1 Thus hath Adonai Yahweh 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 Yahweh unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.
Chapter 8 opens with the fourth vision of judgment: the basket of summer fruit. Fruit is a fitting symbol here. The Scriptures say much about fruit: good fruit and bad fruit; selfish fruit for oneself; unselfish fruit for others. Israel was indeed at this time a basket of fruit: beautiful and rich-looking, but ripe to the harvest - already plucked and soon to be devoured. Their fruit was gathered, and it was evil fruit: by the fruit the tree is known. Hosea said at this same time, and it is God's great indictment of Israel after the flesh, by which Israel after the Spirit would do well to constantly examine itself-
"Israel is an empty vine: he bringeth forth fruit unto himself" (10:1).
This has always been the great weakness and tendency of the flesh, even supposedly enlightened flesh: to spend its energies and efforts on its own interests and desires, forgetting that its whole reason for existence, and hope for the future, is to serve God and not itself. Beyond life's necessities, we have no time for anything except God's work, if we desire to be faithful and accepted stewards of God's grace. Sadly, it was the same in Paul's day, even among "believers." He says-
"I have no man likeminded (except Timothy) who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own, not the things which are Christ's" (Phil. 2: 20-21).
Bro Growcott - Seek the Lord, and Ye Shall Live
A basket of summer fruit
What can that signify? Ripeness - shortlivedness - perishability.
God had long forborne with their wickedness; He would now do so no more. He would bring judgment as foreshown by Moses at the beginning. -In that day," continues the Word of God by Amos,
"the songs of the temple shall be howlings; there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence."
How terribly this was fulfilled we have recently had occasion to realise in the recital of things testified by Josephus in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem - piles of corpses on all the highways, vast numbers daily thrown over the city walls, till they formed a mass of putrefaction that compelled the Romans to remove their camp to a distance; the temple enclosure, usually a place of singing, crammed with a shrieking multitude towards the close of the siege.
The occurrence of such things, so far from discrediting the Word of God, has the opposite meaning, did the objectors but understand. Jesus himself had foretold these things
"great distress in the land and wrath upon this people"
- Jerusalem given up to captivity and the sword - her place down-trodden. If Jerusalem were not trodden down; if the Jews were not scattered; if the Gentile powers were not in the ascendant - if things were not just as we see them, then might the scoffer ask with some effect, why is this?
The very things that he stumbles at are the strong foundations of faith. So also with the absence of active revelation, the truth of God's Word requires it. Amos throws light on this otherwise dark point also. God by him foretells the cessation of that to which Israel had been accustomed, and of which we have the written form,
"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 of water but of hearing the words of the Lord. 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" (Amos 8:11,12),
or as it is expressed in Micah 3:6,
"Therefore (because of iniquity) night shall be unto you that ye shall not have a visionê and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.ê Then shall the seers be ashamed and the diviners confounded; yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God."
Seasons 2: 22
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.
This appears to be clearly a reference to the great earthquake that Amos mentions at the beginning, and strengthens the probability that it was a Divine visitation to warn Israel and confirm Amos' words.
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith Adonai Yahweh, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:
As Amos prophesied, to all appearances they were enjoying high noon: strong and prosperous, with much of their day before them. Everything seems stable and secure. Amos' words seemed impossible of fulfillment, but within that generation, all was gone.
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.
The end of all things hath approached—Peter.
The Times to Which Peter Referred
Seeing then, that part of the mission of the apostleship of the circumcision was to convince the Mosaic order of men, (kosmos as applied to thinkers) of coming judgment, because their administration of the Mosaic order of things (kosmos as applied to things ordained) had been condemned. We find Peter and the rest quoting the words of Joel concerning what was to
"come to pass in the last days."
Having referred to the Pentecostian rain of the spirit, the prophet says by the same spirit,
"I will give wonders in the heaven above, and signs upon the earth beneath, blood and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall be that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts. 2:19–21.
The heaven was the aggregate of Judah's "high" or official "places"; the wonders, the
"casting down of the host and of the stars to the ground," the "taking away of the daily"
and so forth, by the little horn of the goat; the signs upon the land, those already enumerated by Jesus in Mat. 24.; blood, slaughter by the sword; fire, the burning of the towns, villages, homesteads, mansions of Judah, with its metropolis and temple; and vapor of smoke, the symbol of utter and complete destruction; the sun turned into darkness was the putting out of the supreme power of the state in the abolition of its principalities and powers; and the turning of the moon into blood, expressed by the words of Amos, saying,
"the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith Yahweh Elohim; there shall be many dead bodies in every place, and I will turn your tears into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations, and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head, and I will make it as the mourning for an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day"—ch. 8:3, 9, 10.
All these things were to come upon Judah
"before that the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
The Jews had slain, or rather the chief priests and pharisees had moved the little horn of the goat's procurator, Pontius Pilate, to crucify in their presence "an only son"; and the people by drawing back after they had acknowledged him, and by "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness," had "crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame;" so that when wrath came upon them at length, the son of man, or Yahweh Elohim made their howling and lamentation as the mourning for him they had crucified and put to shame. He made their
"sun to go down at noon, and darkened their land in the clear day;"
that is, the Mosaic order was dissolved by judgment in the midst of meridian brightness of holy spirit, shining in all the land from the seven branched lampstand,
"pillar and support of the truth,"
which had been planted therein to enlighten the house. This was an evil and perverse generation, therefore "with many other words" than those reported
"did Peter testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this "untoward generation."—Acts. 2:40.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1859
11 Behold, the days come, saith Adonai Yahweh, 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 Yahweh:
And truly they did, when it was too late. This time will come at last for us all. We remember the parable of the foolish virgins. Today we have the Word in our hands, with plenty of opportunity to study it that we may be "wise unto salvation": not just a ritual twenty minutes a day, and then back as fast as we can to present, passing things. How true for us are the words of the Psalmist we often sing?-
"O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119:97).
It is only those of such a heart who will stand approved at the last day. Today is the day of opportunity: tomorrow may be too late.
Get hold of the men that work on the social and the temporal; the public will cross the entrance-hurdle like a flock of sheep. But if you have nothing to show but those things that are of eternal moment -things truly intellectual and moral - things spiritual and noble - things high and lofty and lasting -you spread your feast in vain.
My days and my ways Ch 20