A basket of summer fruit – what a wholesome and healthful symbol – it looks good, tastes good, and conveys good wishes, health and strength. A basket of ripened summer fruit was used in the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles – a time of joy celebrating how God delivered the nation and provided for them in their wilderness wandering. This feast was for the nation, a turning of the year – the past year having ripened and a new year of hope for a prosperous future ahead. Imagine how Amos must have been baffled at first with this vision. Could this vision of a basket of summer fruit have symbolized fruitfulness, joy, blessing, and a hopeful future in light of all that Amos has prophesied to this point? The answer is a devastating ‘No!’ Rather than the joy of the harvest, this basket of summer fruit represented the onset of disaster; as Jeremiah lamented, ‘The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved’ (Jer 8:20). Instead of celebration and weal, this vision meant woe; instead of life, it meant death; songs would become wailings; solid land will tremble; the sun will set a noon; joyous feasts will be turned into morning and songs into lamentations. The atmosphere of revelry will suddenly be replaced by that of a funeral, and God himself will be the agent of this destruction. Israel was ripe alright, ripe for judgment!
The text reminds us again that the certain judgment of God is coming upon the nation because of the multitude of her sin and rebellion. Israel’s false and empty religion and social injustice all stems from their failure to recognize who God is. When God is reduced to merely one of many interests, he will soon become irrelevant. When God is in His deserved place of exaltation, whether in a nation, or an individual’s life, all other things – relationships, leisure, work, money – fall into their proper place. But in the nation of Israel, self has become the jealous master, pushing out all else. Greed, gain, dishonesty, theft, and other practices that served self were enthroned; and righteousness, justice, and mercy were cast out. Anything which did not serve self-interest became disposable. These were a people who loved gain more than they loved God – they loved gain more than honesty and integrity. As the plumb-line hangs vertically in the unwavering hand of God, such offenses were exposed as it revealed that the nation were neither resting on the level foundation of grace nor were they constructed upright and square to the law. The central evidence was their pitiless behavior toward the poor, which is the central evidence of false religion (James 1:27) and dead faith (James 2:14-17).
There are many Scriptures that teach both by precept and example that the Lord hates the domineering exploitation of people. This week search the Scriptures in order to support this idea.
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