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Bible Commentaries
Amos 8

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Chapter 8

Now in chapter 8:

Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit ( Amos 8:1 ).

So now another vision, and in this vision he sees this summer fruit, apricots and peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries.

He said, Amos what do you see? He said, I see a basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people Israel; I will not pass by them again any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: and there shall be many dead bodies in every place; and they shall cast them forth with silence ( Amos 8:2-3 ).

So the devastation that's going to come. The songs of mirth within the temple are going to turn into howlings. Dead carcasses everywhere buried in silence.

Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy ( Amos 8:4 ),

And here again God makes the indictment as He speaks against the oppression of the poor by the wealthy people at that time, "Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy,"

even to make the poor of the land to fail ( Amos 8:4 ),

Taking advantage of the poor people.

Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat ( Amos 8:5 ),

The new moon was a Sabbath day. They were not allowed to work on the Sabbath day. So they detested the new moon. They really didn't like to see the new moon. "When will it be gone? I want to sell. Got to close shop today. Don't want to close shop; want to make a profit here." And they got to where they detested those ordained Sabbath days when they had to close shop. So greedy were they for gain that they became upset that they would have to close on the Sabbath day. You mean people could be so greedy for gain that they'd want to be open seven days a week? Terrible. No wonder God brought His judgment. "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? The Sabbath that we may set forth the wheat."

and then they made the ephah small ( Amos 8:5 ),

Now the ephah was a bushel basket, but they started making the basket smaller. Still charging you for a bushel, but you weren't getting a full measure. So they were taking and keep cutting down on the size of the bushel basket.

they made the shekel great [that was the weight], and they falsified the balances by deceit ( Amos 8:5 ).

Now it came to the place where they would have two sets of weights; one by which they would buy, and the other by which they would sell. Without a national bureau of standards of weights and measures, things became very chaotic. Because they were taking advantage of people. They were cheating people. They would have the light weights by which they would buy your grain, and then in turning around to sell it, they had the heavy weights. Or vice a versa. False balances. In the Proverbs it says that they're an abomination unto the Lord.

That we may buy the poor for silver, the needy for a pair of shoes; and they were selling the refuse of the wheat? ( Amos 8:6 )

I mean, they were just really ripping people off, taking advantage of people, making people sell themselves for their food. These kind of things are an abomination unto God. Taking advantage of the needy and of the poor is something that God just does not abide.

The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwells therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. 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: 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 ( Amos 8:7-10 ).

Now, when God here prophesied that the sun would go down at noon and darken the earth in a clear day, there are those who say that is only a figure of speech. That because of the desolation and devastation of their enemies, that it's like you say, "Oh, the sun really set on me yesterday." You're talking about the gloom and the sorrow that overcame you. There are others who believe that Amos was actually predicting certain eclipses that did take place in Israel there within the next twenty years or so. Bishop Usher speaks about three eclipses that took place in succeeding years. Each of them on the feast days: one on the Feast of Pentecost, another at the Feast of Trumpets at the following year, and then, and the following year again on the Feast of Pentecost. Thus, making the sun to go down at noon and darkening the earth on a clear day, and turning their feasts into mourning.

In 763 there was an eclipse of the sun which was about twenty-four years after this prophecy. However, the total eclipse was over Africa and it would not have been a total eclipse there in Samaria. However, we do read of one day which was a feast day, the Feast of Passover, in which it turned dark at noon on a clear day. It could not have been an eclipse, because Passover takes place at full moon, and it's impossible to have an eclipse on a full moon. That was the day that Jesus was crucified. You remember how it declares that darkness covered the land from the ninth hour onward, sixth hour there was darkness over the land? This could be a prophecy of that darkness of that time of the crucifixion of Christ. The sun to go down at noon and darken the earth on a clear day and turn the feast into mourning, the songs into lamentations, to bring up the sackcloth and all the loins. Baldness, which was a shaving of the head in grief over the dead.

And behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor thirst for water, but of hearing of the words of the LORD ( Amos 8:11 ):

I believe that we are living in those days where there is a famine for the Word of God. The paradox is that there probably never more Bibles in print in any time in the history of the world than there is now, and more versions, and in more languages. The famine for the Word of God is that people would no longer be hearing the Word of God. It isn't that God isn't any longer speaking. It doesn't mean that the Word of God isn't there. It means that people are no longer hearing the Word of God.

You remember how Jesus over and over again said, "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying"? As He addressed Himself to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, to each church there was that repeated exhortation as He gave His message, then He would say, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says." But the truth is, there are many who do not have an ear to hear what God is saying. They just don't hear the Word of God. It isn't that God isn't speaking; it's just that they can't hear the Word of God. It's just a jumble of words; it just doesn't make sense. They don't have an ear to hear. "God's hand is not short that He cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, but your sins have separated between you and God" ( Isaiah 59:1-2 ). You see, the problem is never on God's side. It isn't that God isn't' speaking, it's that we're not listening. It really isn't that God can't hear. Our lifestyles have made it inconsistent for God to respond.

Now because they weren't hearing the Word of God, because there was this famine for the Word of God, notice what the result was.

And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from north even to the east, and they shall run to and fro and seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it ( Amos 8:12 ).

This restlessness would ensue as they were searching trying to find that which would satisfy them. Look at the restlessness in the world today. How that people are wandering all over the world from sea to sea, from north to the east, wandering around the world, looking for something that will satisfy. If you don't hear the Word of God, if your heart isn't satisfied in God's Word, you're gonna find yourself just blindly searching here and there trying to find something that will fill that void within your life. This restlessness is always the consequence of no longer hearing the voice of God, or the Word of God in your hearts. That void causes the restlessness, and as a result,

The fair virgins and the young men shall faint for thirst ( Amos 8:13 ).

It doesn't say the old people who are over the hill, and the elderly and decrepit are gonna faint, but the young virgins, the young men, those who are in the prime of strength will find that thirst, and faint as the result of that thirst. Because they don't have anything that will really sustain them and help them. The prime, those that are in their prime cannot really exist apart from the living Word of God. How much we need to hear and to heed the Word of God.

They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan ( Amos 8:14 ),

Dan was the religious center for the northern part of the kingdom of Israel. There is where Jeroboam made an altar and put a calf and said, "This is the god that delivered you out of Egypt. This is the god that you worship." And the people of Samaria, swearing by that god of Dan, "Thy god, O Dan,"

lives; and, The manner of Beersheba lives; even they shall fall, and never rise again ( Amos 8:14 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Amos 8". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/amos-8.html. 2014.
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