Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 30, “Amos” pp. 469-480.
Lessing identifies Amos as an early 8th century prophet sent to the Northern Kingdom from Judah. The book uses ten names for God and refers to God 86 times in just nine chapters. The prophecies speak of God’s fury poured out on Israel (Lessing 2014, 469). Lessing provides a list of passages which are sometimes considered not to originate with Amos. Form and redaction critics, as we might expect, assign a significant role to people in the centuries after Amos (Lessing 2014, 470).
Amos has several distinctive literary features. Lessing notes a number of recurring phrases which Amos seems to use as structural connections (Lessing 2014, 471). Amos uses a number of genres, including oracles, numbered lists, hymns, and narrative. The idea of an earthquake is a strong unifying theme in Amos. The prophet also creates statements of divine judgment from God’s promises. The same God who has redeemed Israel may proclaim judgment upon the people (Lessing 2014, 472).
Lessing gives us some detail of the history of conflict between the Aramaic and Assyrian people and Israel. From the late 9th century into the 8th century some of the international hostilities were temporarily slowed (Lessing 2014, 473). In the time of Amos, Israel went through a time of aggressive expansion.
Amos, as the first of the writing prophets, receives much attention (Lessing 2014, 475). Counter to some of the critical scholars, Lessing sees Amos as emphasizing continuity with the Pentateuch, rather than being a theological innovator (Lessing 2014, 475). His emphases include justice and righteousness. The concept of the “Day of Yahweh” is also prominent in Amos (Lessing 2014, 476). This is a day when God’s grace turns to wrath against his enemies. The concept of God’s creation is also important in Amos (Lessing 2014, 477). God’s creation of earth is in contrast with man’s created political and cultural institutions. The realm of humans has violated God’s natural law, thus meriting judgment. Nations are guilty of acting against their own morality (Lessing 2014, 478).
Lessing sees the earthquakes in Amos as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Lessing 2014, 478). He also finds the image of God as a lion to foreshadow the New Testament concept of Jesus as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). God exposes the sins of his people, then proclaims redeeming grace (Lessing 2014, 479). The final goal of God in Amos is the redemption of the world.