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10th May

Amos 1-5; Psalm 125

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
10th May

Amos 1-5; Psalm 125

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


Amos was a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah, who saw the wickedness happening in the northern kingdom of Israel and travelled up to their temple at Bethel to speak out against it. He was around during the reign of Jeroboam II placing him among the pre-exilic prophets and making him a contemporary of Hosea. 

As we've got used to with our prophetic books, Amos is a collection of poems, sermons, and visions from the prophet that have been compiled together to create the book. 

Amos 1-2 - Oracles against the nations and Israel

Amos 3-6 - Accusations and calls for repentance

Amos 7-9 - The visions of Amos

Amos tends to refer to the northern kingdom as ‘Israel’ or “Joseph”. Some key themes in Amos include the Israelites’ injustice against the poor and their idolatry with other gods. In contrast, is a call to justice and righteousness and to avoid complacency. Like other pre-exilic prophets, Amos warns of the oncoming exile and gives hope for a future time when God will redeem his people.

Amos 1-5

Amos opens straight in to a list of different foreign nations and God's judgement on them. Each of them are of similar length, and if you were to look at these places on a map, you would see that one after another they spiral inwards, drawing closer and closer to Israel.

We start with Damascus, the capital of Syria. They will be punished for how they have raided the northern kingdom of Israel. Next up is Gaza, the capital city of the Philistines, who raided Israel and sold its people into slavery to Edom. Tyre was the city state most associated for its trade routes.

Then we have Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother (Genesis 25:19-34). After that comes the Ammonites and Moabites, descendants of Lot and his daughters. All these nations are guilty of attacking and raiding Israel. Similarly, Judah is rebuked for rejecting the Lord.

Finally, God turns his judgement towards Israel and their judgement is much longer than any of the other nations. First, he lists the reasons for Israel's judgement.

They have been selling innocent people into slavery and they have oppressed the poor and the needy. They engage in immoral sexual acts and have taken the cloaks and the wine of the poor to enjoy in God's presence.

Next, God reminds them of all he has done for them. He destroyed their enemies before them. He freed them from Egypt and brought them into this land. He raised up prophets to lead them and others to be prophets and Nazirites, who would help lead the people on a more personal, spiritual level.

But in response, the people got the Nazirites drunk and told the prophets not to speak. Because of this, God will remove their strength and their speed. He will remove their ability to defend themselves or run away, and he will replace their courage with fear.

Then Amos starts a new message to the people of Israel. God calls to them, reminding them that they were called out from all other nations to be his people. This is why he will punish them uniquely for their sin. They should have known better.

Amos gives a number of rhetorical questions that sets up the idea of cause and effect. Everything happens for a reason. There’s no smoke without fire. He concludes then that in the same way; he is prophesying because God has spoken. In other words, Amos is justifying what he is saying as not his own words, but words directly from God.

And so Amos prophesies Israel's downfall. Their crime? Violence and oppression. He declares that a military enemy will come and surround them, attack their walls, and plunder their cities.

We then get this message from God that likens Israel to when a shepherd tries to rescue one of his sheep from a lion and only saves the back legs. Everything else has been eaten by the lion. It's a very graphic image suggesting that only a small portion of the people of Israel will remain when God is done with them.

God declares to Israel that he will destroy every area of their lives. He will destroy their altars, the spiritual capital in Bethel, their storehouses holding their supplies, and their wealthy houses and mansions. 

Next Amos condemns Israel for specific behaviours. He first refers to the 'cows of Bashan' (Amos 4:1) which was likely a derogatory term for the wealthy women of Israel. Amos condemns these women for oppressing the poor to satisfy their own needs.

He prophesies that these well-to-do women would be led out like cows, with a hook through their nose. An undignified departure for a group that saw themselves as wealthy and dignified.

Amos then condemns Israel's worship, because the people are too comfortable will sinning and doing wickedness and then making a big deal of bringing an offering to make up for it. God is not interested in this kind of worship.

He challenges Israel's stubbornness. Amos gives a lengthy speech listing all the things God has done to the people, and yet they never turned back to him. Because of this, they will be forced to turn to their God, but rather than meet with him in his love, they will now meet with him in his wrath.

God then gives a poem of lament, mourning over his people. He encourages his people to turn back to him. He reminds them he has been calling to them. He is the one who put the stars in the sky. But they do not care and sin. Instead, they should be pursuing justice and righteousness. Recognising they will not turn back to him, he ends the poem again on lament. There will be wailing and mourning.

At that, God declares justice and judgement over Israel. He prophesies the day of the Lord that will be as darkness to them surrounded by things wanting to consume them. God tells them how he hates their feasts and sacrifices. He will not accept them. Instead, he tells them to rid themselves of their noise and instead lets justice and righteousness flow from them.

Psalm 125

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and is named as a psalm of ascent. These psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Festival of Weeks, and Festival of Tabernacles) or possibly by the Levites as they ascended the steps of the Temple. Psalm 120-134 are all psalms of ascent.

Psalm 125:1-2 - Trust in the Lord

Psalm 125:3-5 - The wicked will not last but will be removed

In this ascent journey we’ve gone from being far from God's presence (Psalm 120), to seeking God’s presence (Psalm 121), and then to reaching God’s presence (Psalm 122). From there, the psalmist has asked the Lord for help (Psalm 123) and then praised the Lord for his protection (Psalm 124). Now, within Jerusalem, they begin to reflect on the nature of righteousness and wickedness (Psalm 125).

The psalmist starts with an encouragement to trust in the Lord. Those who trust in the Lord will be secure. Standing in Jerusalem, the psalmist points to the mountains around them and explains that in the same way the Lord surrounds those who trust in him.

In contrast are the wicked. They will not rest in the land, but will be removed. This is to stop them from encouraging those who are righteous to do wrong. Therefore, do good because anyone who does wicked will be removed from among God’s people.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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