A shepherd and native of Tekoa, a small town 12 miles south of Jerusalem, Amos lived and prophesied during the reign of King Uzziah and Jeroboam II.
He described his calling: "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit. And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go prophesy unto my people Israel." (Amos 7:14-15.)Amos prophesied against Moab, Judah and Israel for wickedness during a time when both Israel and Judah were strong and prosperous. During the reign of Jeroboam II, the portions of Israel lost during the previous century were regained. Despite the prosperity, however, "religion had divorced itself from morality." (Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, Grant and Rowley, p. 28.)
Amos spoke forcefully about the disparity between rich and poor. "They sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes." (Amos 2:6.)
He recalled that the Lord had brought the children of Israel from Egypt, and raised up of their youth prophets.
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," Amos said in his oft-quoted teaching about the importance of revelation. (Amos 3:7.)
Amos warned the people of famine, "Cleanness of teeth" and "want of bread" (Amos 4:6) and that the Lord had "withholden the the rain from you" (Amos 4:7) "but ye were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." (Amos 4:8.)
"Your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.
"For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins." (Amos 5:11-12.)
A single incident of his life is recorded in his work. Amos was in the northern kingdom where Amaziah, priest of Beth-el, told King Jeroboam that "Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the House of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words." (Amos 7:10.)
Amaziah then said to Amos, as perhaps he had spoken in the past to professional divines who had stirred up rebellion against the king, to leave Israel and return to Judah to prophesy.
Amos recounted his call as a prophet to the priest, then cursed Amaziah and renewed his prophecy that Israel would fall. (Amos 7:16-17.) Amos' prophecies also foretell the latter days. "Behold, the days will come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11.)