Download this session in a word format: Amos course – session 1
‘they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals’ (1:6)
Read the whole of Amos 1 & 2. Then get everyone to close their Bibles and do an “Amos Multiple Choice Quiz” (correct answers in bold)
- What town was Amos from? (Morpeth, Bethel, Tekoa) (see 1:1)
- What was his day job? (a fulltime professional prophet, a carpenter, a shepherd who also looked after fig trees) (see 7:14)
- In what century BC did he live? (6th century BC, 8th century BC, 10th century BC)
- Who was king of Israel then? (Jeroboam II, Ahab, Hezekiah) (see 1:1)
- Amos describes famously describes unjust women by a certain term. Was it: graceful deer, cows or dripping tap? (see 4:1)
Divide up the nations Amos speaks of in chapters 1 & 2 between people in the group, giving each person one or two of the nations each. Ask them to read about what the sins they were guilty of were and tell the rest of the group.
Damascus* (1:3) Gaza (1:6) Tyre (1:9) Edom (1:11)
Ammon (1:13) Moab (2:1) Judah (2:4) Israel (2:6-8)
(*threshing is what they did to crops so it implies a ruthless treatment of Gilead)
- What strikes you about the sins that are condemned among Israel and Judah’s neighbours? What common themes are there?
- Israel and Judah were ruled by Hebrews, they considered themselves God’s chosen people – does their behaviour seem better than the other nations?
- Is there any difference in the sins attributed to Israel and Judah?
- In what ways had Israel and Judah sinned against God? In what ways had they sinned against others?
The two major sins identified by Biblical prophets are idolatry and injustice. These two sins are the breaking of the two most important commands – idolatry is a failure to love God and injustice is a failure to love your neighbour.
Amos particularly focuses on injustice and the way that Israel’s rich and powerful oppress the poor. Throughout the book, he continually highlights the issues of greed, exploitation and corruption. The rich were affluent enough to have several houses apiece (3:15), to go in for outrageously expensive furniture (6:4) and luxuriant lifestyles (4:1 and 6:6). They used their power to corrupt business and the law for their own ends (5:11-13, 8:5-6). The poor were exploited, financially and legally (2:6 &7) and frequently left destitute (8:4).
- How much does the theme of idolatry and injustice resonate with the stories and teachings of Jesus? (e.g. Luke 11:42 – Jesus condemns Pharisees as unjust, 16:13 – You cannot serve both God and money)
How does this connect with today’s world?
- Imagine Amos, with his passion about poverty and injustice, speaking to people who attend big churches in the UK in 2010. What kind of sins would he accuse us of?
Using a marker pen, write the ideas people have down on a piece of paper (a blank sheet of A4 should be fine).
- Are there any similarities between these and the ones Amos and Jesus speak of?
Put the piece of paper somewhere it can be seen by everyone. Give some time for people to reflect on the issues – if you want play a music track as people reflect. After a few minutes ask people to pray aloud for the issues and our role within them.
Give each person a copy of the challenge below and encourage them to rise to it!
Everyone pick one issue that is written on the piece of paper
Your challenge is to find out more about that issue before next session.
Perhaps using the internet to research some facts about that issue or even talking to someone affected if possible. Some prompt questions could be:
- What is the extent of the issue?
- What are some of the underlying factors?
- Where is it a problem – e.g. our town/city or further afield?
Come back next time with something you have discovered about this issue