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Amos Preview

The book of Amos, another one of the minor prophets, takes place during the eight century B.C. Amos was a simple man, working as a shepherd and a farmer and living amongst normal people. He wasn’t wealthy or royalty. He wasn’t a priest, nor did he even consider himself to be a prophet. He was, however, a man who loved God with a deep devotion. God, as He did time and time again throughout the Old Testament, chose to speak through Amos to address the problems within Israel.

As Amos looked around, he was frustrated with Israel’s lack of care for those around them. Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll says this about the book of Amos: “More than almost any other book of Scripture, the book of Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others. It repeatedly points out the failure of the people to fully embrace God’s idea of justice.” To put it succinctly: Israel had wandered away from what God had called them to yet again. They were going through the motions of dead religion: gathering together, partaking in festivals, and making sacrifices. But their hearts weren’t in it. They had no interest in the things of God–they just wanted to look like they did.

There is much for us to learn from a book like Amos. When we go through the motions and present our “Sunday best” all while our souls rot away on the inside, we make a mockery of what true faith actually looks like. Instead, through this book, we’ll see how we are to love God and love the people he’s placed around us. That is how the world will see that we are truly living out what we claim to believe.

As you read through the book of Amos over the next couple of weeks, grab a journal and a pen. Take notes while you read. Highlight the words and phrases that stick out to you and jot down your thoughts at the end of each chapter. What does each chapter in this book teach you about God’s character? What does it teach you about humanity? What were the implications for each chapter’s original audience? What are the implications for us today? These are the questions we’ll be seeking to answer as we journey through Amos together.

Read Amos 1

The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

He said:

“The Lord roars from Zion
    and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up,
    and the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Damascus,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because she threshed Gilead
    with sledges having iron teeth,
I will send fire on the house of Hazael
    that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.
I will break down the gate of Damascus;
    I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven
and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.
    The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,”
says the Lord.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Gaza,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because she took captive whole communities
    and sold them to Edom,
I will send fire on the walls of Gaza
    that will consume her fortresses.
I will destroy the king of Ashdod
    and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon.
I will turn my hand against Ekron,
    till the last of the Philistines are dead,”
says the Sovereign Lord.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Tyre,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom,
    disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,
10 I will send fire on the walls of Tyre
    that will consume her fortresses.”

11 This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Edom,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because he pursued his brother with a sword
    and slaughtered the women of the land,
because his anger raged continually
    and his fury flamed unchecked,
12 I will send fire on Teman
    that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

13 This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Ammon,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead
    in order to extend his borders,
14 I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah
    that will consume her fortresses
amid war cries on the day of battle,
    amid violent winds on a stormy day.
15 Her king will go into exile,
    he and his officials together,”
says the Lord.

Go Deeper

Amos is an interesting book. Most of the prophets we read about in the Old Testament came from a sort of “school”of prophets, having been distinctly trained for the office (some even since birth). Amos, on the other hand, is a shepherd and fig tree farmer (with no formal theological training) from a border region between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Israel has, in disobedience, rebelled against God and His installed Davidic kings, setting up their own false kings, false prophets, and false places of worship. God has had enough of this, so He sends Amos to go and tell them to right their wrongs.

What is also strange about this text is that, even though 1:1-2 tells us that the audience of the following prophetic poetry is Israel, the subject of the first chapter is God’s judgment against the nations. This is where some knowledge of biblical geography becomes helpful. What Amos is doing here is drawing a geographical circle around the northern kingdom of Israel, using the sin of the nations around Israel to set up the weight of Israel’s own sin and their being led astray. God will not let the sin of his people go unpunished.

What we see super clearly in this first chapter is that God takes sin seriously—especially the sin of nations and whole groups of people. Colossians 2 even suggests that he keeps a record of it. The sins that Amos lays out here are wicked things that the nations are walking in, but they aren’t just ancient history. These are the same things that we walk in today.

We may not feel directly involved in wars, racism, or slavery, but still we play a part in conflicts, we dislike our neighbor for their differences, and we materialistically consume products that were produced by unethical labor means. We feel more removed from it, so we tend to give ourselves a pass. Just as the nations are being called out of their sin and into the righteous standard of Zion’s temple, so God is calling us out of our sin and into the righteous standard of the one in whom God’s fullness was also pleased to dwell—Jesus. Jesus takes the record of our sin and nails it to the cross, and gives us an opportunity to reject it and walk in righteousness. Let us not be a people known to the nations for our sin, but for our following of God. 


  1. What has repentance looked like historically in your life? Can you point to particular moments or examples where you have turned from specific sins and left them in the past? 
  2. What unrepentant sin are you holding on to that God is calling you out of? 
  3. How has God used His discipline to show you how seriously He takes the sin in your life? 

Pray This


Would you mercifully expose my sin? Show me what it is I need to turn from, and discipline me as much as I must be to turn from it. Thank you for taking the record of my sin and nailing it to the cross, granting me freedom. Thank you for the good news of the Gospel. Amen.

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5 thoughts on “Amos 1”

  1. It amazes me how God chooses an ordinary shepherd to deliver his extraordinary message. Many years later, angels would first announce the birth of Christ to a group of shepherds tending sheep. I’m reminded that our credentials don’t qualify us for kingdom work, God does. The message Amos delivers to the nations is of God’s impending judgement for their idolatry, complacency and oppression of the most vulnerable. It will come in the form of drought, fire, exile, death and storms. I can’t help but think of current day America. Have we, like Israel, become an indifferent, self-centered, materialistic society that is indifferent towards God? What about the war in Ukraine in light of the words of Amos? We are called to step up and work against injustice and boldly live out our faith. God help us!

    I can’t help but think about what is currently happening in Ukraine in light of Amos 1.

  2. I love how God moves through people to get a message across. The writer today did a great job, and the same application of scripture that was recommended, was given to me last night,too. My best friend just finished a study where they were to read a passage 5 times and look for a sight word or phrase and ask how does it apply to you —then pray over it. Is that not amazing? So my word from Amos, is “relent”.
    I also noted the repeated phrases from the Lord “three sins, and four”. Which tells me that God has limits so we should be afraid.
    Another thing in the beginning that I saw right off was that Amos was a shepherd. And shepherds spend a lot of time alone—in meditation—both a master and a servant to the sheep. Amos had time to hear from Lord.
    May we all take time today to meditate on a phrase or word and ask God what is trying to speak to use about through this passage. I will be in prayer for us all.

  3. What struck me most was God’s consistency—the same consequences for all.

    My husband manages a team of over 100 people. As a leader charged with accountability and discipline, I’ve heard him say this many times: “If I can’t be “fair” (since fairness exists in the eye of the beholder), at least I can be CONSISTENT.”

    God, of course, is fair. And just.
    And consistent in the face of every human inconsistency.

    So often I’m tempted to think, “this was my sin—but their sin was WORSE. As much as I mess up, I could name plenty of people making a much bigger mess.” But in God’s eyes, sin is sin. Period.

    Today I give thanks for faith in such a faithful, impartial God, one who cannot be swayed by any human bias. What security!

    Oh, the consistency!

    1. God is after a servant heart. He wants someone to stand up, do right and be heard with what He is wanting said. So many times over and over just a person willing. I think would I have the guts to do things God ask of me? I constantly am desiring to speak of His goodness and BUT I let my flesh get in the way. I am soooooooo thankful that so many of these people whom God ask to do followed through!!!! I am thankful for the examples.

      God thank you for BOLDNESS!! I know that I know that I can speak and just plant seeds or water. God thank you for the opportunities and thank you that I can overcome this fear because I without a doubt know YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!in Jesus name amen


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