What does Amos 1:2 mean?


What does Amos 1:2 mean?


And he said: "The LORD roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers (Amos 1:2).

In this verse, Amos is informing his audience of the impending judgment of God. It’s an illuminating verse full of divine hints of what has happened and will happen.


Baal is a false god. He was recognized by some as the god of fertility or the storm god — "He Who Rides on the Clouds". As to being the fertility god, in Amos 2:7 we observe the mention of "a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned." This gives an image of cultic prostitution prominent within Baalism. As to being the storm god, Baal’s blessings are seen as rain, his anger by thunder, and his judgment by lightning. And it’s important to note that Mt Carmel is where the prophets of Baal were destroyed (1 Kings 18:20-39).

In Amos 1:2, Amos, inspired by Holy Spirit, compares and contrasts who is truly sovereign over all (Amos 4:13; 5:8; 9:5-6). We see that Baal thunders but the sovereign Lord roars. Baal doesn’t control the weather, God does (Amos 4:7; Job 37: 3, 6, 10-13; Psa. 147:8; 148:8; Zech. 10:1). And he is the one who gives lushness to the fields and mountaintops. He’s also the one who brings judgment: the pastures of the shepherds are without vegetation to feed the sheep and the top of Mt. Carmel, which is normally lush, is withering away. This is a picture of the judgment the Lord will bring!

The Sins

In context, Israel failed to see its sin of mixing worship of the only true God with the false worship of other gods. Their worship of the Lord mixed with idolatry (Amos 5:26; cf. 2 Kings 17:14-17) was syncretism that led to many sins (cf. Jer. 23:30-22; Ezek.1:3) and to different types of violence and injustices in Israel (Amos 2:6-8; 4:1). The Lord had already sent numerous warnings to Israel: blight, hunger, locusts, thirst, locusts, plagues, & military defeat (Amos 4:6-11). Yet his people refused to and failed to repent.

Israel had become wicked like its pagan neighbors (Amos 1:3-2:3). Israel should have recalled the Pentateuch and remembered how Lot first pitched his tent "toward" Sodom (Gen. 13:12, KJV), then moved there (Gen. 19:1-2) and became intertwined with their evil ways (2 Pet. 2:7). Judgment came upon Sodom, and here God promises judgment would come upon Israel (Amos 2:4-16).

Israel’s Judgment and Restoration

God is sovereign. In Amos 1:2, God is angry and roars against Israel from Zion. Judgment is coming. Israel and Judah would be judged along with the other nations, however, restoration would happen (Amos 9:11, 15). After the exile, they would be exalted above their pagan neighbors. Amos’ prophecy was eventually fulfilled in Jesus, the son of David (Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:32-33; Rev. 22:16).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).