You will find an introduction and outline of Amos, here.
A prayer to use before you read, from the Book of Common Worship.
O Lord our God, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, that we may be obedient to your will and live always for your glory; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Outline based on Gowan
I. Amos 1:1-2:16 the Divine warrior
A. 1:1-2 superscription and first epigram: Amos means “one supported”. Tekoa was in the Southern Kingdom. There are some prophets we know quite a bit about, but this is what we know about Amos.
B. 1:3-2:16 holy war again: It was common for prophets to speak out against other nations. In this sort of speech there is an assumption that the other nations are accountable to the God of Israel. Notice the pattern to Amos speeches. “For three transgressions and for four” is a formulaic phrase used in wisdom literature. The first six nations mentioned are geographically near Israel. Then Amos targets Judah, but not for war crimes or violence but for not keeping God’s statues. Imagine what the crowd, in Israel, thought and felt when they heard Amos speak. Six nations indicted, and the Judah included along with the other nations for it’s failure to keep Torah. How might Israel have been feeling? Then Amos in a dramatic turn now makes a pronouncement against Israel. This must have been a shocking speech. Notice what Israel is judged for. Israel is judged for injustice within Israel, especially toward the poor.
II Amos 3:1-4:13 Israel’s inability to hear
A 3:1-2 epigram:Israel is different: Israel has a special relationship with God and they are held to a particular standard.
B. 3:3-8 not without a witness: Here is a list of rhetorical questions, leading us to the conclusion that Amos must prophesy. He has no choice. Ancient people believed that God caused all events, event disasters.
C 3:9-4:3 luxury and injustice: Samaria was the capital of Israel. Bethel and Gilgal were northern worship centers. Bashan was known for it’s prized cattle. The reference to hooks and fishhooks is unclear. It may refer to an implement that was used to lead cows to slaughter. Or it may refer to a practice where prisoners were led with a hook in their nose.
D 4:4-13 religion as usual, while the world crumbles: 4:4-5 is a sarcastic comment on Israel’s practices. Beginning with verse 6 there is a list of what God did to try and get Israel to pay attention to its failings. Verse 13 is doxology. There are three in the book of Amos. What does this verse tell us about God?
III Amos 5:1-27 the death of Israel
A. 5:1-2 a funeral song: This lament is spoken in the past tense, as if it has already happened.
B. 5:3 the remnant defined again
C. 5:4-6 the death of the sanctuaries: A plea to seek repentance
D. 5:7 no justice:
E. 5:8-9 his name is Yahweh: The second doxology
F. 5:10-13 no justice in the gate: The city gate was the place where legal proceedings took place. The Israel’s sin involves not just individuals, but also its political and social structures.
G. 5:14-15 is there a chance? Another call for repentance
H. 5:16-17 mourning in the streets:
I. 5:18-20 Darkness not light: The Day of the Lord was a day when Israel expected to be vindicated as God’s chosen people. Amos says that the Day of the Lord involves judgment for Israel also.
J. 5:21-27 what does God require? God does not want useless ceremonies but God does want justice. Sakkuth and Kaiwan were Assyrian gods.
IV Amos 6:1-14 Life as usual- with disaster near
A 6:1-7 complacent extravagance: In verse one, Amos connects Zion (Jerusalem, capital of the Southern kingdom) and Samaria (the capital of the Northern Kingdom). Amos states many of the themes he has previously brought up. Extravagant consumption is denounced.
B. 6:8-11 fragments concerning the disaster: more judgment
C 6:12-14 complacency unfounded: more judgment
V Amos 7:1-17 Visions and a confrontation
A 7:1-9 three visions Now there is a shift in style, this section is more narrative that previous sections. V1-3 are a vision of locusts. Amos intercedes and Israel is spared. V4-6 again Amos intercedes and Israel is spared. V7-9 Amos does not protest what God is about to do.
B 7:10-17 priest confronts prophet:Now we have a narrative, a story about the encounter between Amos and Amiziah. Amos explains that he has be chosen and is directed by God. Recall that for some prophets, this was a job.
VI Amos 8:1-14 the end has come
A 8:1-3 the fourth vision: What about a basket of summer fruit would make is a metaphor for Israel’s future? There is, in Hebrew, a pun with the words “fruit” and “end”.
B 8:4-10 why must the end come? Wrong business practices and lack of care for the poor are Israel’s downfall.
C 8:11-14 words of life and of death:God’s judgment will also include a famine of God’s word.
VII Amos 9:1-6 no escape Verses 5-6 are another doxology or hymn like passage. Again what does this tell us about God?
VIII Amos 9:7-10 lord of all: Israel is not exempt from judgment just because they are God’s chosen people.
IX Amos 9:11-15 after the judgment: At the very end of the book, after the constant theme of judgment and destruction, there is a word of hope.
A 9:11-12 A promise for Judah: Some scholars believe that these verses were a later addition, particularly because Judah had not been the focus of the rest of the book.
B 9:13-15 a land of plenty: The book ends with a promise that Israel will not face exile again.
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Ruth.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Gowan,Donald E “Amos”: ” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 7, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1999.
Mobley, Gregory “Amos”, in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, Fully Revised 4 th Edition, Michael Cougan, ed. (New York:Oxford University Press) 2010.
O’Brien, Julia Myers “Amos” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.