AMOS CHAPTER 8.
Israel Ripe for the Judgment.
THE VISION OF THE BASKET OF SUMMER-FRUIT. — V. 1. Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me, in another vision revealing the fate of Israel, and behold a basket of summer-fruit, dead ripe, ready to be consumed. V. 2. And he said, again anxious to impress the meaning of the vision upon the prophet, 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, for they were ripe for the punishment which would end their national existence; I will not again pass by them any more, namely, to spare them, that they would not be punished. V. 3. And the song's of the Temple, originally intended to convey the spirit of the highest rejoicing, shall be howlings in that day, cries of the deepest grief and mourning over the large number of the slain, saith the Lord God. There shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence, with an admonition to hush, to bow in silence under the terrible severity of the divine judgment. If a sinner acknowledges his sin, he will also be ready to bow in silence and humility under the hand of God when some punishment comes upon him.
A LAST ADMONITION OF THE LORD. — V. 4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, panting after the poor in their anxiety to destroy them and to grasp their property, even to make the poor of the land to fail, in order to take their property by a show of right, v. 5. saying, When will the new moon, the day which they considered a time of enforced idleness, be gone that we may sell corn? speculating at the expense of the poorer in the land, and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, opening their storehouses in order to make unjust gains, making the ephah small, giving the people short measure, and the shekel great, by raising the price which they charged those in need, and falsifying the balances by deceit? so that they sold below weight, their scales having been arranged to cheat, v. 6. that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes, compelling him to sell himself either for a certain amount of money which he owed or for a pair of shoes which he had gotten and was unable to pay for; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? only the poor grain, for which they charged just as much as for the best grade. History repeats itself also in this respect, for the same tactics are used in our days by such as speculate in foodstuffs and in the necessaries of life, the manipulators always fixing the prices in their favor or else selling inferior goods for the price of that which is really high-grade. V. 7. The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, He Himself being Israel's Pride and Glory, Surely I will never forget any of their works; for by leaving such sins unpunished, He would deny His glory in Israel. V. 8. Shall not the land tremble for this, for the deeds of such conscienceless scoundrels, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? namely, on account of the force of the Lord's punishment. And it shall rise up wholly as a flood, be changed into a mighty, billowing ocean; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt, the reference being to the regular overflow of the Nile. V. 9. And it shall come to pass in that day, the day of the Lord's punishment upon Israel, 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, by a terrible catastrophe, the picture being well applicable to the fate of a nation or of the earth when it is destroyed while in the very midst of its earthly fortune and power; v. 10. and I will turn your feasts into mourning, taking away all joy, and all your songs into lamentation, cp. Hos. 2, 13; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, the usual garment of deepest grief, and baldness upon every head, for shaving the head was a sign of the deepest mourning; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, a most intense sorrow, which cannot be appeased, and the end thereof as a bitter day, one whose objectionable taste would not soon be forgotten. V. 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, causing men anxiously to search for the divine counsel, which they had so consistently rejected; v. 12. and they shall wander from sea to sea, from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, and from. the North even to the East, to the limitless extent of the Arabian Desert, they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, the pressure of punishment causing them to make this outward show of zeal, and shall not find it. V. 13. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst, this in spite of their natural strength and stamina, which was lacking in those who had been overcome before them. V. 14. They that swear by the sin of Samaria, namely, the golden calf of Bethel, and say, Thy god, O Dan, the other golden calf in the extreme northern city of Canaan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth, literally, "By the life of the way to Beersheba," this being a third city of an idolatrous cult, even they shall fall and never rise up again. In those days they made pilgrimages to the cities where the altars of idolatry were erected and refused to heed the words of the true God; therefore the time would come when they would be only too glad to heed the Word of God, but would find no one who would proclaim it to them. History shows that this judgment of the Lord has repeatedly gone into effect upon such as first rejected His message, His Gospel. The word of Luther that the Word of God is like a rainstorm which quickly passes over may well be heeded also in our day.