Who was Amos in the Old Testament?

Amos the prophet is the author of the book that bears his name. The Book of Amos is the third of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Old Testament.  Amos was an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah. Since Uzziah was sole king of Judah from 767 to 750 BC and Jeroboam II sole king of Israel from 782 to 753 BC, the ministry of Amos is likely to have been sometime between 767 and 753 BC. The prophet lived in the kingdom of Judah but preached in the northern kingdom of Israel.

The prophet was a herdsman and a gatherer of the sycamore figs (ch. 7:14, 15). Although he might have been poor, he was independent, because he could leave his flock for ministry. He was not trained for his mission in the schools of the prophets. Yet, he was chosen to do a great work for God.

Upon receiving his divine call, the prophet left Judah to go to Israel and probably centered his work in Bethel, the location of the principal calf temple and the summer palace of the king. There he denounced the worship of the calf and was opposed by Amaziah, the idolatrous high priest, who charged him before the king as being a dangerous conspirator (ch. 7:10–13)

Amos was called to serve in a time when both Israel and Judah were prosperous. Under Jeroboam II, Israel was at the height of its power (ch. 2:8). Jeroboam had overcome the Syrians and had enlarged the territory of the northern kingdom to the northern boundary of the original united kingdom. As for Judah, King Uzziah had subdued the Edomites and the Philistines, put the Ammonites under subjection, encouraged agriculture and the domestic arts of peace, raised a large, powerful army, and fortified Jerusalem strongly (2 Chronicles 26:1–15).

Apparently safe from outside enemies and secure internally, Israel was not living in fear of danger or destruction. This prosperity led to pride and spiritual decline. This situation was worsened with the calf worship, which had been established by its first king, Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12:25–33). This calf worship called for the ministry of both Amos and Hosea. Both of their prophesying was directed towards the northern kingdom.

Amos can be ranked among the most important of the prophets because of his simple style and the strength and nobility of thought. Few prophets are more penetrating in comprehending the foundations of the natural and moral worlds, or show greater discernment into the power, wisdom, and holiness of God. His major themes are of social justice, God’s omnipotence, and divine judgment. There is no indication in the book as to the length of his active prophetic work nor to the closing days of his life.

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In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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