The prophet Amos ministered during a time of material prosperity in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah (sometime between 791-740 B.C.). But underneath this veneer of material prosperity was idolatry that led to empty religious ritual, mistreatment of the poor, and other forms of social injustice.
God raised Amos up to pronounce judgment: on the nations (Amos 1), on Israel (Amos 3), and in visions (Amos 7). Amos pictures God as a lion circling his ultimate prey: Israel herself! Amos used repetition (“for three transgressions and for four”; see Amos 1:3, Amos 1:6, Amos 1:9, Amos 1:11, Amos 1:13; Amos 2:1, Amos 2:4, Amos 2:6) as well as biting irony (e.g., Amos 4:9-11) to call Israel to repentance, but they did not return to Yahweh (Amos 4:6-13). Instead, they clung to the misguided notion that the nations would be judged on the Day of the Lord but they themselves would escape unscathed (Amos 5:18-20).
How can we as God’s people today benefit from Amos? What is it that God has to say to us today through this Minor Prophet?
I believe the starting point is determining the theological big idea, which I would summarize as follows: When the Day of the Lord comes, God will judge the sins of His people and reconstitute His people under a Davidic king to inhabit a new creation.
Of course, for us as believers our Day of the Lord has already come in the death and resurrection of Jesus. On that day when the sun went down at noon and the Passover festival was turned into mourning for an only Son (Amos 8:9-10), our sin was judged. God has raised up the fallen booth of David and called Jew and Gentile alike to himself (Amos 9:11-12). By faith in Jesus our Davidic king, we have been made part of the people of God who are new creations awaiting the consummation of the Messianic Age in a new heavens and earth, when “the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it” (Amos 9:14).
Since 2006, Dr. Matt Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He blogs his notes, studies, and teaching materials about Biblical Theology.