Summary: 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.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
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 didn’t 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 that...in 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 wasn’t 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. It’s just like America today...outwardly it seems like things are going fairly well...but inside is decay and rottenness.
Amos saw the judgment of God coming upon the nation. But the greatest threat, then and now, lies in the religious community!! Amos was God’s gift to Israel...he was God’s attempt to convey the message to the people. But they had their minds...their conscious seared. They wouldn’t listen. They said, "Go Home! Make your living there!"
In chapters 1 & 2 Amos speaks of judgment on the surrounding nations. They really liked that part. You’ll notice that Amos repeats the phrase, "For three sins...even for four" He uses this formula to focus attention on the final item. He doesn’t list the first three, but moves directly to the fourth because this is the one that is the final straw that brings on the judgment of God.
down to the actual audience to whom his message is directed - Israel. Now Amos goes on to describe in great detail the conditions I mentioned briefly...the corruption, greed, immoral activities, and the overriding desire for pleasure - at any cost. In chapter 5 he says 3 times, "Seek the Lord that you may live!" But they wouldn’t listen. This brings us to our text for today - 5:18-24 (Read)
This section is probably one of the most famous sections of Amos and it introduces for the first time in Scripture the concept of the Day of the Lord. A term that appears only in prophetic texts. What do we think of when we hear the term the Day of the Lord? Do we think of the time when Christ will come back for His people? That glorious time when we’ll leave this old world and go to heaven?
In Israel’s mind the Day of the Lord was a time when God’s judgment would fall on other nations...on their behalf. They would be liberated from these heathen nations and would become the dominant political force in the world. The coming Day of the Lord was celebrated in many of their feasts and festivals. But Amos gives a clear picture of what the Day of the Lord would be like for them.