quinta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2011

The Prophet Amos

From the Study By: David Malick

I. Author: Amos

Southerner of Tekoa (south of Jerusalem) 1:1.

He traveled north to Israel (Bethel) to preach as one called of God 7:15.

Occupation: sheep breeder, perhaps a master shepherd with others under him; not a prophet until called by the LORD 1:1; 7:14f and a grower of sycamore figs 7:14

Spoke in Bethel (center for idol worship in Israel) and then in Judah under Jeroboam II's resistance (7)

May have returned to Judah to write his messages

I I. Date: ca. 767-753 B.C.

King of Judah is Uzziah (Azariah) (790-740)

King of Israel is Jerobaom II (793-753)

Within the period of the joint reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam, possibly ca. 767-753 B.C.

Two years before the earth quake (1:1 cf. Zech 14:5) it was spoken; it may have been written down later.

King of Assyria--Adad Nirari III (810-753)

King of Syria--Hazael

I I I. Historical settings

A. Judah and Israel  

Judah is under the influence of Jeroboam II of Israel Israel appears to be outwardly at its zenith of power. Jeroboam had a successful reign (2 Ki.14:25-28 cf. Amos 6:14)

Many of the evil characteristics described in Amos 1--2 might better be translated in the present tense of activities then being done.They describe Jeroboam I I's rule as painfully disrupted as His lines were breached and the enemies pressed into the territory. Israel was fighting a defensive war against the armies of Syria and Ammon. Both were true.

B. Three periods of Israel from Jehu (841-414):

1. 839-806 -- Engaged in the East and rent by civil dissensions. Could not put pressure on Syria, suffered 30 years of humiliation during Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash2

2. 806-782 -- Assyria's king Adad-Nirari I I I is ruler, and ruled over surrounding states, especially Syria. Israel was protected. Therefore Israel was able to restore some of its boarders under Johoash and Jeroboam II.  Syria was unable to fight on two boarders. Israel and Judah restored their boarders to almost that of David and Solomon (cf. 2 Ki. 14:25 for the prophecy by Jonah)

3. 782-745 -- the time when Amos spoke; Assyria was under duress from the northern kingdom of Urartu which pushed Assyria down from the north, northwest, and northeast.4 Syria was freed up to deal with Israel and entered into drawn-out battles to regain Gilead, and Bashan.5

The people became arrogant during the northern nation's period of prosperity resulting in injustice, greed, neglect of the poor, persecution of the poor, and formalistic religion.6

I V. Audience and purpose of the Book:

A. Audience:

Primarily northern Israel (1:1; 7:15), but there are some references to southern Judah as well (2:4-5; 3:1; 6:1).

B. Purpose:

To describe how the Lord of the universe will not only come to judge the nations for their evil, but will also come to judge Israel for her breach of covenant

To expose Israel's breach of covenant through their social oppression of the people, empty religious ritual, and arrogant self-confidence

To proclaim a time of restoration and blessing after judgment under a revitalized Davidic dynasty

From the Study By: 

V. The Theme of the Book (1:2)

Three things we need to notice is the phrase, “The Lord comes roaring out of Zion.”

God has been Israel’s shepherd. The Israelites are familiar with the 23rd Psalm, etc. Like a shepherd, God is supposed to take care of them. But Amos, a sheepherder himself, uses what would have been a very vivid word picture to that society. God is now like a Lion to Israel. The lion was probably the most feared animal of that time. It could attack and devour a flock of sheep while the shepherd watched helplessly.

Like the lion roars just before he attacks (3:4), the Lord is announcing his judgment on Israel.

And, I think it is probably more than coincidence that Assyria was big into lion hunting and is compared to a lion in Nahum 2:11-12

2:11 Where now is the den of the lions, the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, lioness, and lion cub once prowled and no one disturbed them?

2:12 The lion tore apart as much prey as his cubs needed and strangled prey to provide food for his lionesses;
he filled his lairs with prey and his dens with torn flesh.

So this imagery sets the stage and lets the people know that God is angry.

Why is He angry?

V I. Overview of the Book

Key to unlocking the book – Understanding the literary devices used, isolating each unit, figuring out what the point of that unit is and then put the pieces together. When we do that, we see that Amos might be organized as follows:

Seven speeches pronouncing Judgment (following the covenant lawsuit format).
Five messages describing the reasons for the judgment and just how bad they were. (Laments and Woe Oracles)
Five visions to show how bad the judgment will be.
Promise of restoration in the future. (promise Oracle)

So, with these things in mind, we see Amos is preaching in the northern kingdom to the Israelites, and he begins by giving a series of speeches against Israel’s surrounding enemies.

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