Study Notes

Amos 1:1-1


As we finished our study of 2Kings, we decided to look from the perspective of some of the prophets who prophesyed during the days of the Kings. During the last four weeks, we heard what Hosea had to say. Now, we begin our study of Amos.

Tonight, we will just be covering the first verse of the book, allowing us the breathing room to get to know a little bit more about Amos before we jump in with both feet next week and cover two chapters.

1:1 Not Famous Amos

The writer of this Bible book is the prophet Amos. We haven't discussed him in previous studies because he is mentioned nowhere else in the Scriptures. His ministry was an obscure one as far as the rest of the Bible writers go (so we wouldn't really be justified calling him "Famous Amos").

Although we have not heard of him up to this point, he was well known by people we do know of, guys like King Jeroboam II and the priest Am-ats-YAW.

Called To Ministry

Amos came from the fields of Tek-O-ah. He was originally a simple shepherd. In chapter seven, we will see him explain his change of occupation, saying,

Amos 7:14-15 ..."I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, 'Go prophesy to My people Israel.'"

God literally called this man into the ministry. He was told to go and he went.

Many men have asked me over the years, "How do I know if I'm being called into the ministry? How did you know?" I have often wondered what the right answer to that question is. For me, I just knew. I heard the call of God, felt it in my very being. No matter where I went, or what I did, I had to be teaching the Word of God.

But some are unsure - they want to know for certain.

I usually say that if there is an ounce of doubt about your calling, don't enter the ministery yet.

Charles Spurgeon used to tell his pastoral students, "Do not enter the ministry if you can help it.... If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way..."

Paul the apostle explained it this way:

1Cor. 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

Paul was called by God to preach the gospel - he had no choice but to be a minister of the gospel.

Amos was the same - tending the sheep, gathering the figs, when God called him - told him - to be His messenger.

Slow Of Speech

It is interesting to me that Amos was not, in the mind of some, qualified to be God's messenger. Many commentators point out that the prophecies of Amos are not as eloquent as those of the other, more learned, prophets. He is described by some as a "country bumpkin," "void of eloquence," and "wanting in all the embellishments of style."

But a lack of formal training, education, or ability, has never stopped God from choosing people in the past. Remember, Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

Paul knew this first-hand, for he went on to say,

1Cor. 2:1-5 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Truly, this was one of the reasons that Paul was hated by so many in his day. They said of him,

2Cor. 10:10 ..."His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible."

He was a brilliant mind, but not a great public speaker.

This was what Moses struggled with as well. From the burning bush, God called Moses to be His spokesman before Pharaoh. But Moses hesitated, saying,

Exod. 4:10-12 ..."Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." And the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes {him} dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."

God is able, by His Holy Spirit, to make a man a powerful preacher or prophet, regardless of his lack of qualifications in the flesh.

On the day of Pentecost, people in Jerusalem from all over the world came running towards the sound of a violent, rushing wind. There they encountered a group of people praising God in many different languages.

Acts 2:7 And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?"

Galileans - not the side of the tracks you would expect linguists to come from!

And when Peter and John were in front of the High Priest, the rulers, and the elders of the people, we read,

Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and {began} to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

It was not being filled with knowledge that enabled them to preach, but being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Amos, also, was not eloquent or educated in the worldly sense, but God used him mightily.

A Sheepherder

Amos' occupation before entering the ministry was that of a shepherd, or literally, a "sheep-raiser." This is good preparation for the ministry of a prophet or pastor!

You see, God's people are described throughout the Scriptures as sheep. God appoints His ministers to care for them, to feed them, and raise them up in safety to maturity.

Jesus told Simon Peter, "Tend My lambs, shepherd My sheep, tend My sheep." Peter passed that job description down to others that were called to minister, saying,

1Pet. 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as {your} fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to {the will of} God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Paul told the leadership of Ephesus,

Acts 20:28-29 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock"

"Shepherd the flock. Guard the flock. Shepherd the church. Be on guard, for savage wolves will come in." A shepherd would be very familiar with these figures of speech, and would make an excellent minister and messenger of God - if he cared for God's people like he cared for the sheep.


There is another thing about Amos that made him a powerful servant of the Lord. He was willing to endure the persecution, and even violence, that was directed at him as he spoke the Word of God.

He carried the weight of the difficultites, never giving up. He also carried the heavy load of caring for the people. Paul told the Corinthians about this heaviness that the minister carries:

2Cor. 11:28 Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure upon me {of} concern for all the churches.

It is interesting, then, that Amos' name means "burden."

Two Years Before The Earthquake

When did Amos prophesy? He was a contemporary of Hosea - the time frame of their ministries overlaps. Both prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel.

He makes note that he prophesied "two years before the earthquake." Although we are not certain, many of the Jews, including the historian Josephus, noted this as an earthquake which rocked Israel on a certain day of history.

As you recall from our study in 2Kings, King Uzziah of Judah began with a heart for the Lord.

2Chr. 26:16-20 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. And they opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful, and will have no honor from the LORD God." But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he {was} leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him.

Josephus writes of this day,

And when they cried out that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the meantime a great earthquake shook the ground and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king's face, insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled itself four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the king's gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. (Josephus, Antiquities, 10.4)

While the Scripture does not elaborate on this earthquake, there seems to be Scripture to support the claim, as Zechariah writes of an earthquake in the last days,

Zech. 14:5 ...yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.

Regardless of the exact circumstances, the earthquake Amos refers to was a well-known event in the Jews' minds.

Envisioned In Visions

Verse one also tells us that Amos received his prophecies "envisioned in visions." The Hebrew is simply one verb: khaw-ZAW, which means "to see."

The prophecies that we read in the book of Amos were actually seen by Amos. He saw the destruction and the death happen before the fact. There are some circles in Christianity in which people really desire to be prophets, dreaming dreams and having visions. Knowing what men like Amos, Ezekiel, and John saw, I'm content with the gifts the Lord has given me.

For homework this week, read through chapters one and two, and look for the pattern that the Lord establishes in His pronouncements.

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