Amos was a prophet who denounced the idolatry and injustice of the people of Israel. He prophesied the destruction of the kingdom of Israel because of sin. Little is known about his life but he wrote a book about his visions.
Amos was a shepherd who also harvested wild figs. He was from the city of Tecoa, which was south of Jerusalem. Amos did not receive an education to be a prophet nor did he consider himself one, but God called him to prophesy and gave him visions ( Amos 7: 14-15 ).
Israel in the time of Amos
In Amos’ time, the Israelites enjoyed many blessings but also faced great challenges. A few generations before Amos, the kingdom of Israel had been divided into two: Israel, to the north, and Judah, to the south, still ruled by the descendants of David. Amos was from Judah but God called him to prophesy in Israel. Israel’s destruction was imminent.
When Amos began his ministry, the king of Judah was Uzziah (or Azariah) and the king of Israel was Jeroboam II. The people of Israel were suffering, so God used Jeroboam to deliver the Israelites from oppressive people ( 2 Kings 14: 26-27 ). Jeroboam had military success and Israel had a time of peace. Uzziah’s reign was also quite peaceful.
But Jeroboam was not God-fearing. He and the Israelites were idolatrous ; they mixed worship of God with worship of other false gods and disgusting pagan practices. There was also a lot of social injustice . The rich oppressed the poor, valuing their pleasures more than the lives they destroyed, and there was no justice in the courts ( Amos 2: 6-8 ).
See here: what does God say about idolatry?
God’s work for Amos was to denounce everything wrong that was happening in Israel. If the neighboring peoples, who were pagans, were going to be punished for their sins, much less the Israelites, who boasted of being God’s people!
Amos warned the people of Israel about the danger of sin. God had been patient but the people now felt safe, without fear of the consequences of their sins. Therefore, God would bring punishment ( Amos 6: 3 ).
See also: What does the Bible say about prophecy?
The Israelites did not want to hear Amos’ message. Amaziah, the priest of the idolatrous sanctuary at Bethel, accused Amos of conspiring against the king and ordered him to leave ( Amos 7: 10-12 ). The Bible does not tell what happened to Amos later, but his prophecies were fulfilled. A few decades later, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and the people were exiled. The people did not repent with the words of Amos, so they received punishment.