Amos was a “southern” prophet sent to the northern kingdom. He wasn’t exactly the sort of person the northern kingdom was going to listen to. After all, he was but a shepherd and a gardener. The northern kingdom was going through the period of her greatest economic prosperity. Unimaginable wealth had become hers. What notice would they pay a shepherd?
But then again, they weren’t going to listen to God, so it didn’t matter who He sent.
Having spoken about the surrounding nations of the northern kingdom (Israel), and having spoken to Israel herself in chapter two, the prophet turns his attention to the entirety of the descendants of Jacob in chapter three, “the whole family I brought up out of Egypt.”
In chapter seven you will find a story of opposition against Amos, but you find hints of that opposition in chapter three. Notice these questions: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? Does he growl in his den when he has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?”
Each of these refer to a cause and effect. Two people walk together because they have agreed to do so. The lion roars because he has caught prey.
So “when disaster comes to a city,” it must be the Lord who has caused it (vs. 6).
And, when God’s servants the prophets speak, the Lord must have given them the message.
Amos’ hearers should not question or oppose Amos. He is the Lord’s emissary.
Israel is the recipient of Amos’ message, but in his presentation he calls on the Egyptians and the Philistines (Ashdod) to come witness the poor behavior of God’s people as well as their impending destruction for that behavior. The implied message is that if God will do this to His “chosen” people (3:2), He is not likely to spare the “not chosen.” But the plain message to the proud and rich of Israel is that the people they disdain and despise with be the witnesses of their impending embarrassment.