The Book of Amos, like the Book of Hosea, represents God’s message of warning to the northern kingdom of Israel during the latter part of the eighth century B.C. Under Jeroboam II’s reign, Israel had grown powerful and wealthy; but it had also become corrupt. The rich trampled the poor, social injustice was rife, and God’s final judgment was swiftly approaching. God sent Amos to call the nation back from its suicidal course of rebellion.
At the center of the message of Amos is the call to repentance and lament (5:1-17). By placing the call to repentance in the central unit (and by duplicating it there for emphasis) Amos underscores its importance in his message. The LORD is preparing to destroy the land, but it is still not too late. If Israel will only seek the LORD, it will be spared.
In order for us to understand the message of Amos and other prophets, it is imperative that we understand the covenant relationship between the LORD God and his people. That is, the covenant instituted at Sinai (Exodus 19—24; cf. Deuteronomy) provides the framework to understand the message of accusation/judgment and hope/restoration in all the prophetic books. The LORD God entered into a covenant relationship by choosing Israel to be his special people, and they were called to serve him by loving him and obeying his commands. The nation willingly entered into this relationship, accepting the stipulations of the covenant (Exo 19:7-8). Israel’s obedience to the covenant would lead to blessing (Deut 28:1-14), but disobedience (i.e., breaking the covenant) would lead to cursing (Deut 27:15-26; 28:15-68).
The covenant provides the backdrop for Amos’s message to Israel, as God brings the people to account for their unfaithful to him. For instance, Amos 3:2 states,“You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Addressing Judah, Amos states that they will be punished “because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked” (2:4). The book of Amos highlights the covenant unfaithfulness of Israel in two main areas: idolatry (in their relationship with God) and social injustice (in their relationship with people). At the heart of the nation’s unfaithfulness is idolatry, turning from God and committing spiritual adultery. And in their failure to love God, they inevitably failed to love their fellow man, thereby committing the sins of social injustice. Since the people failed to be faithful to God and the covenant with their LORD God—even after God’s continual call for them to repent—they would eventually face the consequences for their infidelity, going into exile.
The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the head of the new covenant (Hebrew 8:1-13; 10:1-18). He fulfilled the requirements of God by completely obeying God’s law (Rom 5:19; Gal 3:10-15; Heb 4:15). Then, in his death and resurrection, both the curses and the blessings of the covenant are displayed. He received the judgment for sin (i.e., the cures of death) at Calvary (Isa 4:4-6; Rom 3:25; 1 John 2:2) and, having been raised from the dead, provides salvation (i.e., the blessing of life) to all who believe in him (Rom 10:9).In short Jesus accomplished the faithfulness his people lacked, received the consequences they could not bear, and became the ultimate source of blessing from God.As the apostle Paul said, “For our sake he [God the Father] made him [Christ the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
As we read through the prophetic books, may we respond to the call to repent and believe in Jesus who established the new covenant through his precious blood, so that we may live as faithful people of God who love God and love people.
* Adapted from ESV Expository Commentary: Daniel—Malachi.
For a video on Amos via The Bible Project, click here.
This week’s Bible reading schedule:
|Monday: Amos 6||☐||Thursday: Amos 9||☐|
|Tuesday: Amos 7||☐||Friday: Obadiah 1||☐|
|Wednesday: Amos 8||☐||Saturday: Jonah 1||☐|