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.
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