SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Amos 1:1 through 9:15
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)
Amos, whose name means “burden” or “burden-bearer,” was a shepherd and fig grower from Tekoa, which was located ten miles south of Jerusalem. He prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, having been given a message from God condemning the nations who had sinned against Him and harmed His people. He started by condemning Syria, then Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and, finally, Amos’ homeland of Judah. Amos then confronted the northern Israelites regarding their sins and warned them of impending judgment.
Israel had become politically and spiritually corrupt due to prosperity and idol worship. Wealth caused the people to become complacent in their religious practices and oppressive to the poor, even to the point of selling them into slavery. Their economic prosperity was due in part to military successes during the early part of the reign of King Jeroboam II. Idolatry was practiced throughout the land, including Bethel, which was supposed to be the nation’s religious center.
The worship of the Canaanite god Baal had been incorporated into Israel’s worship of God. Baal, which means “lord” or “husband,” was the name commonly given to the Canaanite storm god, Hadad. This god was often represented as a bull, the symbol of fertility. The images of bulls built by Jeroboam I at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-33) most likely provided occasion for mixing the worship of Baal with the worship of God.
Amos is thought to have prophesied and written this book from about 793 B.C. to 740 B.C., during the reigns of King Jeroboam II of Israel and King Uzziah of Judah.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- Read Amos 7:14-15. How was Amos qualified to be a prophet? How are people qualified to serve the Lord today?
The Lord called Amos to the office of prophet and gave him the message to give to the people. Amos was not trained to be a prophet, nor did he come from a family of prophets. He was a farmer by trade.
A true servant of the Lord is qualified the same way Amos was. God calls us to particular areas of service, and we then qualify ourselves by obedience to His Word.
Class discussion should bring out that no amount of religious training can qualify a person who has not been called by God. Once we are called, we must receive and maintain all that God has for us.
- The statement, “For three transgressions . . . and for four,” is mentioned each time a nation is condemned in the Book of Amos. What does this reveal about the nature of God?
The statement reveals the patience and longsuffering of God toward sinners. It was not for one transgression that God pronounced judgment on these nations; it was for a repeated history of sin and a failure to repent when given the opportunity. Class discussion should also bring out that, while God is patient, all sin — even if it is only one — will be judged if it is not repented of.
- Amos 3:10-15 indicates that Israel had become very prosperous prior to and during the years that Amos prophesied. What effect did prosperity have on the Israelites? Amos 8:4-6
The people had become complacent and were oppressing the poor, even selling them into slavery. They turned from serving God and began idol worship in a perverse effort to increase their prosperity. Ask your students to give examples of ways that prosperity may have a negative impact on Christians today.
- Did God expect more of Israel than of the other nations? Explain your answer. Amos 2:9-11
Yes. God had performed wondrous miracles on their behalf. The prophets challenged the people continually to remember His mighty works. It is amazing to read a list like this and see their forgetfulness. God’s faithfulness should have caused them to serve Him obediently. The other nations did not have the direct benefits that Israel enjoyed.
Ask your students if God expects more from those who are brought up in the Gospel. If so, why?
- What device did God show Amos in chapter 7 to illustrate Israel’s spiritual condition? Describe God’s message to Israel using this device.
God showed Amos a plumbline, a device used to determine whether or not a wall is perpendicular. A wall that is not built straight (out-of-plumb) causes everything aligned to it to be off, and the structure may eventually collapse. God wanted the people to be right with Him. His Word is the plumbline which helps us stay straight and true. Lead your students to understand that God’s Word exposes sin as crooked.
- A basket of ripe fruit was normally associated with the joys of summer harvest. However, in this instance, it was a picture of judgment (Amos 8:1-2). How did Amos describe the lifestyle of the Israelites? What did this lifestyle indicate about their desire to serve God? Amos 8:4-6
The people could not wait for the religious holidays and Sabbaths to be over so they could get back to making money. Their interest was in enriching themselves and taking advantage of the poor. They had no real desire to serve God.
Lead your class in a discussion of the difference between a life built around the world and a life built around serving God. Ask them if the two are compatible. You may want to follow up with a discussion of how we can correctly manage our jobs and/or outside activities in conjunction with our Christian service.
- The Book of Amos concludes on a positive note (Amos 9:11-15). What hope was given to the people? What hope do we look for as we see God’s judgment today?
The people of Israel were given a promise that they would be brought out of captivity, their wasted cities would be re-built, and they would be placed back in their land, never to be removed again. Ask your students if they can see the fulfillment of any of these promises in the country of Israel today. Have them explain their answers.
As was prophesied, we live in perilous times. However, we know that soon the Lord will return to take those who are ready to forever be with Him — what a tremendous hope!
May God help us to be willing to leave our comfort zones and share His message with the unsaved before His judgment falls on them. We may feel unqualified to spread God’s Word, yet we can be assured that He will be with us, just as He was with Amos.