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Bible Study in Amos 3 with background

Judgment on the failure to worship God


Amos was a prophet in the time of the Divided Kingdom, he did not describe himself as a prophet, but in verse 1 of chapter 1, he calls himself one of the shepherds of Tekoa. He was in fact a very powerful prophet in the Old Testament. Amos lived in the Southern Kingdom in the town of Tekoa, which was a small town 6 miles south of Bethlehem and 11 miles from Jerusalem. It was almost a wilderness area, so he would have had a hard life and worked hard. It would appear he was not influential person, he did not mix with royalty, he wasn’t a priest; he was just an ordinary working herdsman. However it seems he was a very successful Shepherd in chapter 7. 14-15 he says ‘he was a shepherd and took care of sycamore fig trees, the Lord took me and told me to go and prophesy’. He was a native of Judah but was sent to prophesy to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.


You can guess the welcome he was given in the Northern Kingdom. Here was an obscure nobody, a shepherd, somebody from Judah coming and telling us about our situation, what we should be doing, condemning us, so you can imagine the welcome he got. The other prophets at that time were, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah, the latter two were preaching to Judah, so it is possible that Amos knew Hosea who also was in Israel. This was about 750BC, when Uzziah was King of Judah and Jeroboam II was King of Israel.


In the studies of the chapters 1 & 2, you will have discussed the judgments that were coming to the nations.  The people would have been quite happy at first, with condemnation of the countries around them, and also of Judah. But when it came to Israel it was not so comfortable.


Here in chapter 3, we have a focus on Israel’s failure to maintain proper worship of the Lord. The chapter divides into three sections, verses 1-2 deal with the past, verses 3-10 deal with the present, and verses 11-15 deal with the future.


1-2 PAST- they are reminded of their heritage: at a time when they are in peace and prosperity, to be told that the Lord has something against them is a shock!

  • A family brought from Egypt
  • A chosen and special people
  • In a special relationship with God, which has been broken by them, so God will punish them.

3-10 PRESENT- a series of pictures used to emphasise their current position in the relationship, which they have failed to keep. There are pairs in the comparisons, cause and effect:

  • Walk together – agreement- walking with the Lord
  • Lion stalks- roars in victory- Assyria is silent now, but will soon roar as God allows her to attack and exile his people
  • Bird of prey looking for food- swoops to find a trap has been set- sin has tempted the people away from the Lord, they have given into it and so are trapped, again the Assyrian punishment.
  • The city and trumpet warning- ignored and disaster will follow- impending judgment was ignored and the consequences were to affect the nation forever.
  • The authority of the prophet is given here; God reveals his plan, so that the people may consider their position. Their complacency and trust in prosperity is so great that they cannot even consider what might follow. They believe they are ‘all right’ and nothing will upset that position.
  • It is a double provision, Amos uses ‘Proclaim’, v9 and ‘Hear and testify’, v13 in drawing their attention.

11-15 FUTURE – this is a stark forecast and promise of what is impending in judgment from the Lord.

  • Stronghold and fortresses will be of no use, they will not be able to withstand the attack.
  • There will be a very small remnant, v12, seen as a few small bones or those in houses with apparently no fear. This reflects the provision under the law for evidence an animal has been destroyed by a neighbour and needs a replacement.
  • The description in v14-15 shows the absolute destruction. They boasted about their position, their wealth and their protected status with God, all to no avail when judgment came. Notice he also uses the full name of God in v13.


The passage gives a reminder to Christians, that faith in Christ is not a panacea against all ills, we should be careful, not get complacent and careless in our lives. Paul decries the proposition that we ‘should do more sin to get more forgiveness’, this is contrary to the will and purpose of God, which reflects what this chapter is saying, we may be His but we need to behave like we are His.


Study Questions for Amos 3


  1.  In what ways are Christians today like the people of Ancient Israel? [James 4.10 and 1Peter 5.8-9 might help]
  2. How had God shown Israel was his chosen people in the past by his protection?
  3. Is there any similar protection for Christians today or the Church?
  4. What warning pictures could we identify today as portends of future judgment?
  5. Contrast the hope for Israel with our hope in Christ.
  6. Why do people today seek ‘comfort’ in religion, with all its special clothing and objects, rather than by faith?
Page last updated: Tuesday 29th December 2015 5:17 PM
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