Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pulpit Review: Concordia Commentary

Lessing, R. Reed. Amos (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2009. 691 Pages. Cloth. $42.99. http://www.cph.org/p-696-amos-concordia-commentary.aspx (P)

I liked Hebrew more than Biblical Greek. As a student I noticed that the Hebrew vocabulary was smaller and that it seemed that every fifth word in that Hebrew vocabulary was a word translated as: “slaughtered, maimed, or killed.” Of course this is not quite true, but I say this to indicate that I am not qualified to judge the grammatical accuracy of Reed Lessing’s work: Amos.

That said, I read the commentary as a parish pastor who wanted to better teach God’s people the fullness of God’s Word. I started reading the book in preparation to attend a three day seminar dealing with Amos and taught by Lessing.

This commentary is a great resource for the pastor. It is rich with information concerning the culture and habits of the day which helps with the interpretation of God’s Word. Geography, economics, world events, and other information is presented to help understand Amos. This information not only helps the pastor understand Amos, but enriches his understanding of much of the prophetic writings. Of course, this then builds the appreciation of the rest of the Holy Scriptures.

Amos speaks the law very clearly. This is the purpose for which he was called. Lessing in his treatment helps us to see the clear presentation of the Gospel message of Amos. He also helps the reader to grasp and appreciate the love of God that causes him to send and sustain an unlikely prophet like Amos. Sin and Grace are apparent as the commentary educates concerning the language and structure of Amos’ preaching.

Lessing’s treatment and discussion about structure shows the sophistication of the Scriptures and the inspiration by the Holy Spirit in it writing and transmission. The subtleties of Hebrew poetry and the complexity of the constructs of the whole book are stunning. The explanation of these things in this Concordia Commentary is not overbearing but encouraging to the reader as knowledge and understanding is increased. There were a lot of “Aha!” moments for this student as the unity of Amos and the unity of the rest of Holy Scripture was revealed in the commentary.

The result of this commentary and the seminar teaching was a prompt Bible study for the saints in my congregation. Using the commentary and the seminar discussion the preaching of Sin and Grace in Amos became more clear. The preaching Sin made clear the condition of all sinful flesh-in Amos’ day and in ours. The preaching of Grace by the prophet Amos made clear the love of God for his people Israel in Amos’ day and the “Israel of faith” throughout all generations.

Brother pastors and other brothers and sisters in Christ, this commentary on Amos is a valuable asset to You in the understanding of God’s Word for the strengthening of your faith.

The Rev. Kirk Peters is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Buffalo, Wyoming, Third Vice President of the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, and Advising Editor of QBR.