The name Amos means “Burden Bearer.” This Amos we are studying was a writing minor prophet. He was a native of the southern kingdom of Judah, from the town of Tekoa -- about six miles south of Bethlehem, twelve miles south of Jerusalem, and eighteen miles west of the Dead Sea. Amos was not a trained prophet. How do we know this? Read Amos 7:14a. “Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son.” We see from this that Amos wasn’t a prophet, and neither were his ancestors. He called himself a sheepherder in 1:1 and a herdsman and a sycamore tree farmer in Amos 7:14.
In his Bible study about Amos, John W. Ritenbaugh said, “Since he was not from a large cosmopolitan city like Jerusalem or Samaria, Amos, shaped by his rural experiences, had a clearer perspective of the evils that he saw as he walked through the cities of Israel. While the Israelites accepted their lifestyle as normal, the prophet recognized it as a perversion and an abomination to God. Amos means "burden-bearer," and his message to Israel, one of continuous judgment and denunciation, was indeed a heavy burden.”
In spite of his lack of experience and training, God called Amos to deliver His message to the northern kingdom of Israel. Being from the southern kingdom of Judah, we expect that God would use him in Judah, but rather, He sent him north to Israel with a prophecy for their kingdom.
"Someone has described Amos as 'the first Great Reformer.' He was not of the school of the prophets, who by this time were disposed to cry what the people wanted ... There was not in Amos the sympathy, warm love, and feeling of the statesman or citizen, but a cold sense of justice and right. He was the stern prophet of justice and righteousness. Hosea's spirit was summed up in the word lovingkindness; Amos' is summed up in the one word justice" (Homer Hailey).
Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah (792-740 BC), and Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) of Israel. The length of Amos’ prophetic ministry is not certain. Verse one simply takes us to a time during his ministry when he spoke against the sin of Israel. Verse 1:1 says that he “saw” in his spirit what was to happen to Israel “two years before the earthquake” struck. There are many timelines given for Amos’ ministry to Israel which makes it difficult to state with any certainty when Amos began walking in the office of prophet, however, we know for sure he was in office between 760 B.C. and 755 B.C. because he prophesied against Israel before the great earthquake: "You will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah" (Zechariah 14:5). This was a time when Jeroboam ruled and brought Israel back to prosperity. He actually was almost able to restore Israel to the Davidic kingdom borders.
This was a time in history when Judah and Israel were working in unison. "After a long period of conflict during which Judah was in many respects subservient to Israel, there was now a spirit of co-operation and mutual enterprise resulting in a flow of trade and commerce between the two kingdoms" (New Layman's Bible Commentary).
As we study through this Book, we will see mentioned the evidence of the great wealth Israel and Judah enjoyed. Their homes were now not merely brick structures. Amos 3:15 tells us their homes were spectacular. “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.”
Unfortunately, as with the times of Solomon, wealth brought the temptation to sin. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the rich would do nothing to help the poor. That’s one reason the New Testament reminds us to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). “But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I John 3:17)
Israel and Judah were in times of moral, spiritual, judicial and political decline. The richer they were, the looser their living became. The rich wanted more and more money and got it at the expense of the poor. “Back of all moral, social, and political corruption there lies a basic cause: Religious decay and apostasy” (Homer Hailey). The religious leaders looked to the people for their wealth and in doing so, essentially turned their backs on God, who was their true Source. The priests wore the costume of a priest, yet, their service before God was a farce. The priests lived a shallow religious life as they went about in sin. The people were not long in mimicking their lead.
This is why I say I am not religious. To me, religion is a show. It’s a front, a cover, if you will, for what is really going on inside the person. It’s abiding by all the rules, but not letting anything touch the heart. I much prefer to say I live by faith then that I participate in a religion. Even denominations have rules that are not biblical, so I shy away from naming myself any denomination. I’m an independent dependent of Christ the Savior.
"The dark days in which he lived called for a man of sturdy moral fiber and fearlessness. Such was Amos. His character, molded in the harsh terrain of the wilderness of Tekoa, enabled him to stand before the priest and the people, proclaiming the word God had given him" (Expositor's Bible Commentary). Adversity is hard work but builds character. Amos had that. We have adversities in our lives and can choose to grow from them as Amos did, or let them overcome us and hold us down.
"At the call of God Amos left his home in Judea as a mere layman to proclaim a hostile message in the proud capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Without any status as a recognized prophet, he braved the prejudice of the Ephraimite public to carry out faithfully his commission from God. A man of rugged convictions and iron will, he could not be deflected from his purpose even by the highest functionary of the Samaritan hierarchy" (Gleason L. Archer, Jr.). Look at that! Denominations tell you that you cannot preach the Word without a seminary education, or, at the very least, a Bible college degree, yet, “At the call of God Amos left his home in Judea as a mere layman (non-professional) to proclaim a hostile message.”
Some claim that before you can answer the call of God on your life, you have to receive a formal education in Bible history, poetry, prophecy, and so on. They say one cannot simply pick up the Bible and preach a message. They say you need to know how to make an outline with three points and a conclusion before you can write a decent homily. If you have ever seen Joyce Meyer preach, you know how false these assertions are. She never had a formal education in seminary, yet she filled with the Spirit of God and dispenses some of the finest wisdom around that changes lives. Amos didn’t need formal training as a prophet because he was filled with the Spirit of God and had the visions God gave him. No, not everyone makes a good pastor, preacher, or teacher, but if God calls you, answer!
One thing I hear often that keeps people from serving God is, “I don’t know what my gifts and talents are, how can I serve God?” Reading this Book of Amos shows me that Amos did know what his gifts and talents were, but he served God in spite of them. You see, when God calls us, He doesn’t call us according the gifts and talents we already have. He calls us then equips us for the job we are to do. As a shepherd, herdsman, tree trimmer, Amos was no prophet, yet he pulled up his big boy loin cloth and went forth to speak the Word of God to a proud nation that had defiled everything God had given them. And he spoke with conviction and total honesty.
Remember what God told Samuel when he went to anoint a king from among the sons of Jesse? He said, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). God knew Amos’ heart, his convictions, his character. God sent the right man. God doesn’t make mistakes.
Amos tells us about a series of oracles against Damascus --- 1:3-5; Gaza --- 1:6-8; Tyre --- 1:9-10 ; Edom --- 1:11-12; Ammon --- 1:13-15; Moab --- 2:1-3; Judah --- 2:4-5; Israel --- 2:6-16.
He also tells us about his five visions: The Locusts (Amos 7:1-3); The Great Fire devouring the land (Amos 7:4-6); The Plumb Line (Amos 7:7-9); The Basket of Summer Fruit (Amos 8:1-3); The Lord Standing Beside the Altar (Amos 9:1).
If you wonder what communion is about, read Psalm 103. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6: 53-56).
Thank You, Father, for the sacrifice of Your Son’s body given to carry our sins and infirmities to the cross. We thank You for remembering our sins no more once they have been dealt with at the cross. We praise You, Jesus, for the stripes You bore on Your back for our healings. We thank You for the thorns on Your head. We thank You for bearing with having Your beard ripped from Your face, and for taking the beatings afflicted on Your precious face and body for our sakes.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Let’s eat the Bread of Life now.
Thank You, Jesus for Your Blood that cleanses and purifies. Thank You that it washed us white as snow. Thank You that the Blood makes us worthy to spend eternity in Heaven with God, Father, Son, And Spirit.
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Let’s take the cup of Cleansing now.
Jesus concluded their Passover meal with, “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Scriptures used are from Matthew 26:26-30.
Why should we take communion often? “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes” (I Corinthians 11:26).