In our study of Amos chapter eight, we look at the judgment that was to come on the northern kingdom. We will look at how they were caught up in religious rituals but did not allow the Word of God to affect their heart.
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This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. 'What do you see, Amos?' he asked. 'A basket of ripe fruit,' I answered. Then the Lord said to me, 'The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.'
Now, the prophet saw a basket of fruit. When fruit is picked from the tree and placed into a basket, it has a limited amount of time until it is rotten and thrown out. The tree is no longer producing and that is what God was saying about Israel.
'In that day,' declares the Sovereign Lord, 'the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies- flung everywhere! Silence!'
The time of harvest was usually a time of joy in the nation of Israel. They worshiped in the temple and praised God for His provision. This time, the harvest was going to be different because they were going to receive punishment instead of fruit. There would be no songs of worship; only silence as they faced judgment.
Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land,
A good measure of a nation or man, is how they treat those who are in need. We remember that Amos was a shepherd and so he would have known what it was like to struggle with poverty. That is why God would use him to speak to the leaders about Israel's treatment of their poor citizens.
saying, 'When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath ended that we may market wheat?'
The leaders of Israel went through the motions of religion but were wanting it to be over so they could get back to making money. It is much the same with many "Christians" today. They may attend a worship service but, as they do, they are simply wanting it to end so they can get back to their life. Amos was telling the Israelites that it was going to end and the same is true for us today.
'- skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.'
Not only were they wanting to get their religious duties over to go back to business but they were cheats as well. They would do anything to make a buck and would even cheat the very poor. It is much the same way today as many will use the excuse that "It's just business" but, as we have seen, the Lord watches over the poor and He knows what is going on.
The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: 'I will never forget anything they have done.'
Here, the title of "Prince of Jacob" refers to Jesus and the fact that He is a Jew. In chapter 6, it had been used to describe Israel and the fact that they trusted in themselves. This is even more true today as it seems that the world has turned its back on God saying they do not need Him.
'Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn? The whole land will rise like the Nile; it will be stirred up and then sink like the river of Egypt.'
Israel is now compared to the Nile which floods every year with the rainy season and rises as much as 25 feet. The Nile does not stay that high as the dry season comes and it falls back down. This is a reminder to them as well as us that God is the provider as He is the One that sends the rain that causes the Nile to rise.
'In that day,' declares the Sovereign Lord, 'I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.'
On the day that Israel was sent into exile, there was to be a complete solar eclipse. Throughout the Bible, there is usually an eclipse when God deals with the sin of Israel. The same thing happened when Jesus was on the cross as He was paying for the sins of the Jew and the Gentile.
'I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.'
Without their religious festivals, the people had no hope much like the loss of an only son in a family. The bitter day refers to the fact that they were going to be taken into exile.
'The days are coming,' declares the Sovereign Lord, 'when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.'
This passage speaks of the four hundred year period between the Old and New Testament. During that time, there were no more prophets sent to Israel. Going from north to east is a symbol of going away from the presence of God.
'In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst. Those who swear by the sin of Samaria - who say, "As surely as your God lives, Dan," or "As surely as the god of Beersheba lives" - they will fall, never to rise again.'
During that time of silence, those who trusted in the false gods would perish. This is much the same as what happened with Israel in the wilderness when they disobeyed God and would not seize the promised land.