Amos was an Old Testament prophet who focused on the moral character of Jehovah in his teachings. He was a herdsman from Tekoa, which was to the South of Jerusalem. His ministry, however, was carried out in the northern kingdoms of Israel during the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam Ⅱ.
The first chapter of his writings begins two years before a large earthquake. He warns of the Lord’s judgments against Syria, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel, which manifested itself in the earthquake. It was so fierce it forced the people to flee the area.
In chapter 3, Amos warns the people of the consequences of not walking in the ways of the Lord. He asks if two can walk together if they aren’t agreed. He reminds them that God always pronounces his will through his prophets and that the people must listen to the prophets God has chosen. Israel had rejected and ignored its prophets and as a result was suffering trials from the adversary. Even when the trials came, they didn’t turn back to God. Amos advised them to begin to remember the Lord.
In chapter 4. God outlines the punishments he has sent in an effort to make them so anxious for help they begin to remember God. These included pestilences, drought, famines, death, and failed crops.
In chapter 4, Amos calls on the people to seek the good and put away the evil in order to again find favor in the Lord. He warns that their choices are harming the poor and the innocent. He also tells them he is angry about their worship of false gods.
Amaziah the priest of Beth-el warned Jeroboam, the king of Israel, that Amos’ words were upsetting the people. He was particularly upset over the prophecy that Jereboam would be killed by the sword and Israel would be led away captive. Amaziah told Amos to go preach to Judah instead.
Amos responded by explaining that he never set out to be a prophet. He wasn’t a prophet initially—he was a herder and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. His father wasn’t a prophet, either. The Lord came to him as he was with his flocks and commanded him to prophesy to Israel. He explained that the Lord was not happy with their refusal to listen and their request that Amos leave. He said the Lord would punish them and cause them to die in a polluted land after their captivity as a result.
Amos prophesied Israel’s downfall and that there would be a famine—but of gospel, truths, not food:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)
However, in chapter 9, God also promised that in the last days, Israel would be gathered again in her own lands and the lands would again become productive and have a future brighter than even its early past.
Adapted from Every Person in the OT by Lynn F. Price; Horizon Publishers and the Bible Dictionary.