Author: Amos was from a small town about six miles outside of Bethlehem and only eleven miles from Jerusalem. Unlike many of the other prophets, he had no important standing in the palace nor in the temple. Instead Amos is known as a simple farmer. He is recorded to have earned his living from the flock and the sycamore grove. It is unknown whether he took care of his own flock and grove and thus was a wealthy man or if he was just a simple hired hand who took care of someone else’s possessions. Either way he appears to be a man of fairly humble origins.
Recipients: Despite living near Jerusalem and thus being in the southern kingdom, Amos was actually sent to warn the northern kingdom of impending disaster. His homeland is not spared from his message however. There are several references to judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem as well as the northern kingdom.
Date: The first verse in Amos tells us that he prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah in the south and Jeroboam II in the north. This gives us a broad time span as both kings had lengthy reigns and much of it overlapped. However, it is believed that Amos did the bulk of his prophesying between 760-750 BC. This would place his ministry near the end of Jeroboam II’s reign and 30-40 years before the Assyrians would wipe out the northern kingdom of Israel.
Historical setting: Israel was at its highest point since the time of Solomon. This left the people feeling smug and actually believing that there were under the blessing of God. Instead they forgot about previous punishments for idolatry and Amos had to warn them that God’s patience was at an end because of their rebelliousness.
Theme: Like the other prophets, Amos warned of impending judgment. However, his warning was more dire than some of the other prophets. Israel thought that they were secure in their standing and that because they had been saved from Egypt and God had been with them for so long He would be with them forever. Because they had not learned from the past, God would uproot them by the hands of a pagan nation.
Despite Israel’s impending punishment, there was still hope. Amos reveals a bit of the glorious future that awaited Israel. That future is still awaited to this day by the people of Israel but God had not abandoned them even though they have been punished for their wrongdoing.