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.
"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.'" NIV translation
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.
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," NIV translation
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?'" NIV translation
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.