He prophesied in the days of Jeroboam II of Kingdom of Israel, while Uzziah was king of Judah. Amos proclaimed that this was a period of moral decay, and spoke about the social injustices of the northern kingdom.
The writer of the book remembers that two years after he spoke an earthquake struck the area (1:1). Josephus, the Jewish historian, believed that the earthquake happened at the same time as Uzziah's seizure of the role of High Priest and his subsequent bout with leprosy. Amos was contemporary with Isaiah, Micah and Hosea. Under Jeroboam II, the Kingdom of Israel rose to the zenith of its prosperity. The gulf between rich and poor widened at this time.
Amos 1:1 says he was "among the shepherds of Tekoa", also known as "Tekua". He is often assumed to have been a rich shepherd. He was (according to 7:14) neither a "prophet nor a prophet's son" but "a herdsman and a dresser of sycomore trees," Revised Version. However, the Hebrew words used in 1:1 and 7:14 suggest the proprietor of flocks rather than a shepherd. However, some scholars, John Calvin among them, believe that in this particular case it is unlikely that Amos would be a wealthy person due to the geographical attributes of the land surrounding Tekoa.
Like Micah, Amos was called from his rural home to remind the rich and powerful of God's requirement for justice (e.g. 2:6-16). He claimed that religion that is not accompanied by right action is the opposite of Godliness (5:21ff.), and that the kingdom of Israel would be destroyed (e.g. 5:1-2; 8:2).
He had visions that the priests and kings of the day would be punished for their poor stewardship. A priest by the name of Amaziah is so frustrated by Amos' prophecies, that he advises the king to send Amos back to the Kingdom of Judah. Amos responds that the temple would be destroyed, and Amaziah will go into exile with the rest of the Kingdom of Israel. His prophecies were fulfilled during the time of Isaiah.
In Amos 8:11-12, Amos prophecied that there would be a famine of the hearing of the word of God in the land, signifying an apostacy. This prophecy was fulfilled twice--the first time being after the prophet Malachi died around 400 BC. There were no more prophets until the time of Jesus.
- Prophets. A&E Home video. Chapter 3. 1994. ISBN: 0-7670-8501-9.