[Ripe for judgement – fall never to rise again]
Ripe for judgement – [v.1,2] Blackboy peach tree – fruit swells, turns deep purple, softens, a few fall – the fruit is ripening, time to harvest, time is ripe- A fourth vision was given to Amos - the basket of perishable produce of the land (v.1-3) - the time was ripe - it symbolised the immediacy of Israel’s end. The plumb line depicted יהוה examining Israel’s corruptness against the standard of His righteousness and finding them worthy of judgement - "I will spare them no longer" was the conclusion. Very similar to a vision given to Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 24:1-10 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the officials of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me: behold, two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord! One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten due to rottenness. Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad figs, very bad, which cannot be eaten due to rottenness.” Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness—indeed, thus says the Lord—so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them. I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.’ ”) Vision of fruit – what does it mean? Here, the summer fruit depicts Israel as a nation ripe for judgement, harvest time had come, they were rotten fruit - "I will spare them no longer" was the conclusion. Only get the significance if you understand Hebrew: קיץ - summer fruit or figs, was particularly well known and significant to Amos who cultivated figs. But is was a play on words for קָיִץ is very close to קֵץ - end, cutting, fulfilment, destruction. The harvest time, the time was ripe, the time of fulfilment - יהוה would bring destruction on Israel, the end had come for Israel, His people. No longer could יהוה overlook Israel’s sin, it had mounted up and was now complete, the time for judgement had come! (cf. Gen 15:16 the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.). Harvest time! - talk of fields white unto harvest and think of harvest as an ingathering of souls, but harvest is the end of the age: the time when that which has been sown comes to fruition, be it evil or be it good. Both evil and good mature together (cf. Matt 13:37-42 The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.; Good fruit and rotten fruit maturing together (cf. Jer) Rev 14:14-20 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.). Harvest is the end, a time of judgement when men reap the reward for the way they have carried on their lives. [v.3] - The day of judgement will be a time of great distress and sorrow. No longer would they sing their happy cultured sons in their fancy houses (cf. 6:5; 5:23) rather, they would wail and lament as they see death all around them and their loved ones gone (Luke 6:25 Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.). Many corpses everywhere! The calamity will be so overwhelming that even the wailing will cease - there will be no more grief to expend - emotional exhaustion - they will remove the bodies in silence (6:10) - utterly numbed by the terrible devastation that has overwhelmed them (Hab 2:20)! יהוה the Lord, Himself has declared it! - not complete sentences – picturing the panic and chaos: bodies everywhere, silence!
The cause: - [v.4] A terrible end was coming upon God’s people Israel (v.1-3). But it is never without a reason. The reason is given in (v.4-14) as יהוה recounts Israel’s sin. It was exploiting the poor, being consumed with business to the exclusion of any interest in spiritual things, religion was an inconvenience to be tolerated. The end had come - but a bigger "end" is referred to than Israel in the 8th century BC, than exile – greater significance (cf. v.9,10) refers to the end times – therefore the sins are those of end times – commercialism gone out of control God is concerned with how we do business. God doesn’t judge without cause, not without warning nor drawing attention to sin - He longs for His people to repent and gives them every opportunity to do so. Israel’s sin called forth scathing indictment. The sin that was addressed repeatedly was the oppression and maltreatment of the poor and needy. Those He was particularly speaking against were the well off, the middle and upper classes, the comfortable, the businessmen, the managers and employers, those with men under them. Those who exploited the defenceless and helpless, and those dependent on them and their wealth for existence. Always it is the rich that oppress the poor, the powerful who oppress the weak, It is to these that יהוה addresses His word. [v.5,6] - These people were religious but their heart wasn’t in it - it was superstition, ritual, cultural requirement - but they weren’t interested in God, spending time with Him, seeking Him, worshipping Him. All the time the religious performance was going on they were chaffing at the bit to get out and continue business, make more money. They may be in the temple but their mind was planning their next business deal. They couldn’t wait for the time to be over so they could continue getting wealth at others’ expense - defrauding others. Cheating selling less and inflating the price. This is how they got their wealth: through dishonesty - they made the ephah (the dry measure by which grain was sold) smaller so that they short changed the one buying, selling less than stated. At the same time they made the shekel (the weight by which money paid for the goods was weighed) bigger so they overcharged the purchaser, taking more than stated. They used dishonest scales -always turning things to their advantage - ripping off the customer. Is this practise no longer with us?! God detests such practices (Deut 25:13-16 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God.). Their avarice did not extend just to making money by extortionate means - they weren’t content with depriving the poor of all the money they had, they wanted to buy them themselves, make them so poor that they had to sell themselves into slavery! They wanted control, ownership of the poor themselves! - make them so indebted that they could exploit them as slave labour for nothing. They would do nothing, whilst the labour of the poor made them rich. Sound familiar? - It was always the helpless, defenceless, the humble, the needy, the poor that they exploited and from whom they made their wealth. They bought human souls! Bought the poor and needy! They sold rubbish to make a buck - passed of chaff as wheat. They did these things and thought it didn’t matter. "As long as you get away with it, it’s OK." But Someone sees and He will not forget one of their corrupt and dishonest dealings. They would pay in full for their deceitful dealings! At the end it is Babylon, the commercial system, that is judged. [v.7] They thouth they were getting away with it, that God doesn't notice or care– יהוה puts Himself on oath, swearing by the very arrogance and pride of Jacob that ignores God and says there is no consequence to their actions (cf. Psalm 10:3,4,11 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” He says to himself, “God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.”) יהוה swears that "I will never forget ...". Not one of their deeds will be forgotten or over looked. They will get away with NOTHING. יהוהּ has spoken! He has sworn! Until eternity their evil will be remembered! "I will repay!" says יהוה! (Hebrews 10:30,31 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.). God knows what we do and will not forget – He will judge, the END has come!
Never to rise again [v.8] – יהוה now gives a description of the terrible things that will come upon them. The land would tremble. All its inhabitants would mourn. The land would rise, be tossed about, and then subside - like the Nile which floods annually. The land would be overwhelmed, overthrown. It seems to picture an earthquake - this prophecy was fulfilled two years later (cf. 1:1) but there is a greater fulfilment yet to come (cf. Zechariah 14:4,5 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!). [v.9] - There will be signs in the heavens and the earth (cf. Joel 2:30) - not only an earthquake but also an eclipse - or some other means by which midday becomes dark - sovereign acts of God "I will the sun go down ...."; "I will make the earth dark" - this is the LORD’s doing! He is taking action because of Israel’s sin, and everyone will know it. This was not fulfilled in the exile of Israel, this is speaking of a yet future judgement. v.10 - "I will turn ..."; "I will bring ..."; "I will make ..." - the LORD makes it very clear that this calamity is His doing - it is due solely to Him. Their festivals will not be times of celebration – יהוה will turn them into mourning, their songs into lamentation. Will the same happen to we who revel in music just as they did (cf. 6:5; 5:21, 23; 8:3). The people will be in mourning, dressed in sackcloth - where are their fine clothes now? They will be brought down to the level of the poor whom they oppressed. It will be a bitter time - a mourning like that for that most tragic loss - an only son (cf. Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Jeremiah 6:26 O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn as for an only son, a lamentation most bitter. For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.) - alone, forsaken, deserted, destitute, a BITTER DAY – a bitter end for greedy materialist (cf. Luke 6:24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.) - and this is יהוה’s doing![v.11-13] - יהוה is describing the terrible times of judgement that will come. Not only will there be "natural" disasters, great misery, distress and bitterness; but there will also be a spiritual dearth. [leave comment on these three verses and skip to v.13 – Paul leaving out God's word! So apt to our day that give them more attention in detail next time] For the moment just note that the bitter day is a bitterness both of the physical situation but also spiritually. Want to get back to God but be unable to – that's why it is imperative to respond now! [v.14] – Dan and Beersheba were pagan shrines in the farthest northern and southern limits of the land. The patron deities of these idolatrous centers would be powerless to help in the coming calamity. Again need to understand Hebrew: the sin [ashimah] of Samaria," is a deliberate Hebrew distortion of the name of Asherah, the Canaanite mother goddess, to conform to the Hebrew word for "guilt" (’asham). Verse 13 describes those who are pure, genuinely seeking God's word but are unable to find it because of false religion and false teaching that pervades. But these false religionists, idolaters, who have thus led the innocent and promising young men astray, will not be held guiltless. They will pay for their travesty, the terrible thing they have done to those who knew no better, whose heart was sincere. They are very "religious" but far from יהוה! It is idolatry! They trust in that which was not God, a lie, it was not the true God and they were left utterly bankrupt. They are sincere religious people but it is not the true God they are trusting but one of their own making. Those who rely on that which is not true will come to a bitter end! The guilt, sinful idolatry of Samaria - man made, human established, religion - HUMANISM! Where is idolatry today? We don't have idols – but we worship that which man makes and does (technology, computers, medicine, sportsmen, political solution – it is all relying on man to work it out). It is a false god – it cannot save. Our idol is man, our religion humanism. ["Miracle on the River Kwai']. They say their false gods live - but they are dead - there is no life - no transformed life of Christ in them. They will fall never to rise again! Thus יהוה has decreed! Hallelujah! (Revelation 18:1-8; After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”(god of commercialism) I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues (we are not to get caught up in commercial system); for her sins have piled up as high as heaven (ripe for judgement), and God has remembered her iniquities ("I will not forget"). Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ (pride of Jacob) For this reason in one day her plagues will come (bitter day), pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. What is the response of heaven to all this? 19:1-6 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgements are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” (fall never to rise again) And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.). No longer man and making a buck rules, but Jesus! But it well mean the destruction of the whole system we currently live by! Fall never to rise again – will you praise God for that? Hallelujah, for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns!