Amos 8 - Outline of Amos (Menu Page)
The vision of Summer Fruit (and its ramifications) occupies the entirety of ch. 8.
1. Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
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.
3 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.
A basket of Summer Fruit...
When Israel entered into the promised land, following their exodus from Egypt, they were commanded to bring a basket of the first fruits of the land, before the LORD, to worship Him for His grace in delivering them from bondage and in bringing them into their land (Deu 26:1-11).
     But Israel had forgotten that their blessings came from Him. They rejoiced in their licentious liberties and were proud of their ability to provide for themselves. Ripe fruit picked from the trees at the end of summer, looks good for a short time, but quickly spoils. The vision signified that Israel was ripe for judgment, and it would not be long until the nation perished at the hands of an invading enemy.
     Isaiah described the same destruction with a similar, but different, analogy in Isa 28:1-4. As revealed to Isaiah, the nation of Israel would be plucked by the invaders, like the first fruits which appear on a fig tree early in the season, long before the commercial harvest at the end of the summer. The enemy would quickly swallow the sparce fruit of 'Ephraim' {meaning 'fruitful', another name for the northern kingdom of Israel}.
I will not pass by them any more.-
The LORD would no longer withhold judgment. He would no longer put aside their sins, and wait for them to turn from sin to Him. Amos 7:8
Their songs of praise would be exchanged for wails of grief as the enemy wrought destruction.
The 'temple' may refer to the temple of Baal, which Ahab built in Samaria, or to any one of Israel's centers of false religion.
...many dead bodies... cast forth with silence...
The siege and destruction, of Samaria and the surrounding cities, would cause an overwhelming number of deaths. Corpses would be discarded without burial (Amos 6:9,10).
4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
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?
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?
Hear this...- The LORD's judgment was directed first at the hypocritical and wealthy rulers, who...
  • oppressed the poor to the point that some 'failed' {ie., ceased to exist}, without the means to survive.
  • were so greedy for gain that...
    • they chafed at closing their businesses for the Sabbath and other holy days.
    • they cheated their customers with dishonest measures. An ephah was a measure of volume slightly larger than a bushel. A shekel was the primary unit of weight, by which gold or silver would be weighed to determine its value. The volume of grain which they sold was less than labled, while its cost to the buyer was actually higher than the agreed price.
    • they engaged in slave trade, selling people for money.
    • they engaged in usury, mortgaging the souls of the poor for basic necessities (Amos 2:6).
    • they sold spoiled food which should have been discarded.
7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob,
Surely I will never forget any of their works.
The LORD was swearing by Himself,
for He is the true 'excellency of Jacob.' 1Sam 15:29; Deu 33:29; Psa 68:34
Elsewhere, this title is applied to the Messiah, who is God in human flesh (Luk 2:32; Isa 60:1-3).
The nation's leaders had forgotten Him.
Their selfish pleasure was the 'excellency' which they had elevated above His name (Amos 6:8).
By their oppression of the fatherless and widows, they brought dishonor upon the name of Israel's God (Deu 10:17,18; Psa 146:9).
...I will never forget their works (some of which were listed in v.4-6).
He would hold them accountable... as He will hold each of us accountable (2Cor 5:10).
Men, who excuse their sins and think that God will not pay attention to them, deceive themselves (Psa 10:11; Hos 7:2; 9:9).
     Sadly, the LORD would have blotted out their sins, if they had turned to Him in sincere repentance (Isa 43:25). But they continued to reject His merciful offer of salvation, though He had called to them repeatedly (Amos 5:4; Jer 7:13-15, 25-26; 35:15).
Hear this... (v.4)
Though they would not hear His Word, they could not avoid hearing the consequences of their willful deafness to His entreaties.
Those consequences would have two aspects:
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.
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:
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.
Sorrows for Israel...
Several terms are used to describe the intensity of their grief:
...the land trembles (The earthquake which followed the prophecy of Amos, foreshadowed the coming judgment. Amos 1:1)
...feasts turned to mourning... songs to lamentation... sackcloth... baldness... mourning as for an only son... a bitter day.
What is the cause of this agony?
...it shall rise up... it shall be cast out and drowned...
The "it" refers to Israel, upon which the "end" {HB=qets, 'cutting off'} had come (v.2).
Like the annual overflow of the Nile River, which floods and irrigates the land of Egypt, an invading army (the Assyrians) would rise up and overflow the land of Israel, carrying its people away and submerging its future as a nation.
...in that day... I will cause the sun to go down at noon...-
Metaphorically, the Assyrian captivity darkened Israel's hopes. But the literal fulfilment of v.9 awaits 'that Day' {ie., the Day of the LORD} (Mat 24:29; Rev 6:12; 8:12).
...and the end {HB='achariyth} thereof as a bitter day.
Here, a different word is translated 'end,' meaning 'that which issues from it' or 'that which comes after.' The sorrows involved in the 'cutting off' of Israel were not an end in themselves. There was more bitterness to follow...
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:
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].
13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.
Silence from God...
They had refused to hear God's Word. Therefore, God would withhold His Word from them.
...they shall wander {ie., stagger}... run to and fro... seek diligently... but shall not find.
With a desperate desire to understand what God was going to do with them as a people, they would seek by every possible means, but receive no answer (like rebellious king Saul, 1Sam 28:6). Having refused the light of God's Word, they would stumble in darkness (Isa 29:9,10; 59:9,10).
     The OT prophets had spoken to warn Israel and Judah of judgment. Following the captivities, the LORD sent a few prophets to guide the remnant that returned to Jerusalem. But after those prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi), four hundred years would elapse before the darkness was broken by the light of Christ's first coming (Mic 3:6; Mat 4:13-17).
     But even now, with the further light of the NT, and with the wide availability of the Bible, God's Word is rejected (Joh 3:19). Jews and Gentiles, alike, engage themselves in a futile search for truth, seeking in all the wrong places, such as eastern religions, 'christian' cults, and science (falsely so called). The water of the Word is freely available, to satisfy the thirsty soul (Isa 44:2,3; Joh 7:37,38). But few find the fountain, for apostate pastors still preach another gospel, and hypocritical churchmen still seek to silence the truth (Amos 7:12,13; Acts 4:18).
...fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.
Even the strength of youth cannot endure, apart from God's Word (Mat 4:4).
14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth;
and, The manner
{ie., the way, the journey} of Beersheba liveth;
even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
...the sin {ie., guilt, offense} of Samaria...- was the object of their idolatrous worship.
Turning their backs on the true and living God, the nation had affirmed that the golden calves, which they had made for themselves, were living and powerful to save. Jeroboam I had placed golden calves in Bethel (near the border with Judah) and also in Dan (at the northern edge of the kingdom). King Ahab had built a temple to Baal in Samaria, his capital city. The people also made pilgrimage to venerate additional idols in Beersheba, far to the south.
     They that swear by [these idols] shall fall. No oath can stand against the everliving One who swears by Himself (v.7).
The northern kingdom would be destroyed, never again to arise as a nation of ten tribes.
The future restoration, centered in Jerusalem, will be of the united kingdom consisting of all twelve tribes.

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