International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 28, 2015
Purpose: To discover how to recognize God’s warnings and acknowledge the danger of being oblivious to them
Bible Lesson: Background: Amos 8
Key Verse: He said, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again forgive them. (Amos 8:2)
Amos 8:1-6 (CEB)
(1) This is what the Lord God showed me: a basket of summer fruit. (2) He said, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again forgive them. (3) On that day, the people will wail the temple songs,” says the Lord God; “there will be many corpses, thrown about everywhere. Silence.” (4) Hear this, you who trample on the needy and destroy the poor of the land, (5) saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath so that we may offer wheat for sale, make the ephah smaller, enlarge the shekel, and deceive with false balances, (6) in order to buy the needy for silver and the helpless for sandals, and sell garbage as grain?”
Amos 8: 9-10 (CEB)
(9) On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight. (10) I will turn your feasts into sad affairs and all your singing into a funeral song; I will make people wear mourning clothes and shave their heads; I will make it like the loss of an only child, and the end of it like a bitter day.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This text is very difficult for some commentators, they have trouble explaining the “basket of summer fruit,” and the words, “I will never again forgive them.”
The Book of Amos progresses from a warning, to a statement of fact. The vision that Amos is shown by the LORD is a “basket of summer fruit.” To understand this statement you would need to go back to the original Hebrew, and see that this is a play on words. The Hebrew word for “summer fruit” is gayis , the Hebrew word for “end” is “ges.”
Like our English words presents and presence they sound alike but have totally different meanings. The NIV may use a better translation by using “ripe fruit” and “time is ripe.”
However you look at it the nation of Israel has run out of time, and the LORD has pleaded and forgiven all that He can and the time of judgement is now at hand. Even so the LORD postpones his final judgement another 40 years. While I think the LORD is pronouncing judgement on the nation of Israel, it does not mean that the people themselves are without a chance for forgiveness.
I think we may face a similar situation in America today. As purveyors of commerce we see corporations as well as individuals that are cheating common citizens. They using many of the same tactics as those in Amos’s day. Have you checked the size or amount you are buying today with what was being sold a decade ago for the same price? Are merchants open for business even on the Sabbath and holidays? Were they open 60 years ago on the Sabbath? Does your dollar go as far as it did even 10 years ago?
In the eyes of the LORD, America’s fruit may have become ripe, it may have lived out its season. The question for us is; is the LORD ready to pronounce our final judgment? Or is this a warning of what will happen, if we continue to ignore His teachings?
Like the Titanic that did not sink immediately, we may already be doomed. But I am convinced that as individuals, the LORD is always willing to forgive a repentant sinner. As a church or body of Christ we are called to bring about change according to the teachings of Jesus. But, just as Noah could not save everyone from the flood, and Abraham could not save Sodom and Gomorrah, God’s judgement is coming, unless there is a national return to the values taught by Jesus. Unfortunately that includes honoring the Sabbath, and treating everyone fairly in the market place. It means replacing greed with love. It also includes returning to a nation that abounds in love to assist the rest of the world. Like it or not we may be the best hope for the rest of the nations that are being oppressed.
As the Body of Christ, the universal church represents God’s goodness in the world. How do we best show that goodness in this chaotic world? Where are we to look for a leader or spokesman for goodness in this world? Where there is hate, love must abound the more. This week we have seen both hate and love in Charleston, S.C. As a church we should be praying for a rising up of love. As a nation, we pray it is not too late.
As a nation our theme song should be, “Love Lifted Me” it may be our only hope. I am afraid, like the Titanic, we may be sinking and not knowing it yet.