UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).




Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Character by Character

Lesson 14: Amos


Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

Amos: “Strong” or “a bearer of burdens”

A herdsman and fruit gatherer

Amos 7:14-17 & 1:1 (click the link to read the passages)

Amos was a native of Tekoa, a small town south of Jerusalem

by occupation a herdsman

Amos was a native of Tekoa, a small town south of Jerusalem, and by occupation a herdsman and fig farmer. He lived during the reign of Uzziah and was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. Although he had not received any training in the schools of the prophets that existed at that time, he exercised a very powerful and important ministry. Doubtless, as he went about his work in the fields and in the vineyards, he took advantage of his rural surroundings to quietly meditate and pray. The Bible often draws a veil over the years of preparation in the lives of God’s servants, as if this period is too personal and sacred for inspection. This is the way it was with many Old Testament patriarchs such as Moses and Elijah, and the best example in the New Testament is that of our Lord Himself.

For thought and contemplation:

Every Christian has to pass through what is known as ‘the silent years’ before God can entrust him with a work to do for Him. Perhaps you are there right now. If so, make good use of these weeks and months, for the more you learn in the ‘silent years’, the more effective you will be in the serving years.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV)

A prophet

Amos 7:10-13 & 15

The Scripture does not give us any information about Amos’ ancestors or whether he had a wife or family, but the call of God to become a prophet must have caused a great upheaval in his life. He rose to the challenge, however, and became a strong prophet who carried out the task of proclaiming a message of judgment to the unresponsive king and nation with great courage.

Amos travels north to Bethel

When Amos travels north to Bethel, the centre of King Jeroboam II’s kingdom, a priest who hears his prophecies accuses him of sedition, and instructs him to return to Judah from whence he has come. Amos stoutly maintains that despite his lack of prophetic ancestry and training, he has received a call from God to convey the prophetic word to the people.

For thought and contemplation:

How do you feel about the issue of ‘training’ in Christian things? Some overvalue it, while others undervalue it. The important thing is first to be sure of God’s call to the ministry He has for you, and then to be open to ways in which you can make your personal ministry more effective for Him.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV)

Israel’s neighbours denounced

Amos 1:3-15 & 2:1-3

Amos’ ministry consists of a number of denunciations. First, he denounces Israel’s neighbours, Syria (vv. 3-5), Philistia (vv. 6-8), Tyre (vv. 9-10), Edom (vv. 11-12), Ammon (vv. 13-15) and Moab (2:1-3).

he condemns the heathen nations

Not one nation escapes the fierce denunciation of the prophet as he condemns the heathen nations for their crimes against humanity. Some commentators feel that Amos should not have denounced them as they were not judged by the same standards as Israel, but they were still guilty of transgressing the law of right and wrong which God has written into the human conscience. This point is emphasised by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans: “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12, NIV)

For thought and contemplation:

Is it not true that the note of denunciation is missing from many of today’s pulpits? Some say it is better to present the ‘Good News’ that Christ has come to save us from sin, and leave the work of denunciation to the Holy Spirit. What do you think?

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18, NIV)

Amos denounces the nations

Syria (Amos 1:3-5)

Crime: had often harassed Israel


  • The capital at Damascus to be burned
  • Their strongholds to be broken
  • Their citizens to be enslaved

Phoenicia (1:9-10)

Crime: Had broken their peace covenant with Israel


  • The burning down of the forts and palaces in Tyre, their chief city

Israel: (2:6-16)


  • Had accepted bribes
  • Had enslaved the poor
  • Had committed adultery
  • Had stolen
  • Were totally unthankful
  • Had caused the innocent to sin


  • Their punishment would make them groan as a loaded-down wagon
  • Their armies would stumble in battle

Ammon (1:13-15)

Crime: had murdered Jewish women


  • Their cities to be burned
  • Their citizens to be enslaved

Philistia (1:6-8)

Crime: had sold Israelites into slavery to Edom


  • the burning of their four main cities: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron

Judah (2:4-5)


  • Had rejected the Word of God
  • Had disobeyed the God of the Word


  • their Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed

Moab (2:1-3)

Crime: had desecrated the tombs of the dead


  • they would be defeated in battle

Edom (1:11-12)

Crime: had murdered many Jews


  • The destruction of their cities

Israel reproved

Amos 2:4-12 & 3:1-8

Amos now concentrates on the nation of Israel

Having poured out strong and fierce denunciation against the surrounding nations, Amos now concentrates on the nation of Israel and accuses them of a long catalogue of sins. The evils that are rife among God’s people are dragged into the light and unsparingly denounced. They are accused of selling the righteous into slavery (2:6), greed, injustice and cult prostitution (v. 7), harsh treatment of debtors and intemperance (vv. 8 & 12a), and ingratitude towards God (vv. 9-11). It was to Israel that Amos was specially sent, and it is against her that the full force of his moral indignation is hurled. Israel is God’s family (3:1), and because of this, ‘judgment must begin at the house of God’. The prophet announces God’s imminent punishment of all Israel’s sins, and proclaims his own authority as God’s appointed prophet to convey God’s reproofs and judgments.

For thought and contemplation:

As it is a Scriptural principle that ‘judgment must begin at the house of God’, take a moment before you go any further to reflect on the things you may be permitting in your own life that are displeasing to Him. Then make a positive decision to turn from them—every one.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NIV)

Judgment pronounced

Amos 2:13-16, 3:9-15 and chapters 4, 5 & 6

The keynote of Amos’ prophecies is the necessity of righteousness

There can be little doubt that Amos’ message, consisting as it did of reproof and judgment, was a difficult one to speak out – yet he does not hesitate to do so. The people, however, unlike the Ninevites who repented as soon as they heard the word of the Lord, are hostile to both Amos’ words and his person. It is interesting to note that Amos directed his condemnation, not only to the men of Israel, but also to the women (4:1-3)—indicating that the whole society was morally sick and infirm. The keynote of Amos’ prophecies is the necessity of righteousness. He has nothing to say against religion as such, except where it is useless and ritualistic. The people’s worship at Bethel and Gilgal is condemned as abhorrent (4:4-5 & 5:5), and is about to be brought to an end.

For thought and contemplation:

Someone has said, “Whenever religion goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong.” How hurtful it must be to God, who so much desires His people’s worship, to see them approaching Him through a ritual that is devoid of all meaning. Perhaps this is a good moment to check on your own approach to the worship of God.

“Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power… avoid such men as these.” (2 Tim. 3:5, NASB)


Amos 7:1-9; chapter 8; 9:1-10

Amos receives five visions

Amos receives five visions, each containing a symbol: (1) Locusts (7:1-3)—signifying an invasion which is averted by Amos’ intercession; (2) Fire (7:4-6)—utter destruction again averted in answer to prayer; (3) A plumb line (7:7-9)—showing the judgment of the religious and political structures of Israel; (4) A basket of summer fruit (chap. 8)—signifying imminent and inevitable judgment; (5) A shaken sanctuary (9:1-10)—showing that God Himself will judge His people for their debased forms of worship. Each vision is followed by a longer or shorter explanation, and their aim is to reinforce in symbolic language the fact that although Jehovah had previously ‘repented’ of His purpose, He could do so no more, for the time of mercy had now passed by.

For thought and contemplation:

In these days when God’s mercy seems to be so stretched out, how important it is to keep in mind that one day—perhaps very soon—judgment will surely come. Ponder this thought today and allow it to stir you to greater prayer and service for your Lord.

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31, NIV)

Restoration promised

Amos 9:11-15

a prophecy concerning ultimate restoration for a remnant of Israel

After so many predictions of gloom and doom, the prophet comes out with a prophecy concerning ultimate restoration for a remnant of Israel—a restoration that will be lasting and permanent (v. 15). The Temple will be rebuilt, the kingdom will assume its ancient boundaries, nature will be transfigured and the people shall dwell forever in the land given them by God. This restoration, says Amos, will come through the house of David (v. 11), and refers, of course, to the coming Messiah.

Jesus travelled along the Emmaus Road with the two disconsolate disciples

It might sound somewhat fanciful, but when Jesus travelled along the Emmaus Road with the two disconsolate disciples and expounded from the Scriptures “the things concerning Himself”, He may well have referred to this prophecy of Amos given some 700 years earlier. Whether He did or not, it is a precious and important part of God’s eternal truth.

For thought and contemplation:

Here’s something that students in Bible colleges are often asked to do: imagine you do not have a New Testament and you are asked by a friend your reasons for believing in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Make an outline of what you would say, drawing only on the Old Testament. You’ll be surprised at the things you will learn.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’” (John 2:19, NIV)

The lesson to be learned from Amos

a simple herdsman whom God called to speak His word

Amos has been described by a commentator as ‘one of the most wonderful appearances in the history of the human spirit’. The way he observes the sights and sounds of the natural world is quite amazing. “Vultures wheel and swoop, lions cry out of the wilderness, the snake lies curled in the stonework, the bear growls, the earth quakes. His conception of God’s great law is equally inspiring. He affirms that from the far-reaching justice of Jehovah no nation is exempt, not even Israel, and from His all-seeing eye there can be no escape.”

The most important lesson one gathers from the life of Amos is the fact that God not only uses those with great education and training such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, but He also takes up people like Amos, a simple herdsman whom God called to speak His word. Amos was one of God’s great ‘laymen’—you can be another!

Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).

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