Lesson #2


Amos 1 & 2

The Setting

During the reign of Jeroboam II the northern kingdom of
Israel reached its pinnacle of power, wealth, and luxury. 
But it was steeped in political corruption and religious
decay.  Amos, a shepherd without any previous experience
as a prophet, is called by the Lord to go to Bethel and
prophesy against Israel.  [Q-1]  Where was Amos from and
why might this cause the people to be unreceptive to his

Amos' Beginning

     [Q-2] Arriving at Bethel, the religious capital of Israel,
Amos first reminds the people that the Lord's vengeance will
ROAR from _______________; that is, from
________________, and not from Bethel where they had
their altar to the golden calf (1:2).  This is Amos' diplomatic
way of reminding them of the proper place where God could
be found and worshipped.

     [Q-2] When the Lord ROARS (like a lion leaping on his
prey) what will happen to the pastures and the top of
Carmel? (1:2)
     The Carmel area, known for its fertile gardens, would be
at God's mercy.  The truth that God controls the crops is
every evident in this book.

     Before lighting into Israel and denouncing their sins
Amos begins by telling of God's coming judgment upon the
nations surrounding Israel.  We can imagine the people
stopping to listen to this street prophet as he tells of God's
vengeance upon their enemies.  Getting caught up in his
spell, we can almost hear the "Amens!" from the crowd as
he announces doom for Syria, the Philistines, and the

     We can see the crowd growing around the preacher and
their intense interest in his message, for it deals with their
enemies.  As we survey Amos' message we realize that he
started preaching about those nations farthest away and to
the north.  Next he talks about the Philistines to the south,
then about Tyre, a little closer to the north,  then the
Edomites to the southeast.  Slowly he draws a cricle around
Israel talking about all their surrounding enemies and their
evils and how God will bring them to judgment for their

     Amos then comes to mention God's judgment on Judah
in chapter 2.  We can see the people looking at each other
and saying, "Why this prophet is from Judah!  and he's
preaching at them!  Say on, brother!!"

     But then finally, and this is where Amos was headed all
along, he gets to Israel and God's judgment on her! 
     Now we can almost hear a pin drop!  Now Amos has
stopped preaching and started meddling.  Their mouths drop
open as he castigates them for their social and religious sins.

     The plan of the book of Amos is as follows:
1. Chapter 1 - 2 -- his message about foreign nations.
2. Chapter 3 - 6 -- three sermons to Israel
3. Chapter 7 - 9 -- five visions of God's coming judgment.

     In this lesson we want to survey Amos' message to the
surrounding nations and see some important truths for us
today.  We will notice that: 1) God is concerned about all
the nations of the world;  2) He is in control of their
successes and failures;  3) And there are some evils that are
especially abominable to Him.

     [Q-3] First, look ahead into chapters 1 and 2 and see
what nations Amos talks about and notice their position on
the map and their direction from Israel:
1) 1:3 __________________________ 
2) 1:6 __________________________  
3) 1:9 __________________________  
4) 1:11 _________________________
5) 1:13 _________________________
6) 2:1 __________________________

     Damascus -- 1:3-5.  The phrase "for three
transgressions, yea for four" was a poetic way of signifying
that their measure of guilt was more than full.  Three
transgressions would have been enough to warrant
judgment, four makes it beyond question that God will
punish them.
     Damascus was the chief city of Syria and stands for the
entire nation.  There were constant wars with Syria and they
had recently dealt heavy blows on the Israelities on the
eastern side of Jordan.
     [Q-4] What was the particular sin mentioned in v. 3?  _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
     They had literally threshed and mangled the bodies of
prisoners under threshing sledges studded with iron spikes. 
Inhumanity to man is sin.  Even in war there is a limit to the
cruelty that can be inflincted upon the innocent civilian
population.  And when these are God's people that nation
can fully expect a heavy retribution.
     In verse 5 God would break the bars that secure the gate
of Damascus and they would go into Assyrian captivity.

     Gaza  --  1:6-8.  One of the chief cities of the Philistines. 
They had been engaged in slave trade, selling whole
communities which they captured to Edom and others.
     [Q-5] What lesson is there for us?

     Tyre -- 1:9-10.  Phoenicia lay on the coast to the north
west of Israel.  [Q-6] What did they not remember? 1:9 _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
     From Solomon's time Tyre had trade and peace treaties
with them, but now they had become covenant-breakers. 
They also had become agents for slave trade.
     [Q-7] Is there a lesson about nations keeping treaties
they sign?  Is not God a witness to such promises and
pledges also?

     Edom  -- 1:11-12.  The Edomites were a cousin nation
to Israel.  [Q-8]  Do you remember their ancestry?
     Possessing a hateful, angry attitude, they pursued almost
continually a course of violent war with Israel.
     [Q-9]  Can "nations" develop bad attitudes?  What
creates and sustains such national feelings of hostility, hate,
anger, revenge?

     Ammon  -- 1:13-15.  [Q-10] From whom did the
Ammonites descend?  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  [Q-11] Of what kind
of brutality were they guilty? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
[Q-12] What had been the motive behind their aggression?

     Moab -- 2:1-3.  The action of the Moabites for which
God was going to bring retribution suggests that we should
have a proper regard for the dead.  People don't like to think
about death today nor mediate upon its reality.  They don't
want to think about eternity ... and judgment.  So they
flouted  respect for the dead.  In most parts of the nation we
have fewer people attending funerals today than ever before. 
And  drivers are showing less respect  for  funeral
processions,  etc.

     Judah -- 2:4-5.  As Amos mentions Judah we can
imagine the people continued to say "Yeah!" to Amos'
message.  For the Hebrews were divided North and South
(Israel and Judah) and situations altered between  peace and 
war between them.
     [Q-11] What had Judah rejected?  Why could the other
nations not be charged with this same specific sin?
     The "lies" their fathers followed was idolatry.  These are
"gods" which are not-God, but "lies."

     Israel -- 2:6-16.  Amos was really sent to Bethel to
preach to Israel.  The judgment upon the surrounding
nations was only incidental.  True, yes, and informative, but
now Amos really begins to preach!
     And we can almost see the crowd growing quieter and
shifting restlessly on their feet.  Amos charges them with
some serious sins: 1) foreclosing on mortgages on the poor;
2) taking and giving bribes to pervert justice for the poor; 3)
they didn't mind seeing the poor in misery; 4) religious
prostitution of such a hideous nature that the father and son
went in unto the same woman; 4) not returning pledge
garments; 5) and drinking wine which had been (refined)

     When the Amorites in the land  before them became this
wicked, God  cast them out and gave their land to Israel (cf.
Joshua's time), verse  9.  Through they were like a strong
oak with great height and deep roots,  God destroyed  them.
[Q-12] What is the subtle message for Israel?

     Amos then enumerates the blessings God had given them 
(READ vv. 10-12) but Israel had perverted them.  The
prophets and Nazirites that would have been good examples
to follow were discouraged and forbidden.

     Notice verse 13, how Israel was to be punished.  We
have a similar expression, sometimes we say "I feel like I
have been run over by a ________."  Amos says to them,
"you're going to feel like you've been run over with a
loaded cart!
     "Your mighty army can't defend you.  Your soldiers will
throw down their weapons and run!"  (Read  vv. 15-16).
     [Q-13] Can a mighty military or economic power stand
against God if he is ready for that nation to be humbled?
     [Q-14] Where then does a nation's strength lie?

          Some Lessons

1.   From Amos chapters 1 and 2 we see that all the
nations of the world are responsible to Almighty God for
their actions.
     2.   Inhumanity to man is a sin before God.  Even in war
there's a limit to the cruelty that can be inflicted upon an 
innocent civilian population.  And when these are God's
people that guilty nation can fully expect retribution.
     3.   God will not hold covenant-breakers guiltless,
whether it be individuals or nations.
     4.   We should show proper respect for the dead.
     5.   It is a sin to receive great blessings from the Lord and
not be grateful for them (2:9-10).
     6.   The people  to whom the Word of the Lord has been
given will be held guilty if they reject it (2:4).
                                                            -- Windell Gann

Home Page
Email: Windell Gann
Go to the TOP of this page.