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Home » OT » Prophets » Amos

Last updated Mar 8, 2024
God roars against social injustice

Time period

Approx. 760 BC

Key verse

"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. There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground." 5:6-7


Amos was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel; however, he was neither a prophet nor a priest, but rather a farmer (1:1, 7:14-15). In addition, he was also from Judah, but he was sent to Israel with this message from God.

At this time, both Israel and Judah experienced a political and economic golden age. They had, among other things, won back some land following a prophecy by Jonah (2 Kings 14:25). Therefore, they probably felt safe and counted the prosperity and good times as God’s blessing. However, God’s judgment came upon Israel because of social injustice, corruption, and oppression of the poor. This occurred when Assyria captured Israel in 722 BC.


1:1-2:              Introduction

1:3 – 2:5:         Judgment on the neighboring peoples

2:6-16:            Judgment on Israel

3:1–5:17:         3 words (“Hear this word… ”)

5:18–6:14:       2 woe cries

7:1 – 9:10:       5 visions

9:11-15:          Restoration

God’s judgment on sin points forward to when Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. Amos 9:11-12, which is about the restoration of “David’s fallen shelter” is quoted in Acts 15:16-17, where the apostles interpret this as the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people. The Northern Kingdom of Israel will perish, but God will resurrect them later in the form of Gentiles who come to faith.

In the Book of Amos, God roars against social injustice:

“The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem” (1:2a)

“Since the 1920s, I have been in evangelical congregations and attended many Bible conferences. Yet I have never heard a proper treatment of Amos’ strong words about the injustices done by the misuse of wealth, or an exposition of the familiar passages of Scripture in Isaiah and the other prophets which emphasize God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. Prophecy, yes – but only in its predictive, eschatological aspect with little or nothing of the prophets’ greatest witness against the idolatry of things and the oppression that can be associated with worshiping them.” Frank E. Gaebelein (1899-1983), the quote has been translated


  • Neither a prophet nor a priest, but a farmer (1:1, 7:14-15).
  • Not introduced as the “son of” anyone — perhaps not from an important family.
  • From Tekoa, a small village about 1 mile south of Bethlehem and 18 km from Jerusalem.
  • A farmer from Judah and sent as a prophet to Israel.


Azariah (Uzziah) was the king in Judah: Reigned 792-740 BC = 52 years (2 Kgs 15:2)

Jeroboam II was the king of Israel: Reigned 793-753 BC = 41 years (2 Kgs 14:23-29)

  • won back former territories
  • a golden age, economically and politically

➡ probably they feel safe and believe that God is with them and blesses them (5:14), even if the king is evil and they worship golden calves.

Possibly an earthquake occurred approx. 760 BC. Perhaps Amos brought this message at that time (1:1).


931: The country is divided into Israel and Judah

805: Assyria beats Syria; Assyria weakens

793: Jeroboam II becomes king and benefits from Syria being defeated.

Approx. 760: Amos

753: Jeroboam II dies

745: Assyria begins to grow stronger

734-732: Assyria takes most of Israel and some of the people into exile (2 Kings 15:29)

722: Assyria takes all of Israel and ends it for good

Amos and Hosea warn that Israel will perish if they do not repent. The judgment came in 722.

586: The Babylonians destroy the temple in Jerusalem and exile Judah to Babylon.

Joel, Micah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Habakkuk were prophets in Judah before the exile. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were prophets in Judah after the exile.

“The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem.” Amos 1:2a

This is so-called parallelism. It was a way they wrote poetry. “Roars” is the same as “thunders”. Zion is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.



“This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth, I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad. I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden. The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord.” 1:3-5

Claim statement:

CALL To whom does this apply?

“This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent.”

CHARGE/PROOF What is sin?

“Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth”

2 Kings 13:7: They had destroyed and made the troops of King Jehoahaz like dust (814-798) and had been unnecessarily brutal against the Israelites in Gilead.


“I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad. I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden. The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord.”

Fire: War that ends with cities being burned or a symbol of God’s judgment

Hazael: King of Syria in 842-796 BC (2 Kings 8:7-15)

Ben-Hadad: Hazael’s son (2 Kgs 13:24), king 796-775 BC

Kir: Their country of origin (9:7). Perhaps southeast Mesopotamia, near Elam (Isaiah 22:6).

The verdict is that they will be conquered, and the Syrians will be sent back to where they came from. This was fulfilled when the Assyrians abducted them to Kir in 732 BC. (2 Kings 16:9).


Damascus: threshed Gilead with sleds having iron teeth

Gaza: drove everyone into exile and handed them over to Edom

Tyre: surrendered to Edom, all whom they exiled, and did not remember the covenant of brothers

Edom: chased his brothers with the sword, showed no mercy, and always held his grudge

Ammon: cut open Gilead’s pregnant women and expanded their borders

Moab: burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime

They do not have the Law of Moses but are judged based on the law God laid down in the hearts of all people.


All people can know what is right and wrong because ethics are universal and based on God’s character. There is an objective morality that is true for all people. Everyone can know what is right and wrong because we are created in God’s image and he has put this morality in us. Sin affects our judgment and ability to reason. We are not always able to judge or think correctly. Sin makes it harder to distinguish good from evil.

People suppress the truth about this morality but have no excuse (Rom 1:18-20).


Gaza: Taken by Assyria in 734 BC, Ashdod in 711 BC, Ashcalon and Ekron in 701 BC.

Tyre: Assyria took the mainland in 701 BC and again in 663 BC. The Babylonians destroyed it in 573 BC, and Greece took it all in 332 BC.

Edom: Taken by Assyria in 711 and 701 BC.

Ammon: Taken by Babylon in 582-581 BC.

Moab: Taken by Assyria in 715 BC.

2:4-5: JUDAH

Charge:          Despised the law of the Lord

Evidence:       Liar

The verdict:   Fire against Judah; it shall consume the citizens of Jerusalem.

Fulfillment:   Taken by the Babylonians in 586 BC.


Sin →Judgment →Restoration →Sin →Judgment →Restoration …


What is the charge? What is the evidence that shows they are guilty?

Corruption (v. 6), oppression of the poor (vv. 6-8), sexual immorality (v. 7), ingratitude to God (vv. 9-12), and no respect for Nazarites or prophets (v. 12).

What is the judgment that comes because of these sins?

The ground will shake (v. 13), and no one will be able to escape (vv. 14-16).


Probably the Assyrian attack in 722 BC.


“Corruption and bribery are poisons that paralyze the good forces that hold society together. It weakens trust between people and attacks the people’s relationship with the authorities and public institutions.” (The political editor of the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, Jan 30th, 2019, the quote has been translated)

God abhors corruption because it leads to justice not being done and the poor being oppressed. This is mentioned in 18 verses in Amos, and the poor are on God’s heart throughout the Bible. The Gospel of Luke in particular shows how Jesus cared about the poor, the weak, and the outcasts.

What kind of corruption can you encounter in your country, and how do you react? When can money become more important than people and justice for us?

3:1 — 5:17: 3 WORDS (“HEAR THIS WORD…”)


WordWhere?Who is it aimed at?
1st wordCh. 3“people of Israel…” (3:1)
2nd wordCh. 4“you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria …” (4:1)
3rd word5:1-17“…Israel…” (5:1)



v. 2: They should have known better since they knew God and had the law. They were chosen from all the families of the earth to bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3).

vv. 3-6: rhetorical questions about the cause and effect that expect “no” as an answer

v. 6b: “When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?” The context for this is that Amos’ words are like a trumpet that heralds calamity. “Disaster” is most likely God’s judgment in this context. Therefore, this verse does not apply in general. Luke 13:1-5 and John 9:1-3 support this.

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.'” Luke 13:1-5

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3

v. 7: God warns through the prophets before he sends the calamity. They still have the option to avoid it.

v. 8: Everyone should tremble when God roars. Then even peasants become prophets.


Summons: Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom (v. 9)

Accusation/evidence/sin: Oppression, injustice, violence, robbery… (vv. 9-10)

The judgment: (vv. 11-15)

  • An enemy will capture them (v. 11)
  • Only a few will escape the attack (v. 12)
  • The rich sat on sofas and divans and had two houses, even large houses made of ivory. But everything must be destroyed, including the altars in Bethel (vv. 13-15)

Fulfillment: The Northern Kingdom fell to Assyria in 722 BC.


4:1-3 (Charge statement)

1. Notice: To whom does this apply?

  • Why Bashan? (Bashan was the best pasture and thus had the fattest cows. They have fed themselves but oppressed the poor. See Jer 50:19, Ezek 39:18, parallelism in Ps 22:13)
  • Who are the cows? First of all, the rich women but “hear” is masculine even though “cow” is feminine.

2.  What is the charge (and the evidence)?

They crush the poor while enjoying life themselves.

3. What is the verdict?

What do hooks and fishhooks symbolize? (They will be taken as prisoners and be led like cows; see 2 Chron 33:11, Ezek 19:4)

Why “cracks in the walls”? The city wall will be destroyed in an attack.

What is Hermon and where was it located? (Mount Hermon was located along the border in the north; see Jos 12:1, parallelism in Hos 4:8)

What does God mean by 4:4-5?

Jeroboam I had set up the one golden calf in Bethel (1 Kings 12:28). Amos delivers his message in Bethel (7:13), the religious center of the Northern Kingdom.

Gilgal was where Joshua and the people celebrated Passover and were circumcised before entering the land. It became an important religious and political center.

God is sarcastic about their misplaced, empty religion.

Amos 4Covenant curses from Lev 26 and Deut 28
v. 6: little bread“When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.” Leviticus 26:26
vv. 7-8: no rain“The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.” Deuteronomy 28:23-24
v. 9: blight and mildew“The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew…” Deuteronomy 28:22
v. 9: locusts devour the crop“You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it.” Deuteronomy 28:38
v. 10: plagues as against Egypt“The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.” Deuteronomy 28:27
v. 10: sword“And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant.” Leviticus 26:25


1. What should this have told the Israelites long ago?

That they had broken the covenant. These covenant curses should have caused them to repent long ago.

2. What does it tell us about God?

He has warned them many times before. He is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger…” Exodus 34:6

He warns them again through Amos. He wants repentance.

The judgment comes from v. 12 and probably continues into chapter 5.


Speaks as if it has all happened (v. 2), perhaps so they can visualize it? Only a few remain (v. 3, as in 3:12).

The solution is: Seek the Lord, and you will live! Do not go to the holy places, but go to God[l1] ! (vv. 4-6, 14) They think God is with them (v. 14), and they depend on God’s mercy to be saved (v. 15).

Otherwise, destruction will come (vv. 6, 9), because they “turn justice into bitterness” (v. 7), hate justice and truth (v. 10), trample the poor (v. 11), take bribes, and deprive the poor of justice (v. 12). The curses of the covenant will come upon them (v. 11, Deuteronomy 28:30) because of their countless sins (v. 12).

5:18-6:14 – 2 WOE-CRIES

1. LAMENT (5:18-27)

Announcement of distress: For those who long for the day of the Lord (v. 18)

Reason for the distress (sin): The day of the Lord is dark and gloomy (v. 20) for those who do not stand in a right relationship with God.

Why are they not in a right relationship with God?

They do not act righteously:

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god— which you made for yourselves.” vv. 21-26

“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religious projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice— oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” (5:21-24, The Message)

Doom/judgment: They will be taken into exile out of the land (v. 27).

What about us?

2. WOE-CRIES (CH. 6)

Announcement of distress: For the complacent and secure, the notable men, who think that calamity will never come (vv. 1-2).

Cause of distress (sin): They live in luxury (v. 4), feast without reverence for God, fool themselves, and do not care that others suffer (vv. 5-6).

Doom/judgment: They will be among the first to go into exile (v. 7).

“Woe to those who live in luxury and expect everyone else to serve them! Woe to those who live only for today, indifferent to the fate of others! Woe to the playboys, the playgirls, who think life is a party held just for them! Woe to those addicted to feeling good—life without pain! those obsessed with looking good—life without wrinkles! They could not care less about their country going to ruin.” 6:4-6, The Message

5 VISIONS (7:1 – 9:10)

  1. A swarm of locusts (7:1-3)
  2. A destroying fire (7:4-6)
  3. A plumb line (7:7-9)

“Interlude”: The authorities confront Amos (7:10-17)

  • A basket of ripe fruit (Ch. 8)
  • The Lord stands at the altar (9:1-10)

VISION NO. 1: A Swarm of Locusts (7:1-3)

“This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the Lord relented. “This will not happen,” the Lord said.” 7:1-3

After the king’s share had been harvested, the rest was for the people. The locusts are therefore a serious threat.

It would be a fair punishment as a result of having broken the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:38, 42)

“You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it.” Deuteronomy 28:38

“Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.” Deuteronomy 28:42

Amos intercedes for the people, and God changes His plan. In any case, it was not the poor who were to be punished.

The point in vision no. 2 may be related (7:4-6).

“This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the Lord relented. “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said.” 7:4-6


“He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” Jer. 18:6-10

This depends on the people’s response to the threat of judgment. The prophet’s task was not only to tell the people about the judgment before it happened as if to impress upon them that God knew the future. God wanted to warn them of the judgment to make them repent, precisely to avoid the judgment.

God would change his plans if the people changed their plans.

“God saw what they did, that they turned from their evil way. Then God repented of the evil he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:10

God “changes his mind”, and Jonah gets angry and says that it was exactly what he knew was going to happen: “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4:1-2

Jonah confirms that God “changes his mind” because He is good – not because He is influenced by others.


The people are not right in relation to God’s standard (covenant). Amos does not intercede this time, but had it not been for the prophets and God’s grace, Israel would have been out long ago.

Perhaps these visions say that God will not punish all the people (visions 1-2), but rather those who were farthest from His standard (vision 3).

Another warning about Assyria’s attack in 722 BC.


The message is perceived as an insult to the king and a conspiracy, not as a word from God. Amos emphasizes that no one paid him to say this (as part of a conspiracy) since he was not a prophet in the first place.

The priest and the king were to be separated in Israel. The temple was not to be the king’s sanctuary but God’s. The priest Amaziah says Amos must stop prophesying (2:12) in Bethel “because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom”.

Section 16 of the Norwegian constitution:

“The Church of Norway, an Evangelical Lutheran church, remains Norway’s national church and as such is supported by the state.”

Wikipedia: “A national church is a Christian church associated with a specific ethnic group or nation state.”

Whose church is the national church? When can politics become too influential in our congregations?


A pun with ripe fruit (qayitz) and end (qetz).

Oppression of the poor (and corruption (vv. 4-6). They have sinned and become ripe for judgment.

v. 8: An earthquake as a warning two years later? (1:1)

v. 9: Solar eclipse in 763 BC as a warning of judgment? Maybe the same year as the earthquake.

vv. 11-14: Soon God says no more (perhaps when the Assyrians approach/besiege them). Then it’s too late.


vv. 1-4: The sanctuary in Bethel will be destroyed.

v. 5: Again, perhaps the earthquake? (1:1)

v. 7: “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the Lord. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” The Israelites are no more special than other nations if they don’t care about God and their task as God’s people. God cared about other peoples in the OT as well and has also formed them into nations.

vv. 8-10: They shall not be annihilated but scattered among the nations, which happened in 722 BC.



Historical: What is the first fulfillment that fits?

Messianic/Spiritual: Fulfilled by Jesus

“Double fulfillment”?

  • Much is called into question if a prophecy can be fulfilled several times (multiple Messiahs, Jesus returning multiple times, etc.).
  • A historical + a messianic = OK (because Jesus fulfills the entire OT)


“In that day”: Sometime in the future, uncertain when.

David’s fallen shelter: Applies to more than the Northern Kingdom. A major restoration of the entire kingdom. Is it meant to be historical or messianic?


  1. Historical: Israel’s borders to be expanded to include Edom? Only David could do it (2 Sam 8:14).
  2. Messianic: A symbol of all the enemies that the Messianic David would overcome? (Isa 63:1-6)

“all the nations that bear my name”:

  1. Historical: Is Israel to rule over all nations? (2 Sam 12:28: God’s name was mentioned over conquered cities)
  2. Messianic: The Gentiles will be allowed to become part of God’s people through the Messianic David.

v. 11-12 is quoted in Acts 15:16-17 and ends the discussion.

“After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things” Acts 15:16-17

The prophets in the OT often talk about the fact that in the end times, the Gentiles will flock to God (e.g., to the mountain of the Lord’s temple in Isaiah 2). In Acts 15, the apostles realize that it is happening in a different way than they had thought. Verse 11 is about Jesus as the King of David, and v. 12 is about the Gentile mission.

The Northern Kingdom never returned from exile but was mixed with the heathen among whom they were scattered. They were resurrected as Gentiles who became part of God’s kingdom through Jesus.

Quotations from Hosea are also used about the salvation of the Gentiles in Rom 9:25-26 and 1 Pet 2:10.

This should make us a little cautious and humble when interpreting the prophets. We should first see if there are interpretations of the prophecies in the NT. Here is a good example of a prophecy that appears to be historical but is messianic.


“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” 9:13-15

1. Historically? (it is not directly connected with vv. 11-12)

  • Israel has made the land fertile again in recent times.
  • v. 14: “I will bring my people Israel back from exile” = Jews (of the 10 northernmost tribes?) will come to Israel in modern times.
  • They will never again be uprooted from physical Israel.
  • A historical event that will happen after Jesus comes (vv. 11-12)

2. Messianic? (it continues from vv. 11-12)

Although water is not mentioned, it is necessary for this to become a reality. Joel, Ezekiel and Zechariah also end up with a lot of water. In John 7:37-39, Jesus says He is these ‘end-time rivers’ (especially from Ezek 47 and Zech 14:8).

A reversal of Genesis 3, a picture of the new earth when creation is redeemed (Rom 8:20-22).

v. 14: The reunited kingdom in the Messiah

v. 15: The land as a picture of salvation (as in Hebrews).


1. How does the message of Amos point to Jesus and the gospel?

David’s fallen shelter → Jesus as the Davidic king

The poor → the gospel is preached to them / still in God’s heart

Judgment → Jesus’ return

2. What are some timeless truths from Amos?

What is not timeless? What “detours” do we have to take before we conclude?

The Law of Moses instructed them to care for the poor, but the Israelites did not care about this. Thus, they broke the covenant. We are in a new covenant with God and are saved by grace and justified in Jesus. There will be no covenant curses or war if we neglect the poor.[l2] 


  1. Do we go to church, worship, pray, and read the Bible but don’t care much about social injustice? Is correct theology more important than justice?
  2. God rages against the rich’s treatment of the poor in this book. Although our situation is not identical, perhaps we should pause a little when we see God’s heart for the poor. Maybe we don’t oppress the poor directly but do it indirectly just by going with the flow in the western world. How can materialism become an idol that leads to the oppression of the poor?
  3. Amos is told to go home when he brings this message. Do we allow others to speak truth into our lives, or do we also get offended? (Colossians 3:16)

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16