What Is the Book of Amos All About?

Brad Simon
What Is the Book of Amos All About?

An age of luxury and excess reigned, with commerce flourishing and riches overflowing. Both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah lived in peace with the surrounding nations. Instead of fighting with their enemies, their wealth and energy were used to build and develop their kingdoms. 

Their cities expanded with their newfound prosperity, yet injustice ran rampant and moral erosion infected the heart of the nation. The privileged few who cherished their abundance suppressed the cries of the downtrodden. Making money was more important than worshiping God. The rich exploited the poor, the judicial system was corrupt, and injustice flourished.

The spiritual condition of Israel resembled a ship tossed in a stormy sea, battered by the waves of idol worship and cultural compromise. King Jeroboam did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and did not turn away from the sins of his predecessors. Altars to Baal adorned the high places. The smoke of sacrifices and incense offered to foreign gods polluted the temples. The people, like lost sheep, strayed from a life of righteousness, enticed by the allure of earthly pleasures.

Amos: A Humble Man with a Great Calling

Amid this time of turmoil, a shepherd of humble means emerged. Chosen by God to deliver a powerful message to Israel, Amos is neither trained as a prophet nor the son of a prophet. A devout man with a heart full of faith, Amos embraced his role as a messenger of God. Instead of making excuses, Amos obeyed and became God’s powerful voice for change.

From the obscurity of his flocks, this simple shepherd and fig-picker embarks on a journey from the rocky hill country of southern Judah. With unwavering conviction, he arrives in the affluent capital city of Israel. 

Amos weaves together poetic language and vivid imagery to convey God’s message. He begins by announcing God’s coming judgment upon the surrounding nations. From Damascus to Gaza, from Tyre to Edom, Amos exposes their sins, emphasizing God’s sovereignty over all nations.

Next, Amos turns his attention to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He boldly proclaims the Lord’s words, challenging the affluent and reminding them of their moral responsibilities. Amos condemns the exploitation of the poor and corrupt practices in the courts. He exposes the empty religious rituals and challenges the people to repent and return to living holy lives.

“For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil” (Amos 5:12-13).

The people of the northern kingdom were guilty of injustice. Supported by corrupt judges, the rich were suing the poor, who couldn’t pay their bills, and forcing them into servitude and slavery.

Amos denounced dishonest business practices and the exploitation of the vulnerable.

Pursue Social Justice

“Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15).

Amos emphasized the importance of caring for the less fortunate and showing compassion to those in need. He emphasized the importance of pursuing social justice and showing compassion to the oppressed. He also denounced dishonest business practices and the exploitation of the vulnerable. Amos encourages business leaders to use ethical principles, pay fair wages, and avoid harmful practices.

Amos encourages believers to practice their faith in their professional lives, emphasizing the importance of honesty and fairness in business. As followers of Christ, we are called to stand against all forms of oppression, exploitation, and injustice. May Amos’ message inspire us to defend the underprivileged and passionately strive to create a just society reflecting God’s heart for His creation, extending His love to those in need.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other’” (Zechariah 7:9-10).

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

Oppose Religious Hypocrisy

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps” (Amos 5:21-23).

The people of Israel loved going to religious meetings, but they didn’t love the God they claimed to worship. Their gifts and songs didn’t impress the Lord, for He saw what was in their hearts; and the sin in their hearts made their sacrifices unacceptable.

On the surface, Israel seemed to experience a religious revival. The people of Israel loved going to religious meetings, but they didn’t love the God they claimed to worship. Crowds gathered at the altars, bringing their sacrifices and tithes. They even sang songs of praise to the Lord. but it was all for outward appearances. Their gifts and songs didn’t impress the Lord, for He saw what was in their hearts; and the sin in their hearts made their sacrifices unacceptable.

Amos confronted empty religious practices and emphasized the need for genuine worship and holiness. His message encourages us to examine our hearts to make certain our praise and worship is a heartfelt devotion to God, not just an outward show. Christians should examine their hearts to ensure their intentions are pure and their actions in public worship honor God.

The people were sinning when they thought they were serving God. There was no confession of sin, no brokenness before the Lord – only a religious event that made the participants feel good. 

The test of a spiritual experience should not be good feelings, sizeable crowds, or a good time. The real test should be if we are drawn closer to God and if we are becoming more like Christ.

Let us prioritize cultivating a deep and authentic relationship with Him, marked by obedience and righteousness.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught’” (Isaiah 29:13).

Return to the Lord

“Seek the Lord and live. … Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is” (Amos 5:6, 14).

Amos concludes his message with a vision of restoration and hope for the repentant. Despite the wickedness and unrighteous behaviors, God still loved the people of Israel. Amos not only declared God’s coming judgment upon the lawless nation, but also pleaded with the people to repent and seek the Lord sincerely.

Following Amos’ instructions, a small remnant of the Israelites humbled themselves before the Lord. They turned from their sins and followed the commandments of God. They fled to Jerusalem before the Assyrians took Israel captive. (See 2 Chronicles 30:6-12.)

Even in the face of discipline and judgment, God extends His grace and compassion and calls His people back to Himself. We are called to humble ourselves, turn from our sinful ways, and seek God’s forgiveness and restoration. God’s desire is always to bring His people back into a loving relationship with Him. 

“‘Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:7).

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18).

An Example to Follow

“I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the Lord” (Amos 7:14-16).

Amos was not a professional prophet. He was a poor shepherd who also tended to sycamore-fig trees, a poor-quality fruit that is a cross between a fig and a mulberry. It was eaten by the poorest of the people.

Further, Amos faced opposition and ridicule. The people of Israel rejected his message. There is no record of any conversions. There was no restoration or revival in the land. King Jeroboam and his high priest Amaziah challenged his authority and disputed his message.

“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: ‘Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel.’ Then Amaziah said to Amos, ‘Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom’” (Amos 7:10, 12-13).

But Amos wasn’t intimidated. He stood his ground.

“Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the Lord” (Amos 7:14-16).

Despite the opposition, God used Amos in a mighty way to warn the people of a neighboring country to repent and return to the Lord. 

Amos stands as an enduring witness that God can and does use ordinary people to accomplish His ministry. 

Every Member a Minister

“Christ himself gave … pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).

“Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11).

God had called Amos to tell the truth, and he was faithful. God does not bless His servant because they are popular and successful. He doesn’t bless them because their ministry is flourishing and has a large following. He blesses them because they have been faithful even if others refused to follow.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).

God doesn’t judge us by our successes. He judges us by our faithfulness.

Amos Ultimately Points to Christ

The book of Amos encourages believers to seek justice and pursue righteousness. It inspires us to worship God with sincerity and holiness. And it prompts us to listen to God’s voice as He calls us to works of service and to be faithful as we minister for Him.

He envisions a future where justice, righteousness, and prosperity will be fully restored. Amos points to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises through the Messiah and His redemptive work.

The Book of Amos encourages believers to seek justice, pursue righteousness, and offer genuine worship. It calls us to examine our lives and align ourselves with God’s heart for social justice and compassion for the downtrodden. It inspires us to worship God with sincerity and holiness, embracing His call to repentance and restoration.

As Christians, let us heed the lessons of Amos, striving to be agents of positive change in our communities. May the timeless truths of this prophetic book inspire and transform our lives as we seek to live out our faith with integrity and love for others.


Photo credit: ©Getty Images/seb_ra

Brad Simon has shared God’s Word for over forty-five years, with a unique blend of storytelling and Bible exposition. He is a retired Master Jeweler and relies on the God-given creativity that won him several national and international jewelry design awards to craft Biblical Narratives and Life Stories that are engaging and thought-provoking. Once a speaker, author, and publisher for the jewelry industry, now he is putting those skills to work to promote the beauty and appeal of God’s Word. Download a free copy of his devotional on prayer.