Amos 5:18-24

Amos - one of the most relevant, practical and contemporary books. The times in which Amos lived are remarkably similar...the social and cultural conditions are much like those today. Amos was a contemporary of Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea. He came from the little town of Tekoa...10 miles south of Jerusalem. It was on the edge of the desert...a desolate, barren place.

This man was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet (7:14) He was a herdsman & dresser of sycamore trees...actually a wild fig or mulberry fig trees. A dresser of sycamore trees would be better translated bruiser. Sycamore trees had a fig-like fruit. In order to make these ripen and increase the sugar content they would take a stick and tap them and bruise them. Amos picked these for a living. The fruit was not especially good, and only the poor people ate it.

So we can see that Amos was a common "farmer" from a small town trying to make a living. And it was while he was tending sheep and dressing trees that he became aware of the conditions of his day. Amos lived on a much traveled route...(Interstate)...Caravans would pass through Tekoa, and this is where he learned of the conditions of that day and time.

Amos was from Judah...which was in the south. But God called him to go to Israel, which is in the north...This didnít go over very well. While there was peace between the northern and southern kingdoms there was still a lot of strife between the people.

This situation could be compared to our country 100 years ago. It would be like a rebel going north and telling them yankees they need to get their lives right. Besides Israel things were going well. There was a period of peace and prosperity between the conquering armies of Assyria and Egypt.

Wealth abounded...actually it was an either or situation. On one hand there was luxury and self-indulgence and on the other was abject poverty. The government was corrupt...there was evidence of extortion...there were riots and violence...class hatred. Dishonesty was the rule rather than the exception. There was also a gross indifference to suffering.

The religious conditions followed the same pattern. Outwardly it seemed that religion was thriving...attendance soared, the treasuries bulged...religious pilgrimages were common to the holy cities of Gilgal and Bethel. But inside there was sickness. The priests were little more than professional leeches. They would preach exactly what would tickle the ears of the people.

Immorality was practiced in the name of Jehovah...There was so much hypocrisy, and superstition and insincerity. Real righteousness was hated and opposed it wasnít just not encouraged - it was opposed... sometimes violently.

Here it becomes painfully relevant for us today. In this period of peace - instead of being grateful to God for the peace and prosperity He had given...they used this time to go more deeply into sin. Itís just like America