How to Study Amos
In order to understand the historical setting of Amos, do the following:
Read Amos 1:1 and then record what you learn about Amos on the Structure of Amos chart under "Author." Then under "Date" record the information that gives you a clue as to the time of these visions (see Zechariah 14:5). Under "Purpose" fill in Amos's reason for writing (see Amos 1:1).
Study the historical chart, which shows Amos's relationship to the kings of Israel and Judah. Remember, Amos is a prophet to the northern kingdom.
Read 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 2 Kings 14:23-5:7. When you come across Azariah, remember that this is another name for King Uzziah, who ruled over the southern kingdom.
Record the key words on an index card and use this as a bookmark. Key words: Amos, Israel, land, nations (other than Israel), Edom, covenant, any reference to the name of the Lord, any reference to famine. Other key words will be added in the upcoming segments. As you mark the key words, compile a list of the information you glean by examining the key word in the light of how it might answer the "5 W's and an H."
Observe references to God carefully. Note the extent of His sovereignty. Draw a ∆ in the margin of every verse that reveals God's authority and power and what He is sovereign over.
As you read through Amos, you will find three key phrases that divide the book into three segments. Therefore, your instructions will be divided accordingly
Chapters 1 - 2
Read Amos 1 and 2 and mark each occurrence of the phrase Thus says the Lord, for three transgressions of ____and for four. Note whose transgressions God is going to deal with in each incident.
Read what follows each of the statements you have marked. Look for another key repeated phrase and mark or color it in a distinctive way.
Then observe why God will not revoke their punishment and what the punishment will be. Note their punishment by marking each occurrence of I will.
In 2:4,6 God deals with the southern kingdom, Judah, and with the northern kingdom. Israel. To understand why God speaks to them separately, look at Amos 1:1 and notice to whom Amos was sent as a prophet. Keep this in mind as you study Amos.
Record the theme of the first two chapters on Structure of Amos and in your Bible.
Chapters 3 - 6
The second key repeated phrase is hear this world. Read Amos 3-5 and distinctively mark each occurrence of this phrase.
Read Amos 3-6 a second time. As you read these messages from the Lord, ask he "5 W's and an H." Ask questions such as: Who is speaking? To whom? What is being said? What is going to happen? When will it happen? Where will it take place? Why will it happen? How will it happen? (Remember, you won't always find answers to every question.)
Mark key repeated words or phrases. Marking every I will as it refers to God and asking the "5 W's and an H" will help you see what God is going to do. Watch for yet and returned in chapter 4 and seek in chapter 5. Mark every reference to the day of the Lord.
In your notebook, list important insights about God, Israel, what the people are doing wrong, and what they don't like.
Record the chapter themes as you have done previously.
Chapters 7- 9
The key repeated phrase that sets off the last segment of Amos is thus the Lord God showed me. Read these last three chapters and mark each occurrence of this phrase.
As you read through this final segment of Amos, watch what Amos was shown and how he responds. Also observe the response to Amos's prophecy and how Amos deals with this.
In chapter 8 you see one final hear this. Pay careful attention to what God is going to do. Compare 8:8 with 1:1.
Although the phrase thus the Lord God showed me is not used in 9:1, can you see that I saw the Lord ... and He said could be Amos's fifth vision, which parallels those you marked in chapters 7 and 8? If so, mark it as you did the others.
Mark the I will's of God and any other key words or phrases.
Record the chapter themes along with the theme of Amos.
Record your insights from Amos on the day of the Lord.
Finally, watch how the book of Amos closes. What is God's promise? Recall any reference to the land. Has this promise regarding the land of Israel been fulfilled? Think of Israel's history.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Amos
Genuine worship of God (4:4, 5; 5:4–6; Num. 28:3; Deut. 4:29; 14:28; Lev. 7:13; 2 Chr. 15:2; Jer. 29:13; Is. 55:3, 6, 7; John 4:20–24; Rom. 1:25; Rev. 4:10–11)
Justice—God gave Israel a standard of fairness with their neighbors (5:10–13; 6:12; Deut. 16:20; 1 Kin. 22:8; Prov. 31:9; Is. 29:21; 56:1; 59:15; 66:5; Jer. 17:16–18; Col. 4:1; 1Thess. 2:10)
Future restoration of the faithful remnant of Israel (9:7–15; Is. 27; 42–44; 65; 66; Jer. 30–33; Ezekiel 36; 37; 40–48; Dan. 9:20–27; 12:1–3; Hos. 2:14–23; 14:4–7; Joel 3:19–21; Obad. 17, 21; Mic. 7:14–20; Zeph. 3:14–20; Hag. 2:20–23; Zech. 13; 14; Mal. 4:1–3)