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BaptistWay Adult Bible Study Guide®

Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah
Calling for Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness
Ron Lyles Vivian Conrad Robert Prince Meredith Stone Don Raney

Dallas, Texas

Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah: Calling for Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness— BaptistWay Adult Bible Study Guide® Copyright © 2012 by BAPTISTWAY PRESS®. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations. For information, contact BAPTISTWAY PRESS, Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 North Washington, Dallas, TX 75246–1798. BAPTISTWAY PRESS® is registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (North American Edition), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. Scripture marked nrsv is taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture marked nasb is taken from the 1995 update of the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. BAPTISTWAY PRESS® Leadership Team Associate Executive Director, Baptist General Convention of Texas: Steve Vernon Director, Education/Discipleship Center: Chris Liebrum Director, Bible Study/Discipleship Team: Phil Miller Publisher, BAPTISTWAY PRESS®: Ross West Cover and Interior Design and Production: Desktop Miracles, Inc. Printing: Data Reproductions Corporation First edition: March 2012 ISBN–13: 978–1–934731–85–7

How to Make the Best Use of This Issue

Whether you’re the teacher or a student— 1. Start early in the week before your class meets. 2. Overview the study. Review the table of contents and read the study introduction. Try to see how each lesson relates to the overall study. 3. Use your Bible to read and consider prayerfully the Scripture passages for the lesson. (You’ll see that each writer has chosen a favorite translation for the lessons in this issue. You’re free to use the Bible translation you prefer and compare it with the translation chosen for that unit, of course.) 4. After reading all the Scripture passages in your Bible, then read the writer’s comments. The comments are intended to be an aid to your study of the Bible. 5. Read the small articles—“sidebars”—in each lesson. They are intended to provide additional, enrichment information and inspiration and to encourage thought and application. 6. Try to answer for yourself the questions included in each lesson. They’re intended to encourage further thought and application, and they can also be used in the class session itself. If you’re the teacher— A. Do all of the things just mentioned, of course. As you begin the study with your class, be sure to find a way to help your class know the date on which each lesson will be studied. You might do this in one or more of the following ways: • In the first session of the study, briefly overview the study by identifying with your class the date on which each lesson will be studied. Lead your class to write the date in the table of contents on page 9 and on the first page of each lesson.

baptistwaypress. You may want to get the additional adult Bible study comments— Adult Online Bible Commentary—by Dr. Baptist General Convention of Texas). The price of these additional . • Develop a sticker with the lesson dates. the lesson comments. You may want to include information about your church and then use the bookmark as an outreach tool. Micah • Make and post a chart that indicates the date on which each lesson will be on the Resources for Adults page. A church or class that participates in our advance order program for free shipping can receive Adult Online Bible Commentary free. Call 1–866–249–1799 or e-mail baptistway@texasbaptists. It is available only in electronic format (PDF) from our website. Get a copy of the Teaching Guide. • Provide a bookmark with the lesson dates. • If all of your class has to purchase or for information on participating in our free shipping program for the next study. Isaiah. The Teaching Guide contains additional Bible comments plus two teaching plans. and theologian-in-residence.baptistwaypress. and place it on the table of contents or on the back E.baptistwaypress. Jim Denison (president. easy-to-use teaching suggestions that will work in your class. Call 1–866–249–1799 or see After you’ve studied the Bible passage. use the teaching suggestions in the Teaching Guide to help you develop your plan for leading your class in studying each lesson.4 Amos. Hosea. The teaching plans in the Teaching Guide are intended to provide practical. F. Additional teaching plans are also available in electronic format (PDF) by calling 1–866–249–1799. Denison Forum on Truth and Culture. send them an e-mail with the dates the lessons will be studied. www. C. Teaching resource items for use as handouts are available free at www. a companion piece to this Study to order Adult Online Bible Commentary. The price of these comments is $6 for individuals and $25 for a group of five. B.baptistwaypress. A model for a bookmark can be downloaded from www. and other material. too. D.

A church or class that participates in our advance order program for free shipping can receive Adult Online Teaching Plans free. iPhone. Enjoy leading your class in discovering the meaning of the Scripture passages and in applying these passages to their Do you use a Kindle? This BaptistWay Adult Bible Study Guide plus Profiles in Character. To meet the needs of churches who wish to have a Bible study lesson specifically on the Easter Scripture passages at this time. The easiest way to find these materials is to search for “BaptistWay” on your Kindle or go to www. Call 1–866–249–1799 or see www.) Call 214–630–4571 to begin your subscription to the printed or electronic edition of the Baptist Standard. The Gospel of John: Part Two.” The Kindle edition can be studied not only on a Kindle but also on a PC. The Gospel of Matthew. and The Corinthian Letters: Imperatives for an Imperfect Church are now available in a Kindle edition. an Easter lesson is included. H.How to Make the Best Use of This Issue 5 teaching plans is $5 for an individual and $20 for a group of five. too. G. and do a search for “BaptistWay. The Gospel of John: Part for information on participating in our free shipping program for the next (Other class participants may find this information helpful. . You a lso may want to get the enrichment teaching help that is provided on the internet by the Baptist Standard at www. Blackberry. Note: The time of the first release of these materials includes Easter. or Android phone using the Kindle app available free from amazon.

The Gospel of Luke. and The Letters of James and John. time to study the Bible? Or maybe you’re a college student who wants to listen to the lesson on your iPod®? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to study the Bible when you just can’t find time to read? Or maybe you know someone who has difficulty seeing to read even our Large Print Study Guide? Then try our audio Bible study The Gospel of John: Part Two. The Gospel of Matthew. available on this study plus Profiles in Character. You’ll need an audio player that plays MP3 files (like an iPod®. Galatians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians. The Gospel of John: Part One. or you can listen on a computer.Audio Bible Study Lessons Do you want to use your walk/run/ride. . but many MP3 players are available). For more information or to order. The files are downloaded from our website. call 1–866–249–1799 or e-mail baptistway@texasbaptists. The Corinthian Letters. etc.

A. in Theology. Vivian is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University (B. three sons. She wrote the lessons on Hosea for this Study Guide and the accompanying teaching plans in the Teaching Guide. He also enjoys teaching adjunctively for Logsdon Seminary at their Corpus Christi location.A. serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at Southwestern and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminaries. for more than thirty years. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.Div. Meredith Stone wrote lessons ten and eleven on Isaiah. A native of Georgia. He earned his B.Writers of This Study Guide Ron Lyles.D. Lyles is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M. and Ph. has been the pastor of the South Main Baptist Church of Pasadena. Dr. writer of lessons seven through nine on Isaiah.). Texas. Prince has served in pastorates in that state and in Texas.. after serving twenty-four years in Asia. and eight grandchildren. Ph. Stone serves as Women in Ministry Specialist for Texas Baptists. and at Wayland Baptist University. in Christian Education) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M. He has also been writing Bible study material for most of that time. an international school for missionary children. with emphasis in Biblical Backgrounds and Old Testament). North Carolina. She currently teaches Sunday School and weekly Bible studies at First Baptist Church. Texas.Div. Mineral Wells. Robert Prince. She and her husband have two daughters. and his M. writer of the lessons on Amos. Waynesville.A. She has taught adjunctively for Hardin-Simmons in the areas of Old Testament and 7 . Vivian Conrad and her husband John retired to Mineral Wells. Rev. For twelve years Vivian taught high school Bible classes at Faith Academy. degree from Baylor University. Dr.D.

and Wayland Baptist University.) and received his Ph.A.D.A.) and is working toward a Ph. Isaiah. in Biblical Interpretation at Brite Divinity School. Don has taught as an adjunct for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary..A.8 Amos. Mid-America Christian University. Dr. She is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University (B. M. Petersburg. Micah Hebrew. Texas. Texas Christian University. Don Raney wrote the lessons on Micah plus the Easter lesson.D. . Raney is pastor of First Baptist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama (B. Hosea. in Old Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

and Faithfulness Overview of Old Testament History and Events—Chart Eighth-Century Kings and Prophets—Chart Date of Study A mos 3 7 11 16 18 The End Has Come Lesson 1 Lesson 2 ������� No Exceptions ������� The Religion God Despises Amos 4:1–5. Micah: Calling for Justice. 2:16—3:5 Lesson 5 ������� God’s Lawsuit Against His People Hosea 4:1–13b Lesson 6 ������� The Wideness of God’s Mercy Hosea 11:1–11. Isaiah. and Faithfulness How to Make the Best Use of This Issue Writers for This Study Guide Introducing Amos. 5:1–24 Lesson 3 ������� Don’t Preach to Us About That Amos 7:7—8:3 Hos ea Amos 1:1–3. Micah: Calling for Justice. 14:1–2 59 69 79 9 . 9. Amazing Restoration Hosea 1:1–11. Isaiah. Hosea. Mercy. 4–16 23 35 47 Restoration Beyond Judgment Lesson 4 ������� Real Judgment. 6. 13.Amos. Mercy. Hosea. 2:1.

3:1–8 143 153 Easter Lesson ������� Seeing the Lord John 20:1–18 161 169 171 Our Next New Study How to Order More Bible Study Materials . 15–27b. 31:1 M icah God’s Requirements Lesson 12 ������� Lesson 13 ������� Mixed-Up Living God Has Told Us Micah 6:1–8 Micah 1:1–6. Hosea. Micah Trust in a Holy God Lesson 7 ������� When God Has Had Enough Isaiah 1:1–20 Lesson 8 ������� God’s Dilemma Isaiah 5:1–13. 8–17. 12. 11:1–10 Isaiah 30:1–5. 18–23 Lesson 9 ������� Called to a Hard Job Isaiah 6 Lesson 10 ������� History = His Story Lesson 11 ������� 91 101 111 121 131 Misplaced Trust Isaiah 10:5–7. Isaiah. 2:1–3.10 I saiah Amos.

including the small farmers. aided by the governmental and religious leadership. Israel was two nations—the Northern kingdom (called Israel) and the Southern kingdom (called Judah). after a time of stability. An additional internal factor in Israel.). during the latter half of the eighth century was the unstable political situation. prosperity. Mercy. Injustices abounded. the Northern kingdom. Isaiah. The times were turbulent and challenging. evidently forgetting that the ancestors of all of them had once been slaves in Egypt who had been redeemed only by God. Jeroboam’s son Zechariah reigned only six months (753–752 b.Introducing Amos. 11 . the well-being and even greatness of the nation began to unravel. and geographic expansion under Jeroboam II (786–746 b. Hosea.c.). and unbelievably included Baal worship. resulted in hardship for those poorer than they were. with many problems. The greed of the wealthy. Their worship was empty.c. divorced from life.1 The rich simply took advantage of the poor. The root for all of these conditions was that Israel had forgotten its covenant with God and the expectations for behavior the covenant required of them. The Northern Kingdom In the Northern kingdom. and Faithfulness Some of the most magnificent and challenging messages from God recorded in Scripture came during a fifty-year period of time in the eighth century before Christ. Micah: Calling for Justice.

even as they tried to get the nation to return to God.c. During the reign of Pekah (740–732 b.). in spite of Isaiah’s message of warning (see 2 Kings 16. Isaiah. but he had to pay tribute to Assyria in order for the nation to survive. The gruesome story of this disastrous period is told in 2 Kings 15—17. sought to conquer the nations to its west. Micah focused particularly on the social and economic inequities between rich and poor. Isaiah spoke especially of the shift in trust from the true God.). Judah became a vassal of Assyria under King Ahaz.). the Southern kingdom also had to deal with Assyria’s design for conquest. . Hosea. Internally.12 Amos. The Southern Kingdom Like the Northern kingdom under Jeroboam II. and idolatry similar to the sins of the Northern kingdom. Tiglath-Pileser. Judah was dealing with issues of inequality. That included Israel and Judah. too.c. Amos especially did not foresee repentance but bluntly prophesied. nrsv) and “prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Isaiah 7).c.) succeeded him. Micah He was succeeded by Shallum.). Menahem’s son Pekahiah (742–740 b. Although these problems might not have been as extreme in the Southern kingdom as in the Northern kingdom. the last king of the Northern kingdom. Its ruler.).c.c.c. Then. Like Amos and Hosea. they were bad enough that both Isaiah and Micah railed against them.c. For a time. Like the Northern kingdom. it also faced the challenges of a relentless external enemy—Assyria.2 The Assyrians defeated the Northern kingdom and took the people into exile in 722 b. Menahem reigned perhaps ten years (752–742 b. Both Amos and Hosea prophesied that the end—defeat and exile—would come. Amos and Hosea were prophets of God during this difficult time. Pekah was then succeeded by Hoshea (732–722 b.c. the Southern kingdom had also experienced a time of stability and prosperity under King Uzziah (783–742 b. inequities that had become unbearable to the people and unacceptable to God. At the same time the Northern kingdom was experiencing internal decay. “The end has come” (Amos 8:2. who reigned only one month (752 b. injustice. only to be assassinated and replaced by Pekah (740–732 b.) the Northern kingdom went to war with the Southern kingdom because the Southern kingdom refused to join a coalition to oppose Assyria.

6. 18–23 Isaiah 6 Hosea: Restoration Beyond Judgment Isaiah: Trust in a Holy God . we’ll see plenty of truths that will make us uncomfortable in the context of our actions in our own history—or should. Hosea.Introducing Amos. 9. As the eighth-century prophets—Amos. It’s a series of life lessons. They had neglected to their peril both what genuine commitment to God meant and what the covenant community was supposed to be like—a community of neighbors who treated one another with fairness and even mercy. Isaiah. Amos: The End Has Come Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5 Lesson 6 Lesson 7 Lesson 8 Lesson 9 No Exceptions The Religion God Despises Don’t Preach to Us About That Real Judgment. 5:1–24 Amos 7:7—8:3 Hosea 1:1–11. Israel and Judah were in grave danger. 13. Therefore. Isaiah. and Micah— all unmistakably show. 14:1–2 Isaiah 1:1–20 Isaiah 5:1–13. The Meaning for Us The prophets were fully engaged with the history of their times as they delivered their prophetic messages. 2:1. Hosea. 4–16 Amos 4:1–5. Why would we think our actions are any better than those of the people of that day. some interaction with the history of that day is necessary to understand their messages. 2:16—3:5 Hosea 4:1–13b Hosea 11:1–11. anyway? As we study the eighth-century prophets. Micah 13 the God of the covenant (Isaiah 30). however. Amazing Restoration God’s Lawsuit Against His People The Wideness of God’s Mercy When God Has Had Enough God’s Dilemma Called to a Hard Job Amos 1:1–3. This study is not merely a history lesson. Both Isaiah and Micah warned that God’s punishment was on its way.

. Micah Lesson 10 Lesson 11 Lesson 12 Lesson 13 History = His Story Misplaced Trust Mixed-Up Living God Has Told Us Isaiah 10:5–7. 239–243.14 Amos. 31:1 Micah 1:1–6. Isaiah. A History of Israel (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. Hosea. 8–17. 2:1–3.c. 3:1–8 Micah 6:1–8 Micah: God’s Requirements notes 1. 735–734 b. 15–27b. This war is called the Syro-Ephraimitic War. 12. 1959). John Bright. 11:1–10 Isaiah 30:1–5. 2.


The Judges about 1200–1020 b. The Exodus about 1350–1250 b. II.Overview of Old Testament People and Events I. Book: Genesis 1—11 Book: Genesis 12—50 Books: Exodus Leviticus Numbers 1—12 Books: Numbers 13—36 Deuteronomy Joshua Books: Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 1—12 People: Adam Eve Cain Abel Noah People: Abraham Sarah Lot Isaac Rebekah Jacob Leah Rachel Joseph People: Moses Aaron People: Caleb Rahab Joshua People: Deborah Barak Gideon Samson Ruth Hannah Samuel 16 . IV.c. III. Wandering in the Wilderness and Entering the Promised Land about 1300–1200 b. V. The Patriarchs about 1750–1350 b.c.c.c.c. Creation and Early Records prior to about 1750 b.

The Exile 597–539 b. and Abednego Esther People: Ezra Nehemiah Haggai Malachi 17 . Books: 1 Samuel 12—31 2 Samuel 1 Kings 1—12 1 Chronicles 10 — 2 Chronicles 9 Books: 1 Kings 12—22. X. Return from Exile 539–333 b. The Kingdom 1020–922 b. VII.c.VI.c.c. The Divided Kingdom VIII. IX. Hosea Isaiah Micah Hezekiah Josiah Huldah Jeremiah People: Ezekiel Daniel Shadrach. Only Judah 922–721 b. 2 Kings 1—17 Amos Hosea Isaiah 1—39 2 Chronicles 10—28 Books: 2 Kings 17—25 Isaiah 1—39 Micah Jeremiah Zephaniah Nahum Habakkuk 2 Chronicles 29—36 Books: Ezekiel Isaiah 40—66 Obadiah 2 Chronicles 36 Books: Ezra Haggai Zechariah Nehemiah Malachi 2 Chronicles 36 People: Saul Jonathan David Bathsheba Nathan Solomon People: Kings of Israel and Judah 922– 721 b.c. Meshach.c.c.c. 721–587 b. Elijah Elisha Amos (Lessons 1–3) Hosea (Lessons 4–6) Isaiah (Lessons 7–11) Micah (Lessons 12–13) People: Kings of Judah 721–587 b.

Pekahiah (742–740).) Hosea 1:1. The dates should be considered approximate. Matthew 1:9–10) Jeroboam of Israel2 (786–746 b. 26:23—27:9. Matt. Hosea 1:1.c. Matt. Shallum (752. These kings are the kings referred to in Isaiah 1:1.Eighth-Century Kings and Prophets Kings1 Uzziah of Judah (783–742 b. Amos 1:1.c. 6:1. Hosea 1:1. Hosea 1:1. Matt. 18 . Micah 1:1 (see also Isa. Micah 1:1. These kings reigned over Israel during the turbulent. 7:1.) Isaiah 1:1. Micah 1:1 (see also 2 Chron. Amos 1:1 (see also 2 Chronicles 26. 38:8. 14:28.: Zechariah (753–752. Zechariah 14:5. 6 months). 17.c.) Isaiah 1:1. 1:9–10) Prophets Amos Hosea Isaiah Focus: Judah Focus: Israel Micah Focus: Israel Focus: Judah Notes 1. Hosea 1:1. Micah 1:1 (see also Isa. one month).) Isaiah 1:1. 1:9) Hezekiah of Judah (715–687 b. Hosea 1:1. and Hoshea (732–722).c. 2.1:9) Ahaz of Judah (735–715 b. Menahem (752–742). unstable time after Jeroboam until the fall of Israel in 722 b.c. Pekah (740–732). Isa.c. 36:1—39:8. Amos 1:1 (see also 2 Kings 13:13. 7:1–23.) Isaiah 1:1. 14:23–30) Jotham of Judah (742–735 b. Shaded blocks indicate that this king is not referred to by this particular prophet. Information about these additional kings of Israel can be found in 2 Kings 15.

engaged in unjust actions against the poor. Amos’s God was not a tame God. For Amos. and hungry for self-satisfaction at others’ expense. their actions in daily life showed that their worship was hypocritical. Amos saw much in the culture of his day that indicated that the god the people of Israel worshiped was not the true God. this God “has roared. They worshiped a god who did not mind whether they lived that way as long as they paid him proper homage in regular.The End Has Come Critics of religion have sometimes charged that religious people believe in a God created in their own image. The God whose message Amos delivered would not put his stamp of approval on the greed. let us note. With actions like these.” The whole Book of Amos is about the roaring of this God against his people—God’s own people. Amos. The people were greedy for luxury. Amos said (3:8) that. the first of the writing prophets. Although they claimed to worship the true God and even put on elaborate worship services to show they did. burst upon the eighth-century scene with a powerful and powerfully unpopular message from God. I therefore command you. prejudice.c. God was fed up with the people’s 19 A m o s . “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth. Amos would have agreed with that assessment when he looked at the religion of the people of Israel in the mid-eighth century b. and power plays of human culture in exchange for elaborate sacrifices and regular attendance at the worship services. God could not be tamed to fit with human desires. how could they claim to worship a God who said. beautiful worship services. ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land’” (Deuteronomy 15:11. a God they have fashioned for themselves to satisfy their desires. like a lion. the God whom Amos served was a God who “roars” (Amos 1:2). Indeed. nrsv)? The god the people of Israel worshiped during Amos’s time was not the God who had taken Amos from “tending the flock” and had commanded him to prophesy God’s message (Amos 7:15).

and fed up with these people’s thinking they could get away with it if they just sprinkled a few grains of religion on their sorry behavior. Thus.” is on Amos’s encounter with the religious leadership of the day who. with no exceptions. We also want to feel that this God is for us and our ways. rejected God’s message. God’s bite was even worse than his roar. God’s attitude was not based on whim. Frankly. The idea that God may be against us because of our sins. Lesson three. nrsv). Lesson one. “No Exceptions. allied with the governmental leadership. As the Lord said to Amos (8:2. “The Religion God Despises.” These are sober. either. the god Israel worshiped. Israel could not count on some presumed special relationship with God to forestall it. When God had entered into covenant with Israel. “Don’t Preach to Us About That. God’s message through Amos was. Likely we don’t want to hear Amos’s words either. either. “The end has come upon my people Israel. the end. Today is no exception. including our sins against our fellow human beings and especially the most vulnerable people of our society. we may also want to tell Amos. nrsv): “Prepare to meet your God. As you study the Scriptures from Amos. How would the God of Amos relate to us and our culture? After studying Amos. God had made clear the kind of behavior expected.” points out that God does not honor worship disconnected from living justly in daily life. I will never again pass them by.20 Amos: The End Has Come mistreatment of the poor and the powerless. fed up with the luxurious living of some of the people at the expense of others.” deals with Amos 1:1—3:2 and emphasizes that all people—even those who consider themselves God’s people—are accountable to God for their behavior. ask yourself. challenging words—words Israel did not want to hear. We want to feel that God thinks a whole lot like us. O Israel!” These words were not a call for repentance but a warning of the end. Because of Israel’s evil behavior. . Go back where you came from and prophesy there (7:12). These desires of ours mean that the prophet Amos has much to say to us if we’re willing to hear it—and even if we’re not. This lesson calls us to consider how we may be refusing to hear God’s message ourselves in our corporate and personal lives. we tend to want the god of the status quo of the privileged. has never been popular. So Amos cried (4:12. the end was coming upon the nation of Israel. Lesson two. Israel had simply disobeyed and had done so flagrantly.

1987. Waco. Smith. 1988. Smith. 13. Douglas Stuart. Hosea—Jonah. “Amos.Amos: The End Has Come 21 Amos: The End Has Come Lesson 1 No Exceptions Lesson 2 The Religion God Despises Lesson 3 Don’t Preach to Us About That Amos 1:1–3. Ralph L. Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers. 1972. Volume 31. Tennessee: Broadman Press. Listing a book does not imply full agreement by the writers or BAPTISTWAY PRESS® with all of its comments. Amos: A Commentary. 5:1–24 Amos 7:7—8:3 Additional Resources for Studying the Book of Amos:1 Donald E. Atlanta: John Knox Press. 6. Hosea—Micah. 1995. “Amos. . Nashville: Abingdon Press. James Luther Mays. 9. Jonah. Gowan. Notes 1. 2:1. 4–16 Amos 4:1–5. 1996. Billy K. 1969. Volume 7.” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Obadiah. Publisher. Texas: Word Books. The Old Testament Library. James Limburg. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Volume VII.” The Broadman Bible Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. The New American Commentary. Amos. Nashville.


4–16 Background Amos 1—2 Main Idea God makes no exceptions in holding people accountable for their actions. those who choose to ignore God. Question to Explore Are we really so exceptional that God’s expectations do not apply to us? L e ss o n O n e Study Aim No Exceptions To acknowledge that God’s expectations apply to me and not merely to everyone else Quick Read Every person is accountable to God. That includes those who serve God. 6.Focal Text Amos 1:1–3. 2:1. 13. 9. and those who believe in and belong to God. 23 .

Amos the prophet encountered a form of Israelite exceptionalism. I will not turn back my wrath. when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. I will not turn back my wrath. 2 He said: “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem. 9.24 Amos: The End Has Come The phrase American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States of America is qualitatively different from all other nations of the world. This theory emphasizes American ideals of liberty emerging from its revolutionary beginning. . Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom. 6. Amos 1:1–3. many of his contemporaries believed that they lived under God’s protective favor. 1 The 6 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Gaza. The theory does not necessarily imply superiority.” 3 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus. 13 words of Amos. and the top of Carmel withers. but some people use it to make that assertion. even for four. the pastures of the shepherds dry up. that they believe that their nation is under God’s exclusive protection and is superior to all others. Most Americans are proud of their country. They believed either that they never did anything wrong or that God would never punish them even if they did. Seemingly. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth. That does not mean. however. It also does not express the belief that they live in a perfect nation. one of the shepherds of Tekoa—what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake. even for four.

4 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Judah. They sell the righteous for silver.Lesson 1: No Exceptions 25 9  This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Tyre. I will not turn back my wrath. the gods their ancestors followed.” 6 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Israel. Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders. as if to lime. . Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom. Because he burned. 13 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Ammon. I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees. I will not turn back my wrath. the bones of Edom’s king. even for four. even for four. even for four. 4–16 1 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Moab. Amos 2:1. I will not turn back my wrath. because they have been led astray by false gods. even for four. I will not turn back my wrath. even for four. 5 I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem. disregarding a treaty of brotherhood.

16 Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day. 15 The archer will not stand his ground. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. 9 “I destroyed the Amorite before them. and the horseman will not save his life. and the warrior will not save his life. 14 The swift will not escape. 7 . 12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy. Is this not true. I destroyed his fruit above and his roots below. and I led you forty years in the desert to give you the land of the Amorites. I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain. 13 “Now then. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.26 Amos: The End Has Come and the needy for a pair of sandals. 10 “I brought you up out of Egypt. though he was tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks. the strong will not muster their strength.” declares the Lord. 8 They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. the fleet-footed soldier will not get away. 11 I also raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines. people of Israel?” declares the Lord.

He then calls us to serve him. When did the ministry of Amos take place? The two kings noted here were contemporaries in the eighth century b. “Tekoa” was a village in the Southern kingdom of Judah about twelve miles south of Jerusalem and some twenty miles west of the Dead Sea on the edge of the Judean wilderness. The name of this prophet relates to bearing a burden or lifting a load. is not the normal term for shepherds. making the land of Israel and Judah prone to earthquakes. it describes the Moabite king who supplied 100. The latter would mean that Amos was himself a member of the wealthy class toward which he directed his harshest words. Amos was either someone who merely tended sheep or someone who was a sheep breeder and owner of substantial flocks. Some 200 years later.000 animals to the king of Israel. Amos was the only writing (or canonical) prophet who lived in Judah but was called to represent God in Israel. Amos’s King Uzziah (also known as Azariah) ruled Judah for fifty-two years. the . also called the Northern kingdom. Yahweh called Amos to speak the message that he would give him to say. In its only other Old Testament reference.c. The recipient of the ministry of Amos was Israel. The Hebrew word underlying “shepherds. Amos declared that he was not part of any group of professional prophets but that God had called him away from his agricultural vocation to proclaim God’s word (Amos 7:14–15).Lesson 1: No Exceptions 27 Expectations for All Who Are Called by God (1:1–2) Job descriptions are necessary in any business or profession.” The African Rift Fault runs through the Jordan River Valley.” noqed. 783–742 (2 Kings 15. Jeroboam II (the first Jeroboam was the first king of the Northern kingdom) ruled Israel during the years 786–746 (2 Kings 14:23–29). The specific chronological reference is “two years before the earthquake. prosperous reigns. They are essential in clarifying the expectations of an employer. God calls us to salvation. He knew the necessity of doing what God expected him to do (3:8). His death was the beginning of the end for Israel’s existence. That is our divine job description with no exceptions. This particular one must have been especially severe. The Israelites would not have been thrilled to hear anything from him. 2 Kings 3:4. They both enjoyed long. 2 Chronicles 26). The prophet Amos fulfilled God’s expectations for his ministry.

poised and fully committed to the attack and destruction of its intended prey (see also Joel 3:16. “for three sins . The Numerical Saying Careful readers of Amos 1—2 quickly detect the standardized form or patterned way in which Amos expressed the judgment sayings on the nations.” begins all eight pronouncements. “Saw” meant to perceive or understand a truth that is spoken or to experience a vision. The God of Amos was depicted as a roaring lion. They used it to organize a number of items for consideration and reflection. however. on this occasion the thunder would produce drought and devastation. The Lord would roar from his dwelling place or from the temple in Jerusalem. 29–31). “Zion” referred to the mountain fortress that was incorporated into the city of Jerusalem and became another name for the city.28 Amos: The End Has Come prophet Zechariah remembered it (Zechariah 14:5). Favorite numbers used by them were three/four and six/seven. 18–20. The green pastures of the shepherds would suffer. 21–23. Amos “saw” these words. . was a technical term for the sayings or messages of the prophets. usually singular in the first verse of prophetic books. 30:15–17. This kind of numerical saying (n and n + 1) was a favorite tool of the wisdom teachers in Israel (Job 5:19. The prominent Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin identified evidence of an earthquake that affected Hazor that he dated to 765–760 b. The Book of Amos includes both words (Amos 1—6) and visions (Amos 7—9). . Amos did not mean that God would forgive three of their sins but not the fourth one. He used the numerical saying to assert that the sinfulness of the nations had reached a saturation point with God. God had had enough of their rebellion and determined to punish them. . Jeremiah 25:30). “Carmel” is a prominent mountain jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea at the northwestern end of the Jezreel Valley. The numbers should not be taken literally. The theme of Amos’s preaching was the judgment of God (1:2). which usually produces the rain of the storm. Amos was the only prophet in the Old Testament to use this literary device. The phrase. even for four. The second picture of judgment is thunder.c. “Words” (Amos 1:1). Proverbs 6:16–19.

If you were to consult a map of ancient Israel while reading Amos 1:3—2:3. He had created all of them and had expectations that they treat one another in humane ways. you would see that geographically Amos encircled Judah and Israel by announcing the judgment of God on all their neighbors. “The Numerical Saying. The prophets introduced their messages in a stylized or formulaic way. Announcements of judgment against foreign nations are common in the prophetic literature (see also Isaiah 13—23. This is called the messenger formula because royal decrees announced by heralds or messengers began with this is what the king says. Amos used them to announce God’s judgment on Israel and Judah. (See the small article.Lesson 1: No Exceptions 29 “Carmel” means fruitful land. The classical judgment sayings asserted by the prophets included two elements: the indictment or accusation of the sins committed and the declaration of punishment for the sins. Also unique to Amos is the standardized form or patterned way in which he packaged these words of judgment on other nations. or Bethel. the political center. This rebellion was expressed in the oppression of others or inhumane treatment. The . Jeremiah 46—51.”) The other prophets used these pronouncements to imply that God would save his people by punishing others. He probably delivered this sermon at either Samaria. with no exceptions. Each of these focal verses provides the first of these two elements. They would not be exempt from punishment. and Ezekiel 25—32). crimes against humanity. the religious center of Israel. Amos is the only prophet to begin his message with them. Israel’s God was the sovereign God over all people groups in the world. The Hebrew word for “sins” in each judgment saying denotes a rebellion against the authority of one’s superior. Expectations for All Who Are Created by God (1:3—2:3) These verses record the first prophetic preaching by Amos in Israel. One phrase they frequently used is “this is what the Lord says” (Amos 1:3). and it was noted for its rich soil and heavy vegetation.

They probably fell in love with this new prophet as they listened to his message in these verses. Israelites listening to Amos would have been hearty in their rousing amens and preach on. Expectations for All Who Are in Community with God (2:4–16) Amos included the Southern kingdom. • Discipline your kids only. Damascus (1:3). All the participants share in the blame of the fight that results.30 Amos: The End Has Come To Discipline or Not To Discipline This scenario was reality for me during my children’s growing up years. • Discipline all the kids but your kids more firmly. or the people called Arameans. Your sons and other neighborhood boys are playing football in your yard when rough tackling causes tempers to flare. brother. was a serious enemy of Israel. Ammon (1:13) and Moab (2:1) were kingdoms east of the Jordan River and were ethnically linked to Israel and Judah. Judah. The “treaty of brotherhood” (1:9) may refer to the alliances enjoyed by David and Solomon with the Phoenician kings. They were Israel’s most dangerous threat until the time of David. Gaza (1:6) was one of the five chief Philistine cities (Gath is the only one not mentioned here). Amos accused them of outrageous behavior against vulnerable members of society and shameful treatment of conquered enemies. In all statements previous to this one. Here God would . the basis of God’s judgment was a general inhumane treatment of others. They were involved in human trafficking. Tyre (1:9) was the most important Phoenician city in Amos’s day. • Discipline your kids and other kids equally. as a recipient of God’s judgment (2:4–5). How do you respond? • Discipline no one (boys will be boys). My now adult sons could reveal to you what I chose to do. We know what our heavenly Father does.

especially of property. especially female slaves as they used them for their own gratification. 2:2). Amos depicted this total destruction in two ways. consequently. Most interpreters favor a meaning of the pressing of a heavy weight as when a cart of grain groans under the heavy weight of the produce. “Sandals” were sometimes used in legal transactions. God would bring judgment on them (2:13–16). this is I am talking to YOU. The word “crush” occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament. but they opposed both prophets (Elijah and Elisha) and Nazirites (Samuel and Samson). 14. Others think it depicts the overloaded cart that shakes and quivers like the earth does during . The innocent poor experienced injustice at the hands of the rich and powerful who used the legal system selfishly. In our vernacular. God also provided spiritual leaders to guide them. for they had a divine advantage (2:9–12). “Righteous” denotes those who are innocent of legal charges brought against them. 12. God’s judgment was described as destructive fire (see 1:4. The first picture is defeat by a military enemy. Amos first brought specific charges of sin against Israel (2:6–8). “Trample” probably means to turn away or deny due process to individuals. but not for long. Israelites would not have been that bothered by the destruction of their southern neighbor. The wealthy placed no value on the poorer elements of society. “The same girl” used by both father and son may refer to a slave girl. Amos changed the dialogue from the customary third person to the second person of direct address (2:10–16). The Assyrians would be that enemy. 10. It is longer and breaks the pattern or form. revealing that the defeat would be comprehensive (2:14–16). Maybe they still felt comfortable with Amos. The other picture is more difficult to interpret (2:13).Lesson 1: No Exceptions 31 judge Judah because of her rebellious disobedience to God’s instructions revealed in his law for them. 7. Israel had no legitimate reason for acting in this sinful and oppressive way. This eighth and final oracle of judgment differs from the others. God had given them this land after liberating them from Egypt and leading them through the wilderness. Israel sinned in spite of the work of God within them. The seven phrases represent the various facets of Israel’s army. The new prophet brought the hammer down on Israel (2:6–16).

Questions 1. Amos said either that the Israelites would be completely crushed under the heavy hand of God’s judgment or that they would be swallowed up by a crevice in the earth. We are wrong in that belief. We do it too. Why is it that those who enjoy red carpet treatment conclude that they will never be called on the carpet for their shameful behavior? They do it because they are sinners. We believe that others will be judged by God for their immoral actions but that somehow we will avoid the same judgment for our moral failures. but it generally is not the subject of blogs and tweets because we are not famous. Touching Your Life In recent years.32 Amos: The End Has Come an earthquake. we have seen many examples of powerful. Have you ever been called by God to do something but thought that he should use someone else? What did you do or not do? . In fact all people are accountable to God for the way that we treat both God and others. famous people who seemed to think they could engage in risky behavior and escape the negative consequences. God called Amos from Judah to minister in Israel.

Lesson 1: No Exceptions 33 2. How is the spiritual principle of universal accountability to God related to these New Testament verses: Matthew 7:3. 2 Corinthians 5:10. Hebrews 9:27? 3. Galatians 6:9. If it is true that a society’s treatment of the poor is a good gauge in evaluating spiritual health. how healthy or unhealthy is our nation or your community? .

and are you using well what you have been given? . Have you ever had the experience of listening to a sermon that you thought was for somebody else and God convicted your heart that it was a word for you? How did you feel? 5.34 Amos: The End Has Come 4. God graciously gave spiritual advantages to Israel. What has God given to you.