1 The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
We learn much about Amos in this opening verse of the record of his prophetic work.  He was a shepherd in the region near Tekoa.  Tekoa is a small town a few miles straight south of Bethlehem.  Other than its position near Bethlehem and it being the are Amos was a shepherd, I have not read any other tidbits of information regarding Tekoa.  We also learn that he received his prophetic vision and voice during the days Uzziah was king of Judah and when Jeroboam was king of Israel.  This temporal marker is very helpful in figuring the date when Amos worked and his relation and proximity to other prophets at the time.  From this approximate time period we learn that Amos worked around the same times Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah were all working as well.  
What we also learn is that this record of Amos’ words and work was not written down until at least two years later.  That is not to say his words and work were not written down earlier than that, but that the scribe who is writing down the edition that made it into the modern Scriptures adds a note about an earthquake.  This should not scare us as Christians to know that the prophetic works were copied and recopied.  Scrolls wore down, they tore, they got old, and they had to be replaced.  And sometimes, when that happened, the scribe would add historical markers of significance.  Apparently this earthquake was so significant that anyone reading these opening remarks would be able to easily grasp the time reference.  This is very similar to us modern day Americans using 9/11 as an event to reference time.
 Overall this helps us situate where Amos is working.  We learn what is going on in Judah and Israel.  We learn with whom Amos is prophesying, and we learn what Amos is preparing the people for.  As we begin to read Amos these questions with their answers will jump out at us, an more.
Pastor Beltz