Amos 8-9: February 10—Famine and blessing
Feb 3, 2013
By MARK A. RATHEL

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Amos began his prophecy with an announcement of judgment. God roared like a lion ready to attack (1:2). Amos 8 describes the most severe judgment of God. Amos 9 depicts the future of the people of God in terms of salvation rather than destruction, bounty rather than famine, restoration rather than destruction.

First, Amos proclaimed the imminence of the judgment of God (Amos 8:1-2). Amos received a vision of a basket of summer fruit. The basket of summer fruit depicted the end of the nation of Israel in two ways. 

First, the summer harvest occurred in the Jewish month of Elul, the last month of the civil calendar. Jeremiah 8:20 expressed a common proverb for the end of opportunity: “Harvest has passed, summer has ended, but we have not been saved.” 

Second, Amos used a play on similar Hebrew sounds. Summer fruit (qayits) sounds like the end (qets). The summer fruit was ripe and the time was ripe for the end of Israel.

Second, Amos explained the rationale for the judgment of God (Amos 8:3-6). The prophet starkly described the judgment in verse three: dead bodies, everywhere, silence. Amos provided a fourfold rationale for God’s judgment. 

First, the upper levels of Israelite society oppressed the poor (8:4). 

Second, the Israelites observed religious duties without a heart of worship (8:5). The celebration of New Moon marked the beginning of the first day of the month. God directed the Israelites to observe the day by blowing trumpets and the offering of sacrifices (Num. 10:10; 28:11-15). God never forbad commerce in conjunction with the New Moon celebration so the Israelites went beyond God’s Word. Although they properly observed the Sabbath, the merchants resented the Sabbath intrusion into the opportunity to make money. 

Third, the people of God cheated in business practices with dishonest scales of measurement. In addition, they even sold the chaff of wheat as good grain. Fourth, they enslaved fellow 

Israelites unable to pay their debts. The lifestyles of the people of God exhibited so devotion or connection between faith and everyday life.

Third, Amos predicted the most severe form of the judgment of God—a famine of the Word of God (Amos 8:11-14). The people refused to heed the Word of God; therefore, God removed the influence of the Word of God. The prophet predicted numerous horrendous judgments affecting the entirety of Israelite society: famine, fire, locusts, devastation, earthquake, darkness, and invading armies. Yet, the famine of the Word of God was the most severe of all the judgments of God. Amos described a twofold impact of the spiritual famine and illustrated the famine. 

The first result of the spiritual famine was spiritual confusion. People will emotionally stagger like drunkards searching for the truth in almost every place. From sea to sea describes a search from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The people roam like individuals on a survey mission from north to east. The people search everywhere except for Jerusalem, the place of divine revelation. 

The second result of the spiritual famine is the group most impacted by the famine, the young women and young men. 

Fourth, Amos concluded with a message of hope (Amos 9:11-15). The Davidic Messiah will bring about the end of sin’s opposition to God. Edom, the symbol of hostility of the world, experiences defeat (v. 110. In addition, the Messiah ends sin’s separation—God’s people will include people from all nations (v. 12). 

Further, sin’s curse will end. God flaunts the removal of the curse on the natural realm through abundance (v. 13). Finally, the penalty of sin is removed—people cannot be removed from the inheritance of God (v. 15).

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