Introductory Issues in Amos
The Day of the Lord, in prophetic writing, is the day of judgment when God will intervene directly in world affairs. As described in Zephaniah, for instance, God will sweep everything away. In Matthew’s gospel God is described as gathering the elect on the day… More
Amos’s preaching suggests that the people of Israel expected that the “day of the Lord” (5:18-20) would be a day when God acted to deliver Israel from her foes. The “day of the Lord” here is not the final eschatological judgment at the end of time, but the acting of God within history. Prophet to the northern kingdom who condemned Israel’s oppression of the poor, calling for justice to “roll down like waters.” More announced that God’s action would come, but would be a day of judgment on Israel, not a day of deliverance.
God’s actions in nature
Amos proclaimed God’s actions within and lordship over nature. Like many other parts of the Old Testament, Amos saw God’s hand at work within nature (4:6, 7, 9, 10; 7:1, 4).
Amos prophesied during a time of relative peace and prosperity. The Egyptian Empire (to the southwest) and the Assyrian Empire (to the northeast) were at lower ebb. But that was soon to change. During this window, Israel was relatively powerful and prosperous.
The book of Amos is a book made up of messages once spoken by Amos, but Amos is not the “author” of the book. The speeches in Amos were once spoken by Amos, but they were most likely collected by other people–probably followers or disciples of Amos–and gathered into a book by these people. Why? The book was collected and copied for future generations for the purpose of instructing us in the ways of God.
Use of the legal/moral tradition
Amos does not preach a new social morality, but calls Israel to faithfulness to the Law of the Lord (2:4, 6-8).
Use of the historical tradition
Amos is aware of the history of Israel and draws on that history to condemn the people. He refers to traditions from the exodus (2:9-11; 9:7-8), the settlement of the land (5:11; 8:9-10), Sodom and Gomorrah (4:11), and traditions of Israel’s election by God (3:2). One point that this use of history scores is that God’s judgment of the people is not at odds with the history of God’s dealings with the people, but consistent with it.
Throughout the book of Amos, the prophet criticizes the worship life of the people. At times, he mocks the language of the worship liturgies (4:4-5; 5:4-7, 14-17) to drive home the point that rote ritual observance will not fool God, who expects a connection between our worship life and our daily life.