Amos 1-2, Psalm 103
Amos, though a minor prophet like Joel, is unlike Joel in that he is clear about the era when he writes, sometime between 790 B.C. and 739 B.C.. The biggest event in Israel’s history in that century is the Assyrian captivity that happens right around 722 B.C. While warning about Assyria’s imminent victories over and humiliation of the northern kingdom are in view, Amos wants to clarify to Israel that it is in fact God judging this people. In fact, God begins to speak through Amos, a shepherd and unlikely mouthpiece,the Lord’s impending judgement against Israel’s neighbors. God judges Israel’s neighbor nations, as one commentator wisely puts it (see ESV study Bible notes), for breaking laws that would have been widely understood, whereas God punishes Israel for breaking Torah. For example, it is common understanding that tearing open the wombs of pregnant women is worthy of terrible punishment (Amos 1:13). Right and wrong, good and bad, and ultimately God’s justice and judgement isn’t just for a select group of people alone. In fact God has shown us what is right and wrong, even apart from special revelation (Romans 1:32). God’s judgement isn’t arbitrary or capricious, but based on revelation, specific and general. Therefore we can say, that righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne (Psalm 89:14) forever and ever.