Wednesday, 15 September 2021
This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.” –Amos 8:1-2
God called Amos from tending sheep to take His message to His people as a prophet. The message of Amos is relevant for us today as much as in that time, reminding us that God is just and impartial and will judge not only the nations but His own people for their life of ease and indifference in the midst of human suffering. Here is a clear call to the prosperous – whether nations or believers— to be actively involved with the poor and afflicted, especially among God’s people, rather than being insensitive.
The northern kingdom of Israel had been at the peak of prosperity when Amos brought this word of judgment to the nation. They were prospering materially but through wrong means of exploiting the poor, cheating and dishonesty, showing no mercy for their own people. Besides, their worship of God had turned hollow though they went on with their rituals and festivals while heartfelt concern for one another had shrunk. They thought they enjoyed God’s favour with all this affluence and that nothing could touch them!
In our reading God shows Amos the vision of a basket of ripe fruit- the kind that is seen at the end of the season. This signified that Israel was just ripe for God’s judgement. Time and again He had warned them but they had not heeded; God’s mercy, chastening, instructions were sent but not regarded. So Amos pronounces God’s impending judgment. In that day they who cast out and despised the prophets would long to hear the Word of the Lord, but there would be a famine of the Word! (V.11)
Though we see a picture of a dismal doom that would come upon the land; yet the next chapter ends in a note of hope of restoration. Amos’s prophecy concludes with a deep comforting promise of restoration through faithfulness to David (Amos 9:11–15); through this restoration God’s people will be reinstated in the land.
What are the lessons for us today?
God does not overlook injustice in His own people simply because they are His. God’s covenant relationship makes justice and righteousness in the lives of His people all the more important, as we represent Him in this world. Amos reminds us— the body of Christ, of the commitment to justice that is in the very character of God.
God’s people living in luxury and ease, in their self-satisfied greed were trampling on the needs of the poor, dealing deceitfully in trade, and even disregarding the Sabbath to make more money (Amos 8:4–6). Such is the tendency of the human heart when prosperity comes…money can soon become their god if they don’t watch out. 1 Timothy 6:10 reminds us: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The practical way to keep wealth in its proper place is to be generous toward those in need, considering the generosity God has shown us in Christ (2 Cor. 8:9) . Besides as it says in 2 Cor. 9:11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
The church and believers must not take for granted God’s favor. His justice is universal; He will deal justly with those who claim his love and compassion but fail to extend that love and compassion in tangible ways to others. In Christ we have been shown mercy, He Himself taking the just punishment for the sins of mankind. As recipients of His mercy, may we extend mercy and love to others- whether near and far, with that radical, self-giving love shown to us by Christ.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us
and given Himself for us…”