1. What was the point of the basket of summer fruit?
Summer fruit doesn’t last long and thus the end of Israel was at hand: “(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” (Amos 8:1-2).
- Isaiah 28:1-4 is fitting commentary on this.
- This lesson was given to Amos as other prophets faced similar questions from the Lord (Jeremiah 1:9-17, Jeremiah 24:1-10, Zechariah 4:1-7, and Zechariah 5:1-4).
- Amos had been asked that question in the previous chapter wherein it was also stated, as here, that the Lord would not pass by them any more (Amos 7:8).
- As was later lamented, their end did come (Lamentations 4:18).
2. Why were the songs of the temple going to be howlings?
Because of the dead bodies in every place: “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” (Amos 8:3).
- If you will recall, the Lord wasn’t well pleased with their singing (Amos 5:22-23).
- The point, as revisited later in this chapter, is that their sining will turn to mourning (Amos 8:10; cf. Lamentations 5:7-15, Hosea 2:9-11, and Amos 6:1-8).
- God’s judgment brings about howling (Isaiah 13:1-6, Isaiah 15:1-3, Isaiah 65:11-14, Jeremiah 4:8, etc.).
- The many dead bodies (Jeremiah 9:21-22) because they did not repent (Jeremiah 15:7).
- In silence because, when facing God, what can one say (Job 40:4-5 and Romans 9:20).
3. How were the children of Israel dealing with the needy and the poor of the land?
The poor and needy were being swallowed up, cheated, and even bought and sold: “(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” (Amos 8:4-6)?
- Hear this (II Kings 20:16, Jeremiah 2:4, Amos 3:1, etc.). Think about hearing, in the right way (Matthew 15:10 and James 1:19-25) as opposed to how Israel was hearing (Isaiah 6:9).
- How they treated the poor and needy (Isaiah 3:14-15, Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 2:34, and Ezekiel 22:29; cf. Psalms 37:14 and Proverbs 30:14).
- They were going to always have the poor among them (Deuteronomy 15:11) and were expected not to oppress them (Deuteronomy 24:14).
- There is a Psalm that entreats the Lord to cause those wicked individuals to suffer dearly (Psalms 109:1-20).
- God judges those whom oppress the weak (Malachi 3:5).
- Consider this: “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor” (Psalms 140:12).
- Even in the first century, wherein the expectation was to care for the poor, widows, fatherless, etc. in their affliction (Galatians 2:10 and James 1:26-27); the Jews continued to oppress (Matthew 23:14, James 2:6-7, and James 5:1-6).
- They were greedy of gain (Isaiah 56:10-12; cf. Proverbs 1:19 and Proverbs 15:27).
- They were buying and selling their brethren (Joel 3:1-6). It is not that such could never occur, but the how was specific (Deuteronomy 15:12-18). They were not setting them free (Jeremiah 34:14).
- The message, similar to what Micah delivered (Micah 3:9-12).
4. When the Lord said He would never forget their works, was that a message of hope?
No, it was a promise of judgment: “(7) The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. (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. (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. (14) They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again” (Amos 8:7-14).
- The Lord swearing by the excellency [pride] (Psalms 47:4) of Jacob. Otherwise, He stated He swore by Himself (Amos 6:8).
- God was emphatic (Jeremiah 22:5) that He would not forget their works (Hosea 7:2). They thought otherwise (Psalms 10:11).
- The trembling of the land (Jeremiah 4:24-26).
- As by the flood of Egypt (Amos 9:5). This is figurative (Isaiah 8:7-8).
- Early sunrise, the darkened earth; things seen in times wherein God judged nations (Isaiah 13:9-10, Ezekiel 32:7-8, Joel 3:13-16, and Matthew 24:29) and even at the death of Christ (Matthew 27:45).
- God did such things as a sign to confirm His doing of things through the hands of men (Isaiah 38:1-8; cf. Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).
- We covered the point in verse 10 back in the notes on verse 3.
- A famine of the revelation (Ezekiel 7:26 and Micah 3:6).
- The running to a fro for that which will not be revealed and even that which was sealed up (Daniel 12:4). God warned them to seek Him WHILE He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).
- The fair virgins and young men will be held captive (Lamentations 1:18) and others killed (Lamentations 2:21). God was going to slay them with thirst literally (Hosea 2:3) and even of the words of life (cf. Isaiah 55:1-3).
- The sin of Samaria, the origin of the 10 tribes practice of idolatry (I Kings 12:26-33).
- Their idolatry didn’t save them (Hosea 8:5-6; cf. Psalms 115:1-8, Isaiah 45:20, and Jeremiah 2:27-28).
© 2021 This study was prepared for a Bible class with the Sunrise Acres church of Christ in El Paso, TX by Brian A. Yeager.