Book Reviews


An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Message

T.J. Betts Fearn, Ross-Shire, UK 2011-11-01

Like other commentaries in this series, this work on Amos provides a helpful exposition of an important Bible book. Betts, associate professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses the book of Amos in 14 chapters, with each chapter concluding with seven study questions.

Betts’s outlines are easy to follow and are thus easy to preach. For example Amos’s messages against Israel’s neighbors include these seven points: Damascus: Treating People As If They Have No Worth (1:3–5); Gaza: Using People for Profit (1:6–8); Tyre: Breaking One’s Word to a Brother in Order to Use Him for a Profit (1:9–10); Edom: Unrestrained Hatred and Spite toward a Brother (1:11–12); Ammon: Ambition and Uncontrolled Violence against the Helpless (1:13–15); Moab: Showing Contempt for Others (2:1–3); Judah: Unfaithfulness to God and His Word (2:4–5).

The emphasis of Amos 4 is on self-centeredness. So Betts outlines the chapter this way: Self-centeredness expresses itself by self-absorption (4:1–3). Self-centeredness expresses itself by self-deception (4:4–5). Self-centeredness expresses itself by self-delusion (4:6–11). Self-centeredness expresses itself by self-reliance (4:12–13).

Betts’s points on Amos 9:1–10 are these: the certainty of God’s judgment (9:1–4); the sovereignty of God’s judgment (9:5–6); and the impartiality of God’s judgment (9:7–10). In discussing Amos 9:11–15 Betts affirms the fact that God will establish His people Israel in the land “when the booth of David is repaired, that is, when the Messiah comes” (p. 191). In his conclusion Betts cites eight key ideas stressed in the book of Amos: “God sometimes uses unlikely people to be His messengers.” “All of the nations are under God’s rule.” “Greater blessing calls for greater responsibility.” “God expects His people to worship Him with faithful hearts.” “It is impossible to worship the Lord while at the same time mistreating or neglecting others.” “When people are unfaithful to God and lack concern for others, God’s judgment is imminent.” “God’s message of judgment was also a demonstration of His grace.” “Someday in the future God will restore Israel through the Messiah” (pp. 193–94).

This commentary is a treasure for anyone teaching or preaching the book of Amos.

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