AMOS CHAPTER 8: A FRUITY EXAMPLE
What is described?
What literally happened?
What is revealed about God’s character?
This chapter of Amos begins with a vivid word picture. Amos sees a basket of ripe fruit which is a symbol of the people of Israel. God states in verse 2 that the time for judgment has come. The picture of the ripe fruit is instructive and helpful because:
#1 A fruit becoming ripe is a gradual process… as has been the judgment of God
#2 A fruit becoming ripe is swift at the end… as it will be for the judgment of God
#3 A fruit becoming ripe is terrible at the end… as it will be for the judgment of God
#4 A fruit becoming ripe is irreversible… as it is with the judgment of God
A powerful statement occurs at the beginning of chapter 8: God will no longer overlook their sin. There is a line. There is an end to what He will tolerate. This is a paradoxical thought because God’s grace is boundless, but only under the Lordship of Christ. The People of Israel were ignoring the Spirit and His commands and there is a limit (without Christ) as to what God will tolerate. There is a line.
The rest of the chapter fleshes out and expands on the judgment of God that has been gradually building and will now come to a ruinous conclusion. Verse 4 again calls out to those who trample those who are physically and spiritually needy.
The descriptions are terrible:
Wailing (verse 3) [Hebrew: yalal = ‘howling’]
Dead bodies all over the place (verse 3)
Destruction of the land (verse 8)
Signs in the sky (verse 9)
Much mourning (verse 10) [Hebrew: ‘ebel = ‘mourning for the dead’]
Famine (verses 11, 13-14) [from the Hebrew: ra’eb = ‘voraciously hungry’]
The Word of the Lord will be gone (verse 12)
The swift judgment of God will come for Israel. Historically, keeping verse 9 in view about “sun will go down at noon” and “darken the earth in broad daylight,” there was an eclipse on June 15, 763 BC which was a sign that such things would come to pass. God uses both natural and supernatural means to get the attention of sinners and to attempt to turn them back to Him.
The character quality… of His people… is quite abysmal. Unfair scales. Downtrodding the poor. Carelessness with the needy. The Law provides for the needy and helps the poor to help themselves… but even this was ignored. There is a big price to pay for belonging to God and ignoring His commands and His way of life.
Perhaps it is verse 12 which is the most tragic of all. The People of God have turned their backs on God and pursued other gods, idols, ill-gotten gains, and ways to cheat each other… and in the end, He will turn away from them and they will not find Him. They may speak, but they will not find the Lord. Perhaps this is the prediction of God’s silence for 400 years between the Prophet Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist.
We forget that it is the way we live and the way we forget Him that brings the wrath of God.
We forget that our sin infects the land and damages souls and this brings the wrath of God.
We forget that God’s People are called away from sin and this brings the wrath of God.
We forget that sin is serious business and sin must be hated and this brings the wrath of God.
We forget to hate that which pollutes our relationship with God and this brings judgment.
SUMMARY & APPLICATION: What is revealed about God’s character?
This passage teaches us that God guards His heart. God does not sin, but He bears up under our sin. Our sin creates death. Our sin creates chaos that God fixes. God is merciful and gracious, but He is not an enabler. God deals with sin and people who sin at the point when it is needed. Judgment happens. This judgment of sin opens up the opportunity for life again. On the other side of judgment, God will still be Himself, and He will again offer life for those who survive and thrive. There is a balance of love and wrath and justice and mercy in the heart of God.
God is longsuffering and there is a promise that will come (chapter 9). God will eventually provide the victory and restoration of Israel. If we look forward properly, the life and the permanent rooting take place in Christ (booth of David, 9:11) by His blood and His death, and His resurrection.
TMB & BMD