This prophet is often interpreted as a manifesto for social justice, political activism, and economic change. But Dr. Lessing expounds Amos as a book that proclaims God’s Law and his Gospel in Jesus Christ. The prophet condemns propensities that all sinners have. He preaches justification by grace alone, and righteousness through faith alone. Yahweh roars from Zion as a Lion (1:2; 3:4, 8, 12; 5:19) to terrify and console. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah who died and is alive forevermore (Rev 1:18; 5:5). The roar in Amos awakens people from apathetic slumber and judges dishonest business dealings, abuse of the poor, idolatry, and immorality. Yahweh sends fires and earthquakes, locusts and drought, and a nation bent on destroying Israel in his fury against those whom he calls “my people” (e.g., Amos 7:15; 8:2; 9:10). Yet in the last oracle he promises to resurrect the tabernacle of David and restore a remnant gathered from both Israel and the Gentiles that shall live in the abundance of the new creation forever (9:11–15). These promises point to the feast Jesus instituted in Holy Communion, in which the baptized are forgiven of all their sins and celebrate that death has been swallowed up in victory (Is 25:6–9; 1 Cor 15:54).
The rhetorical method of this commentary highlights that Amos is a master at Hebrew poetry—radical, subversive, affrontive. Key excursuses include “Amos’ Use of Earlier Biblical Texts,” “The Church’s Response to Ethical Issues,” “The Relationship between the Prophets and Israel’s Worship,” “The Quotation from Amos 9 in Acts 15,” and “Preaching Like Amos.”