Amos was a shepherd from a rural area in Judah. God called him to preach near Israel's royal sanctuary at Bethel. His prophesying took place about 750 B.C. during the reign of Jeroboam II. It lasted only a few days. Amos found in the nation of Israel great social extremes--comfortable prosperity and abject poverty. His message was against the wealthy. The poor were being exploited and cheated. Merchants were greedy and dishonest. The judicial system was corrupt. There was religious arrogance as well. Many were even attempting to corrupt some of the religious leaders. Affluence had lulled the upper class into such apathy that they refused to recognize the sickness of their society. Amos' warning to the worshipers at Bethel was that, because of their sins, destruction was coming upon them from both Egypt and Assyria, a prophecy made all the more bold because the international scene was relatively quiet, and Assyria was still in a period of decline. Amaziah, the apostate priest at Bethel, made it clear to Amos that he was not welcome and that should go back home to his own country. Amos refused to back down, explaining that he was not a professional prophet (Am.7v14-15), but he was there solely because God had sent him. The Book of Amos is one of the most outstanding among the prophets, both because of its timeless message and because it contains some of the finest examples of literary artistry in the entire Old Testament.

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