The Book Of Amos

From: Holman Bible Dictionary, Electronic Version, Parson Technology, Used By Permission

The Name and the Author: Amos The Date: 755 B.C.
"A Load," he carried a heavy burden for his people.

Amos was a layperson who disclaimed professional status as a prophet (7:14-15). Because of God's call, Amos assumed his prophetic responsibilities as a lonely voice prophesying from both the desert and the villages. He invited both Judah and Israel, challenging the superficial qualities of religious institutions.

Amos lived during an era that rivaled Solomon's generation in its stability and economic prosperity (2 Kings 14:23-27). Yet, it was precisely the social, moral, and religious problems attending that prosperity that became the focus for Amos' voice of judgment.

Morally, Israel and Judah were suffering under the corruption generated as a by-product of Canaanite Baalism, as well as infidelity to the Lord's covenant. Israelite society had experienced the inevitable decay which characterizes misdirected prosperity. It may appear strange that the corruption of Israelite society could be traced to its contemporary religious structures and to the material prosperity which Israelites so soften interpreted as a sign of divine favor. Rampant luxury and self-indulgence were clearly manifest. Opposition to those moral and religious evils led him to emphasize the primary theme of the book: "let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream" (5:24).

The words of Amos address various issues, but the central theme stresses sin and judgment. Whether in addressing other nations, Israel, or Judah, the prophet condemned those who sin against a universal conscience (1:1-2:3), the revealed Law (2:4-5), or God's redeeming love (2:6-16). He was concerned about people who "do not know how to do right" (3:10). Because of such injustice and the failure to bind authentic religious experience with a social conscience, Amos claimed that the nation was already dead. "Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel" (5:1). Their only hope rested in the renewal of authentic religious experience leading to t a life of justice and righteousness which overflow the land (5:24). For those who rejected that way, only judgment remained: "prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" (4:2).