A Fore-shadowing of God’s Judgment (Amos 1)

Scripture reading – Amos 1

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues with a brief diversion from Isaiah to a consideration of the prophecies of Amos, a contemporary of that prophet.

Who was Amos? (1:1)

Little is known about Amos, apart from the general agreement among scholars that he was the first of four prophets of the LORD in the 8th century B.C. (the others being Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah). His name means “bearer” or “burden,” and his occupation was that of a “herdman” or shepherd. Though he is identified “among the herdmen of Tekoa” (a region some six or seven miles south of Bethlehem in Judah), the majority of his ministry would be focused on the ten tribes of northern Israel (1:1).

When did Amos serve as God’s prophet? (1:1)

Amos served during the reigns of “Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel [otherwise known as Jeroboam II], two years before the earthquake” (1:1). Regarding the earthquake, Zechariah describes the devastation of an earthquake (Zechariah 14:5), and historians and archeologists are in agreement with the Scriptures on such an event.

Borrowing the modern vernacular of politics, the prophet Amos was an outsider, a layperson “who was among the herdmen of Tekoa” (1:1), when God called him to deliver a word of prophecy against Judah and Israel (1:1).  With no political ties or priestly lineage, he had lived and worked in obscurity as a common shepherd.  When God called him to prophecy, Israel and Judah had been enjoying a season of peace and prosperity, and the thought of God’s displeasure and judgment was far from them.

A Prophecy Against Six Gentile Nations (1:2-2:3)

Before he addressed the sins of Judah and Israel, the first message Amos received from the LORD was a warning to six Gentile nations that their wickedness demanded God’s judgment.

With the word of the LORD upon his lips, Amos courageously delivered a series of prophecies concerning the imminent judgement of the LORD against six Gentile nations: Syria, identified as Damascus (1:3-5), Philistia, identified by its principal cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (1:6-8), Tyre (who were the people of Phoenicia, 1:9-10), Edom (1:11-12), Ammon (1:13-15), and Moab (2:1-3).

Each of the Gentile nations were charged with four transgressions, and the summary of God’s judgment to come was given. The Syrians were charged with cruelty toward Gilead (northern Israel), and were warned the LORD would send a fire destroying “the house of Hazael” and its palaces, cities, and people (1:3-5).

The Philistines were guilty of invading Judah (2 Chronicles 21:16), and selling the captives to the Edomites. Fire that would destroy their palaces, and citizens would be their fate (1:6-8).

The Phoenicians, identified as Tyrus (1:9-10), had been friends of Israel from the time of David (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15). Yet, they were guilty of violating their longstanding “brotherly covenant,” and had purchased Israelites, and sold them to Edom. They too would be judged by fire which would “devour the palaces” (1:10).

The Edomites, descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had committed an egregious sin against Israel. They were guilty of hating their kinsman (for they were sons of Isaac), and had persecuted the Israelites (1:11). As with the other nations, so it was with Edom, for God would send a fire to devour their palaces (1:12).

“The children of Ammon” (Genesis 19:38) were also guilty of transgressions against the LORD, for they had committed a heinous crime. They had mutilated the women of Gilead who were with child, that they might “enlarge the border” and possess the land (1:13). The Ammonites would fall victim not only to fire, but their leaders would be taken as captives (1:14-15).

Finally, though not a part of today’s Scripture reading, the children of Moab were to be punished for their sin (2:1). The Moabites were condemned for desecrating the bones of the king of Edom (an offense to God, for the Ammonites and Moabites were descendants of Lot, and were therefore kin, Genesis 19:37). Moab would also suffer judgment by fire (2:2-3).

Closing thoughts – The judgments pronounced against the six Gentile nations was to serve notice to Israel and Judah, that the judgment of God is not to be trifled with, for He is just. As He had promised to punish the sins of those nations, He would also judge His people.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith