The Message Of Amos -- By: Robert Spender

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 17:1 (Summer 2008)
Article: The Message Of Amos
Author: Robert Spender


The Message Of Amos

Listen Carefully To The Voice Of The Lord

Robert Spender

Bob Spender is Professor and chairman of the division of Biblical Studies at Lancaster Bible College. He is in fellowship at Monterey Bible Chapel in Leola, PA. Previous articles on Habakkuk and Obadiah have appeared in The Emmaus Journal. See EmJ 11 (2002): 51-78; 14 (2005): 75-95.

Introduction

God shouts in Amos! One can “feel” the voice of God while reading this book. The prophet’s message undoubtedly shook the northern kingdom with greater force than the earthquake in the eighth century BC mentioned in the first verse. The book is colorful, forceful, and so well-organized that it outlines itself. The first two chapters are marked by repetition and progression as a series of oracles moves among area nations toward the northern kingdom. The next four chapters (3-6) are structured as three discourses followed by two messages of woe. Closing the book are five visions (7-9) amplified by appropriate interludes.

Amos And His Times, 1:1

Apart from a few autobiographical comments found in chapter 7 and oblique references to natural disasters, only the opening verse provides specific information on the life and time of this prophet. The mention of two kings, Uzziah and Jeroboam, sets his ministry in the eighth century at a time of growing economies and relative stability.

Following late ninth century Assyrian aggression against the Aramean states, Assyria entered a period of decline, allowing Israel and then Judah to strengthen and expand. By taking advantage of the disarray in Damascus, Jeroboam (II) expanded Israel’s territory northward. About the same time, King Uzziah expanded Judah southward to the port of Elat. Under Uzziah cities grew

and the military gained in strength. Uzziah attempted to preserve the ways of the Lord, but growing prosperity in the South apparently worried Amos as well as his contemporaries in Judah.

The first verse clearly attributes the book to the prophet Amos. Some have taken the opening statement about the words (דִּבְרֵי, dibrê) of Amos being received in visions (חָזָה, ḥāzāh) to be an indication of multiple layers of tradition or stages of collecting.1 Instead...

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