I’ve always appreciated Alec Motyer’s commentaries on various books of the Bible (e.g. Isaiah, James, Philippians, etc.). I recently began studying Amos to prepare for an upcoming sermon series and I was immediately impressed with Motyer’s introduction to Amos in his commentary on the same. Here’s one section I underlined:
…The third emphasis in Amos’ message to the church is that religious profession and religious practice are invalid—to be more precise, repulsive to God and therefore not just useless but also dangerous—unless verified by clear evidences. Throughout his book, by implication, but in a succinct fashion in 7:7–8:10, Amos makes clear what the evidences of true religion are. It is the task of the expository studies at that point to explain them, but here they are in summary. In personal terms, true religion is to respond fully to the grace and law of God, living out the law in a life of obedience, resting on the grace both for ability and forgiveness; towards God, true religion is a reverent hearing and receiving of His Word; and towards other people it appears as honesty, considerateness and unfailing concern for the needy. Take these things away and what remains does nothing more than invite the adverse judgment of God.
In all this Amos speaks directly to the church today, and we must banish any thought that he speaks primarily to some other people or to other situations and that it is only by some exegetical gymnastics that there is a message here for the Christian. Amos addressed ‘Israel’ and we are ‘the Israel of God’ (Gal. 6:16). It is to be noted that Paul does not say ‘the new Israel’, and nowhere in the Bible does such a phrase (or notion) occur. Jesus designated His people as the inheritors of the new Covenant predicted by Jeremiah (31:31–34; cf. 1 Cor. 11:25); Paul spoke of them as the children of Abraham, along with Isaac (Gal. 4:28); he also said that ‘we are the circumcision’ (Phil. 3:3). It is precisely because this is the true situation that James can take the prophecies of Amos as a handbook for the church’s mission (Acts 15:15 ff.). In doing this he sets an example in the realms of both principle and practice: in principle, in that Amos brings a Word of God directly (not mediately) to us for our direction, admonition and instruction, and in practice, in that we are to see all that he says in the light of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, a kingdom not of this world, not promoted by the methods of the world, nor seeking political fulfilments in a geographical location.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015