Around 760 B.C.
This book opens with very precise markers for both time and place. Amos ministers during the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam, an almost 40-year span of prosperity for the region, when the northern kingdom of Israel was at the zenith of its influence. Amos says he lived among the shepherds of Tekoa, a Judahite village south of Jerusalem.
The first two chapters follow a defined rhythm of condemnation against the nations for their treachery. Assyria is not mentioned – it is, in fact, in a period of decline – and in this vacuum the smaller nations around Israel have been flexing their muscles. Notice that the LORD’s condemnation is impartial: Edom is condemned for buying slaves from Philistia and Tyre, and Moab is condemned for its treachery against that same Edom.
The only departure from the formula comes when attention is directed toward Judah and especially Israel. Listen to the charges that the LORD levies against them, and listen as He grounds those charges against their unique status: “…It was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite… You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The focus remains on Israel through the following chapters. Amos transitions with the call, “Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…,” in chapter 3 addressing the whole nation and in chapter 4 the women of Samaria specifically. The exact charges are latent – looking back to warnings the LORD has given them, to how He’s chastised them in hope of repentance – and looking forward to the complete indictment that is to come.
As you read this first half of the book, listen for how the LORD communicates with His people: what has He done, what will He do, and what does He expects. “For,” He proclaims, “the LORD GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
Our verses for this week are Psalm 37:4-5: Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.
Amos 1 through 4. Now let’s read it!
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.