The book of Amos is a message that a young shepherd from Tekoa received from the Lord. This shepherd was Amos. Amos lived before Israel and Judah were destroyed so he is yet another prophet at this time period, sharing a very similar message as the other prophets. A message calling for repentance to avoid coming disaster.
The first messages Amos received were warnings to various nations. Basically God was letting these nations know that they will be punished for the sins they have committed through Amos.
By the middle of Chapter two of the book Amos is hearing judgments against Judah and Israel. The basic message is focused on lawlessness and injustice filling the society of Israel and Judah. God is calling Israel to do what is good and right, and to return to him from other gods.
A chapter I found particularly interesting is chapter 7. It is a series of visions Amos has. After the first two visions Amos pleads with the Lord to not destroy Israel in that way. And the Lord relents. Amos does not protest to the third vision and this just happens to be how God destroys Israel.
Here are the visions from Amos 7:1-9
A Vision of Locusts
The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision. I saw him preparing to send a vast swarm of locusts over the land. This was after the king’s share had been harvested from the fields and as the main crop was coming up. In my vision the locusts ate every green plant in sight. Then I said, O Sovereign Lord, please forgive us or we will not survive, for Israel is so small.
So the Lord relented from this plan. I will not do it, he said.
A Vision of Fire
Then the Sovereign Lord showed me another vision. I saw him preparing to punish his people with a great fire. The fire had burned up the depths of the sea and was devouring the entire land. 5 Then I said, O Sovereign Lord, please stop or we will not survive, for Israel is so small.
Then the Lord relented from this plan, too. I will not do that either, said the Sovereign Lord.
A Vision of a Plumb Line
Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, Amos, what do you see?
I answered, A plumb line.
And the Lord replied, I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. The pagan shrines of your ancestors will be ruined, and the temples of Israel will be destroyed; I will bring the dynasty of King Jeroboam to a sudden end.
This is also another passage in the Old Testament where God allows a person to plead with him and he then does something different. I love these verses because they show us that prayer can be effective. That God does listen to His people, and responds. Occasionally I have talked with people that feel threatened by the idea that God would listen to a human and then decide to do something different. A simple way to say this is, that He changes his mind. There are examples of these types of interactions throughout the Old Testament. Because of Moses pleading with God, God did not destroy Israel in the wilderness. Because of Amos God did not destroy Israel by fire or locusts. I think the idea is stressful for some people because they think, if God could have changed his mind in the past, then could He change his mind about salvation? We also need to remember that a characteristic of God is that he is faithful to his promises. So we can believe his promises. And at the same time we can interact with Him through prayer and be bold enough to make requests to the Almighty Creator of The Universe.
The book of Amos ends with a message about restoration. After Israel and Judah are enslaved God will bring His people back to their land and bless them. So there is another strong consistency among all of the prophets. Israel and Judah will be destroyed and the people enslaved. But after a time, people will return and worship God once again.