There are two statements that I could immediately identify as being from Amos, even though I haven’t spent much time in the book. One is the rhetorical question, “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has done it?” (3:6), a question that is really a statement about the sovereignty of God over all things. And then there is Amos’s call: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24). But what is the book’s message?
According to Michael McKelvey—associate professor of Old Testament at RTS Jackson, and author of the commentary on the book of Amos in the ESV Expository Commentary Volume 7 —the thesis for the book of Amos is found in Amos 3:2, where God says to Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Israel’s chosen and privileged position as God’s people makes their rejection of him and his covenant particularly egregious, especially in light of the exodus and conquest of Canaan (2:9–10).
“It would be easy to fatigue listeners with the book’s heavy and pervasive message of judgment,” McKelvey says. But he encourages teachers to “let God’s Word convict of sin so that the good news of Christ will transform those who hear.”