For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

Amos means to lade, to burden; and Tekoa a trumpet blast: to thrust.  The word used for herdmen in 1:1 denotes a sheep breeder rather than a shepherd; and in 7:14 he describes himself also as a herdman, literally a cattleman, and as a dresser of sycamore trees, or preparer of sycamore fruit, though it seems that he was the employer or at least manager of those who did this work, so that he is generally considered to have been relatively well off.

His command of language also indicates that he was educated, and therefore not poor.

Though he himself was from Judah, his ministry, which lasted for just about a year, was to Israel, the ten northern tribes, and is estimated to have been in c. 760 B.C., for the earthquake mentioned in 1:1 is believed to have occurred in that year.  He prophesied during the reign of Uzziah in Judah, and of Jeroboam II in Israel; and Bethel, the principal center of idolatry where one of the golden calves had been set up, appears to have been the place where most of his ministry was exercised.

The time was one of great material prosperity, but, as almost invariably, of corresponding spiritual penury, for it seems that material prosperity, and independence of God, are Siamese twins.  And also, as always, independence of God was accompanied by proliferation of evil, and it was against that moral corruption that Amos inveighed, and foretold the judgment with which it would be punished, his prophecy being but the affirmation of the warning given Israel in Dt 28:15-68.

Judgment upon Israel for their flagrant sin was the essence of his message; but the warning isn’t limited to Israel: it applies also to our twenty-first century world which has duplicated their sin in even fuller measure; and as God’s judgment destroyed them so will it also destroy today’s nations in the impending Tribulation.

There was no possibility of reprieve for Israel, or for any of the other nations mentioned.  They had crossed over the invisible line which separates God’s mercy from His wrath; and so has our twenty-first century world.  Nothing can avert the coming Tribulation judgments which will devastate the earth prior to Christ’s return to inaugurate His millennial kingdom, for rebellion against God, and the resultant moral corruption, are as great today as then.

While the nations plunge on to their inescapable doom, there is, however, still individual personal salvation available to every man who will confess himself a sinner, repent, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior.  The man who rejects or just neglects that salvation is of all fools the greatest, for he who refuses to see that God’s past judgments are nothing less than previews of those even more terrible which are about to envelop the earth, is incapable of rational thinking.  Israel’s history is the prewritten history of the whole world.  But as it was in the days of Amos, so is it also today.  They were too busy with the world’s business, pleasures, and sin, to heed the prophet’s warnings; and today’s society, equally busy with the same sinful distractions, is equally heedless of warning. 

Nor was their rejection of the warning merely passive.  They hated both the message and the messengers, and sought by every means in their power to cut off both.  And so is it today, the only difference being that the opposition is more subtle.  Exposure and denunciation of sin have been made illegal by the simple expedient of legalizing the sin.  Consider just a few examples.  Fornication and adultery are covered up by the wholesale slaughter of unborn infants through “legalized abortion.”  “An affair” is the euphemism which assigns legality and respectability to adultery and fornication.  The sanctity of marriage has been made a travesty by “living together on trial,” and by divorce.  

Contraceptives made available to our youth through our schools, not only promote the gratification of lust, but cause chastity to be laughed at as old fashioned.

Homosexual activity, which God in both Old and New Testaments declares to be a capital offence, has been legalized, and denunciation of the evil made illegal! 

The biblical account of creation may not be taught in our schools, but God Himself is made a liar by the teaching instead of the unproven, unscientific and puerile theory of evolution, which is rejected by the vast majority of legitimate scientists.

Every heathen religion may be freely discussed in our schools, but not Christianity.  Prayer, and the reading of the Bible have been outlawed in our schools.

Our legal system has become a travesty through which plea bargaining, and hair-splitting definitions of the law by high priced lawyers, win acquittal for the wealthy, and leave the poor virtually defenseless in our law courts.

We have, in fact, become a moral cesspool, the worldwide distribution of our moral filth, through films and TV, disgusting and angering heathen nations with far higher moral standards, who bitterly deplore the moral corruption of their young people through our films and TV.

Our dress standards are dictated by a handful of depraved designers, so that every year sees nudity becoming more of a reality.  Look, for example, at plunging necklines, exposed midriffs, skin-tight clothing, bathing suits that leave little to the imagination, skirts and dresses so skimpy or with such long slits as to leave no doubt of their being designed to arouse male passion.

Consider our popular literature: the best sellers are those whose vulgarity and sexual explicitness are disgusting to all but the depraved tastes of the majority of the population.

In the repeated phrase found throughout the first two chapters of Amos, “For three transgressions ... and for four,” God is declaring in dramatic metaphor the truth that Israel and the nations of that day had filled their cup of iniquity to overflowing.  The iniquity of today’s world is more correctly described as a raging tide than an overflowing cup!

Before beginning our verse by verse study of the book, it may be helpful to review briefly what had led up to the deplorable state which had provoked God’s wrath, and ensured His judgment.

Following Solomon’s death, the nation divided into two parts, Judah (Judah and Benjamin) in the south, remaining loyal to the house of David as represented by Solomon’s son Rehoboam; the other ten tribes (Israel) in the north, giving their allegiance to Jeroboam I.  He, fearing that the return of those ten tribes to Jerusalem to worship, would eventually result also in the return of their allegiance to Rehoboam, set up a golden calf in Dan in the north, and another in Bethel in the south, and established his own order of priests, under the pretext of making it more convenient for Israel to worship in those two places rather than making the journey to Jerusalem.

It isn’t surprising therefore that the worship of the ten northern tribes (Israel) soon degenerated into a travesty which preserved the outward form of the worship of Jehovah, but which included also the worship of Baal and other Canaanite gods, and involved all the accompanying gross licentiousness which was part of that so-called worship.  The result was that the Divine regulations governing all their business and social activities were also quickly abandoned, so that they weltered in every form of evil.  The rich oppressed the poor, and stopped at nothing to get richer, the corruption of the judges facilitating this plundering of the poor, and making a mockery of justice.

The immorality facilitated by the religious prostitutes (male and female) associated with the worship of the Baalim, quickly infected all society, until the nation had become as described by Isaiah, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment,” Isa 1:6.  Only the spiritually blind will refuse to acknowledge that the same symbolic picture describes our twenty-first century world.

The result was that a holy God, Whose pleas for repentance had been rejected and mocked, Whose warnings had been ignored, Whose patience had been exhausted, was now about to do “His strange work,” Isa 28:21, i.e., execute judgment!  Today’s world has likewise fitted itself for the same fate.

[Amos 1]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough