THE MINOR PROPHETS
We are now beginning the last division of Old Testament books, the division called the Minor Prophets. the Minor Prophets prophesied over a period of about 400 years. Some of them preached to the people of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and some to the people of Judah. They are called the “Minor Prophets” primarily because their books are shorter than those of the Major Prophets.
AMOS’ TIMES AND MESSAGE
To help us remember the prophet Amos, we might give him the name “the farmer prophet.” Before God called him, he had been a shepherd and one who took care of sycamore-fig trees. He came from the town of Tekoa in Judea, a few miles south of Jerusalem. His work as a prophet, however, was carried on in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Amos prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 B.C.). The years of Amos’ ministry were prosperous years for Israel. The nation was materially rich and for the moment safe from foreign threats. But morally Israel was sadly rotten. The rich people took advantage of the poor and oppressed them. There was little justice in the courts. There was much hypocrisy in the people’s worship. And there was open idolatry. Amos was called by God to preach against all this religious and social corruption. Like Joel, he warned of a coming “day of the Lord” when God would judge. Like Jeremiah, he courageously preached God’s message even when threatened. “Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you,” he would say and then fearlessly expose the sins of Israel and her neighbors. When ordered to get out of Israel and go back to Judah to prophesy, Amos steadfastly refused, because he had been called by God to “prophesy to my people Israel.” Because of the hard hearts and deaf ears that Israel showed when Amos preached, Israel was judged when Assyria destroyed the nation thirty years after Jeroboam II died. Israel despised the words of God’s prophet, and God eventually sent them a famine – not a famine of food or thirst, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord (see 8:11-12).
GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF AMOS
- God’s Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors (1-2)
- Prophesies of Woe on Israel (3-6)
- Five Visions of Coming Judgment (7-9:10)
- A Promise of Restoration (9:11-15)
Read 2:6-8 and 6:4-7 to see Amos’ fearless preaching to expose sins.
Read 4:1-3 and 5:18-27 as examples of his prophecies of woe.
Read 8:1-6 to hear one of his visions of coming judgment.
Read 9:11-15, a promise of the days of the Messiah when Gentiles would be a part of the Kingdom. (Compare Acts 15:14-17.)
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