1 What do we know about Amos? Tekoa is about 10 miles from Jerusalem. This earthquake was probably during Uzziah's reign. He was contemporary with Hosea, Hos. 1:1. In 7:14, calls himself a shepherd (meaning, herdsman) and a fig-tree (or sycamore) grower. He prophesied to Israel, the northern kingdom; only for about a year. Israel was prosperous under those kings--commerce, wealth, expensive homes.
2 Does he start out slowly, trying not to step on any toes? Drought and famine speak of judgment. The roar of a lion about to attack brings paralyzing fear; the land responds by withering away. Read Deut. 28:15, 23-24. Where is Zion? II Sam. 5:6-7, I Kings 8:1. Ps. 76:2, the true dwelling place of God.
3 Chapters 1-2 are a series of judgments from God, on the nations surrounding Israel; who is the first one about? Damascus was the capital of what nation, 5? "For three…and for four…"; each begins this way. An idiom; a way of emphasizing the last number. Each then has a "because" and an "I will."
6 Who is this against?
9 Who is this against?
11 Who is this against? Who is Edom? Gen. 25:30. Who is Edom's brother? The conflict between Jacob and Esau went on and on through their descendants. What did God say in the Abrahamic covenant about those who were against Israel? Gen. 12:3.
13 Who is this against? Ammon was also a blood relative, Gen. 19:36-38.
1 Moab, Ammon's brother.
4 What was Judah's crime? Judah and Israel are punished for not keeping the covenant God made with them. What standard was God holding those other nations to? Not the Law; it is never mentioned until here. Read Rom. 2:14-15. And from Adam's time and Noah's time, men were to pass on to their children the knowledge and revelation of God. But those with more knowledge of God are always held to a higher standard; light creates responsibility. Compare Luke 12:47-48, the parable the slave who knew his master's will and didn't do it, vs. the slave who didn't know it. On this basis, I think we can say that the American people will be judged more harshly than others.
6 Now Amos prophesies about who? What did they do to God's name? Other nations are not held accountable for this relationship to God.
7-8 Mistreatment of poor, gross immorality, drunkenness, idolatry.
9 What are these Amorites likened to? Trees often symbolize what? Judges 9, Is. 14:8, Ez. 31. Here, are trees used literally or symbolically? Read Deut. 1:26-28. He destroyed those people who didn't even have the light the Israelites do. Why should they think they'll be spared?
10-11 What had God done for Israel?
12 But what had they done in response?
13-16 Horses are often mentioned as something to be warned against; does 15 mean I will die if I keep on riding horses? What did horses represent in that day? Deut. 20:1. What are these two verses saying? They will become weak, their strength will disappear.
1-2 Who alone on the earth has this special relationship with God? (KJV, you only have I known) "Therefore"; He is not holding other nations to this standard, only them, because they are His people in a unique way.
3-6 Examples of cause and effect, with the final example being that of a calamity on an entire city. 6, what does it say about calamity? And about God's sovereignty, even over what is painful and appears evil to us?
7 He reveals Himself and His future plans to them through the prophets. People ask if the Sept. 11 attacks are a judgment from God; we find in the Bible that if God is going to bring judgment, He warns people about it first through the prophets. They have a chance to repent, and if not, when the bad thing happens, they know without a shadow of a doubt why it happened. So we should not be looking for a hidden message in every catastrophe.
8 Was prophesying optional for a prophet?
9-10 Get a grandstand seat and see what they are doing! Samaria was the capital of Israel.
11-13 Amos was probably responding to the common sentiment that surely they will be OK, they will be spared. He is commenting on their trust in their luxurious, leisurely, lifestyles (bed, couch).
14 The judgment will be against their idolatry. Bethel was where Jeroboam placed one of the golden calves of the false religion he instituted to keep the northern tribes from going back down to Jerusalem to worship, I Kings 12:25-33. Fugitives could run to the altar and hold onto its horns as protection against their pursuers (like kids playing tag, "I'm safe!").
15 The judgment will also be against what? Materialism, the pursuit of luxury. So are big homes and expensive things displeasing to God? If not, then what is the problem with them in this verse? What is the implication?
1-3 Who are these cows? What are they like? Why are they being likened to cows?
4-5 Bethel was where one of the golden calves were, of Jeroboam's false religion; Gilgal, Hos. 4:15, 9:15, 12:11. Both are in the northern kingdom. Why would God tell them to transgress? What tone of voice seems to go with this? Sarcasm or irony. Some sacrifices required leaven, some were unleavened. Leaven represents sin. Some people think it doesn't matter what religion you follow, just pick one. Here we see that they were dutifully and regularly offering their sacrifices, tithes, and offerings, but God did NOT accept them.
6-11 What would clean teeth and lack of bread have in common? In Deuteronomy 28, God promised them blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience; these are the curses He has brought on them, but have they caused Israel to repent?
12-13 So what is about to happen? What do we learn about God in these verses? Facts about God the Creator, and that He even tells us His thoughts. God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible.
1-3 Israel is about to disappear as a nation.
4-5 What does God tell them to do? So they had not been doing this. Where does God tell them not to go? To the places Amos so sarcastically mentioned in the previous chapter. Beersheba, in the south of Judah, was a place where pilgrimages were made to.
6 Isn't there always hope if you seek God? So seeking God is not the same as doing religious rituals, which is what God continually accuses them of doing.
7 What does God hate? God desires that things be done right on this earth; have they ever been? They will be when the Messiah rules on earth in His kingdom. How did Jesus teach His disciples to pray, Mt. 6:10?
8-9 What is this saying? The God of creation, He is the Lord. God's name is "the Lord," not "God." The Lord is THEIR God (or should be).
10 Who might be "he" who says these things? Amos? Or maybe a righteous judge. The city gate was where the judges sat, where business was conducted.
11-12 These are things that God hates. Just in Israel? No, but especially in Israel; they knew better because God had given them what? He seems to be talking to those who are the wealthy and those who run the judicial system.
15 Because Amos addresses these problems, these must be things that are a big problem in Israel. Are they in our society? Has anything changed?
18-20 Apparently they were thinking the day of the Lord meant the coming of the kingdom, when God would destroy their enemies and everything would be great for Israel. "The day of the Lord" is a phrase that usually refers to the end times, the final judgment. Other terms we see in the Bible that usually refer to that time period are "the day," "that day," "in that day," "in those days." We want to notice that the day of the Lord is a time period that includes the tribulation as well as the millenium.
21-24 But aren't these things that God commanded them to do? They are saying one thing and doing another; it is not real in their lives. How does God feel about hypocrisy? When our lives do not honor Him, He plugs His nose and ears and covers His eyes as we go through the motions of praise and worship. Justice and righteousness in our lives are proof that our worship is real.
25-26 What do we learn here about Israel's beginnings? There was idolatry and disobedience all along, from the very first.
27 What is ahead for Israel? What is God called here? This name is used of God frequently in the Old Testament. What are hosts? Strong's Concordance: mass of persons organized for war, army, company, soldiers. What is this army? Ps. 103:20-21, Luke 2:13.
1 If you feel secure, does that mean you really are? Are feelings an accurate barometer of reality?
4-7 What does this tell about their lifestyle, their society at that time? 6, lounge/sprawl, Hebrew word implying a drunken stupor with arms and legs hanging over the side. Wealth, luxury, leisure, alcohol--sex may be implied. What's going to happen to them?
8 What have we seen over and over in the Bible that God hates and will judge?
9-10 Perhaps referring to a plague that would come and wipe out most of the people; don't even mention God's name to draw His attention and slay the one who is left.
11 Neither rich nor poor will escape.
12 What is the first part saying about the second part? This should not be; foolishness, nonsense.
13 What is wrong with what they are saying?
14 God will use someone else, a wicked ungodly nation, to be the means of divine judgment. Does God ever use ungodly people, or even believers who are not acting in a way pleasing to God, to prune or chastise us, to be the sandpaper or chisel He uses to conform us to Christ's image? Rom. 8:28-29.
1-3 Amos had a vision of what God was going to do. Did it happen? Why not? Did God really change His mind? What does that mean then?
4-6 Now what does Amos see in a vision? Did it happen? COULD either of these two things have happened? Either one could have been God's will. This gives us a big clue about what appears to us to be God changing His mind. The Bible says in several places that God "relented" or "changed His mind" and didn't do what He said He was going to do. It also says God doesn't change. This goes along with the difficulty we have in grasping His sovereignty and the free will that He has given us. Many things COULD be His will; what He allows to happen, what He causes to happen, IS His will. So, can we say, it doesn't matter what I do, I can do anything I please, because it will always be God's will?
No. The Bible tells us we are to do RIGHT. Rom. 12:1-2, Gal. 6:9, Heb. 13:20-21, I Pet. 2:15. What do these verses tell us about God's will? It is that we should seek to do what is RIGHT. Read II Sam. 24:1,10,15. David chose to do wrong. It appears that it was God's will (God was working through a sinful man, as He always does), but David didn't say, "oh well, it must have been God's will, because He allowed me to do that." No, there were consequences, as there always will be when we choose to do wrong.
7-9 Now what does Amos see? A plumb line means what? A measuring line, a comparison to what is right; they are lacking, they fail the test, judgment is coming. This vision WILL come to pass. God let Amos see things that might have happened, but didn't.
10-13 Amaziah tells the king about Amos, then confronts Amos. Who is he? Has Amos conspired against the king? So what do they think about Amos's message? Do they see it as God's message? Or perhaps Amaziah is just twisting Amos's words to manipulate Jeroboam. Even slightly changing the wording of what someone said, changes the meaning, puts a spin on it. That is why even "innocent gossip" is so dangerous. When repeating what someone else said, we seldom remember the exact words they used. Even our tone of voice and facial expression puts a spin on what we are repeating. We must be so careful about that. What is a seer? A see-er of visions. 13, Amos was not to disturb the status quo! Maybe he was even accusing Amos of doing this for money ("eat bread").
14-15 So who does Amos report to, who does he obey? And what were his orders? This was not even his occupation, just a job God gave him to do, and he is going to do it. Does he sound scared of Amaziah?
16-17 Amos's response to Amaziah.
1-2 What is this vision? What is the picture for Israel? Will ripe summer fruit last long?
3 What will happen to them?
4 Why? What have they been doing?
4-6 In 5, they observe the required religious days, but can't wait for them to be over so they can get back to what? What is their society like? Is ours much different? God is against commercialism, materialism, the worship of profit. This is one aspect of the tribulation, one of the things God will pour out His wrath on. Read Rev. 18:11-17. Commercialism, big government, and institutionalized religion are all the result of our fallen sinful natures, and will be judged during the tribulation. Power, greed, corruption. This is the godless world system. That means that somehow, during Christ's earthly reign, these three things will be kept in check, even though it is hard for us to imagine how.
7-10 What clues do we see that take us into the future, the tribulation? 9, "in that day," and the unusual happenings with the sun. Compare Rev. 6:12, Mt. 24:29. The short-term fulfillment of such a prophecy could be an eclipse. Many prophecies in the Bible seem to have a dual nature, a partial fulfillment in the immediate future, but also clues that a greater fulfillment takes place in the future.
11-14 What kind of famine is this? After the captivity, were there any more prophets? From then until Christ was born are called the silent years. God's judgment is His silence.
1 What altar was this? Who is he prophesying to? Israel. The temple of false worship in Israel. When this destruction happened (probably the Assyrian invasion), the worshippers in the temple would be killed, and those that survived would be slain.
1-4 However this took place, the point is that when God brings judgment, there is no escape.
5-6 A long way of saying, "The Lord God of hosts…the Lord is His name." All the rest just describe God and His control over all His creation. God uses natural processes and the "laws of nature" to accomplish His purposes, but He controls them. 6, His vaulted dome over the earth (KJV, troop) implies what shape? Rounded. Compare Is. 40:22, Ps. 103:12. What was known about the shape of the earth? We are told Columbus discovered this, but it was known. The knowledge may have been lost or forgotten or distorted by some.
7-10 Now we have Amos's final comments about Israel's future. First God summarizes the judgment He is about to bring on them. Will the destruction be total and final?
11-15 In 11, what phrase takes us to the future, the endtimes? 12, who are "the nations who are called by My name"? Many Christians think America is a Christian nation, or once was and needs to get back to that. The KJV uses the word "heathen" for "nations." Strong's Concordance: Gentile, heathen, nation, people. Often people see the word "nation" and think of a nation such as the United States. This leads to wrong theology. The only nation God deals with as His people is Israel. Another passage that gives people the impression some nations will be chosen by God is Mt. 25:31-34, the judgment of the "nations" at the end of the tribulation, to see who will enter the kingdom. But when you realize that nations = Gentiles, we see that it is a judgment of individuals, of Gentiles, of all who are not Jews. So according to 12 (and other passages), at the beginning of the Millenium, there will be believing Jews and believing Gentiles. All unbelievers who are still alive at the end of the tribulation will be removed before the kingdom begins. Compare the parables about the kingdom in Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43, 49-50, Mt. 24:40-43, Zeph. 3:11. What is it saying about these Gentiles? Israel will not only possess their own promised land in that day, but will be the head, the primary nation. 13, the land will produce in abundance.
11-15 has not yet happened. This is yet to be fulfilled in Israel's future. We see that the judgment that God is about to send on them is not the end of Israel. What did God promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3? Was this promise given with any conditions attached? Israel has never possessed all the land God promised them; if God does not fulfill it in the future, He is a liar. This is made clear in Jer. 31:35-40, 32:36-44, 33:14-26, Rom. 11:1-2, 25-29. On the other hand, the Palestinian covenant, Deut. 28-30, was conditional. If they disobeyed, which they did, they would be removed from their land and scattered, Deut. 28:63-64. But if they ever return to the Lord and obey Him, God will bring them back into their land, Deut. 30:1-10. Many Christians believe God is through with Israel, and that because of their disobedience, the church has now inherited the promises made to Israel. The Bible says this is not so; Israel will return to God in the future. At the end of the tribulation, at Christ's return, they will recognize their Messiah, Zech. 12-14. God's plan centers around Israel, not the church, Rom. 11. Paul warns the church not to be "conceited," 20, or be "be wise in your own estimation," 25. We were grafted in because of Israel's unbelief, 23. 29, if God does not keep the promises He made to Israel, why should we think He would keep the promise He made to us of forgiveness of sin and eternal life? God DOES keep all His promises.
Copyright 2003 Jan Young
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