The Book of Amos
James J. Barker
THE DAY OF THE LORD
- “The day of the LORD” (5:18,
20) is a frequent theme of the prophets.
- In Semitic thought it was
customary to designate events of importance with the term “day.” For example, in John 8:56, our Lord said
to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it,
and was glad.”
- Among the OT prophets the
term often took on an eschatological emphasis, describing a future climactic day
of judgment (Amos 5:18-20; cf. Zeph. 1:14-18; Zech. 12:3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11; 13:1,
2, 4; 14:1, 6, 8, 9, 13, 20).
- The day of the Lord was
anticipated by Israel as a future day of God’s judgment and wrath, to be
followed by the establishment of His Messianic kingdom (5:18-20; 9:11-15; cf.
Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2; 3:17, 18).
- This anticipation carries
over into the NT (cf. I Thess. 5:1-11; II Thess. 2:1-12).
- In the book of Revelation,
John calls it “the great day of His (the Lord Jesus Christ) wrath” (Rev. 6:17).
- The millennial kingdom will
follow the great tribulation. Both are part of the day of the LORD.
OF THE LORD CAN BE BOTH NEAR AND FAR
- When we say that the day of the LORD can be
both near and far, we are saying that it is both historical and
- Referring to our text in
Amos 5, one commentator has written, “’The day of the Lord’ refers to any period
when the Lord enters into human affairs and judges. It is a supernatural or providential
intervention, in which God usually uses secondary causes and means (men, kings,
armies, and nature). Sometimes it
refers to the end of the age and to those events connected with the second
coming of Christ and its aftermath (I Thess. 5:1-3; II Peter 3:10-12). At other times, such as here in verse
18, ‘the day of the Lord’ refers to a limited, historical judgment of a sinful
people” (Gary Cohen, Amos).
- Dr. Cohen saw the different
animals in Amos 5:19 as representative of the different armies that invaded
- The “lamentation” (5:16; cf.
5:1) was for the near future, not the distant future, though the prophets often
looked beyond their day to the days surrounding the first and second coming of
- James quoted Amos 9:11, 12
and applied it to his day (Acts 15:16, 17). Peter quoted Joel 2:31 and applied it to
the day of Pentecost.
- The term “Day of the LORD”
is basically an OT term. In the NT,
we see several references to “the day of Christ.” The Scofield Study Bible, on the bottom
of page 1212, says, “ The expression ‘day of
Christ,’ occurs in the following passages: I Corinthians 1:8; 5:5; II
Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16…The ‘day of Christ’ relates wholly
to the reward and blessing of saints at his coming, as ‘day of the Lord’ is
connected with judgment.”
- The term “day of the Lord”
is found three times in the NT:
“The sun shall be turned into
darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the
Lord come” (Acts 2:20). Peter
is quoting Joel 2:31. Joel’s
prophecy was partially fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, but will not be
completely fulfilled until Christ returns.
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the
Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2). In this passage, the apostle Paul is
referring to the coming tribulation.
The context shows that Christians will not enter into the
tribulation. “For God hath not
appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in
the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are
therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10). This refers to the coming
tribulation. During this
dispensation of grace, God is graciously giving sinners time to repent. The preceding verse says, “The Lord is
not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is
longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
THE DAY OF THE LORD –
- Amos’ prophecy in chapter 5 had an historical
- God gave Israel time to
repent (cf. 5:4, 6, 14, 15, etc.) but Israel would not repent.
“Therefore…” (5:16) God’s judgment had
to come. It was unalterable because
God is a holy God and He must judge sin.
- These prophecies were
literally fulfilled when the Assyrians invaded Israel in 722 BC (Amos 5:16,
THE DAY OF THE LORD – FAR
- Amos, like the other OT prophets, looks
beyond the near fulfillment and sees down through the corridors of time to a far
- Amos pronounced “woe” upon those that desired
the day of the LORD (5:18). The
Israelites were so blinded by their sin that they thought the day of the LORD
would mean God would punish their enemies and bless them.
- They thought the day of the LORD meant
deliverance for them despite the fact they were not right with God. They forgot that in order for God to
deliver them they would first have to
- Israel was religious but they were not right
with God, and God hated their hypocrisy
- The darkness and terror vividly described by
Amos will soon be upon the whole world.
- The storm clouds of God’s judgment are
- We do not know how much time we have left so
we must do our best to get the Gospel out to a lost world that is teetering on
the brink of judgment.