Today: [Amos 8] When God’s Patience Runs Out. In Amos 8:1 we find that the patience of God with the northern kingdom of Samaria is running out. The consequences will be severe. Does God ever run out of patience in our day? Could you perceive in your most remote thinking that you may be trying the patience of God in some way that may ultimately cost you if you don’t change your mind? Amos speaks to these things very deeply in our study today as we see the curtain closing on the disobedient northern kingdom.
[Amo 8:1-14 KJV] 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. 3 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. 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? 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.
In chapter 8 of Amos the 10 northern tribes are depicted in a vision as a basket of summer fruit, ripe for destruction. Again, the threat of ruin that overshadows them is connected with neglect of the poor and selfish living. A new famine, that of hearing the word of God is spoken of as the cause of the weakening of the character and strength of the younger generation. The altar at Bethel is again spoken against and the hidden pagan practices are portrayed as the cause for the demise of Samaria.
In v. 1 the Lord shows Amos a basket of ripened fruit in essence saying that the nation of Samaria is so advanced in national sin that she is ripe for the picking by the Assyrians. This vision gives a sense of timing for what is coming upon the nation. The ominous words of the Father inform Amos that He will not pass this way again, and will not offer clemency to the people indefinitely. This is a very important understanding we need to carry in our hearts. God will not wait forever. In Gen. 6:3 we see God speaking in His own counsel “…My Spirit will not always strive with man…” As a result, He instructs Noah to build an ark to the saving of the lives of his family and a sampling of the creatures of the earth. In Isa. 5 we see the nation of Judah described as a vineyard lovingly planted but now to be rejected because it did not bring forth fruit. There is much teaching in contemporary Christianity that this principle of divine patience being withdrawn is an Old Testament concept, not apply to a New Covenant believer. Consider the following parable given by Jesus in Luke 13.
[Luk 13:6-9 KJV] 6 He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]: 9 And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down.
There are times that God says, “enough is enough”. This can apply to nations and to individuals and groups. What is God looking for? As Jesus states in the parable above, He is seeking fruit. Lack of fruit in our lives put us on a timer in the things of God. God looks for fruit in us, fruit of His character being manifest in our relationship with Him and His dealings with one another. We provoke negative circumstances when we take our hearts off the Potter’s wheel and refuse to allow the Father to shape our lives and hearts to bring us into alignment with His character and His love.
In v. 4 the people of Samaria in the north are again reproved for swallowing up the needy and setting the impoverished up for failure. They are described as those who make the ephah small and the shekel great. In other words, they inflate prices and weigh with unjust measures. In other words, exacting heavy demands upon those least able to pay and cutting corners on what they actually receive for their hard-earned sacrifice. This can reflect not only monetary injustice, but also how we treat others. Do you know a demanding person? Do you have someone in your life who imposes tremendous expectations upon others, but demonstrates no sense obligation to be fair in return, who wants you to submit but refuses to have a servant’s heart? Sometimes this describes a marriage relationship, with one spouse engaging in a pattern of mistreatment and unkindness. Other times it can be seen between parents and children, or in employment or church relationships. Have you been a victim of such treatment? Closer to home, have you been this person, mistreating others? Know that God will not allow such things to endure. There is a day, regardless of what others may say that God says “enough is enough…” This was the case in Samaria, and within just a few months of Amos’ writing the time of judgment began with a massive earthquake in the northern kingdom.
Verse 11 speaks of a famine not of the word, but of hearing the words of God. In Jesus’ day as recorded in Matt. 9:36 He was moved with deep compassion because the people were leaderless, without instruction in God’s word yet even when it was given they rejected Him and crucified Him. Today we are a people who want experience in God and to be touched by His Spirit, but the word of God doesn’t take first place in our lives. Many Christians spend more time on social media than they do in God’s presence, or meditating on His word. In v. 13 Amos says that in that day, when God’s word is marginalized, that the fair virgins, those living in purity will faint for thirst and struggle to maintain their virtue in a culture of hedonism and secret sin. In v. 14 Amos says that the cry of the land will be “O Dan – thy God liveth…” What does this mean? Dan represents swift judgment that comes as the stinging bite of an adder, unseen in the path. Today those who are steeped in sin are crying hypocritically out against those that have been exposed for the very sins they themselves commit. Because of this situation in Samaria God says through Amos that their nation will fall and will never rise again.
What is to be our posture in times like these? How can we be a part of the solution and not part of the problem? Amos make this statement in ch. 5:13. [Amo 5:13 KJV] 13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it [is] an evil time.
Social media and the internet today goads us into blathering our opinion about everything. We often joke about this but it is a grave error that needs to be considered. Are we contributing to and enlarging the darkness by the things we speak openly of? I read today in a popular Christian magazine of a remote sect of Christians involved in debauchery and depravity as a form of worship. The columnist who write the article is a senior editor in this magazine and a household name in Charismatic circles. I thought to myself that in bemoaning the fact of this sect’s beliefs she had given them publicity that would otherwise have cost them 10’s of 1000’s of dollars. I say again that your words, your social media footprint, the meditation of your heart is highly prized real estate in the domain of darkness. The enemy loves it when you flame against some perceived political foe, or complain about some social issue, just as long as you don’t spread the gospel! The words of your mouth are a matter of personal stewardship. God is looking into our hearts to see what the fruit of our lips will be. If we persistently refuse to offer up things pleasing to His heart, we set a timer whose end may not be well for us if we don’t change our thinking on these matters.
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