Amos, the shepherd from Tekoa chosen by God to proclaim judgment on Israel, prophesied during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah, a period spanning from the 790s to the 740s BC. It is difficult to date his prophetic work precisely, but it is likely to have taken place somewhere in the 760s-750s. It was a period of temporary decline in the Assyrian Empire, which led to prosperity among the other nations of the region, including Israel and Judah.
While the people of Israel took this prosperity to be a sign of God’s blessing, God sent Amos to inform them that quite to the contrary, their disregard for the poor and helpless had angered God and there would be a day of judgment. This judgment would be realized when the Assyrian Empire conquered Israel in 722 BC.
While there are disagreements over the precise literary structure of Amos, it is composed of judgment oracles against both Israel and the surrounding nations. Of note is the bait and switch that Amos pulls on his Israelite readers. He begins by proclaiming judgment against many nations, including Judah, building a sense of self-righteousness in the Israelites before proclaiming God’s judgment on them.
However, as is always true in salvation history, there is a glimmer of hope. God will leave a remnant of his people through whom would come the ultimate hope of the world, Jesus.
For Further Study
Handbook on the Prophets