Amos’ Portrayal of God

God reveals much about Himself through the book of Amos. First, a proper name of God is referenced 117 times throughout Amos’s 146 verses: almost one proper noun reference to God per verse. Amos addresses God as “Yahweh” 81 times, “Lord” 25 times, and “God” 11 times.  “Yahweh” is God’s covenant name with the children of Israel. “Lord” is used 21 times in conjunction with “Yahweh” and stresses God’s “royal authority.”  God is also referred to as the “God of Hosts.” This title emphasizes the Lord as a “warrior-king.”  Even in the names used for God Amos advances His message.

Amos emphasizes two main attributes of God throughout the book: God is great and God is good.  God is great in that He created and controls all things. Amos specifically cites that God formed the mountains (4:13), made the constellations (5:8), and built the heavens (9:6). God is also great in that he controls all things. God is in control of forces of nature such as the wind (4:13), rain (5:8; 9:6), and farming conditions including plenty, famine and drought (1:2; 4:6-10; 7:1-2; 9:13-14). God is in control of celestial objects in-cluding the earth (4:13) and sun (8:9). Creatures are also under God’s control such as the palmerworm (4:9), grasshoppers (7:1), and the serpent (9:3). God is over nations as is evidenced by His judgments against the nations (1:3-2:3). Finally, God claims control over life and death. God offers life to those who seek Him (5:4, 6, 14) and administers death to the disobedient (1:5, 8; 2:2-3; 4:10; 6:9; 7:11, 17; 8:3; 9:1-2, 4, 10).

God is also Good. First, God is good in His election of Israel. Of all the nations of the earth, God chose Israel, and only Israel, to be His people (3:2). He entered into a special covenant with them that no other nation of the world could claim. This investment in the wellbeing of a specific people group is nothing less than God’s evident goodness. Next, God is good in His compassion. He cares for the injustices committed against the poor (2:6-8; 4:1; 5:11-12; 8:5-6). Amos is quick to point out time and again that God knows when the helpless are abused. Finally, God is good in his patience. Compassion is shown even to those who have rejected Him. Twice God “repents” and shows mercy to sinful Israel at the request of Amos (7:1-6). It is only after Israel’s continued rejection that God uses His power to chasten Israel (7:8). Even in His chastening, God’s purpose is Israel’s repentance (4:6-11). Clearly, God is not looking for a reason to punish but rather is looking for a reason to show mercy. The book of Amos declares that God is both great and good.

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