Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
By: Michael Anderson
How much do you know? (Answers at the end of the lesson)
Kingdoms did he preach to?
Humans are the most intelligent creature God made upon this earth! Those same intelligent humans desired wisdom and hoped to gain it… from a fruit! Because of that one action, Adam and Eve’s children have inherited a sin nature which we all battle to this very day (Gen. 3). After killing his brother, Cain passes on his disregard for the preciousness of life to all of his descendants including Lamech who murdered a young man (Heb. Patsa’ meaning “boy”) for bruising him. Eventually all of Cain’s descendants were wiped out by the great flood (Gen. 4). Or, how about the children of Israel in the desert, whose idol worship is carried over into the newly-formed nation that was still a problem hundreds of years and many generations later (Gen. 32).The failure to see the truth of how our lives affect future generations has been a common failing of mankind. Every time we see someone in the Scriptures whose main focus is not upon the Lord, we find a person with total disregard for the effect that his or her actions are having upon their future descendants. Failure to keep your eyes upon the Lord by making Him the center of life always leads to greater failure! Not just the failure of the individual, but also the failure of their family, their community, their nation, and even the failure of God's people!
Like a broken record, Israel is blessed by the Lord and they become prosperous, peaceful and happy. Then, hard times come and when the hard times end they repeat the same process of failure: satisfaction, apathy, self-centeredness, acceptance of sin as normal (or modern enlightenment), entertainment replaces the true worship of the Lord, and finally they receive judgment from the Lord to call them back to himself. Then crying out for help they repent once again. This repetitive cycle of sin is not only present during the Judges Era. It continued all the way through the Divided Kingdom Era. Much like people here in the United States today, they repeated this process over and over not only as a nation, but individually as well. Today, that same cycle of sin is not uncommon even in the church!
During the Divided Kingdom Era, the Northern Kingdom of Israel became stuck. They would not come back to the Lord. They were stuck in sin and they loved it! The people of Northern Israel were very religious, but their worship was misdirected. The worship of Baal was still prominent six kings and almost 100 years after Ahab and Jezebel were killed. Under King Jeroboam II, Israel won many battles bringing not only peace, but also great prosperity. Through the teachings of Baal and other foreign religions, the people’s love for others disappeared. Greed, self-centeredness and self-gratification became the all consuming passions of the people.
It was at this time that God spoke to a man who raised sheep and grew fig trees to make a living. God would call him into service to go north and deliver God’s words of judgment and warning. His name was Amos…
Students will gain a better understanding of the dangers of leaving the true worship of the Lord and replacing that worship with things, activities and self-image as is taught in the world today.
Our relationship with the Lord is the most important relationship in our lives!
We must be careful to worship the Lord and the Lord only!
If our love for the Lord grows cold, our love for others will grow cold as well.
Worship of the things of this world always brings apathy, greed, self-centeredness and a desire to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh.
(In this lesson we will be mainly using the New Living Translation (NLT) to make the story as clear as we can for everyone as we study. But please look up the Scriptures in whatever version you normally use and let the Scriptures speak to you…)
The prophet Amos is not mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures. He was a Judean, which means he was from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. When the Lord called Amos to go north to Israel to take God’s word to the people, it most likely was not easy for him. Like a modern day missionary, to go to the northern ten tribes meant that he had to leave his family, the safety of his own country and even give up his profession to remain faithful to the Lord. All of that brings some questions: Why did God have to send a prophet from Judah (Southern Kingdom) instead of using a prophet from Israel (Northern Kingdom)? Had Israel gone so far down the road away from the Lord that not even one man in Israel could be appointed as a prophet by God?
Amos’ ministry was short lasting from about 760-755 BC. He ministered during the reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel (793-753 BC) and Uzziah in Judah (792-740 BC). Being a history buff myself, I have enjoyed studying the history of the Jewish people during this time period. These times in the Divided Kingdom Era reflect the growing apathy of the people toward the Lord. The dictionary says, apathy means - lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Apathy is an enemy that brings attitudes of self-centeredness, self-righteousness and Bible illiteracy. Doesn't that sound like the times we are living in today?
The prophets Hosea and Isaiah probably come on the scene during the later part of Amos’ life. Amos and Hosea were both from Judah, but they were both sent as prophets to the people and leaders of the northern ten tribes. These were times of prosperity and peace for Israel. The people appeared religious but the true sign of where their hearts lay was in their lack of compassion for others. They ignored what Jesus would later point out were the first and second greatest commandments - love! Love God then love those God has made (Deut. 6:5)!
The prosperous and wealthy people were better off, but the culture of shady business practices, unjust fines, taking clothing as collateral on loans and then making it impossible to pay back the loans with high interest rates and late fees, makes the whole country sound like a bunch of loan sharks. They were breaking God’s finance laws given by Moses. All for more money and freedom to commit acts of immorality without consequence! Because of these things many of the people of Israel were being abused, cheated, thrown into prison and even sold into slavery.
The Book of Amos is only nine chapters long, but it has a wealth of teaching, history and most importantly - warnings of the dangers of drifting away from the true worship of the Lord, failure to love people and the dangers of greed. The Lord gives us three major divisions in the Book of Amos: Chapters 1-2, 3-6 and 7-9. We will take a brief look at the entire book though our study this week.
1. Amos 1-2 - The Lord Zeros in on Israel
As the Book of Amos begins, the first words uttered by God, put the target squarely on Northern Israel! “‘The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem! The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up; the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die’” (1:2 NLT). (Mount Carmel was in the Northern Kingdom.) We would expect the Lord to continue his pronouncements against Israel, but He instead pronounces judgment on the nations surrounding Israel after which He then zeros in on the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the last part of chapter two.
As I thought about “zeroing in” on Israel, it occured to me that God begins with all of the outside influences and moves in on His main target, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who left the Lord and has not returned to Him since the days of Solomon around 100 years earlier. After a little research I saw the truth of this. I found a map that will help us understand…
The Lord speaks against (1) Syria (Damascus), then against (2) Gaza, (3) Tyre, (4) Edom, (5) Ammon, (6) Moad and (7) Judah. Through Amos, the Lord draws a circle of judgment on the people surrounding Israel who had grown rich from trade with these ungodly nations. Israel’s leadership had allowed the people to worship the gods of those people instead of worshiping Yahweh and making Him known to those nations around them! Damascus had killed many of God’s people in battle (1:3-5). Gaza had sold Israelites into slavery (1:6-8) as did Tyre (1:9-10). And it appears that Israel had not responded in a right way concerning the care of God’s people. It seems the poor were not being protected. Possibly because they were not in the upper class of people?
God then addresses Edom (Esau), who was also descended from Abraham. They had not only been buying Israelites as slaves from Gaza (1:6), but also, “‘They chased down their relatives, the Israelites, with swords, showing them no mercy. In their rage, they slashed them continually and were unrelenting in their anger’” (v. 11 NLT). God will not tolerate those who hate or abuse family. Especially His family!
In verse 13, the Lord continues moving closer to His target as He pronounces judgment upon “the people of Ammon”. “‘When they attacked Gilead to extend their borders, they ripped open pregnant women with their swords. So I will send down fire on the walls of Rabbah’” (1:13-14 NLT). The “fire” is referring to the Assyrians who, about forty years after the Book of Amos will take the whole northern area into captivity. The Lord said, “‘their king and his princes will go into exile together’” (1:15 NLT).
Just a thought: The Lord sent the people of Ammon into exile and destroyed them as a nation because of what they did to unborn babies. How can any “Christian” see what God did to Ammon and still believe that abortion is about a woman’s rights? Or believe that an unborn child is nothing more than a mass of cells called a fetus? It is clear in the Scriptures that the Lord holds all unborn children as precious. So much so that He destroys a whole nation because of what they did to those innocent unborn children.
In chapter 2, Moab is next! They are not judged for what they had done to the Israelites, but for what they did to Edom. There will be no exile for Moab! Only death (2:3)! God obviously had a special place in His heart for Edom who was descended from Esau. But, in spite of that, Edom became one of His greatest disappointments. So much so that He will eventually destroy every single Edomite!
The Lord then addresses Judah, who is directly attached to Israel not only by a border, but also by blood. “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people of Judah have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished. They have rejected the instruction of the Lord, refusing to obey his decrees. They have been led astray by the same lies that deceived their ancestors. So I will send down fire on Judah, and all the fortresses of Jerusalem will be destroyed’” (Amos 2:4-5).
Then, beginning in verse 6, the Lord hits His main target, Israel! This accusation is about three times longer than any of the other accusations of the surrounding countries listed. The Lord recounts what they have been doing… “‘They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way. Both father and son sleep with the same woman, corrupting my holy name. At their religious festivals, they lounge in clothing their debtors put up as security. In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines’” (2:6-8 NLT). You may remember from our study that Jeroboam set up calves and told the people “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28 NLT)! Through Amos, the Lord clarifies the truth! “It was I who rescued you from Egypt and led you through the desert for forty years, so you could possess the land of the Amorites” (2:10 NLT). The Lord is tired of the ridiculous worship of golden calves and stone idols and tells them so… "I chose some of your sons to be prophets and others to be Nazirites. Can you deny this, my people of Israel?” asks the Lord. ‘But you caused the Nazirites to sin by making them drink wine, and you commanded the prophets, ‘Shut up’” (2:11-12 NLT)!
There is also another big problem in chapter 2 that threads through the rest of the book! In Israel, the poor were not being taken care of (Amos 2:6, 4:1, 5:11, 5:12, 8:4, 8:6). Why not? Because the leadership and those who followed them had left the true worship of the Lord! The religious attitudes of the people were shallow and the people were empty. The worship of Yahweh was insincere at best and at the worst, totally absent. For Israel, the problem was not about the process of worship, it was the problem of the heart! They knew how to sacrifice! They knew how to pray, to sing, to tithe and even how to dress! But it was not the Lord they were sacrificing, praying and singing to! It was a worship mixed with the worship of the same foreign gods that had caused Israel so many problems for so many years. They had corrupted the festivals the Lord had given them through Moses. They turned worship into parties and entertainment all while flaunting their ill gotten gains. “At their religious festivals, they lounge in clothing their debtors put up as security. In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines” (2:8 NLT). It was a time of great greed for some and great suffering for others.
2. Amos 3-6 - God Addresses Israel and its Leaders and Calls Them to Repentance
As chapter 3 begins, you can hear the Lord’s regret about what He must do. “Listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the entire family I rescued from Egypt: ‘From among all the families on the earth, (see: Gen. 12) I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins’” (3:1-2 NLT). First of all, they are not mistreating mere people, they are mistreating members of their own families! Second, the Lord is teaching a great lesson here... with great calling comes great responsibility! And third, with great sin comes great consequence. As the Lord speaks, He unveils the results of their sin and hypocrisy! “‘My people have forgotten how to do right,’ says the Lord. ‘Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence’” (3:10 NLT). As the Lord pronounces judgment in chapter 3, He lets them know who He is holding most responsible! “‘I will destroy the beautiful homes of the wealthy— their winter mansions and their summer houses, too—all their palaces filled with ivory’” (3:15 NLT). Obviously wealth is not the problem! The Lord made Solomon fabulously wealthy. It is how they obtained it and what they were doing with it! There is nothing wrong with having beautiful homes! It is what they were doing to others to get those homes that was the problem! And it was also about what they were not doing for others - helping those in need...
You can hear His anger rising in chapter 4 as He speaks to the women - “Listen to me, you fat cows living in Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, and who are always calling to your husbands, ‘Bring us another drink’” (4:1 NLT)! - So, it’s not just the men! It is also the wives of these men and they think they are really something! They think they are better than others! They have grown lazy and cruel! And the Lord is fed up with these snooty, puffed up people who look so religious and perfect on the outside but were truly filthy on the inside! Then He tells them the inevitable consequences of their actions: “The Sovereign Lord has sworn this by his holiness: ‘The time will come when you will be led away with hooks in your noses. Every last one of you will be dragged away like a fish on a hook” (4:2 NLT)!
He tells them to “‘Go ahead and offer sacrifices to the idols at Bethel. Keep on disobeying at Gilgal. Offer sacrifices each morning, and bring your tithes every three days. Present your bread made with yeast as an offering of thanksgiving. Then give your extra voluntary offerings so you can brag about it everywhere! This is the kind of thing you Israelites love to do,’ says the Sovereign Lord” (4:4-5 NLT). I believe the Lord is saying, “Go ahead! Do it your way! Your day is coming!” Their religion was a sham and their lives were empty shells. Amos points out their stubbornness and proclaims what the Lord has done in order to call them back to Himself! The Lord had brought hunger, famine, drought, blight, mildew, locust and still they would not turn away from their gods and turn to the one true God (4:6-11)!
Connection: Because of our Connections Chronological Bible Study, this reference to yeast is worth looking at. The Lord was making a point here that connects all the way back to the Passover in Egypt where they were to use bread without yeast as a representation of the removal of sins that had been atoned for by the death of a lamb and the blood on the door post. Yeast is representative of sin and in this passage it is obvious that there is more going on here than just the fact that their bread is made with yeast. Their bread paralleled their lives. As the yeast filled the bread and created hollow spaces inside, so it was with the sin inside of them! They were puffed up, but inside they were full of empty space like fluffy bread that looks larger than it really is.
It is in chapter 5 that a ray of hope is given (but it is not taken). The Lord tells them “‘Come back to me and live’” (5:4, 6 NLT)! What the Lord wants from them is very plain, “‘I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living’” (Amos 5:21-24 NLT). There are two words here that will become a theme in many of the prophets we will be studying as we continue through God’s Word! Justice and righteousness! That is what God desires from His people! Without justice and righteousness, God’s people are no better than the world.
3. Amos 7-9 - The Coming Judgment
“Then the Lord said, “Like this fruit, Israel is ripe for punishment! I will not delay their punishment again. In that day the singing in the temple will turn to wailing” (8:2-3 NLT). The wealthy charged the people interest along with heavy fines and then would keep the collateral given to secure the loan. Which, as we said, often included their clothing. The fines that were charged were most likely expensive late fees. The people were being conned out of their money. The financial practices they were using were immoral but the worst part of it was that “God’s people” were doing these things to “God’s people!” Those who were wealthy and in power did all of this while violating the true law of God given in Deut. 23. “‘Do not charge interest on the loans you make to a fellow Israelite, whether you loan money, or food, or anything else’” (v. 19 NLT). Some would teach that God pronounced judgment because Israel was worshiping other gods, but as we study Amos and the prophets that come after him, there is more of a sense that God desires justice for His people AND He desires justice from His people! The injustices that “God’s people” were inflicting upon “God’s people” were so appalling that the Lord would pronounce judgment upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel. I believe that is why God sent Israel into captivity and scattered them to the wind just forty years later. He desires for His people to love each other and since Israel had left the Lord who loved them for gods of sexual freedom, weather and war, they could not love each other as God loved them. Instead they used their own people, their own family to gain wealth, power and satisfaction. And the judgment of God fell...
Application - Finding Jesus on Every Page
What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
In the final paragraph of the book, God offers a glimmer of hope. That hope is the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, from the line of David. “‘In that day I will restore the fallen house of David. I will repair its damaged walls’” (9:11 NLT). God then mentions us! The nations He would call to Himself - the Church! “‘And Israel will possess what is left of Edom and all the nations I have called to be mine’” (9:12 NLT). This is very important because this is the only hope given to Israel that will take place after the judgment that was about to come when Assyria takes them captive and scatters them. That hope would become available through the birth, death, resurrection and return of Jesus! God will restore Israel and bring people from every nation to Himself just as he has promised.
Amos tells us that justice and righteousness are what God desires from His people! The Hebrew word for justice is Mishpat. It means to judge rightly - this is one of the things that He used to make us different from the animals (we are in His image). We have a moral need for justice that animals do not have. That is why animals can eat their own kind or abandon their babies and it is considered natural. But it is immoral for humans to do such things. For us, justice is used to bring us into righteousness. Righteousness is actually a word that implies relationship. The Hebrew word for righteousness is tsedaqah (the T is silent), and it implies justice, fairness and charity in a relationship - A right relationship between God and His people and also a right relationship between people. Truthful, right relationships, full of love and mercy between people no matter if they are male or female, rich or poor, the same or different.
The Book of Amos is about justice, righteousness and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Through His justice and because of His mercy we are made righteous! Because of that the Lord expects us to love Him with all of our hearts and to love the people He has made. We must be about justice and righteousness and we do that by maintaining our relationship with the Lord and becoming more and more Bible literate! Do people see justice and righteousness when they look at you? Do they see your love for the Lord and for others? More importantly, what does the Lord see when He looks at you?
God speaks through a lowly farmer who is given a message of judgment and destruction, but also an offer of forgiveness to the people of Israel.
God acts by fulfilling and bringing judgment upon the Nation of Israel.
God reveals His desire for His people to love one another while living a life of righteousness.
What kind of damage is done to the Kingdom of God when injustice is seen in God’s people?
What are some ways we can carry out the commands that God has given to us love the Lord with all of our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves?
What do the words justice and righteousness mean to you?
Here's the list of Bible readings that your students will be reading the week before you teach this lesson:
Monday, 3/4/19 AMOS 1:1-3:2
Tuesday, 3/5/19 AMOS 3:3-4:13
Wednesday, 3/6/19 AMOS 5:1-6:14
Thursday, 3/7/19 AMOS 7:1-3
Friday, 3/8/19 AMOS 7:4-8:14
Saturday, 3/9/19 AMOS 9:1-15, 2 KINGS 14:28-29, 2 KINGS 15:8-12
Sunday, 3/10/19 2 KINGS 15:13-29, 2 KINGS 15:6-7, 2 CHRONICLES 26:22-23,
Here’s the list of Bible readings that your students will be reading the week after you teach this lesson:
Monday, 3/11/19 2 KINGS 15:32-38, 2 CHRONICLES 27:1-9, MICAH 1:1-16
Tuesday, 3/12/19 2 KINGS 16:1-9, 2 CHRONICLES 28:1-15, ISAIAH 7:1-9
Wednesday, 3/13/19 ISAIAH 7:10-8:22
Thursday, 3/14/19 ISAIAH 9:1-10:4
Friday, 3/15/19 ISAIAH 10:5-10:34
Saturday, 3/16/19 ISAIAH 11:1-12:6, ISAIAH 17:1-14
Sunday, 3/17/19 2 CHRONICLES 28:16-21, 2 KINGS 16:10-18, 2 CHRONICLES 28:22-25,
2 KINGS 18:1-8, 2 CHRONICLES 29:1-2, 2 KINGS 15:30-31, 2 KINGS 17:1-4
Answers to: How much do you know?
1) He was raising sheep and cultivating figs. 2) Amos was from the Southern Kingdom of Judah and was sent to preach to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. 3) Burden or burden carrier.This is a long form text area designed for your content that you can fill up with as many words as your heart desires. You can write articles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.
Articles – Good topics for articles include anything related to your company – recent changes to operations, the latest company softball game – or the industry you’re in. General business trends (think national and even international) are great article fodder, too.
Mission statements – You can tell a lot about a company by its mission statement. Don’t have one? Now might be a good time to create one and post it here. A good mission statement tells you what drives a company to do what it does.
Company policies – Are there company policies that are particularly important to your business? Perhaps your unlimited paternity/maternity leave policy has endeared you to employees across the company. This is a good place to talk about that.
Executive profiles – A company is only as strong as its executive leadership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.
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