The Israelites were longing for the Day of the Lord, thinking that it would be a day of blessing for them. Amos, however, says it won’t be what you think it will be, and you won’t be on the side of it that you think you will be.
Amos 5:16-17 describe a time of intense mourning for the people of Israel as a result of Yahweh “crossing over into their midst.” Reminiscent of the 10th Egyptian plague, this phrase reverses the typical significance of Yahweh being with or among his people from indicating favor or good fortune to indicating judgment.
Amos calls on Israel to repent so that God will be with them to protect and prosper them the way they think he is. Because no matter how far we have fallen, we can always know that God will be merciful when no one else would be.
In Amos 5:10-13, we see a corrupt society where the wealthy elite maintain their wealth and power by dishonestly fixing the system in their favor. A just judge is despised. God’s punishment is appropriate: whatever you use your wealth to build will be taken from you before you can enjoy it.
God alone created the stars, so why would we consult the stars about our destinies when we can consult God? God alone gives us rain and provides for our needs, so why would we seek out another god to provide for us or, worse, to push God out of the picture altogether?
Amos 4:6-13 tells us how, in an effort to bring Israel to her senses, God sent a series of calamities, including famine, drought, blight, pestilence, disease, and violence. Nevertheless, Israel wouldn’t turn back to God. This list of calamities is strongly reminiscent of the curse list in Deuteronomy 28, suggesting a covenant context for Amos 4.
Amos 4:4-5 sits in the middle of the trajectory of Hebrew prophecy by declaring that only worship that proceeds from a heart that loves God and loves its neighbor is acceptable to God. Amos sounds a lot like Jesus.
In Amos 4:1-3, the prophet focuses on the women of Samaria and calls them “Cows of Bashan”. Is he simply insulting these women and speaking out of an essentially misogynistic patriarchal worldview, or is he making a constructive theological point with this image?
In Amos 3:3-8, the prophet uses a series of rhetorical questions to deliver a warning to Israel about the inescapability of God’s coming judgment. But he also tells us about prophecy itself – that it carries with it an implied invitation to repent and be saved from the otherwise inescapable judgment.
As someone who used to employ people, one of the most soul-destroyingly irritating things is the lazy underling. But really, we are all in a sense God’s employees. So what kind of diligence is God looking for from us?