Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors (Amos 1:1 – 2:5)

Welcome to the book of Amos!

For the first time in generations, both Israel and Judah were enjoying peace and prosperity. Amos was a citizen of the southern state of Judah, but ministered in the northern state of Israel, alongside the prophet Hosea. Like Hosea, Amos prophesied in the beautiful city of Samaria. (Jonah also lived in Samaria but he prophesied in Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria.).

Amos does not attack idolatry as such (as does Hosea). He concentrates instead on rebuking both Israel and Judah for the meaningless of their worship, whatever its form.  Perhaps because he was a shepherd and a fruit farmer, Amos used a plain writing style, filled with strong country language. His primary concern – the righteousness of God and social injustice.

Scripture Text:

(click to open in a new window)

Amos 1:1 – 2:5

1. What is your vocation? If you could change vocations for a week, what would you try?

2. What “earth-shaking” event has happened to you within the last two years? How are you a different person today because of it?

3. This week, have the circumstances in your life been as gentle as a lamb or fierce as a lion?

4. Does Amos have the proper credentials to speak for God? Why should the people listen to him?

5. Verse 2 has been called Amos’ theme verse? Hence, what do we have in store?

6. What do you suppose the people said among themselves as Amos spoke against their neighbors?

  • “they have it coming”
  • “we are better than they are”
  • “whew! for a minute I thought it was us”
  • “can we help in the destruction?”

7. How might they have reacted to the prophecy against Judah (chapter 2:4, 5)? Is Judah’s sin as grievous as those of Israel’s foreign neighbors? If so, why?

8. Why would Amos say, “For three sins . . . even for four”? Is he losing track of his sermon outline, stuttering, driving home a final point, or what?

9. How are the sins of Israel’s neighbors similar? How are they different? Which of these sins are prevalent today?

10. By what standard will the nations be judged? What does this reveal about God’s role in international affairs? Do you think Israel would have been surprised by this? Why or why not?

11. If you were to describe the God portrayed here in one word, what would it be? Loving? Angry? Consistent? Judgmental? Mean? Patient? Or something else?

12. When have you felt under-qualified to do something for God, but did it anyway? How did you get past the fear? What challenge is facing you now that you can’t handle alone?

13. Speaking for God, instead of shepherding sheep, Amos leveled his guns at the enemies of Israel and Israel itself. How do you respond when enemies are criticized?

  • if I’m honest, I enjoy it
  • I add more
  • I secretly set myself above them
  • I’m reminded of my sin

14. How do you respond when friends are criticized?

  • sit in silence
  • jump to their rescue
  • try to be objective
  • express friend’s perspective
  • agree that friend is wrong

15. How do you feel when you are criticized?

  • defensive
  • embarrassed
  • accepting
  • smug

16. What sort of issues do you sense God is pointing out as wrong today? Are they personal, individual sins or do they delve into the way society treats other people and other nations?

17. Can a whole country or political system be sinful?

18. What issue could you “roar” against today? What else could you do to facilitate change?

  • pray
  • organize a group
  • organize a boycott
  • work within the system
  • contact the right people in the right places
  • gather ideas from others

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