Amos and Jonah were both prophesying for the Lord during the time of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah/Azariah, king of Judah. Israel was enjoying probably their most prosperous period of all time under their king, Jeroboam II.
Many times, when one is enjoying prosperity, he forgets the spiritual side of his life. That same thing happened with Israel in addition to their ongoing disobedience of God’s laws. They had risen to a high level of financial success and had sunk to a low level of spiritual poverty as they persisted in their worship of idols.
The prophet began his warning to Israel by stating God’s displeasure with their neighbors who were their bitter enemies. A method of getting one’s attention is to focus upon someone else. Amos used the term “For three transgressions…and for four, I will not turn away its punishment.” That terminology expressed an unlimited number. He used that statement followed by the various sins of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab and Judah. Finally, he listed the many shortcomings of Israel. They were reminded that it was God who had delivered them from Egypt.
The heathen nations had not received God’s commands in the same manner as Judah and Israel. Because Judah and Israel were God’s chosen people, they would be judged more harshly than other nations. Amos proceeded to pronounce the fate of Israel. Vast destruction would occur.
“Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Those are somber words for the lost. Israel had refused to return to their God, even in the face of punishing events in their lives.
In an attempt to get their attention, God had sent various calamities against Israel. They had suffered famine, drought, blight, invasions of locusts upon their crops and wars that had killed their young men. Their false Canaanite gods could not help them. They had been plagued as Egypt had been long before, but like Pharaoh, they had refused to repent.
The worship of God in Israel had become a mockery of hypocritical acts. “I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies…But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
There was still time and opportunity for Israel to repent and return to God. He is merciful and desires that all will follow Him. They were urged to, “Seek good and not evil, That you may live.” BUT, if they continued in their wicked ways, “There shall be wailing in all streets, And they shall say in all the highways, ‘Alas, Alas!’”
God, through His prophet Amos revealed that Israel would be taken into captivity beyond Damascus into Assyria.