Summary: In Amos 9 we get a glimpse of God’s judgment of Israel, but also the promise of restoration.
Amos 1:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1 This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel.
2This is his report of what he saw and heard: "The LORD’s voice roars from his Temple on Mount Zion; he thunders from Jerusalem! Suddenly, the lush pastures of the shepherds dry up. All the grass on Mount Carmel withers and dies."
We are going to be looking at the book of Amos today. He was one of the minor prophets. No, he didn’t work in a coal mine. And no, he was not a child. So, who was this shepherd from Tekoa who would speak doom to the people of Israel? You could say he was a hick shepherd that lived in southern Judah. We really get an idea of who he was Amos 7:14-15
Amos 7:14-15 (New Living Translation)
14But Amos replied, "I’m not one of your professional prophets. I certainly never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of fig trees. 15But the LORD called me away from my flock and told me, `Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’
The Culture of Northern Israel
Who were the people of Israel? Israel consisted of ten tribes that had broken off from the kingdom of Judah and established the northern kingdom of Israel. It is believed that Amos preached somewhere between 760-750 B.C. This was a time of great prosperity for the northern kingdom. Jeroboam II was the king of Israel and he had recently conquered Ammon, Moab, Damascus, and Jordan including parts of Judah. With all this prosperity, however, came pride and idolatry. The rich at this time were known for their opulence, but also for their mistreatment of the poor. There was rampant idol worship taking place throughout Israel. Jeroboam II established Baal worship in Bethel the largest and chief religious center for Israel. How did Israel end up in such a state?
Jeroboam I was the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. The northern kingdom of Israel had just revolted from the kingdom of Israel under Rehoboam. What was left over was the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam and the southern kingdom of Judah under Jeroboam. Now the Hebrew religion required that people travel to Jerusalem to worship. The problem for Jeroboam, king of Israel was that Jerusalem was in Judah the southern kingdom. He feared that all of these worshipers going to Jerusalem might be enticed back to rejoin the kingdom of Judah. So this what he did according to 1 Kings 12:26-32:
1 Kings 12:26-32 (The Message)
26"But then Jeroboam thought, "It won’t be long before the kingdom is reunited under David. 27As soon as these people resume worship at The Temple of GOD in Jerusalem, they’ll start thinking of Rehoboam king of Judah as their ruler. They’ll then kill me and go back to King Rehoboam."
28"So the king came up with a plan: He made two golden calves. Then he announced, "It’s too much trouble for you to go to Jerusalem to worship. Look at these--the gods who brought you out of Egypt!" 29"He put one calf in Bethel; the other he placed in Dan. 30This was blatant sin. Think of it--people traveling all the way to Dan to worship a calf!
31"And that wasn’t the end of it. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they were fit for the job or not. 32To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar at Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrines he had made."
The problem with the northern kingdom of Israel was that they wanted to have religion on their own terms. They were into Burger King religion—have it my way. They replaced the true worship of God for the worship of idols. The book of Amos takes place over a 160 years later.
People in the northern kingdom are prospering. They are partying it up! Life was a continual party in the northern kingdom, at least if you were rich. And you didn’t have to bother with the ten commandments, because you had your own religion now!
Now picture Amos. How many of you have ever watched the Andy Griffith show? You remember Goober. Now when I picture Amos I picture someone who looked and talked like Goober. You have this country shepherd dressed in the 8th century equivalent of overhauls. He has this hick accent. He is not college educated and he travels to Bethel, the San Francisco of Israel. When these sophisticated, metropolitan people of Israel see this country bumpkin from the wilderness of Judah preaching doom what do you think was going through their minds.