Amos was the prophet who went before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah (chap. 1:1). We may say that he was the prophet of that event (8:8; 9:5).
That earthquake is treated by Zechariah as typical, as a notice of the Lord’s controversy with the world, when again there will be earthquakes and pestilences, ministers of judgment and vessels of wrath (Zech. 14:5).
Accordingly, judgment is the great burthen of Amos’ prophecy, and it therefore served the purpose of Stephen in Acts 7—for that moment was also a crisis in the history of the Jews. And Stephen there quotes Amos (see Acts 7:42–43, and Amos. 5:25–27).
But, again, Amos treats the Gentiles as dealt with by God, as well as the Jews. He judges them all alike. He brought the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir, as he had brought Israel from Egypt. And in coming millennial days, He will have all the Gentiles called by His Name, as surely as He will build again the fallen tabernacle of David (see chaps. 1, 2, 9:7–12).
In this character, the word by Amos directly answered for James in Acts 15, where the apostle was insisting on the independence of Gentile saints, and that they must not be required to be circumcised, and to adopt the custom of Israel. Amos intimates this, and James cites him, to show that the Gentiles were to be adopted of God (or have His Name called on by them acceptably) in a way quite independent of the Jews; or that the Lord knew them before Israel knew them.
Thus, those two great occasions in the history of the Church in the New Testament, Stephen’s words in Acts 7 and James’ in Acts 15, were served by the Spirit through Amos, who gives what may be regarded as some what a distant and unnoticed portion of the Word of God. But it is beautiful thus to see that we are to live “by every word of God.” We know not in what obscure corner of the volume, so to speak, that Scripture may lie, which is fitted and destined by the Holy Ghost to stand by the soul in the trying hour. Amos, ministering to Stephen and to James, witnesses this.
I only add a verse or two from George Herbert, which this finding of the words of Amos in Acts 7, and again other words of his in Acts 15 may call to mind. They are in his little piece called “The Holy Scriptures.”
“Oh that I knew how all thy lights combine
And the configurations of their glory!
Seeing not only how each verse doth shine,
But all the constellations of the story.
This verse marks that, and both do make a motion
Unto a third, which ten leaves off doth lie:
Then, as dispersed herbs do make a potion,
These three make up some Christian’s destiny.”