STUDY ONE: AMOS 1:1, 2

© Rosemary Bardsley 2021

A. THE SETTING

The book of Amos tells us several things about its author and its historical setting. We will look at these before we start studying through the text. We can also understand the historical setting from information in other books in the Bible.

A.1 The author:
Read Amos 1:1 and 7:14, 15. Answer these questions:
Where was Amos’ home?

What was Amos’ normal occupation?

Why did he leave his home and country and his regular work?

 

In the history recorded in the book of Amos, what was he doing, and where was he doing it?

 

A.2 The historical setting:
What three historical facts does Amos 1:1 give us about when Amos prophesied?

 

 

Read 2Kings 14:23 – 29. What do you learn about Jeroboam, king of Israel?
Positive:

 

Negative:

 

 

Read 2Kings 15:1 – 7 and 2Chronicles 26:1 – 23. What do you learn about Uzziah, king of Judah (who was also called Azariah)?
Positive:

 

Negative:

 

 

B. THE BACKSTORY

B.1 The promise
The history of Israel began with God’s promises to Abraham, to his son Isaac, and to his grandson Jacob (who is also called ‘Israel’).

What do you learn about this promise in these verses?
Genesis 12:1 – 3

Genesis 15:18 – 21

Genesis 17:3 – 8

Genesis 22:17 – 18

Genesis 26:2 – 4

Genesis 28:13 – 14

 

B.2 The rescue, the requirements and the response
At the same time as God promised Abraham that he was giving the land of Canaan to him and his descendants, God also told Abraham that that would not happen until quite a long time had passed.

What do you learn from these verses?
Genesis 15:13 – 16

 

Exodus 1:1 – 14

 

Exodus 12:40 – 41

 

In Exodus chapters 2:1 to 15:21 we learn of God’s intervention and deliverance of the people of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) from slavery in Egypt. He brought them to Mount Sinai, where he established a covenant with them as his ‘people’, that is, as his nation. His intention was, having given them his covenant, to bring them from Sinai directly to the promised land.

Read these verses. What do you learn ...
About the covenant requirements –
Exodus 19:3 – 6

 

Exodus 20:2 – 7

 

Exodus 20:23

Deuteronomy 4:15 – 20

 

About the ‘faith’ of the Israelites –
Exodus 14:10 – 12

Exodus 16:2 – 4, 8, 26 – 28

Exodus 32:1 – 8

 

Numbers 13:31 – 14:11

This failure of faith continued to characterize the Israelites throughout their history. While there were individuals who had genuine faith in God, the nation as a whole repeatedly demonstrated that their hearts were far from God. Not just in these months immediately after their redemption from slavery and the establishment of the Sinai covenant, but right up to the time that Amos was commissioned by God to prophesy.

Read these verses. What do they say about this on-going failure?
Joshua 24:14 – 22

 

Judges 2:6 – 13

 

 

1Samuel 8:7, 8

 

 

B.3 On-going unfaithfulness
Samuel anointed Saul as king of Israel, in response to their demands and God’s instructions. In their desire to have a king, ‘as all the other nations have’ (1Samuel 8:5), they expressed their rejection of God as their King. This rejection of God had characterized the people from the time God rescued them from Egypt, and it continued to characterize them.

B.3.1 The original united kingdom
Saul reigned over Israel for around twenty years (c1020 – 1000BC). His disobedience incurred God’s rebuke via Samuel, and God’s rejection of him as king. 1Samuel 9 – 31 record the events of Saul’s reign.

Read these passages. What do they tell us about Saul?
1Samuel 13:7 – 14

 

1Samuel 15:1 – 35

 

1Chronicles 10:13, 14

 

Because of Saul’s unfaithfulness and disobedience, God instructed Samuel to anoint David as king. This anointing took place years before David actually became king. He reigned for around 39 years (c1000 – 961BC). At first this was just over Judah, but eventually all of the tribes of Israel accepted his rule. Although David’s story is recorded from 1Samuel 16 onwards, his reign is described in 2Samuel 2 – 1Kings 2 and 1Chronicles 11 – 29.

Despite David’s personal moral failures in relation to Bathsheba and her husband, his reign is a bright spot in the history of Israel.

Optional research: Read these verses. What do you learn about David?
1Samuel 13:14 (and 16:7)

1Samuel 17:26, 32 – 27, 45 – 47)

 

 

1Samuel 18:17 – 18

1Samuel 24:6, 8 – 15

 

1Chronicles 13:1 - 4; 15:1 – 3; 15:11 – 16:36

 

1Chronicles 17:1

1Chronicles 17:16 – 27

 

1Chronicles 22:1 – 4, 14 – 19; 23:3 – 5; 28:11 – 29:5

 

 

1Chronicles 29:10 – 22

 

Under David, Israel’s enemies were beaten. After David’s death, Israel, for the most part, enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity during Solomon’s reign (c961 – 922BC). However, the promises that God had made concerning David’s dynasty included the condition of faithfulness to the Lord. The Lord said to Solomon:

‘... But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple ...’ (1Kings 9:6,7).

Read 1Kings 11:1 – 13. What do you learn about Solomon’s failure and the future of the kingdom?

 

 

B.3.2 The divided kingdom – Israel [922 – 722 BC]
When Solomon died, one of his generals, Jeroboam, rebelled against Solomon’s son, and took ten of the tribes of Israel with him (that is, all except Judah and Benjamin). This rebel kingdom was known as
‘Israel’ (although some of the prophets sometimes referred to the two nations combined as ‘Israel’). Jeroboam set up idols and a rival system of worship. From its very beginning this northern kingdom, Israel, was given over to idolatry. Its various kings gained the throne by various means.

[For comments on the kings below, and in the next section, see sections G and H in this study: https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/old-testament-overview/1288-the-books-of-history.html ]

Optional research: What do these verses say about the kings of this kingdom?
Jeroboam (922 – 901BC) – 1Kings 12:28 – 33; 13:33, 34:

 

Nadab (901 – 900BC) – 1Kings 15:26

Baasha (900 – 877) – 1Kings 15:34; 16:7

Elah (877 – 876BC) – 1Kings 16:13

Zimri (876BC) - 1Kings 16:18, 19

Omri (876 – 869BC) – 1Kings 16:25, 26

Ahab (869 – 850BC) – 1Kings 16:30 – 33 [16:29 – 22:40 for the full story]

Ahaziah (850 – 849BC) – 1Kings 22:52, 53)

Jehoram (Joram) (849 – 842BC) – 2Kings 9:22

Jehu (842 – 815BC) – 2Kings 10:16 – 31

 

Jehoahaz (815 – 801 BC) – 2Kings 13:2

Jehoash (801 – 786BC) – 2Kings 13:11

Jeroboam II (786 – 746BC) – 2Kings 14:24

Zechariah (746 – 745BC) – 2Kings 15:9

Sahllum (745BC) – 2Kings 15:13

Menahem (745 – 738BC) – 2Kings 15:18

Pekahia (738 – 737BC) – 2Kings 15:24

Pekah (737 – 732BC) – 2Kings 15:28

Hoshea (732 – 724BC) – 2Kings 17:2

 

Read 2Kings 17:7 – 23. What do you learn from this summary of the northern kingdom?

 

 

 

B.3.3 The divided kingdom – Judah [922 – 597BC]
After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, listened to the advice of his peers rather than that of older, wiser, men. His excessive demands led to most of the people of Israel following the rebel general, Jeroboam. From this time onwards, until the destruction of the northern kingdom, those who retained allegiance to the Davidic king were known as ‘Judah’, with Jerusalem as the centre of worship. Along with the tribe of Judah was the small tribe of Benjamin, and various priests, and others who disagreed with the idolatrous worship that was part of the northern kingdom from the beginning (2Chronicles 11:13 – 17). The kings of Judah, all of David’s line, were a mixed bag. Some remained faithful to God, some did not.

Optional research: Read these verses. What do you learn about the kings of Judah?
Rehoboam (922 – 915BC) – 2Chronicles 12:1, 14; 1Kings 14:22 - 24

Abijah (915 – 913BC) – 2Chronicles 13:10 – 12; 1Kings 15:3

Asa (913 – 873BC) – 2Chronicles 14:2 – 4, 11; 15:2, 7; 16:7 – 12; 1Kings 15:11 - 15

Jehoshaphat (873 – 849BC) – 2Chronicles 17:3 – 6; 19:1 – 3; 20:32, 33; 1Kings 22:43, 46

Jehoram (849 – 942BC) – 2Chronicles 21:6, 12 – 13; 2Kings 8:18

Ahaziah (842BC) – 2Chronicles 22:3 – 5; 2Kings 8:27

Athaliah (842 – 837BC) – (mother of Ahaziah) – 2Chronicles 22:10; 24:7; 2Kings 11:1

Joash (837 – 800BC) – 2 Chronicles 24:2 – 5, 17 – 22; 2Kings 12:2 – 5

 

Amaziah (800 – 783BC) – 2Chronicles 25:2, 14 – 15, 27; 2Kings 14:3,4

Uzziah (aka Azariah) (783 – 742BC) – 2Chronicles 26:4, 5, 16 – 20; 2Kings 15:3,4

Jotham (742 – 735BC) – 2 Chronicles 27:2, 6; 2Kings 15:34, 35

Ahaz (735 – 715BC) – 2 Chronicles 28:1 – 4, 19 – 26; 2Kings 16:2 – 4, 8, 10 – 18

Hezekiah (715 – 687/6BC) – 2 Chronicles 29:2 – 11; 30:6 – 9; 31:20, 21; 32:25, 26; 2Kings 18:3 – 8

 

 

Manasseh (687/6 – 642BC) – 2Chronicles 33:2 – 10, 12 – 17; 2Kings 21:2 - 9

Amon (642 – 640BC) – 2Chronicles 33:22, 23; 2Kings 21:20 - 22

Josiah (650 – 609BC) – 2Chronicles 34:2 – 8, 29 – 33; 2Kings 22:2; 23:1 - 3

 

 

Jehoahaz (609BC) – reigned only three months – 2Kings 23:32

Jehoiokim (609 – 598BC) – 2Chronicles 36:5,8; 2Kings 23:37

Jehoiachin (598 – 597BC) – 2Chronicles 36:9; 2Kings 24:9

Zedekiah (597 – 587BC).- 2 Chronicles 36:12 – 14; 2Kings 24:19

Read 2Chronicles 36:15 – 21. What do you learn about Judah?

 

 

 

C. THE PROBLEM

Each of the kings of Israel and Judah was evaluated on the basis of whether they did good or evil in the eyes of the LORD. This ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is fundamentally about worshipping the one true God on the one hand, and worshipping idols on the other.

The worship of the one true God was the foundation of the Sinai Covenant and of the Davidic covenant (in so far as the continuance of the line of David was concerned). The importance of this worship and the right expression of this worship are recorded in detail in the books of Moses. So too is the result of refusal to worship God.

Read these verses (some we looked at earlier). What is the primary responsibility that God required and that the Israelites promised to do?
Exodus 19:4 - 8

 

Exodus 20:1 – 7 (response: Exodus 24:3)

 

Deuteronomy 5:6 – 11; 6:4

 

Deuteronomy 26:16 – 19

 

Joshua 24:14 – 27

 

 

Amos was sent to the northern kingdom, Israel, because of their on-going rejection of God and the various sins that that sin of unbelief generated. However, his message was at times also directed to the southern kingdom, Judah, and is, at least in part, relevant to both kingdoms.

In Amos 1:2 we read: ‘The LORD roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem ...’

It is ‘the LORD’ against whom the people have rebelled. The name ‘LORD’ is the self-identifying name that God revealed to Moses when he wanted to know ‘What shall I tell them?’ if the Israelites asked him what was the name of the God who had sent him. God replied ‘I AM WHO I AM ...say to the Israelites “I AM has sent me to you”.’ (Exodus 3:13, 14). [This is the name that is sometimes expressed in English as ‘Jehovah’, ‘YAHWEH’ or ‘YHWH’.] It identifies God as the self-existent, self-sufficient, ever-present One. It was considered extremely holy by the Israelites.

It is this ‘LORD’ that they had promised to obey, but whom they have rejected. It is this ‘LORD’ whom they have replaced with idols, and whose clearly defined worship has been replaced with numerous vile practices associated with their idolatry. It is this ‘LORD’ whose commandments and compassion they have despised.

Zion’ is another name for ‘Jerusalem’. It is there that the temple, the ‘house for God’s name’, was situated. It was here that legitimate, formal worship of God took place. Here were the sacrifices. Here were the priests. Here were the weekly, monthly and yearly festivals.

Amos’ message is a message for Israel, the people of God, from the very centre of God-ordained Israelite worship. Even though from the time of Jeroboam they had alternate gods and alternate worship, God still saw them as the people whom he had made his own special nation. From God’s perspective they were still bound by the covenant he made with their ancestors, which included both blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 28). As his covenant people, their rejection of him meant rejection of the covenant blessings and exposure to the covenant curses.

Amos’ next words ‘the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers’ are witness to the curses that accompany rejection of the LORD and his covenant. Both pastoral and agricultural industries are impacted by the judgements God has poured out upon his rebellious people. [‘Carmel’ is the name of a long mountainous area, with Mount Carmel a significant peak.]

It is this ‘LORD’ who ‘roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem’ who is speaking through Amos, the prophet. Each of the surrounding pagan nations, Judah and Israel are addressed with the words ‘This is what the LORD says’. Amos’ message is the LORD ‘roaring’, a concept that will be mentioned again in Amos 3:1 – 8.

REFLECTION
What have you learned about God from this study – who he is and what he does?

 

 

 What have you learned about the right human response to God?

 

 

 What have you learned about the wrong human response to God?

 

 

 Where are you positioned, personally, regarding  the two previous questions?