Overview of Amos — No Escape Clause for God’s Own People — Sin Brings Judgment

People with an impressive spiritual pedigree or important ministry position or years of fruitful Christian service can imagine at times that they are exempt from God’s standards. They excuse themselves when they sin – thinking they will not be held to the same high standard of righteousness or that they will somehow escape God’s judgment. Here in Amos, God demonstrates that the same severity and justice that He applied to the surrounding nations will be applied to His own people as well. God does not play favorites. In fact privilege and accessibility to God’s revelation bring greater accountability, not less.

For to whom much has been given, much will be required.

Ray Stedman: The message of this book is basically to declare the impartiality of God. God plays no favorites. He makes no allowances for one person that he will not make for others as well. There is no such thing as being God’s fair-haired boy. He does not give any more to one than he does to another, in accordance with the promises that he makes. Any who are willing to fulfill the conditions of the promises will find his blessing poured out upon them, regardless of who they are; and any who presume upon these conditions will find him sitting in judgment upon them and his Word condemning them no matter who they are. This is the message of Amos.

PEOPLE OF PRIVILEGE ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM GOD’S JUDGMENT AND MUST RETURN TO THE LORD IN REPENTANCE TO EXPERIENCE HIS BLESSING

You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (3:2)

I will not revoke its punishment… therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” (4:12)

(:1-2) INTRODUCTION: SETTING AND SEVERITY OF THE MESSAGE

A. (:1) Setting

  1. Identification of the Obscure Prophet
  2. Medium of the Revelation
  3. Focus of the Prophet’s Burden = God’s Own People
  4. Timeframe of His Ministry
    1. Southern Kingdom reference: “in the days of Uzziah king of Judah
    2. Northern Kingdom reference: “and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel
    3. Natural Disaster reference: “two years before the earthquake

B. (:2) Severity of the Message

  1. Majestic Thunderings: “He said, ‘The Lord roars from Zion and from Jerusalem He utters His voice
  2. Global Grovelings: “And the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, and the summit of Carmel dries up.

I. (1:3 – 2:16) EIGHT BURDENS – ORACLES OF JUDGMENTS AGAINST THE NATIONS CLIMAXING WITH JUDGMENT AGAINST ISRAEL

Key Introductory phrase: “for three transgressions and for four

A. (1:3-2:3) Against Israel’s Enemies

  1. (:3-5) Against Damascus (capital of Syria)

Reason: Decimated God’s People with Cruelty and Brutality (2 Kings 13:7)

Because they threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron

Judgment:

2. (:6-8) Against Gaza (capital of Philistia)

Reason: Deported and Enslaved Large Numbers of God’s People

Because they deported an entire population to deliver it up to Edom

Judgment:

3. (:9-10) Against Tyre (capital of Phoenicia)

Reason: Delivered up God’s People in Violation of a Peace Pact

Because they delivered up an entire population to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.

Judgment:

4. (:11-12) Against Edom

Reason: Denied Forgiveness and Compassion in Relentlessly Pursuing Hatred and Violence

Because he pursued his brother with the sword, while he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.

Judgment:

5. (:13-15) Against Ammon

Reason: Devastated God’s People in Covetous Kingdom Expansion

Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.” (2 Kings 8:12)

Judgment:

6. (2:1-3)Against Moab

Reason: Desecrated the Dead in Act of Disrespect and Degradation because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.”

Judgment:

B. (2:4-16) Against Judah and Israel

1. (2:4-5) Against Judah

Reason: Deceived and Rebelled Against the Lord

Because they rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept His statutes; Their lies also have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.

Judgment:

2. (2:6-16) Climax: Against Israel

Reason: Disobeyed in 3 major areas: Injustice, Immorality and Idolatry

Judgment:

II. (3:1 – 6:14) THREE MESSAGES OF CONDEMNATION AGAINST ISRAEL

Key introductory phrase: “Hear ye this word!” [3:1; 4:1; 5:1]

A. (3:1-15) Message #1 — Judgment Should Be No Surprise – Israel Stands Guilty of Idolatry, Violence and Materialism

Great privilege brings great responsibility: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (3:2)

  1. (:1-10) Judgment Deserved
    1. (:1-2) Israel’s Unique Covenantal Relationship with God
    2. (:3-8) Inescapable Judgment — for Ignoring God’s Clear Revelation to His Chosen People
  2. (:11-15) Judgment Decreed — Comprehensive Judgment – Extending to Their Perceived Invincibility, Their Man-Made Religious System and Their Decadent Opulence

B. (4:1-13) Message #2 — Judgment Could Have Been Avoided by Repentance — But God Has Reached the Limits of His Patience and Forbearance with His Stubbornly Rebellious People: “Yet you have not returned to me

  1. (:1-11) Judgment Deserved for Idolatry and Oppression
    1. (:1-3) Humiliating Deportation due to Decadent Opulence
    2. (:4-5) Hypocritical Religious Exercises – Form without Heartfelt Repentance
      1. Sacrifices
      2. Tithes
      3. Thank Offering
      4. Free will Offering
    3. (:6-11) Five Historical Scenarios of Stubbornly Spurning God’s Fatherly

Discipline

Key: “‘Yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord.

1) (:6) Discipline of Famine – no food to eat

2) (:7-8) Discipline of Drought – Providentially withholding or providing rainfall

3) (:9) Discipline of Disease and Plagues upon the crops

4) (:10) Discipline of Defeats in War – the stench of dead bodies in the camp

5) (:11) Discipline of Devastating Destruction – Sodom and Gomorrah – yet rescuing a small remnant

2. (:12-13) Judgment Decreed — Hopelessness of Israel Escaping God’s Judgment

a. (:12) Prepare to Meet Your God: “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.

b. (:13) Know the Capabilities of Your God: “For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord of hosts is His name.

C. (5:1 – 6:14) Message #3 — Judgment Will be Severe Against Those Who Have Persisted in Sin

1. (5:1-15) Judgment Deserved for Failing to Seek After God and Righteousness

a. (:1) Literary Genre = Lament: “Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel:”

Cf. Lamentations of Jeremiah

b. (:2-3) Tragic Fall

1) (:2) Beyond Help

She has fallen, she will not rise again – the virgin Israel. She lies neglected on her land; There is none to raise her up.

2) (:3) Reduced to a Pitiful Remnant: “For thus says the Lord God, ‘The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.’

c. (:4-15) Three Exhortations to Seek after God and Righteousness

1) (:4-5) “Seek Me that you may live

Avoid Idolatry

2) (:6-13) “Seek the Lord that you may live

The destructive power of God’s judgment

The detailing of Israel’s sins

The failure to respond to reproofs

The full knowledge of God regarding their sins

3) (:14-15) “Seek good and not evil, that you may live

And thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

2. (5:16 – 6:14) Judgment Decreed with an Emphasis on its Severity

a. (5:16-17) Time of Extreme Mourning: “Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, ‘There is wailing in all the plazas, and in all the streets they say, Alas! Alas! They also call the farmer to mourning and professional mourners to lamentation. And in the vineyards there is wailing, because I will pass through the midst of you,’ says the Lord.

b. (5:18-20) Time of Extreme Darkness

c. (5:21-27) Time of Exposing Hypocrisy — God desires justice and righteousness rather than vain religious show: “‘Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,’ says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

d. (6:1-14) Time of Rebuking False Security: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion

III. (7:1 – 9:10) FIVE VISIONS

Baxter: In these five visions we have, successively, judgment averted, restrained, determined, imminent, executed; and thus we see that there is an increasing intensity in the five visions, as there is in the three sermons. Yet even amid the execution of the culminative judgment, not one grain of the pure wheat was to be allowed to perish. Even in wrath “God remembers mercy.

A. (7:1-3) Vision of Swarming Locusts — Desolation

B. (7:4-6) Vision of Consuming Fire — Destruction

C. (7:7-9) Vision of the Plumb Line – Divine Righteousness = the standard of measurement

(7:10-17) ASIDE – Opposition to Amos and His Message

  1. (:10-13) Amos Threatened by Amaziah (priest of Bethel)
  2. (:14-17) Amos Fortified by Divine Calling

D. (8:1-14) Vision of the Perishing Summer Fruit – Destined for Imminent Judgment

E. (9:1-10) Vision of the Lord Beside the Altar – Doomed with No Escape

(9:11-15) CONCLUSION: PROMISE OF MILLENNIAL RESTORATION

A. (:11-12) Rebuilding of Davidic Kingdom out of Jerusalem / Conversion of the Nations

‘In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the Lord who does this.

B. (:13) Time of Abundant, Unparalleled Prosperity

‘Behold days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved.'”

C. (:14) Time of Rebuilding, Growth and Productivity in the Land

Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.

D. (:15) Permanent Possession of the Promised Land

‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.