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Chapter 8

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A Basket Of Ripe Fruit  (ch. 8:1 - 14)


Verses 1 and 2 begin this chapter with a vision of a basket of ripe fruit.  God tells Amos exactly what this basket of ripe fruit symbolizes.  It symbolizes Israel, and that they are ripe for judgment.  God says that He will no longer spare His people.  Amos had already convinced God to withhold some acts of judgment on Israel, but now, the tipping point had come.  No one would convince God to withhold judgment.  Judgment would come.  


There is a tipping point of sin for any and all nations.  When that day comes, no amount of prayer will change the mind of God  He will judge.  He will have already given that nation ample time to repent.  As the book of Revelation states, "he that is righteous let him be righteous still, and he that is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still".  (Revelation 22:11)  There's no more time to change or even repent.


In verse 3 we note that when the day of judgment comes, the songs in the temple will turn to wailing.  We should note that earlier in the book of Amos God told Israel that He hated their gatherings, their songs and their music.  Thos songs had been defiled because Israel mixed their religion with paganism, which God detests.  So their sinful songs, which I'm sure they enjoyed, would become wailing, sobbing, and crying in the day of God's judgment.


Verse 3 also says, "many, many bodies will be flung everywhere.  Silence"!   A deadly silence would come to the land of Israel as her dead line the streets, the alley ways, and the fields. God's judgment is ultimate.  It's fatal.


Verse 4 speaks to the sins of economic and social injustice in Israel as we've seen before.  Israel trampled down the needy and did away with the poor.  They did not help the needy and poor as they should have according to the Law of Moses.  Every nation must have a means to helping the poor.  Helping the poor is not a matter of the right or the left as seems to be the case today with liberal or conservative politics, but a matter of human justice.  God does not like it when a nation neglects the poor, but here in Israel, it was more than neglect.  They did their best to just get rid of the poor. 


We see how Israel viewed the feast of the New Moon.  Every month, every new moon, would be a holiday from work and commerce.  They viewed these holidays as unproductive, a loss of income and money.  They just wanted that day to get over so they could get back to making more money.  They had the same attitude towards the Sabbath day.  It was a day when no money could be made and therefore was a useless day.  Their thinking towards the Sabbath was the opposite to God's thinking.


I don't believe Christians are subject to obeying the Law of Moses, which includes the Sabbath laws, but it is interesting that the reason why the western world has forsaken the idea of a Sabbath is purely based on economics, the making and spending of money.


Concerning the New Moon festival; it was a day that began each new month.  Jewish months back then were determined by the following process.  Astronomers would watch the night skies and when they saw the first hint of the moon (new moon) appear in the sky, they would go to the ruling leaders of Israel and tell them about it.  After much questioning and independent confirmation, the rulers would thus announce the beginning of a new month.  This day was to be a holiday, with no fasting or morning.  It was to be a time of celebration and no work.  Thus in Amos' day, because the New Moon was to be a day of no work, it was also a day of no income, no financial profit, for which they did not like.


The New Moon festival was incorporated into the Law of Moses as seen in Numbers 10:10  and 28:11.  There were to be certain things done on the day of the New Moon that over time were adulterated with paganism.       


Note the other economic sins Israel had committed as seen in verses 5 and 6.  They boosted prices, meaning, sold things beyond their normal value.  They skimped on the measure and cheated with dishonest scales.  Weights and measures were out of wack in order to make lots of money.  This makes me think of the gas prices in today's world.  Israel bought the needy with silver.  This is slave trading.  You might compare this to child labour today.  This got so bad that they would  buy and sell the needy just for a pair of sandals.  That's what the life of a human being was worth in the northern kingdom of Israel. 


The price of an individual life is thus important when it comes to God's judgment.  The western world today, and really, all the world, places a low price on the life of a human being.  Abortions prove that.  Terrorism also proves that.  This all figures into the reasons why God judges nations.   


Different Bible commentators suggest different things for the term "Pride of Jacob" in verse 7.  God says that He has sworn by the "Pride of Jacob".  There should have been a certain pride, not arrogance, concerning Jacob, or Israel because God chose them .  God Himself is the Pride of Israel.  He swears by no one else other than Himself.  There is no one higher than He to swear by. 


What God says is clear.  He will never forget what Israel has done.  Christians often say that God has not only forgiven their sins, but has forgotten their sin.  The cross of Christ wipes the slate clean for the Christian.  Even though the Christian still sins, those sins are forgiven, or, under the blood of Jesus.  That does not mean there aren't consequences for our sins as Christians because there is.  God disciplines His children as the writer of the book of Hebrews says. (Hebrews 12:5)


Verse 8 speaks of judgment.  As the river rises and falls, so will Israel.  They will sink into a deep hole, so to speak.


Verse 10 speaks of the sun going down at noon and the earth darkening when judgment hits the northern kingdom of Israel.  Did this happen when Assyria overthrew Israel?  I don't know.  It did happen in a symbolic way, I am sure.  This verse gives hint of the sun darkening at the end of the age when Jesus returns to earth.  Maybe there is some hint of that in the verse.


Verse 10 continues to suggest what the day of the Lord's judgment will be like.  The happy feast days will be turned into mourning.  People will mourn as if they have lost their only son.  That makes me think of how God would have felt when He saw His only son die on the cross for our sinfulness.  All the darkness and gloom that came on the northern kingdom came on Jesus, and even more. 


In verses 11 and 12 God says that He will send a famine in the land.  This famine is not a famine of food and water, but a famine of the Word of God.  The Lord says that men will search from the north to the east looking for the Word of the Lord but will not find it.  Why the north and east are mentioned and not the west and south, I'm not sure.  I know that you can't go too far west because of the Mediterranean Sea , but one can go south.  That being said, there is some spiritual significance to the north and to the east in the Bible, so maybe that is why. 


The north seems to imply humanism and sin.  Gog of Magog comes from the north.  The sin of idol worship came into the northern kingdom from the north.  Even the fact that the northern kingdom is north of the southern kingdom implies that.  The northern kingdom fell into idol worship before the southern kingdom.  The east seems to imply the direction of  God and holiness. The Garden of Eden is in the east.  The entrance to the tabernacle was towards the east.      


It is interesting that after the prophet Isaiah there was only the prophet Malachi in Israel's history, that is, until John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.  Then after 70 A.D. there was no Israel to have a prophet.  So, the Word of the Lord did come true.  A famine of the Word of God did come to Israel.  Basically, God said, if you don't want to hear and obey my Word, you won't have it.  I suggest that the same can still happen to a nation or any part of the church today.  It might well be happening in the church as I write these words.   


I do believe that as this age comes to an end, the Word of the Lord will return to the state of Israel.  I think you can see that happening today, even though there is still wide spread ignorance and even rejection of the Word of God in Israel.


Verse 13 tells us that even the "lovely young women and the strong young men" will faint in the day of God's judgment. Note that God views young women as "lovely".  This makes me think of the young men and women today who we have raised up as superstars.


Verse 14 ends this chapter.  There are certain groups that God specifically points out that will fall.  The first group are those "who swear by the shame of Samaria ".  Simply put, those who give their spiritual allegiance to Samaria will fall.  They will fall because Samaria was not to be the centre of Jewish worship.  The centre of Jewish worship was to be Jerusalem .


The next group that falls is Dan, that is, the tribe of Dan.  It was that tribe of Dan, who lived in the northern part of the kingdom, who first introduced the worship of other gods to the northern kingdom.  That's why we see the "gods of Dan" mentioned here.  You will note in the list of the 144,000 Israeli preachers in Revelation 7 that there are 12,000 Jews mentioned from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Dan is not mentioned in this list and some suggest that because Dan first adopted paganism that spread throughout the northern kingdom is the reason why they aren't mentioned in Revelation 7.  


The last group that God specifically points out are those who are of Beersheba.  Beersheba was actually in the southern kingdom, but it was noted for worshipping other gods as well, thus the term "gods of Beersheba".  Those who trusted in the gods of Beersheba would fall, and they did.  Beersheba was a southern destination in those days for those of the northern kingdom.  I call it the New Orleans of the southern kingdom.  I think for this reason it is mentioned here. 


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