Amos 1:1-15

Daybreak for Students

Amos 1:1-15

Amos 1
Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron. — Amos 1:3

For a number of years, a World War II veteran testified of God’s mercy to him. While in the service, he was a sailor and also a sinner. He said, “Once, we were standing on the deck when two allied fighter planes flew toward us, very low. We thought they were Australians. Suddenly, I noticed their guns winking! I could feel the concussion as the bullets struck the ship. The enemy had captured these two Australian planes and was using them against us. Just as they neared our ship, they ceased firing. They pulled up in a banking formation to about thirty feet above me. The enemy pilot looked down at me and grinned. You figure that out!

“Another time, a suicide bomber set his course for us. He was really moving! But as he reached our ship, the bomber tilted so that it flew on its side between the bridge and the forward mast, right into the sea on the other side of the ship. It was like a hand swatting a fly. I was not far from the bridge, and if that plane had hit us, I would probably have died in my sins.”

More than once, God spared this man’s life. God is a God of justice, but He is also a merciful God. The focus verse illustrates this. God, knowing what the people of Damascus had been doing, gave them a number of opportunities to change before meting out the punishment they deserved. He justifiably could have punished them after their first infraction. Instead, He showed mercy to them for their multiple offences, and it was only after the fourth (or more) violation that the just punishment was given.

Although God extended mercy to these people for a time, there was a limit to His tolerance. Today, too, He often extends mercy to those who are violating His laws, but there is still a limit to the mercy He will offer. There will be a day of judgment for those who reject Him, just as there was for Damascus. As in Amos’ time, justice demands punishment for transgressions. The only chance anyone has is to take advantage of God’s mercy while it is still available. Happily, the World War II sailor did just that, and God saved his soul.

God is amazingly patient toward flawed humanity, but He is righteous and cannot tolerate sin. Although mercy is available, it is not always automatically bestowed. Each individual must request it. It is incumbent on each of us to search our hearts and be sure we are aligned with God’s will. Peace and security come with knowing that all is well between God and us.


The Book of Amos was probably written in Israel during the later part of the reign of Jeroboam II (793 B.C. through 753 B.C.). Amos was identified as a sheep herdsman and cultivator of the sycamore fig. He was one of the twelve minor prophets. He spoke out against the empty ritualism of a people who, in a time of material prosperity, had lost sight of justice and were indifferent to the plight of the poor and the oppressed.

Most scholars date Amos’ ministry, which lasted only a few months, to about 760 B.C. Although he prophesied to the Northern Kingdom, Amos was a native of Judah, Israel’s sister nation to the south. He came from the village of Tekoa, situated about ten miles south of Jerusalem. After preaching in Israel, Amos probably returned to his home in Tekoa. No facts are known about his later life or death. He was an example of courage and faithfulness.

The first chapter of Amos addressed the nations around Palestine that had been summoned to judgment because of their sins.

  • Damascus, the capital of Syria, was noted first. Hazael and Benhadad were Syrian kings.
  • Philistia had five major cities: Gath, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron. Already destroyed, Gath was not mentioned, so Amos prophesied the destruction of all Philistia.
  • Tyrus, or Tyre, was a major city of Phoenicia. The predicted destruction referred to that entire nation.
  • The Edomites were descendants of Esau, and their treatment of Israel promised punishment.
  • The Ammonites were Lot’s descendants, and they were also destined for judgment. The capital of Ammon was Rabbah, and it was strongly fortified. However, God promised to destroy it.

By beginning with predictions of punishment for their enemies, Amos caught the people’s attention and disarmed them for their own message of judgment (beginning in the next chapter). The skill and tact his approach demonstrated were remarkable.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.   Introduction (1:1-2)
     A.   Title (1:1)
     B.   Theme (1:2)
II.   The announcement of judgment upon the nations
     A.   Judgment upon the surrounding nations
           1.   The judgment of Damascus (Syria) (1:3-5)
                 a.   The reason (1:3)
                 b.   The judgment (1:4-5)
           2.   The judgment of Gaza (Philistia) (1:6-8)
                 a.   The reason (1:6)
                 b.   The judgment (1:7-8)
           3.   The judgment of Tyre (Phoenicia) (1:9-10)
                 a.   The reason (1:9)
                 b.   The judgment (1:10)
           4.   The judgment of Edom (1:11-12)
                 a.   The reason (1:11)
                 b.   The judgment (1:12)
           5.   The judgment of Ammon (1:13-15)
                 a.   The reason (1:13)
                 b.   The judgment (1:14-15)


  1. Who were the enemies of the people of Israel that the Lord punished? 

  2. Why do you think this chapter mentions that the punishment was for, “three transgressions and also for four”?

  3. In what ways are the examples of God’s justice a lesson to us today?


We have no way of knowing how long God’s mercy will be available to us, so it is vital for us to act upon it right away, while we can.