayings, etc., that are taken from the rustic or agricultural usages. (2) Make a list of the different nations against which he prophesies and point out the sin of each and the nature of the punishment threatened. (3) Make a list of the different illustrations used to show the greatness and power of God. (4) The sin of wrong inter-relation of nations. (5) The responsibility of national enlightenment. (6) Repentance as seen in this book. (7) The book’s evidence of the luxury of the time.
The Prophet. His name means “servant of the Lord,” but we know nothing of him except what we can gather from his prophecy.
The Time. It was doubtless written after the fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, 587 B. C. and before the destruction of Edom, five years later, which would make the date about 585 B. C. This would make him a contemporary of Jeremiah.
The Occasion of the prophecy is the cruelty of the Edomites in rejoicing over the fall of Judah.
The Jews. It is said to be a favorite book with the Jews because of the vengeance which it pronounces upon Edom, their brother. Its chief importance lies in its predictions of doom upon Edom the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob and the type of the unchangeable hostility of the flesh to that which is born of the spirit.
The Teachings. (1) Jehovah is especially interested in Israel. (2) He will establish a new kingdom, with Judea and Jerusalem as the center and with holiness as the chief characteristic.
I. Edom’s punishment, 1-9.
1. She must fall, 1-4.
2. Her allies will desert her, 5-7.
3. Her wisdom will fail her, 8-9.
II. Edom’s sin, 10-14
III. Guilt of the nations, 15-16.
IV. Judah shall be restored,
For Study and Discussion. (1) The sin of pride. (2) The sin of rejoicing in another’s misfortune. (3) Punishment according to our sin and of the same kind as was our sin.