Amos

God Hates Worship When It Is Paired With Injustice

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The meat! And what to do about it!

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Material for Church leaders and Tertiary level students

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The Key
The Key to unlocking the dynamic

The key to unlocking the dynamic of Amos is to understand the historical developments that over 200 years have brought the northern kingdom of Israel to the point and context where Amos is compelled to deliver his prophetic messages. The archaeological discoveries at Tirzah also shed enormous light on this context into which Amos prophesies. The subsequent historical events, specifically the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel and the deportation of their communities to Assyria in 722BCE add a sobering perspective to this book.


hear
Hear
Listen Here

Click on the link above for an audio version of Amos.

 

Download a Bible App for your smart phone and listen when you’re at the gym, travelling etc …


Read
Read

Easy:   Read Amos right the way through, but because of his style of writing short statements, some of which are verse (rather than prose), I recommend taking careful attention to the structure of Amos. If your situation allows, read Amos aloud.

 

Main:   Read Amos several times – make your own notes. (While BfL encourages the use of ‘translations’, in the case of Amos 5, I strongly recommend Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message.)


Watch
Watch
Watch here

A film that portrays the arrogance of the religious nobility: ‘A tale of Two Cities’


Study
Study

Consider carefully:

QQQ: What was wrong with the northern kingdom? What was at fault with their worship?

QQQ: Describe Amos’ character. What sort of man was he? What motivated him? What made him so concerned about what was happening in the northern kingdom? Study the way he intercedes in 7:1-9.


Meditate
Meditate

Begin your time with God each day by taking one or two verses, ‘wallowing in them deeply’, and then live the rest of the day in the light of their truths.

 

Suggested verses for meditation …

2:4   ‘This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Judah even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, gods their ancestors followed.’

3:2   “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for your sins.”

5:24   ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.’

6:6   ‘… but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.’

9:11   ‘In that day “I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.’


learn
Learn

Consider learning:

 

5:24   ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.’

6:6   ‘… but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.’

 


Challenge
The Challenge

The Challenge

 

Explanation:  We all learn in different ways. This section is for those who find that being challenged spurs them on to master a subject.

 

Here are ten questions about ‘Amos’. See how you score. The answers are at the bottom of the page. 

 

Easy:

Q1   Who was the leading opponent to Amos’ prophetic ministry at Bethel?

Q2   What was the reason that Amos proclaims judgement on Israel’s neighbouring nations (1:3 – 2:3)?

Q3    What is Amos’ own response to the prophetic warning that he brings?

 

Straightforward:

Q4   What type of idol had Jeroboam son of Nebat put in the sanctuary at Dan?

Q5   What specific feature of the lifestyle of the rich and powerful seems to have especially concerned Amos?

Q6   Why was Amos’ prophetic judgement against Amaziah so severe?

 

Difficult:

Q7   Why have the archaeological discoveries at Tirzah been so important in understanding Amos’ prophetic messages?

Q8   Why were the rich and powerful people of the northern kingdom looking forward to ‘The Day of the Lord’ (5:18)?

 

Testing:

Q9   Why does Amos not intercede for the people after the Lord shows him the picture of the plumb-line?

 Q10   What principles of judgement operate in Amos’ ministry?

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

A1 – Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (7:1-9).

A2 – Their violence against each other.  

A3 – The very first thing he does is to engage in heartfelt intercession for the northern kingdom.

A4 – An idol of a bull. The implication is that similar idols were placed in the sanctuaries at Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba (1 Kings 12:25-33, Amos 8:14).

A5 – They had two houses, a winter house and a summer house (3:15, 5:11, 6:11).

A6 – Amos was God’s chosen prophet to the northern nation. To publicly reject Amos was to publicly reject God’s message of warning to the whole northern kingdom. Amaziah was therefore standing directly in the way God’s work to restore and heal the northern Israelites. Something similar is happening in the story of Elijah and the group of aggressive yobs (2 Kings 2:23-25).

A7 – The grouping of the houses and the change in the house sizes over 200 years demonstrates the way the economic power had become concentrated in the hands of the nobility, while the general mass of the population suffered terribly.

A8 – They seem to have assumed that their riches were a sign that God approved of them, and therefore when the Day of the Lord came they expected the Lord would extend their power over the Gentile nations. 

A9 – The plumb-line demonstrates that the wall is tilting very badly and is on the point of crashing down. This means that the spiritual state of the people of the northern kingdom is so rotten and corrupt that despite Amos’ prophesying, and his intercession, there is no genuine repentance, or any serious desire to change their behaviour and lifestyle. It is therefore only a matter of time before they reap the results of the very decisions they have chosen.

A10 – It seems that Amos prophecies judgement on the basis that the aggressors will suffer the violence that they have done to others. The rich have condoned a system of economic slavery in order to have more than one house, so Amos prophesies that they will lose the houses that they have. And those who have been arrogant and have not ‘grieved over the ruin of Israel’ (6:6), when they had both the responsibility and power to do so, will be the very ones who are first to go into slavery. At the macro level the ethical norms of the creator of the universe apply equally to all peoples and individuals.

 

 

taster course

Overview

Questions

5 mins

    • Video - The book explained in 4 minutes
    • Video
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    • Summary

    Summary & Exhortation

     

    Sometime around 950BCE, soon after Israel split into two nations, Jeroboam I the king of the northern kingdom of Israel set up calf idols in sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel. Two hundred years later, around 750BCE, Amos, a shepherd from the village of Tekoa just 10m miles south of Jerusalem, went to the sanctuary at Bethel and prophesied against the injustices of the northern kingdom. During those two centuries the social condition in the northern kingdom had changed from an egalitarian society to one marked with deep segregation between the rich and poor. What disturbed Amos most acutely was the hypocrisy of the religious rich, in that their apparent devotion to God in their festivals and at their shrines was contradicted by their ruthless exploitation of the poor. Assuming that their wealth was evidence of their righteous standing before God, they looked forward to the ‘Day of the Lord’ assuming it would bring them the further privilege of ruling over the nations. Amos prophesies that the very opposite will happen, not only will ‘the Day of the Lord’ be a day of complete destruction, but he warned them that this was now both certain and imminent. The sobering evidence is that the northern kingdom was twice defeated in 722BC and then again in 710BC and its people were deported hundreds of miles away to Mesopotamia as slaves, never to return.

     

    The nine chapters of Amos divide into two sections. In the first six chapters Amos challenges the people in three leading addresses; the final three chapters describe three responses. There is a steady rising climax through the book which begins with judgements against the neighbouring nations for their cruelty (1:2-2:3), then Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel are judged for failing to keep the covenant law (2:4-16). Chapters 3 and 4 are judgements on the whole ‘family of Israel’ with a particular focus on the rich bullying women. But Amos’ addresses reach a crescendo in his third address directed against the leading powerful men for exploiting the poor while failing to ‘grieve over the ruin of Israel’ (6:6). Amos then responds to his own message with deep, grieving, heartfelt intercession. But the second response, by Amaziah the priest at Bethel, is a total and public rejection of God’s message through Amos. The third response is by the Lord himself who as Judge passes sentence on the people of the northern kingdom. The very final verses speak of hope after the judgement and the restoration of David’s fallen tent (9:11).

     

    Amos sees the root evil in the northern kingdom’s syncretistic worship, which despite being beautiful, devoted and sincere, was not lived out by protecting the poor and the upholding of justice in the courts. Such worship is a disgusting insult to God. ‘He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen’ (1 John 4:20). God’s ethical imperatives apply equally, without exception, to all nations and people groups. So, since God’s people in the northern kingdom of Israel were consistently abusing the poor, despite God’s patience and warning over many years, they had forfeited their privileged status as God’s people and would now be deported from their land. They would therefore be an example to the world of God’s justice. Only a tiny remnant would survive and partake in the salvation purposes of God in the coming centuries.

     

    The book of Amos describes God’s reluctant action against those nations that have experienced His grace, but have consistently turned from Him to injustice (2:6), immorality (2:7) and idolatry (2:8). In the 21st Century the disparity between rich and poor is more extreme than ever in human history. Amos is a penetrating warning to all Christians that God hates worship without justice; the book is an exhortation that all who love Jesus must fight for justice for the oppressed.

    Summary >
    taster Questions - Questions to start you off

    Question 1 -

    What is your favourite passage in Amos?


    Question 2 -

    Should a brilliant young footballer be paid £20,000 a week for one game of football?


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    Question 3 -

    Bill Gates amassed a personal fortune of around $75bn, and Warren Buffet made around $40bn – both have announced that they are in the process of giving most of these funds away. Comment on this well-established pattern of philanthropy in America.


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    Question 4 -

    Are the British courts just?


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    starter course

    podcasts

    the essentials

    Questions

    10 mins

    • podcasts - 3 to 5 minute ‘Teach-Ins’ on key themes
    • Themes

    Amos - The Intercessor

    Amos - The Prophet

      the essentials - The literary features explained
    • Context
    • /
    • Literary Genre
    • /
    • Structure
    • /
    • Themes

    Context:

    When seeking to hear the message of a Biblical book it is always essential to begin by studying very carefully the context in which it was written; this is especially the case with Amos.

     

    Historical Context: At around 1000 – 970BCE King David established the Monarchy in Jerusalem. After his death King Solomon (around 970 – 931 BC) further established the kingdom during a period of economic prosperity. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split in two. Jeroboam I established himself as king of the northern kingdom, while Rehoboan was king of Judah.

    Yahweh had commanded that all his people were to worship at one chosen place, (which was later identified as Jerusalem – 2 Samuel 6), and that only the Levites were to be the priests. However, in order to secure his rule in the northern kingdom, Jeroboam specifically disobeyed these commands and built temple sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan so that the northern tribes would not need to travel to Jerusalem. He also established his own priesthood, employing people who were not Levites, and his own system of sacrifices and feasts. 1 Kings 12:25–33 describes this in detail, and should be studied carefully as it describes the beginning of the root problem that Amos addresses. As a direct result, for around 200 years the northern Kingdom was ruled by ungodly kings, disloyal to Yahweh, during which time the people in the northern kingdom of Israel practiced syncretic worship (mixing the worship of God and paganism).

    In 786-746BC, during the reign of Jerobaom II, the imperial power of Assyria in the north waned and Jeroboam II was successful in pursuing a policy of vigorous expansion east of the Jordan river. During his reign there was peace and prosperity – indeed for many in the nation there was sudden prosperity (similar to what has happened in Britain in the decades since World War II).

    However, whereas there had been social equality two hundred years earlier, there was now a stark contrast between the luxury of the rich and the misery of the poor. Amos specifically addresses this, mentioning the winter and summer houses (3:15, 6:11) and exploitation of the poor by the rich (2:6, 8:6).

    Archaeological discoveries at a village called Tirzah show evidence of a social revolution that had occurred. In the 10th Century BCE the city’s houses were uniform in size. But 200 years later in the 8th Century BC there were some large, expensive houses separated from other areas where small houses are huddled together.

    Date: The dating of Amos’ ministry (1:1), is not particularly helpful. Being in an earthquake zone, earthquakes have happened in that region throughout history. Jeroboam II began his reign over the northern kingdom of Israel in 793BCE, and King Uzziah died in 739BCE. It is most likely that Amos’ period prophesying at Bethel took place near the end of the period, that is sometime around 755-50BCE.

     

    Amos – The Man: A shepherd – farmer who owned sheep (1:1). ‘I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees’ (7:14). He lived in Tekoa, 6 miles south of Bethlehem, and 10 miles south-east of Jerusalem. Although he was not a prophet, like Samuel or Elijah, we can recognise the effect of his prophetic message because the Priest at Bethel tried to ban him (7:12).

     

    Result: In 745BCE, a few years after Amos prophesied, Tiglath-Pileser III became King of Assyria, (the imperial power to the north east of Damascus). In 722/721BCE Assyria defeated the northern kingdom of Israel, and in 710BCE Shalmanser of Assyria defeated Samaria and deported the people, and they never properly returned.

    Genre:

    Although the message of Amos is easy enough to understand, the style of writing is complicated. The author uses many different literary genres interchangeably: satire, metaphor, rhetorical questions and parody. Most of the nine chapters are written in poetic verse. Amos often uses poetic contrasts to make his point (for example, 9:3). He speaks in short statements. He often refers briefly to towns in order to remind people of a key historical event in that place.

    The Structure of Amos

    There is a clear structure of the book of Amos. The first six chapters contain three addresses by the prophet in which he challenges the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to repent and turn from their corrupt worship and their brutal injustice to the poor. The second part – the last three chapters – describe the response of Amos himself, and Amaziah the leading priest, before the Lord himself as Judge passes His sentence.

     

    Challenge:

    1:1   Title Introduction

    1:2 – 2:16   First Address: Judgements on the nations around Israel (1:2-2:5) building up to a judgement on the nation of Israel itself (2:6-16).

    3:1 – 4:13   Second Address: Judgement on the ‘Family of Israel’ (3:1-15) focusing on the hypocritical worship of the bullying ‘Rich, powerful Israelite women’ (4:1-13).

    5:1 – 6:7   Third Address: Judgement on the ‘House of Israel’ (5:1-27) focusing on injustice of the ‘Leading Israelite men’ (6:1-7).

    6:8-14   A Summary of Amos’ prophetic judgement on Israel.

     

    Response:

    7:1-9   Amos responds with deep intercession

    7:10-17   Amaziah rejects Amos and his message

    8:1-9:15   The Lord passes Judgment on the northern kingdom

    Themes:

    1) Worship (no matter how beautiful or sincere) that is not lived out in society by the protection of the poor and the upholding of justice in the courts is a disgusting insult to God. ‘He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen’ (1 John 4:20)

     

    2) God’s ethical imperatives apply equally to all nations and people groups without exception.

     

    3) Since God’s people in the northern kingdom of Israel were consistently abusing the poor, despite God’s patience and warning over many years, they had forfeited their privileged status as God’s people and would now be defeated and deported from their land. They would therefore be an example to the world of God’s justice.

     

    4) So, although the people of the northern kingdom longed for ‘the day of the Lord’ when they would be given the privilege of ruling the nations, they were about to find that when it came about they would be completely destroyed.

     

    5)Nevertheless, one day a tiny remnant would return and be part of God’s salvation purposes for the world.

    Literary Genre >
    starter Questions - To help you think carefully about the key issues

    Question 1 -

    Have you done any specific practical thing for people in need in the last 12 months?


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    Question 2 -

    The USA has placed its NASA spaceflight programme on hold. Which is most important, the abolishing of human trafficking, or the exploring and understanding space?


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    Question 3 -

    Read Amos 3:15 - Should disciples of Jesus own more than one house while many throughout the world are destitute and homeless?


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    Question 4 -

    Read Amos 6:6 – What do you grieve over?


    main course

    Verse by Verse

    The Apprentice

    Questions

    • Verse by Verse - For a thorough understanding of the Biblical text
    • 1st Challenge: Amos 1-2
    • /
    • 2nd Challenge: Amos 3-4
    • /
    • 3rd Challenge: Amos 5 - 6
    • /
    • Summary Challenge: Amos 6:8-14
    • /
    • 1st Response: Amos
    • /
    • 2nd Response: Amaziah
    • /
    • 3rd Response: The Lord

    Part 1 – Challenge

     

    Introduction: The man and his message         Amos 1:1

    Nothing else is known about the man “Amos” apart from what is said in this verse, and his own statement in 7:14-15; ‘I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”’ The dating of Amos’ ministry is only partially helpful. Being in an earthquake zone, earthquakes have happened in that region throughout history, nevertheless this earthquake seems to have been particularly violent, possibly the one mentioned in Zechariah 14:5. Jeroboam 2nd began his reign over the northern kingdom of Israel in 793BCE, and King Uzziah died in 739BCE. Amos’ period prophesying at Bethel seems to have been towards the end of this period, that is sometime around 750-40BCE. These references underline the historicity of the man and his ministry. Since shepherds were at the very bottom of the social order his calling to speak boldly and warn those at the very top gives an insight into the nature of God’s calling for disciples of Jesus. It is however possible that the word used for ‘shepherd’ means that Amos was supervising a number of shepherds. Tekoa was a small village to the South East of Bethlehem in Judah.

     

    Prophetic messages of judgement   Amos 1:2 – 6:14

    The first six chapters contain three addresses by the prophet in which he challenges the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to repent and turn from their corrupt worship and their brutal injustice to the poor.

     

     

    Amos 1 & 2   First Address: Amos’ prophecies to the nations

    In his first address Amos prophesies to the nations around Israel (1:2-2:5). This builds up to a judgement on the nation of the northern kingdom of Israel (2:6-16).

     

    1:2 – 2:5   Judgement on the nations around Israel

    This introductory section is a list of short prophetic judgements spoken by Amos against the ‘communities’ around Israel. There is no clear order except that those furthest from Israel, Damascus and Tyre, are mentioned first and third, while Judah, which was at the southern border of Israel, and which was ethnically closest to the people of Israel, is mentioned last. Each of these short judgements follows a set order.

    • Opening statement: ‘for three sins of “X” even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. This poetic phrase seems to address the totality of the community’s evil.
    • A brief description of the sin that is causing this judgement.
    • A sentence of Judgement; ‘I will send fire … that will consume …’ followed by a short elaboration.
    • A final statement that this is what the Lord has said.

     

    The first six ‘communities’ (Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab), are judged because of their violence to other ‘communities’ (particularly Edom and Gilead), but the seventh, Judah, is judged because they have rejected ‘the law of the Lord’ (2:6) and committed idolatry. This principle of judgement seems to follow that described in Romans 2:5-16 – that humanity will be judged according to the light we have received.

    V2   This sentence gives a sense of the warning that is coming. It is a pictorial image of the severity of Amos’ message. Amos will use the illustration of the lion again, it is a picture both of his ministry, but more significantly the Lord’s voice through his words. ‘Jerusalem’ was the true place for anointed worship, in contrast to Dan, Bethel and Beersheba. ‘Carmel’ is the mountain where God intervened with fire on behalf of the prophet Elijah, and the pastures of the shepherds perhaps represent the common land given by God to his people.

    V7-8   Amos mentions four of the five main Philistine cities.

    V9   Tyre has committed the same inhumane acts as the Philistines, but in addition they have broken the covenant of brotherhood – this may have been a national covenant such as that mentioned in 1 Kings 5:12.

    V11   Edom is judged for unforgiving anger which is probably a reference to the perpetual enmity between Israel and Judah, and Edom since the Edomites attacked God’s people in the desert.

    V13   Ammon was to the East of Israel, (north of Edom, and south of Syria). There was constant warfare over land in that area. Ammon is specifically judged for its violence, even against pregnant women.

    2:1   The significance of this prophecy is that Moab’s sin is not directed against either Israel or Judah, but against Edom. This demonstrates the universal justice that God expects of all ethnic people groups.

     

    2:6 – 16   Judgement on the nation of Israel

    This ‘judgement’ prophecy on Israel is the crescendo of the sequence that began in 1:3. Whereas Israel’s religious authorities, leaders and nobility expected a shining commendation from the Lord, instead, Amos denounces them, citing their unjust practices (v6-8). Despite saving them from the Egyptians, driving out the powerful Ammonites and giving them their land (v9-10), they have silenced the godly among them (v11-12). So Amos, in his first specific prophecy, states that their armies will be defeated and thoroughly crushed (v13-16).

    V6-8   Instead of helping their fellow countrymen, the rich were taking advantage of them and “selling them”. They were denying justice and practicing injustice. They were immoral. They worshipped idols. Wine may be payment for unjust fines.

    V11-12   Nazarites were the ‘monks’ of the Old Covenant. The Nazarite vow is described in Numbers 6. They seem to have been members of the Israelite community who were not Levites and therefore could not be priests. Amos seems to align himself with them, and it is possible that he himself had taken a Nazarite vow.

    V13   This is a graphic description of total destruction. Most of the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser 3rd during his campaigns of 733-732 BCE. In order to crush opposition from the peoples they conquered the Assyrians deported whole communities for slave labour throughout their empire. 2 Kings 15:27-31 describes how Tiglath-Pileser III did this to the communities in the northern kingdom. By 722BCE the northern kingdom of Israel had ceased to exist. Only a small trickle of them ever returned, and those that did were never considered to be proper Jews by the people of Judah because they had intermarried with other nations – this was the background to Jesus’ conversation with the women at the Samaritan well in John 4.

     

    Amos 3 & 4   Second Address: Amos’ prophecies to ‘The Family of Israel’

    In his second address Amos prophesies Judgement on the ‘Family of Israel’ (3:1-15) focusing on the hypocritical worship of the bullying ‘Rich, powerful Israelite women (4:1-13). This is the most diffuse of Amos’ three main addresses, touching on several different features of God’s message to His people.

     

    3:1 – 15   Judgement on ‘The Family of Israel’

    V2   Few verses express the doctrine of election more clearly than this verse. God chose the Jews to be an example to every nation of the blessing that comes when His law is followed; they were to be God’s light to the nations. But instead the Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel had turned their privileged calling into an excuse to bully the poor. So instead of taking up their unique opportunity to become an example of righteousness to the world, they became an example to the world of God’s intervening judgement for their appalling injustice.

    V3-6   Difficult verses to understand, but through this series of different images Amos seems to be emphasising the principle of ‘cause and effect’. His point seems to be that since consequences result from every situation, the most severe consequences will emerge from Israel’s injustices, immorality and idolatry (as described in 2:6-8).

    V7-8   Despite his humble origin, Amos takes the opportunities he has (see 1:2, 4:13a, 7:1-9) to ‘teach’ about the prophetic ministry and how it operates. The Nazarites in the northern kingdom had been silenced (2:11-12), and the priesthood at Bethel was in league with the corrupt king, Jeroboam II (7:10-12).

    V9-10   There is an irony to these verses. Amos summons the Philistines and the Egyptians – the enemies of Israel – to come and see for themselves the shocking social oppression and bullying in the heart of the Israelite community in Samaria. The ‘plunder’ and the ‘looting’ seems to be a reference to the rich amassing wealth at the expense of the poor. Amos describes ‘their couches’ (v13), and their ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ houses decorated in ‘ivory’ (v15).

     

    4:1 – 3   Judgement on the powerful women

    The ‘cows of Bashan’ are the rich, powerful women of the nobility of Israel. They are bullies who ‘oppress the poor and crush the needy’, and live in luxury biding their husbands, ‘”Bring us some drinks”’. Amos warns that they will be taken away as slaves; they will receive the very same suffering they have themselves inflicted on the poor.

    V2-3   There is some evidence indicating that the Assyrians did exactly this – those they captured in battle were led away with rings in their noses.

     

    4:4   Judgement on ‘The worship at Bethel’

    These rich and powerful women have been active worshippers at the sanctuaries at Bethel and Gilgal. There they have not only worshipped regularly, giving regular tithes and freewill offerings, but they have been arrogant and self-centred and have boasted freely that these pious acts demonstrate their commitment to God and their right-standing before him. Here we touch the very heart of Amos’ prophetic message: worship with injustice disgusts God. Commitment to prayer and worship are worthless if they are offered by those who bully and crush the poor.

    V4   The shrines set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel were a direct contradiction of the commands of Moses, and were a specific repeat of the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 33). Jeroboam also appointed non-Levite priests to run these shrines. By Amos’ time there was also a shrine at Gilgal.

     

    4:5 – 13   God’s warning – prepare to meet your God

    Amos then argues, from a series of five examples, that the ostentatious worship of these women was actually a complete sham. If they thought their religious commitment was acceptable to God they were deluded. Again and again God had tried to get their attention, … ‘yet you have not returned to me’. He gave them hunger (v6), drought (v7-8), mildew (v9), plagues (v10), and even destroyed some communities (v11), but the people of the northern kingdom of Israel refused to return to God. So, Amos states, if you will not meet with God, God will meet with you! So the great Day of the Lord that the people were looking forward to, when they expected to be rewarded with governance of the nations, will be instead a day of darkness (not dawn) and a day when those who thought themselves so privileged find they are facing a future of devastation.

    V13   This is one of Amos’ typical summary verses (1:2, 6:8). It marks the end of the series of prophetic judgements on ‘the family of Israel’.

     

    Amos 5 & 6   Third Address: Amos prophesies to the ‘House of Israel’

    In his third address, Amos warns of judgement on the ‘House of Israel’ because of their injustice (5:1-27). This builds to a strong warning to the ‘Leading Israelite men’ (6:1-7).

     

    5:1-2   Introduction

    Amos states clearly that this third prophetic message of judgement is directed to the ‘House of Israel’. He describes it as a ‘lament’. As is his pattern (1:2, 3:2, 6:8), he starts with a poetic verse summarising the whole message (v2).

     

    5:3   First prophecy:   Defeat in battle

    Amos directly reverses Moses’ statement of victory (Deuteronomy 28:7 & 25).

     

    5:4-15   Second prophecy:   Seek the Lord and turn from injustice

    Verses 3-4, and 14-15, are both appeals to the people of Israel to ‘Seek the Lord’ and turn from the corrupted religion of the sanctuaries of the northern kingdom. Verses 5-13 contain three statements articulating the injustices of their judicial system: ‘You turn justice into bitterness’ (v7), ‘You hate the one who reproves in court’ (v10), and ‘You trample on the poor’ (v11). Amos summarises these accusations in v12: ‘You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.’ It is imperative to realise that in sandwiching his charge of injustice within the two ‘book-ends’, (v3-4 & 14-15), addressing the corrupted religion at Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba, Amos is stating that their perverted and hypocritical worship is directly responsible for the perverted and sham justice of their courts.

    V8   In some pagan thought the stars were considered to be ‘gods’. Amos reminds them that the God himself made the constellations; see v26.

    V26   The people had ‘lifted up’, (worshipped), the star gods in the shrine of the king – full blooded pagan worship!

     

    5:16   Third prophecy:   A time of deep mourning is coming.

    The northern kingdom of Israel will mourn when God visits.

     

    5:17-27   A severe warning to those who ‘Long for the day of the Lord’  

    The wealthy are always prone to thinking that their riches are a sign of God’s approval and blessing. This was certainly the case among the ‘Great and the Good’ of the northern kingdom of Israel. But they further assumed that when the promised ‘Day of the Lord’ came, they were the very ones God would appoint to govern the nations of the earth. Amos warns them severely that they should expect nothing but ‘darkness not light’ (v18-20). Then, in the strongest statement in the whole of the book, Amos condemns the entire religious and judicial system of the northern kingdom, stating that God hates and despises their religious feasts and assemblies, their offerings and their worship because these practices are covering over the horrific injustice of their judicial system (v21-24). (Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in ‘The Message’ is especially good on this section.)

    V25-26   This seems to have been one of their boasts; that they had worshipped God since the very earliest days of their existence in the desert. Amos scorns this claim and states that actually they have been practicing pagan worship from the beginning.

    V27   This predictive prophecy was exactly what happened. The Assyrians came from Nineveh (in modern day Iraq) and took whole communities of the northern kingdom into exile as slaves ‘beyond Damascus’ (2 Kings 17:6).

     

    6:1-7   A severe warning to the leading Israelite men

    The focus of Amos’ second prophetic message was the powerful women of the northern kingdom, ‘the cows of Bashan’ (4:1), who lived off their husband’s luxury and bullied the poor. Now, at the climax of his third prophecy, Amos stings his criticism on these women’s husbands: ‘you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation’ (6:1). Amos states that they ‘lie on beds inlaid with ivory, … dine on choice lambs, … and drink wine by the bowlful, … but you do not grieve over the ruin of Israel’ (6:4-6). And since they are the leading men of Israel, Amos states that they will be the first people to be taken into exile.

    V1   ‘…to whom the people come’ – in context, this indicates the judges; those whom the Israelite people approach for justice.

    V6    It is not evil or sinful to be wealthy and powerful (there are several examples of such people who are commended by God in scripture: Abraham, Job, Joseph of Arimathea). But, to quote a popular slogan from Spiderman, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Amos’ charge against these leading powerful men is that while they lounge in their wealth, God’s people are in spiritual ruin and suffering horrible injustice.

    6:8-14   Amos’ summary prophetic judgement on Israel

    The poetic summary verse in v8 indicates Amos is beginning a new address. But in starting with an oath from the Lord, we should understand that Amos is summarising the previous three. The Lord is warning the northern nation that because of their smug ‘pride’ (v8), the unjust distribution of their wealth (v11), and the bitter injustice they allow, they themselves will suffer punishment and be overrun by a foreign enemy (v14), despite their recent victories in battle (v13).

    V8   It is very rare, and of the utmost seriousness, that ‘The sovereign Lord has sworn by himself’ (see Genesis 22:16). This indicates just how serious Israel’s sin is. The poetic summary indicates Amos is beginning a new address; (1:2, 3:2, 5:2).

    V9   Amos is developing the substance of his warning in 5:3.

    V13   During the recent years of prosperity the northern kingdom had successfully taken the cities of Karnaim and Lebo Hamath from the Syrians in military campaigns. These victories had instilled hubris, arrogance and complacency in the northern nation.

    Part 2 – Response

     

    7:1-9   Amos responds with deep intercession

    Amos himself is the very first to respond to the message of judgement that he has himself has brought to the northern kingdom of Israel. In what is surely the most moving part of ‘the book of Amos’, the prophet sees the terrifying destruction that is about to fall on the people he loves so deeply – for whom he left his work and gave himself, despite their resistance, to warn them.   This makes him cry out with  the deepest and most earnest intercession; that the Lord will stay his hand and give time for the northern Israelites to repent, change their society and restore a just judicial system. This is one of the very great passages in scripture describing the ministry of intercession. Anyone who does not weep after studying this passage has neither understood the heart of the prophet Amos nor the ministry of intercession.

    V1-3   The first prophetic picture is of the Lord preparing a locust swarm to ruin the harvest. Amos intercedes and the Lord stays His hand of judgement, thereby giving more time for repentance.

    V4-6   This second picture is of a metaphorical fire that burns up everything even ‘the great deep’. But in a similar way the Lord stays His hand of judgement, after Amos has interceded that the people of the northern kingdom be given more time to repent and correct their society.

    V7-9   The plumb-line shows the wall is not perpendicular, it is crooked and toppling over, and despite years of prophetic warning the plumb line demonstrates beyond any question that it is only a matter of time before the wall collapses – that the nation simply has to receive the results of its own violation of God’s laws. So Amos no longer intercedes for the nation. Despite years of God’s forbearance, and his warnings to them, they are ‘bent on turning from him’ (Hosea 11:7). And so the judgement will fall, and the Assyrians will overrun the nation, and it will be ended for ever. This third prophetic picture gives a full insight into both why the Lord sent Amos to prophesy, and why with the deepest sadness, the Lord reveals to his servant Amos that judgement must now fall. Amos’ addresses (chapters 1-6) have not brought about national repentance, or the changes in the social and judicial practice that were essential to the nation’s survival. So it is only a matter of time before the whole edifice smashes to the ground.

    7:10-17   Amaziah responds by rejecting Amos and his message

    Amaziah was the chief priest at Bethel, the leading worship sanctuary in the northern kingdom of Israel. He articulates the response of the king, Jeroboam II, and those holding social and judicial power. Nevertheless, the very fact that Amaziah thought he should respond, and that it is recorded, demonstrates the hearing and support that Amos and his message had received. After informing the king, Amaziah then tells Amos to stop prophesying and return to his own country of Judah. King Jeroboam and Amaziah, representing both state and church, therefore both clearly reject Amos and his message. Amaziah’s reaction demonstrates that ‘the wall’ in Amos’ third picture has no intention or desire to be rebuilt and become perpendicular. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly the veracity of the Lord’s explanation of the leaning wall that is about to collapse.

    V11   This summary has a similar tone to the ‘summary verses’ with which Amos starts his main addresses; (1:2, 3:2, 5:2, 6:8), but it is much more specific and direct.

    V13   Amaziah’s statement demonstrates that Bethel is the centre of both civil and religious authority. Significantly, Amaziah refers to the centre of worship as ‘the Kings’ sanctuary and the temple of the Kingdom’ rather than using any specific reference to the Temple of the Lord. This is the heart of Amos’ challenge – their religion is all about political power and the protection of the elitism of the wealthy. The king and this chief priest were therefore both ultimately responsible for the corruption and injustice throughout the northern kingdom.

    V14-15   These verses give a fascinating insight into the nature and spectrum of the prophetic ministry. Amos is quite clear that he did not consider himself to be a prophet! He went to speak to the people in the northern kingdom solely because he discerned God himself instructing him: ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’. So this obedient shepherd went and did what God had instructed him to do! As he went, God began to give him revelation. First there was growing conviction that injustice would lead to punishment. So Amos proclaimed this in his main three addresses (chapters 1-6). Then God started to train Amos how to give revelation in ‘pictures’ (7:1, 4, 7) and how to interpret them (7:8).

    V17   Amos replies severely to Amaziah. He will be deported to a pagan country where he will die. His children will be killed by the invading forces, and his widowed wife will have no means to live except prostitution. While this may first appear unduly harsh, and even vindictive, we should consider that in defiantly rejecting Amos’ prophetic message, Amaziah was himself publicly rejecting God’s own prophet who was bringing warning from God himself: don’t touch the Lord’s anointed (2 Sam 1:14, 1 Chron 16:22). Amaziah was therefore rejecting the means God had provided for “saving” the northern kingdom of Israel from the horrifying results of their own destructive behaviour. God had sent Amos as the spokesman for bringing ‘deliverance’ to the northern kingdom, and Amaziah was publicly challenging God’s spokesman. Elijah’s treatment of the bunch of skinheads is a similar Old Testament story (2 Kings 2:23-24).

    8:1 – 9:15   The Lord responds by passing sentence

    Now the Lord himself responds. He shows Amos that the time is now ripe for His intervening judgement, and then gives Amos three final warnings for the people describing what will now happen. The first part of chapter 9 describes the Lord as Judge passing His sentence on the people of the northern kingdom – this is the culmination of the whole of the book of Amos. But God is always gracious and merciful. Even though He may decree that we suffer the full consequences of our sin, there is always a future possibility of life with Him. So the book ends with a beautiful description of the life of the Spirit in the kingdom of God that is promised to and available for every person who repents of their sin and believes in Jesus, and loves and obeys him.

     

    8:1-2   The Lord shows Amos that the time of Judgement has come

    Through the third picture of the plumb-line the Lord had shown Amos that the condition of the northern kingdom of Israel was so corrupted that it was like a buckled, tottering wall that was so dangerously close to collapsing that the only possibility was for it to collapse completely. However, nothing could have confirmed this more clearly than Amaziah’s emphatic rejection of Amos and his message (7:12-13). It is therefore entirely logical that the Lord then shows Amos that the time is ripe for judgement. Despite any challenge Amaziah may make to Amos’ message (7:10-11), the northern kingdom is defiantly unrepentant. The prophetic picture is a riddle; a word play. The Hebrew word “qayits”, translated summer fruit, sounds like “qets” which means end. The harvest is over and but the fruit of the northern kingdom is syncretistic worship and institutional injustice against the poor. The ripeness of the fruit demonstrates that the time for judgement has come. God’s patience is finally exhausted, years of injustice have cumulated to the point where the only possible option is the punishment of sin that is now so fully deserved. Amos warns that the imminent destruction will be terrible – even in the temple of God. Three descriptions of the coming judgement are then introduced with the phrase ‘in that day’.

     

    8:3-8   ‘In that day’; The destruction of the Temple

    The Lord’s judgement will start in the Temple with such power that all that will be left will be; ‘wailing … bodies … silence’ (v3). Amos then repeats the leading charge of their brutal injustice against the poor. He warns that the Lord will never forget or pass over what has happened, but the shock waves will spread out through the country – it will rise like the Nile and fall flat, dead!

    V5   Syncretism: The New Moon ceremony speaks of pagan worship, while the Sabbath is an Old Covenant practice.

    V7   ‘the Pride of Jacob’ could refer to God himself, or, it could mean the pride and hubris of the northern kingdom. The very existence of this verse in the Bible demonstrates that the Lord will never forget.

     

    8:9-12   ‘In that day’; The end of their worship and a famine of God’s word

    Amos uses ‘apocalyptic’ imagery to describe the final end of the worship in the northern kingdom, and since they have rejected the words of the Lord (7:12-13) they will experience a famine of God’s word. Herod heard God’s words from John the Baptist, but he then had him executed. So when Herod finds Jesus standing before him, and he hopes Jesus will perform a miracle, he finds that Jesus only stands in silence (Luke 23:8). Our response to the words of God determines the way we respond to his words in future; ‘Consider carefully what you hear, … with the measure you use it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ (Mark 4:24-25).

    V9   Darkness ‘in broad daylight’ is firstly an ‘apocalyptic image’ of final destruction, but it is also a prophetic foretelling of Jesus’ bearing of the sin of the world on the cross (Matthew 27:45).

     

    8:13-14   ‘In that day’; The nation itself will be ended because of its syncretistic religion

    The god of Dan was the golden calf erected by Jeroboam at Dan; something similar had probably been erected in the sanctuary at Bethel and at Beersheba. Amos prophesied that they would fall and never rise again, and this is exactly what happened. This story is heartbreakingly tragic.

    V14 is one of the clearest statements in Amos that the religion of the northern kingdom was syncretistic – a mix of Judaism and pagan religion.

     

    9:1-10   The Lord’s summary sentence on the northern kingdom  

    This is Amos’ final vision, and it is the crescendo of his prophecy. He sees the Lord as Judge passing sentence on the northern kingdom of Israel. The capitals are the top of the pillars and the thresholds are the base, so the whole column is destroyed. Then follow a series of contrasts that express the total destruction of the northern kingdom; from the top of Mount Carmel to the bottom of the sea, there will be absolutely no hiding place.

    V7   Although called as God’s people to be the light to the nations, the Israelites of the northern kingdom had lost sight of their privileged status because of their long-term disobedience and compromise with syncretistic worship. They had become just like all the other people groups that God moves from region to region. There was nothing distinctive about them.

     

    9:11-15   The Lord promises future restoration and blessing 

    Even though God may pass judgement on those who are unrepentantly disobedient, His purposes for humankind will be perfectly fulfilled. Every book of the Bible leads to the Cross, and because of the Cross there is always a future after the Cross. So in the final verses of the book Amos assures God’s people that the day will come when beyond their ruined civilisation there will come a time of peace and abundance for those who love the Lord. A small remnant of the people of the northern kingdom did return many years later to the land of Samaria, although Jews in Judah did not consider these Samaritans to be true Israelites.

    V11   Since king David made Jerusalem the centres of both civil and religious governance (2 Samuel 6), this promise of the restoration of David’s tent seems to apply to both the re-establishment of true worship (as defined by Jesus in John 4:23-24), and the restoration of political government in Israel (as happened in 1947).

    2nd Challenge: Amos 3-4 >
      The Apprentice - Helping apprentices of Jesus think through the applications
    • Overall Message
    • /
    • Leading Imperatives
    • /
    • Implied Imperatives
    • /
    • Applications
    • /
    • Holy Habits

    The overall message of Amos:

    Amos warns the northern kingdom of Israel that it faces the judgement of God because of three sins; social injustice, idolatry and their economic enslavement of the poor. He teaches that worship (no matter how beautiful or sincere) that is not lived out in society by the protection of the poor and the upholding of justice in the courts is a disgusting insult to God. God’s ethical imperatives apply equally to all nations and people groups without exception. So because God’s people in the northern kingdom of Israel were consistently abusing the poor, despite God’s patience and warning over many years, they had forfeited their privileged status as God’s people and would be deported from their land. They would therefore be an example to the world of God’s justice. Only a tiny remnant would survive to be part of God’s wider salvation purposes for the world. The book of Amos describes God’s reluctant action against those nations that have experienced His grace, but have consistently turned from Him to injustice (2:6), immorality (2:7) and idolatry (2:8). In the 21st Century the disparity between rich and poor is more extreme than ever before in human history. Amos is a penetrating warning for all Christians that God hates worship without justice; it is an exhortation that all who love Jesus must fight for justice for the oppressed.

     

    The leading imperatives:

    5:4,5   Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing. Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.

    5:14,15   Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.

    5:23   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.

    The implied imperatives:

    2:4   Disciples of Jesus must obey the commands of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40)

    2:7  Do not abuse the poor

    2:7  Do not commit immorality

    2:11   Do not silence the godly and prophetic people

    3:2   God holds His sons and daughters to a higher accountability

    4:2   No disciple should use their power, wealth or position to take advantage of the poor

    5:5 Do not participate in syncretistic worship

    6:6   Apprentices of Jesus should take responsibility for interceding for the spiritual state of their nation, and particularly the church they are members of

    7:2   Intercede for those who are guilty and under the impending punishment of God – intercede for them to repent and correct their lifestyles while there is still time

    7:11   Ask God to raise up prophetic people to speak to the nations

    Applications:

    1. Proverbs 31:8Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
    2. Amos 5:4,5Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing. Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.”
    3. 5:14Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
    4. 5:23Away 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.”

     

    Holy Habits: (Holy Habits are patterns of living and lifestyle practices which we choose to do in our lives.  These can be in order to either withdraw from the dominion of the world, such as silence, secrecy, submission, fasting, watching, simple living, or, practices that plunge us into the life of the Kingdom, such as prayer, worship, celebration, study, serving the poor and deprived, etc. They can be as simple as kneeling by your bed and thanking God at the end of the day, or as substantial as attending an annual Christian festival.)

     

    Ideas:

    • Build exercises and patterns into our lives so that ‘serving one another in love’ becomes a natural part of daily life which we do without really thinking.
    • Or, build exercises and living patterns which help us to ‘so to please the Spirit’.
    • The leading application from Amos is that our worship must be lived out together with a genuine commitment to work for justice and minister to the needs of the poor.
    • Direct engagement with issues of justice and social deprivation.
    Leading Imperatives >
    main Questions - Important questions directly from the text

    Question 1 -

    Amos 4:4: Syncretistic worship is arguably the next huge challenge to Christianity in the West. How should disciples respond?


    watch video

    Question 2 -

    Amos 5 contains the focus of Amos’ charge against the northern kingdom. Make a careful list of the specific features of injustice that he identifies.


    Question 3 -

    Did Amos commit the sin of Jonah?


    watch video

    Question 4 -

    Amos 7:10-17: Amaziah responds by publicly rejecting Amos and his message. Have you ever seen a Church leader publicly reject Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom? Have you seen a Church leader publicly reject the teaching of the New Testament?


    Question 5 -

    Amos 9:1-10: In this passage the Lord passes sentence on the northern kingdom of Israel. Within a generation (722BC), the country had been overrun by the Assyrians, and the people deported to Nineveh to be slaves. Only a tiny remnant returned, and the northern nation was never reconstituted. Why did the Lord pass this sentence? What are the details of the sentence? What was the Lord’s purpose in passing this sentence?


    Question 6 -

    Did you sense God speaking to you through your study of Amos? Articulate in writing what you sensed God saying. What are you going to do about it?


    dessert course

    A prayer

    Questions

    • A prayer -
    • Prayer
    • /
    • Commentaries
    • /
    • Sermon Series

    A Prayer based on Amos

    O God, the Father of the Fatherless, who cares for the widow, the foreigner and the poor, we repent for so often pursuing riches, comfort and pleasure at the expense of those who are disadvantaged. Grant us grace to establish justice, equality and freedom in our nation, that our worship may be acceptable to you, and our lives worthy of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

     

    Commentary on the Prayer:

    O God, the Father of the Fatherless, who cares for the widow, the foreigner and the poor (2:7), we repent for often pursuing riches, comfort and pleasure (4:1, 6:4-6) at the expense of those who are disadvantaged (5:12, 8:6). Grant us grace to establish justice, equality and freedom (5:12, 24) in our nation, that our worship may be acceptable to you, and our lives worthy of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

     

     

    Commentary Comment
    Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Minor Prophets

    (2008)

    The commentary on ‘Amos’ in this compendium is full of useful pithy insights. It is sensibly written and gives a penetrating insight into the book of Amos.
    English Standard Version Study Bible This contains good introductory material, especially on the historical context and the development of the problems in the northern kingdom that Amos addressed. As is often the case, the ESV’s focus on technical accuracy obscures the flow of the overriding picture; consequently, the outline structure misses the development of ‘Amos’.
    Hubbard

    Tyndale Series

    A useful commentary with good information and sensible insights.

     

    Sermon Series on Amos

    (Updated: March 2018)

     

    Series Title:           God wants Worship and Justice

     

    Strategy: Series on minor Prophets are usually best approached with a “short and to the point” strategy. So, rather than systematically preaching through every chapter, it is usually more appropriate to address the message of the (minor) Prophet over a short series of 4 – 6 sermons.

     

    Text Title Subject
     Amos 1 – 2 ‘Amos: a man with a message’ Amos prophesies judgement on the surrounding nations for their cruelty, and on Judah and Israel for rejecting the law of God and abusing the poor.
    Amos 3 – 4 ‘Don’t you see the warnings?’ God uses his prophets and circumstances to warn his people. Amos severely warns the rich powerful women for bullying the poor. This is an opportunity for the preacher to study how God speaks.
    Amos 5 – 6 ‘God hates worship without justice’ If there is injustice, pride and complacency, God loathes the worship. This is the central charge of the book. Amos focuses on the leading, powerful men of the northern kingdom.
    Amos 7:1-9 ‘Amos responds with intercession’ In this deeply moving passage, Amos responds to his own prophetic message with deep and prolonged intercession for God’s people. An opportunity for careful study of the interpretation of visions, and understanding when, and when not to intercede.
    Amos 7:10-17 ‘Amaziah responds by rejecting Amos’ Amaziah’s rejection of Amos’ message should be studied carefully.
    Amos 8:1-9:15 ‘The Lord responds by passing sentence on the people of the northern kingdom’ This is an opportunity to study the judgement of God carefully. He has warned his people, but they have rejected him, so they will receive the results of what they have done. Since they are choosing to live outside the covenant, they will have no protection when the destroying forces (of the Assyrians) attack them. But there is always a future with the Lord, and the book promises that his purpose for His people will one day be fulfilled.

     

    Commentaries >
    dessert Questions - Gloves off; hard questions for the Bible student and theologian

    Question 1 -

    Can a Christian be a magistrate or judge?


    watch video

    Question 2 -

    The overall message of the Bible is that God is invading humanity with the utmost determination and patience in order to save us from the madness of our destructive independent sinfulness. Is the severity of Amos’ message in conflict with this (1:2, 5:2, 5:21, 7:17)? How can we hold the love and severity of God together? What specifically is the danger that Amos warns us about? And in this matter, how and where are we prone to fall?


    Question 3 -

    God is bringing history towards “the new heavens and earth”. We are called to co-labour with Him towards this. Realistically, most disciples can only be involved in one (or perhaps two) justice issues; what criteria should influence our decision about which to be involved with?


    Waiter's Brief

    Coaching Questions

    Questions

    • Coaching Questions -
    • Coaching Questions
    • /
    • Answers to Course Questions
    Discipleship Coaching Session – Amos

     

    Podder: …………………………………………

    10-15 mins:           ‘Hello’ and Beginning

    Set up Skype

    Key current things in your life

    Last pod you said you wanted to make progress in …  How have you got on?

    Prayer:        Ask for the Spirit’s help now.

     

    10/15 – 45 mins:    ‘Understanding the content’

     

    How did you engage with Amos?

    What were the verses that made the greatest impression on you?

     

    What do you want to talk about from your study of Amos?

    Do you have any questions?

     

    What were Amos’ main points?

    Worship without justice

    Syncretistic worship

    Economic bullying

    God’s mercy

    God’s judgement

     

    What is intercession, and what experience do you have of intercession?

     

    *** Use some of the Menu Questions

     

    45 – 55 mins:    Personalised Coaching Qs for the Podder

     

    1)   A QQQ relating Amos to the “P” ’s life-situation

     

    2)   A Coaching QQQ designed to help “P” ’s discipleship.

     

    3)   What Question shall I ask you when we next meet in the light of the application that you are making from your study of Amos?

     

    60 min: Pray the Prayer from Amos: O God, the Father of the Fatherless, who cares for the widow, the foreigner and the poor, we repent for so often pursuing riches, comfort and pleasure at the expense of those who are disadvantaged. Grant us grace to establish justice, equality and freedom in our nation, that our worship may be acceptable to you, and our lives worthy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

     

    Taster Course Questions:

     

    QQQ             

    What is your favourite passage in Amos?

    Comment:

    Perhaps one of the following: 5:21-27, 7:1-9, 9:11-15.

     

    QQQ             

    Should a brilliant young footballer be paid £20,000 a week for one game of football?

    Comment:

    There are many jobs where exceptional brilliance is rewarded with very large remuneration, so there is nothing specifically wrong with footballers achieving this. But Jesus taught us not to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19), and said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24).

     

    QQQ             

    Bill Gates amassed a personal fortune of around $75bn, and Warren Buffet made around $40bn – both have announced that they are in the process of giving most of these funds away. Comment on this well-established pattern of philanthropy in America.

    Comment:

    This is impressive and a welcome example for all humanity to follow. Remember what Jesus said about the widow (Luke 21:4).  

     

    QQQ             

    Are the British courts just?

    Comment:

    In my opinion; yes – for the most part.

     

     

    Starter Course Questions:

    QQQ             

    Have you done any specific practical thing for people in need in the last 12 months?

     

    QQQ             

    The USA has placed its NASA spaceflight programme on hold.  Which is most important, the abolishing of human trafficking, or the exploring and understanding space?

    Comment:

    Abolishing human trafficking (Amos 8:5-7)

     

    QQQ             

    Read Amos 3:15 – Should disciples of Jesus own more than one house while many throughout the world are destitute and homeless?

     

    QQQ             

    Read Amos 6:6 – What do you grieve over?

     

    Main Course Questions:

    QQQ             

    Amos 4:4. Syncretistic worship is arguably the next huge challenge to Christianity in the West. How should disciples respond?

    Comment:

    Paul articulates the limits which disciples of Jesus must not cross in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

     

    QQQ             

    Amos 5 contains the focus of Amos’ charge against the northern kingdom. Make a careful list of the specific features of injustice that he identifies.

     

    QQQ             

    Did Amos commit the sin of Jonah?

    Comment:

    The sin of Jonah was that he longed for the punishment of the wicked (Jonah 4:1-4). In contrast Amos engages three times in committed intentional intercession for the wrath of God to be averted (Amos 7:1-9), until God showed him that the nation’s sin was beyond repairing, it was like a dangerous precipitous wall that was certain to collapse. 

     

    QQQ             

    Amos 7:10-17:  Amaziah responds by publicly rejecting Amos and his message. Have you ever seen a Church leader publicly reject the Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom? Have you seen a Church leader publicly reject the teaching of the New Testament?   

     

    QQQ             

    Amos 9:1-10:  In this passage the Lord passes sentence on the northern kingdom of Israel. Within a generation (722BC), the country had been overrun by the Assyrians, and the people deported to Nineveh to be slaves. Only a tiny remnant returned, and the northern nation was never reconstituted. Why did the Lord pass this sentence? What are the details of the sentence? What was the Lord’s purpose in passing this sentence?

     

    QQQ             

    Did you sense God speaking to you through your study of Amos? Articulate in writing what you sensed God saying. What are you going to do about it?

     

    Dessert Course Questions:

     

    QQQ             

    Can a Christian be a Magistrate or judge?

    Comment:

    Yes, definitely, we are the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13)

     

    QQQ

    The overall message of the Bible is that God is invading humanity with the utmost determination and patience in order to save us from the madness of our destructive independent sinfulness. Is the severity of Amos’ message in conflict with this (1:2, 5:2, 5:21, 7:17)? How can we hold the love and severity of God together? What specifically is the danger that Amos warns us about? And in this matter, how and where are we prone to fall?

     

     

    QQQ             

    God is bringing history towards “the new heavens and earth”. We are called to co-labour with Him towards this. Realistically, most disciples can only be involved in one (or perhaps two) justice issues; what criteria should influence our decision about which to be involved with?

    Comment:

    Tackle the injustices that upset you most. 

     

     

     

     

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