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The Book of Amos
Chapter 8 brings us to the 4th vision in series shown to Amos by the Lord.
The vision of the plumbline showed the certainty of the coming judgment; this vision reveals just how close it is.
Amos 8:1 Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. (KJV)
Amos sees a basket of ripe fruit. A basket of summer fruit represents the end of a harvest. It tells us that the tree is no longer producing. The harvest is past. There will be no fruit until next year. A basket of summer fruit also tells us of rapid spoilage and quick deterioration. There is a message in this basket of summer fruit. God gives us a dramatic and a figurative illustration.
Amos 8:2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. (KJV)
Just as the gathering of the fruit marked the end of the harvest, so too had Israel come to the end of her national existence. Since the providential dealings of the Lord, His threats, His Promises, His earlier chastenings, had not brought about true repentance from her, the hour of judgment had arrived.
There is a forceful play on words in this vision: “summer fruit” and “end.” See Joel 3:13 and Eze.7:2-3,6. “I will not again pass by them any more” means that the Lord will not forgive them again, and resume the thought of judgment in Amos’ prophecies, interrupted by the accusation and opposition of Amaziah (7:8).
Amos 8:3-4 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.  Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, (KJV)
Because the same Hebrew word is sometimes translated “temple” and other times “palace,” students of verse 3 have different opinions as to which “songs” are referred to, songs of the temple, or songs of the palace. Both are referred to in this Book of Amos: temple songs in 5:23 and songs in the palace in 6:5 and probably 8:10. The important feature is that they will not only be silenced, but changed into howlings and wailings because of death everywhere. There will be so many dead bodies, that they will be “cast forth” in every place in a random manner; they shall cast them forth with silence . . . not as to, "be silent, " but “in silence.” There shall be such great slaughter as even to prevent the bodies being buried. Grief will be so great that words are useless. Israel was ripe for judgment, and it was not far off. The place of rejoicing before God will be changed into a place of weeping. The slain bodies will be everywhere. This is a terrifying prophecy.
God hates the abuse of the poor. We need a poverty program; NOT the one we have now, giving money to those who are well able to work, but to the elderly, disabled, widows and orphans. The poor and needy always suffer more in a godless nation. When Jesus is King everyone shall sit underneath their own fig tree (Job 7:2; Isa.5;8; 36:16; Mic.4:4). If a person won’t work, they will NOT eat (2 Thes. 3:10) . . . NOT like today!
Amos 8:5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? (KJV)
They were going through the Mosaic rituals, but God knew what was in their hearts. “The new moon” and “the sabbath” were holy days; business was not transacted then (Num.10:10; 28:11; 2 Kings 4:23). God is saying that even when the rich went to the temple to praise God, they were so greedy that they thought only of how they could make more money by cheating their customers. They not only practiced their sin during the week, but they carried it with them into the temple. What a picture this gives us of Israel in that day . . . but wait a minute . . . what about our times today?
Amos 8:6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? (KJV)
The poor even had to sell themselves into slavery. That was permitted in that land under the Mosaic system. It is still going on today to some extent, and will continue (Rev.18:13). In fact, it is worse because pimps get prostitutes started on drugs and the poor girls have no way to support that ungodly habit except they stay in slavery to those wicked pimps! God shall judge these people harshly!
They would buy the needy for a pair of shoes . . . that’s how cheap they were!
And they would sell the poor the refuse of the wheat. That means the poor got the “seconds,” the leftovers which an honest dealer throws away. I can identify with Amos. He was a poor, hard working man, and he says things that I understand. Amos is explaining why Israel was like a basket of summer fruit. The goodness of Israel was just as perishable and just as soon deteriorated as summer fruit. One major evidence of this was the way they treated the poor.
Amos 8:7 The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. (KJV)
The excellency of Jacob is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord has sworn by the Messiah who is coming. No oath could be taken that is higher than that. Notice what it is that He has sworn: “Surely I will never forget any of their works.” As we have seen previously in this book, God does NOT forget the works of any of us . . . believer or unbeliever. Those of us who are believers will one day “… appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). In the days of Amos, they had heaped up sins unto the day of God’s wrath, and He remembered every one of them. It will be the same with us today.
Amos 8:8 Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. (KJV)
Some commentators think this refers to an earthquake. That is possible, but I think it is the fact that God is coming down hard upon them in judgment that makes the land tremble. The land was once was very fruitful with much vegetation, including a many trees, but today the land has been pretty much useless. It really shows the evidence of God’s judgment upon it. God came down heavily upon the land. We will see in the next chapter that the promise for the future includes a promise for the land.
Amos 8:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day: (KJV)
“That day,” refers to the Day of the Lord (Job 24:1; Isa.22:5; Eze.13:5; Amos 5:20; Obadiah 1:15; Zep.1:7; 2:3; Zec. 14:1; Mal.4:5;1 Cor.1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Cor.1:14; Phil.1:6; 2:16; 1 Thes.5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). And generally it refers to the Great Tribulation because that comes first . . . that day begins at night as far as Israel was concerned. Amos assembles prophecy of the near future and the far distant future. The Day of the Lord has not yet arrived. The sun has NOT gone down at noon, nor has the earth been darkened in the clear day. Now he changes to the more immediate future for Israel.
Amos 8:10 And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day. (KJV)
Just as there was mourning for the dead in every house in Egypt (Ex.12:30), so too would similar conditions exist in Israel under this exceptionally heavy judgment. This sorrow would not be temporary, but would continue on into bitterness. “And I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.” Sackcloth on all loins and baldness on every head indicate deepest mourning. This was literally fulfilled in the judgment that was to come unto them presently.
Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: (KJV)
Still yet another phase of the judgment must be set forth before Amos presents the last vision in the concluding chapter of this prophecy. The distress of the people will be outward and inward, temporal and spiritual (eternal). Their spiritual plight is depicted in terms of famine; NOT famine of bread or thirst for water, but a famine for the Word of God. The Lord tells Israel that since she rejected God’s messages and messengers, the prophets would stop their ministries. God’s Word would be withdrawn from her.
Today, God tells any church or any nation that, if they will not hear His Word after He has given it to them, He will withdraw it. I think this is happening in America. There has been such a rejection of the Word of God. So many churches have turned to liberalism, and the Word of God is no longer preached. There has come a famine of the Word of God. Very little of the Word of God is getting out in this land today. Nearly everyone owns a Bible. But who is studying it? Who is reading it? Who is believing it? We are seeing the beginning of the famine of the Word of God in this country.
Amos 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (KJV)
The troubled people will go from sea to sea seeking the Word of God but will NOT find it. God in His great love for His chosen people had sent His Word by prophets, but they had rejected His Word, and even slain His prophets.
Amos 8:13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst. (KJV)
Even the young people, the most hopeful and vigorous members of society, will faint as they thirst after the Word of God.
Amos 8:14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again. (KJV)
It was their custom to swear in the name of their gods. “The sin of Samaria” refers to the golden calf at Beth-el. God’s judgment upon them from such idolatry concludes this chapter: “they shall fall, and never rise up again.” This indicates the dissolution and permanent downfall of the northern kingdom. The ten tribes are going into captivity, and they will never return as the northern kingdom of Israel. When they come back to their land, they will come as part of the twelve tribes. The fulfillment of this judgment began with the dissolution of the kingdom and will continue until her national restoration, promised in Eze.36:22-31 and 37:15-23. The partial fulfillment was the time of the Assyrian captivity.
Apostate Christiandom as well as guilty Israel will share this famine in the time if the Great Tribulation. Both have turned from light of the Truth to the darkness of fables.
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5 . Ch.6 . Ch.7 . Ch.8 . Ch.9