Amos 8:1
The figure here employed by Amos comes very naturally from him who had been a gatherer of the fruit of the sycomore tree. But at the same time, it is somewhat of a shock to the reader of this prophecy to find such a similitude employed for such a purpose. Our associations with "a basket of summer fruit" are all agreeable; but here the ripeness is in iniquity, and is unto condemnation and destruction.

I. A PAST PROCESS OF MATURITY IN SIN IS IMPLIED. As the fruit has been ripened during months of growth unto maturity, so the nation of Israel has gradually and progressively come to such a condition as that lamented and censured by the prophet of the Lord.

1. Past privileges have been misused. No nation had been so favoured as the descendants of Jacob; the greater the privileges, the greater the guilt of neglect and abuse.

2. Past warnings have been despised. If the people could not, in the exercise of their own faculties, foresee the end of all their misdeeds, they had no excuse, for prophet after prophet had arisen to rebuke them for unfaithfulness, and to warn them of impending judgment.

3. Past invitations have been unheeded. Often had the messengers of God mingled promises with threats, invitations with censure. But in vain. The voice of the charmer had been disregarded; the tenderness of Divine compassion had been despised. Hence the process of deterioration had gone on. And circumstances which should have ripened the national character into heroic virtue, into saintly piety, had only served to mature irreligiousness and rebellion. Thus the sun and the showers which ripen the corn and the wholesome fruit bring also every poisonous growth to perfection.

II. A SPEEDY PROSPECT OF CONSEQUENT DESTRUCTION IS REVEALED. The ripe fruit speaks not only of the sunshine of the bygone days, but of the consumption which awaits it. In this passage the figurative language of the prophet is to be interpreted as foreboding approaching ruin. "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

1. Perseverance in irreligiousness issues in deterioration of character. The very years, the very privileges, which make the good man better, make the bad man worse. It was so with Israel as a nation. The operation of the same law may be traced in human society today.

2. Perseverance in irreligiousness will, under the Divine government, involve chastisement and punishment. The captivity foretold was to be accompanied by the desolation of the capital and the cessation, or at least the interruption, of national life. "The end is come," saith God, "to my people Israel; The prosperity and superficial peace of the wicked must be brought to a disgraceful close. - T.







A basket of summer fruit.
: — As God set before Amos a basket of summer fruit, as a sign or parable concerning Israel; so, at harvest-tide God sets before us a basket of summer fruit, to teach us lessons to our soul's health.

1. In preparing the earth for a harvest crop, and our lives for a crop of holiness, we must expect hard labour, and often sorrow. Whether we cultivate the fields or our souls, we must do it in the sweat of our face, with hard labour. Both the ground and our nature need cultivation, and that implies labour, and frequently sorrow. After the great fire of London, a flower called the Golden Rocket appeared, and beautified places wasted by the flame, though it had never been seen in that district before. The seeds were lying in the ground, but it needed the fire to make them live and grow. Some times we need the fire of affliction to bring out the good in us. It is God's love, not anger, which sends the fire. Our life needs clearing, purging, that it may bring forth new and better fruit. Some of us can only be saved "as by fire."

2. We must plough deep. The man who wants a good crop will not just scratch the surface of the earth, he will drive in the ploughshare deep. So we must drive down the ploughshare of self-examination, we must break up the hard ground of pride and self-righteousness, where no good thing can grow.

3. There must be sowing of seed. What we sow we reap. Our good deeds and our evil deeds bear their fruit here. Your words, your acts, your thoughts are seed; you may cast them forth carelessly, but like seed thoughtlessly dropped in the ground, they will grow, and if it be bad seed, you will be terrified at your harvest. Remember this, — You may not have sown bad seed, but if you have sown nothing for God, you will reap nothing from God. If you have no loving fellowship with God here, you will have none hereafter. Neglect of duty is a great sin. If we neglect our souls they degenerate, our spiritual natures grow weak. Let us learn to thank God, not only for bread which strengthens man's heart, but also for the better bread of holy teaching which the harvest provides, bread to strengthen man's soul.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

Is there any similarity between the Gospel and summer fruit? They both, in the first place, mean health. God every summer doctors the ailments of the world by the orchards and groves. The Gospel means health. It makes a man mighty for work, and strong for contest. It cures spiritual ailments. The analogy is also found in the fact that summer fruit is pleasant to the eye and the taste. So the Gospel, when a man rightly sees it and tastes it, is very pleasant. If summer fruit is not taken immediately, it soon fails. First, the speck; then a multiplication of defects; after a while a softening that is offensive; and then it is all flung out. So all religious advantages perish right speedily if you do not take them. I suppose you have noticed how swiftly the days and the years go by. Every day seems to me like "a basket of summer fruit," the morning sky is vermilion, the. noonday is opaline, the evening cloud is fire-dyed. How soon the days are gone! Notice the perishable nature of all religious surroundings. Christian associations readily fade away from the soul. Every opportunity of salvation seems to be restless until it gets away from us. Going away the sermons; going away the songs; going away the strivings of God's eternal Spirit. The practical question is now; will you miss your chance? The day of grace will soon be past.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

In our great cities one of the most welcome sights of summer is to be found in the baskets of fruit exposed for sale in the shop windows. Reflect on some of the things God would teach us from "a basket of summer fruit."

I. FRUIT IS THE END AND REWARD OF LABOUR. Fruit-bearing is the end contemplated in the seed-sowing and cultivation of the husbandman. Jesus said, "My Father is the husbandman." We are thus led to think of God working in us and for us by His grace with a constancy and care like that of the owner of a vineyard. And the end contemplated by that gracious work of God is that we should bear fruit, and thus minister to His delight and glory. We are not left ignorant as to the nature of the fruit that God looks for in man. St. Paul says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance." These are the results that God works for and waits to see exhibited by those who call themselves by the name of Christ. When our lives bring forth these "fruits of the Spirit," we become, in very truth, gardens of the Lord.

II. WHEN THE FRUIT FAILS THERE IS DISAPPOINTMENT AND LOSS. Many things are necessary to bring the work of the garden to a successful issue — good seed and stock, congenial soil and situation, favourable climate and intelligent cultivation. Yet when all has been attended to that wisdom and experience command, there are occasional failures that disappoint and perplex the gardener. Young trees that put forth healthy shoots and vigorous branches, and gave great promise at first, when they have grown are found to be barren and unfruitful. Some trees never blossom at all, some have blossom that never comes to fruit. Whole crops of fruit are sometimes destroyed by the pests of the garden, and are at times stolen by thieves. Over these losses the husbandman sorrows because he has laboured in vain. See the parable of the barren fig-tree. May not some of our lives he equally disappointing to God? He has surrounded us with privileges, opportunities, and helps to the attainment of a holy life, yet the spiritual results may be nowhere visible. There are the leaves of a cold morality, but no blossoms of grace; the flowers of a shallow profession, but none of the fruits of a consistent life. How long shall we continue thus to abuse the blessings of God, and try His patience as cumberers on His holy ground?

III. THE GLORY OF THE GARDEN IS CARRIED AWAY IN THE FRUIT BASKET. The garden has a spent and dreary look after its beauty and treasure have been gathered. But this dreariness is only temporary. The husbandman knows well how to repair the waste. Some of us have a like experience. We can think of a time when duty demanded a great sacrifice, or when duty had to be done in the face of great danger and temptation. But then we were spent in the great effort, almost broken by the severe strain. Then God came and called us to come apart and rest a while. In delightful fellowship with Him strength and inspiration gradually returned, and we were even more ready than before when the next call of duty came.

(James Menzies.)

Homilist.
God teaches the world in two ways; by symbols and sayings. By this "basket of summer fruit" He taught Amos that Israel was ripe for judgment. These summer fruits remind us of —

I. THE BENEFICENCE OF GOD. In the summer fruit He gives us the useful and the beautiful. In these fruits of the earth pro visions are made for our physical wants. They are beautiful as well as useful. How beautiful are these fruits of the earth! Their exquisite forms, in bound less variety; their lovely tints, their bloom and gorgeous hues, how beautiful! Deep within us all is the love for the beautiful. The God who planted within us the sentiment ministers abundantly to it in these baskets of fruit. God's beneficence in these fruits of the earth is shown to be —

(1)Abundant,

(2)Unremitting,

(3)Undeserved.

II. THE MATURING FORCES OF DIVINE GOVERNMENT. This "basket of summer fruit " is the outcome of a very long and complicate process. Snow and ice, showers and dews, clouds and sunshine, storm and calm, bleak winds of winter, genial airs of spring, and the hot breath of summer, the constant care and toil of the labourers in the fields and orchards, have all co-operated in bringing out this result. Antecedently, this result would not have been expected. Suppose a man in the depths of winter being told for the first time that those leafless fruit trees, shivering in the winds, and hung with icicles, should, in a few months, be loaded with clusters of apples, and plums, and pears, and grapes, would he have believed it? The thing to him would have been incredible. Things will ever be occurring in God's universe upon which antecedently no finite being could calculate. Therefore do not argue

(1)Against the conversion of the world, or

(2)Against the resurrection of the dead.

III. THE DESTINED DECADENCE OF ALL ORGANIC LIFE. In that " basket of summer fruit " there is death. In a few short days it will be reduced to utter corruption. So it is with all material life: no sooner is perfection reached than decay begins.

(Homilist.)

Fruits always seem fairest, freshest, and finest when they are seasonable — that is, when not forced into being before their proper time of ripening or preserved artificially beyond the period of their natural growth in the gardens. And each of the seasons, unless it be winter, seems to have its own peculiar fauna and flora which lend it beauty and distinction. The prophet Amos, who was a herdsman accustomed to the open air and to the nomad life of the free East, and who uses accordingly many rural figures in his writings, speaks of "a basket of summer fruit." We may figuratively take his words, now, to represent those traits of nature and those moral results which seem to be particularly characteristic of summer.

1. In the first place we may say that there goes into the basket of summer fruits an innocent joyousness of heart. God does not intend that we should live to be happy, but He does desire that we should be happy while we live. Joy is a Christian grace. If any one has the right to be joyful it is the believer, with countless spiritual blessings at his service in this world, and all the bright, brave, beautiful things of the world to come before him. "Rejoice evermore!" is a whole Decalogue in itself. And it seems easier to rejoice in the summer time, when all things take on their brightest look, each day seems a gala day, and nature dons her loveliest garments. And we are then out of doors more, which is a condition conducing to greater health and happiness. All this now is natural and right, if the joy be drawn from the right sources and based upon the right things.

2. Very like in nature to this summer fruit of joyousness is that of gratefulness. For who makes it possible for us to be reasonably happy, innocently gleeful? It is God, who is Himself the source and fount of joy.

3. The summer is a good time to cultivate the grace of worship. The spirit of worship is for the whole year. And at no period of the year should the regular services of the sanctuary be neglected, as the manner of many is.

4. Again, there is the summer fruit of generosity, which certainly it would seem should thrive in the expansive. out-of-door life of that season. When the restrictions of indoor life have given way to the freedom of the fields, the woods, and the hills, a broadening of the sympathies should certainly be experienced. If we breathe a fresher air and more of it our pulses should quicken at the same time with a more abundant fellow-feeling for mankind about us.

5. The basket of summer fruit also makes room for the grace of good humour. Summer is the "cross" season, many think, which will excuse bad temper in themselves and perhaps in others when the thermometer goes up into the nineties. The hot weather certainly tries people's tempers, of what sort they are: and the curious thing is that the individuals who have lost their temper most often seem to have the most temper left. But the summer months should be marked by many little sufferances and patiences, which will come most surely of numerous small prayers and pleadings at the throne of grace. Let us try to be good-humoured and amiable even when circumstances might seem to excuse petulance.

6. And then no basket of summer fruit would be complete without the grace of Christian hopefulness. Hope, we may say, is the joy of the future — that is, the joy which we obtain even now from the anticipation of delights to come. Like faith, it is the "substance," or assured impression, of things that are yet to be. And the summer time may be really a continuous jubilee, one prolonged brightsome poem — a lyric of flowers and fruits and spiritual feasting and trustful uplift of heart, as the soul, like a plant touched by a sun in the heavens and blown upon by breezes from off the eternal hills, opens out constantly into the fuller, freer life of God, and grows toward the ideals of saintly living which shall be realised at last somewhere beyond the skies and stars. We may always have summer in our hearts. There are those who have no summer, to whom it is always arctic night, chilling and drear; but the child of God has the spring-tide in his heart now, and looks hopefully forward to entrance sometime into a land where cold blasts never blow and storms never beat, but where all things are surrounded by an atmosphere of genial godliness, of beatific beauty, and perfect love.

(C. A. S. Dwight.)

Homilist.
I. WICKED NATIONS GROW RIPE FOR JUDGMENT. The "basket of summer fruit." This symbol suggests —

1. That Israel's present moral corruption was no hasty production. The ripe fruit in that basket did not spring forth at once, it took many months to produce. Men do not become great sinners at once. The character of a people does not reach its last degree of vileness in a few years, it takes time. The first seed of evil is to be germinated, then it grows, ripens, and multiplies until there is a crop ready for the sickle.

2. That Israel's season for improvement was past and gone. The ripened fruit in that basket had reached a stage in which improvement was impossible. The bloom was passing away, and rottenness was setting in. Nations become incorrigible.

3. That Israel's utter ruin was inevitable. Nothing awaited that " basket of summer fruit" but rottenness. Its decomposition was working, and would soon reduce it to putrescent filth. So it was with Israel.

II. TRUE PROPHETS ARE MADE SENSIBLE OF THIS RIPENESS. God gives Amos a vision for the purpose. To every true teacher God says at the outset, "What seest thou?" Hast thou a clear vision of this basket of summer fruit? Hast thou a clear idea of this subject on which thou art about to discourse? Thus He dealt with Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Paul, John.

III. ALMIGHTY GOD MAKES HIS PROPHETS SENSIBLE OF THE RIPENESS OF A PEOPLE'S CORRUPTION IN ORDER THAT THEY MAY SOUND THE ALARM. Why was Amos thus Divinely impressed with the wretched moral condition of the people of Israel? Simply that he may be more earnest and emphatical in sounding the alarm. What was the calamity he was to proclaim?

I. Universal mourning. "The songs of the temple shall be howlings." The inevitable tendency of sin is to turn songs of gladness into howlings of distress.

2. Universal death. "And there shall be many dead bodies in every place, and they shall cast them forth with silence."

(Homilist.)

1. The end of the season of trial under the emblem of a basket of summer fruit (vers. 1-3). The emblem meant that a period was approaching when their time of probation would be over, and the result of that would be a great destruction of life, accompanied with gloomy silence on the part of the miserable survivors. The emblem has a general application to all periods of the Church's history. It suggests the idea of a tree which had been tended, planted, watered with the rain and the dew. It had blossomed, budded, brought forth fruit; its work was done; the fruit was gathered; no pains of the gardener, no change in the season, no influence of the sun could now alter the character of the fruit. They were either apples of Sodom, or pleasant to the eye, and good for food. Now was the time, not to cherish their growth, but to try their quality. As there are means of hastening the growth and ripeness of summer fruit, so do privileges and mercies hasten the maturity of the soul. for the inheritance of the saints in light on the one hand, and for the righteous vengeance of God on the other. This consideration shows the fearful character of unrepented sin. Perseverance therein causes ripeness for judgment. It teaches us what our chief aim ought to be; not so much eagerness for outward privilege, as an earnest desire that the heart may be right with God.

2. The close connection between evil imaginations respecting God's service, and unjust dealings towards men (vers. 4-6). Contempt for and abuse of God's ordinances is here shown to be closely connected with doing wrong to the poor. He who forgets his duty towards his Maker, is sure to be wanting in his duty towards those who bear his Maker's image. The best friends of the poor are those who earnestly contend for the rights of God.

3. The universality of Divine knowledge, on the one hand, and the effects of Divine judgments on the other (vers. 7-10). Man, in his hurry to become rich, often does many things unrighteously. But all things are at all times naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. No lapse of time, nor change of scene, nor combination of circumstances, nor crowding together of different pursuits, veils for one moment the acts of ungodliness and wrong which men have done. Iniquity is never forgotten till it is forgiven.

4. A crowning judgment, which implied the absence of God, the children's food taken from them (vers. 11-14). Among the Jews the absence of prophetical teaching would be a famine of the Word of the Lord. Direction from Him was a part of their peculiar blessedness. The want of that direction left them in a very helpless condition. In a Christian land, where the Word of God is freely circulated, we have the law, the testimony, and direction in all the duties of life. The precepts of the Gospel are so full, and its principles so clear, that we need never be at a loss. And where there is a scriptural ministry, the public mind may be kept as clearly instructed in the will of God as ever the Jews were by the teaching of the prophets. Christian communities, however, have been visited with a famine of the Word of God. Often, in the case of individuals, a famine of the Word of God comes upon the soul.

(Vincent W. Ryan, M. A.)

The point of the vision is rather obscured by the rendering "summer fruit." "Ripe fruit" would be better, since the emblem represents the northern kingdom as ripe for the dreadful ingathering of judgment. Just as the mellow ripeness of the fruit fixes the time of gathering it, so there comes a stage in national and individual corruption, when there is nothing to be done but to smite. That period is not reached because God changes, but because men get deeper in sin. Because "the harvest is ripe," the sickle is called for. It is a solemn lesson, applying to each soul as well as to communities. By neglect of God's voice, and persistence in our own evil ways, we can make ourselves such that we are ripe for judgment, and can compel long suffering to strike. The tragedy of that fruit-gathering is described with extraordinary grimness and force in the abrupt language of verse

3. The crimes that ripened men for this terrible harvest are next set forth in verses 4 to 6. The catalogue of sins is left incomplete, as if holy indignation turned for relief to the thought of the certain juugment. Amos heaps image on image to deepen the impression of terror and confusion. Everything is turned to its opposite. these threats were fulfilled in the fall of the kingdom of Israel. But that "day of the Lord" was, in principle, a miniature foreshadowing of the great final judgment. The last section (vers. 11-14) specifies one feature of judgment, the deprivation of the despised Word of the Lord. The truth implied is universal in its application. God's message neglected is withdrawn. Conscience stops if continually unheeded. The Gospel may still sound in a man's ears, but have long ceased to reach further. There comes a time when men shall wish wasted opportunities back, and find that they can no more return than last summer's heat.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

At home the nation of Israel appeared to the eye of its citizens to possess every needed element of stability and prosperity, in a strong government, domestic tranquillity, plentiful harvests, and multiplying riches. And looking abroad, there appeared no occasion for anxiety. But along with apparent political and economic prosperity, sad religious and moral corruption prevailed. Apostasy had accompanied revolution when Israel was founded. Other sins followed in the train of apostasy. To this people, victorious, prosperous, wealthy, avaricious, dishonest, luxurious, corrupt, immoral, irreligious, God sent a messenger with a message. Amos Goes from Tekoa to Bethel, the royal sanctuary and abode of Israel. Here he denounces the sins of the nation, proclaims the displeasure of Jehovah, and threatens destruction. Tradition reports that the fearless preacher was mobbed and beaten, scarce escaping with his life. But he had done his work. He had warned the people. The vision and the voice come down to us to-day. "Behold," Amos says, "a basket of summer fruit." The meaning does not lie on the surface. In Palestine fruit was the last crop to be gathered in. The sight of fruit suggested to Amos that the end of the prosperity of Israel was near. Additional force was given to this suggestion by a play upon words which we can in no way reproduce in English. The word here used for "fruit" was derived from the same root as the word which commonly signified "end." The significance was of course primarily political. No nation could long stand which was so undermined with irreligion, and honeycombed with immorality as was the nation of Israel. Like a summer storm clouding the noon, disaster soon overshadowed the brightness of Israel's day. Less than a hundred years after Amos came to Bethel, and was scorned and hunted thence, Shalmanezer came, and Israel was no more. It is to be remembered that the destruction of the national life of Israel was due to itself, its own faults, its own corruptions. No nation was ever destroyed from without. A people that is fit to live cannot be made to die. The Assyrians only made an end of the fruit that was already rotten as well as ripe. It is a lesson for all lands. Our prosperity is no certain token of our permanence. Size is not certain strength; numbers and riches are not certain strength. The empire of Alexander fell to pieces by its own weight. Spain was ruined by its riches. There is special warning in this chapter against one class of corrupting influences — those which grow out of the greed of gain. The dangers which beset the fabric of society in these days link themselves very largely with the production, accumulation, and distribution of wealth. The denunciations of Amos illuminate with wonderful clearness the unjust and dishonest practices which had become prevalent in that day. Greed, dishonesty, haste to be rich, may destroy, the fabric of our society. If the growth of vast fortunes and estates is regarded with popular and legislative favour, and government and society and Church are deaf to the cries and indifferent to the struggles of honest poverty, sinking deeper into abject and hopeless pauperism; and ostentation, luxury, and extravagance replace our old time simplicity, frugality, and economy; if the craze to be immensely rich fevers the blood of the whole people; if fraud, illegal or legalised, if gambling in lotteries and in futures, if corners and stock-watering, if dishonesty, in short, in all its forms continues to increase; if thus such sins as ruined Israel taint our business and social life ever deeper and deeper, — then the basket of summer fruit will become symbol as apt for us as it was for them: the end cannot be far off. The end may not, however, come in a political catastrophe of subjugation by a foreign conqueror. It came not thus to France a century ago. Learn to distrust even the prosperity which seems the greatest, and carefully to scrutinise its cost and its consequences. To seek first to be right, then to seek to prosper, — not first to prosper, regardless of right, is as important for the soul as for the nation. Let us each lay the corner-stone of our life-work in the fear of God and in Christian faith, and rear the edifice in honesty, morality, kindness, service. Then surely ours shall be "the blessing of the Lord; it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it."

(D. F. Estes.)

: — The nation, God's chosen, is doomed. This is the import of the vision. The rest of the chapter is devoted to justification of this decree and description of its execution.

1. God is just. No man ever felt this truth more deeply than Amos. He betrays its hold upon him by the way in which he constructs his prophecies. He could not endure that they should have the slightest excuse for charging God with injustice. They, however, were not concerned about God s justice, though they might pretend to question it. To them, therefore, his habit of speech must have been extremely annoying. He was like a bad conscience. No wonder that they wanted to get rid of him. The passage before us contains an excellent illustration of the point in question. He shows that the question is not, How could God destroy Israel? but, How could He prevent their destruction? A community of self-seekers is an impossibility.

2. The greater part of this passage is predictive. This is not the most essential part of prophecy. A prediction is a picture of the future. Amos saw the kingdom of Israel over thrown by the Assyrians. Probably he did not expect his conventional details would ever be fulfilled. His claim to inspiration is sufficiently vindicated by the fact that the kingdom of Israel was actually overthrown, and the people carried into captivity by a power which, when Amos prophesied, seemed on the verge of extinction.

(Hinckly G. Mitchell.)

1. The perfection and beauty of summer affords an illustration of the goodness of God. God is the Creator as well as the Redeemer.

2. The beauty and perfection of summer suggest to us some interesting spiritual analogies.(1) They are the result of growth. So is character. As the nature of the fruit is dependent upon the nature of the seed, so does our character depend upon our principles.(2) They are the product of culture. And our nature has need of spiritual culture.(3) The beauty of summer is an emblem of that spiritual transformation which is accomplished in the soul by the grace of God. The same Spirit who renews the face of the earth is able to renew the soul of man.(4) The perfection of summer reminds us of approaching change. The moment the fruits of summer are ripened, they begin to decay. And the greater portion of our lives is gone. Whatever length of days may await you, the most vigorous and active years are spent — years that can never be recalled. Whatever work you have to do must be done at once — whoever talks of delay, you cannot. Finally, remember that all things here are transitory and uncertain. Life's changes admonish us to set our affection on things above. There is a covenant that abides — a Saviour who changes not — a world where death never enters. Have we laid hold on that covenant? have we faith in that Saviour?

(H. J. Gamble.)

Amos was a herdsman, a keeper of cattle, and all through his book you find him continually alluding to his peasant life. He is also called "a gatherer of sycamore fruit," or better, a bruiser, a trainer or preparer of sycamore fruit. It was believed in the East that this fruit would ever ripen except it was a little bruised, and so some person was employed with an iron comb to scratch and wound the skin. Unwounded, the fruit, even when ripe, was too bitter to be eaten; but after it had been wounded, it ripened rapidly, and became sweet and eatable. Here is a basket of summer fruit which is so ripe that it has been gathered; and it is a sort of fruit — summer fruit — which will not keep, will not lay by for the winter, but must be eaten at once. Amos sees that God's purposes were now ripe with regard to His people Israel, and that the nation had become ripe in its sin, so ripe that it must be destroyed, We may learn that there is a ripeness of men, as well as of summer fruit; there is a ripening in holiness till we are gathered by the hand of Jesus for heaven, and a ripening in sin till we are swept away with the rough hand of death, and are cast away into the rottenness of destruction.

I. GOD'S PURPOSES MAY HAVE A RIPENESS: God always times His decrees. Many men are wise too late. God proves His wisdom, not only by what He doeth, but by the time when He doeth it. Notice two of God's greatest acts. The First Advent, and the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. Apply this great truth of the ripeness of God's purposes to your own personal affairs. All God's acts are well-timed.

II. NATIONS HAVE THEIR RIPENESS, AND WHEN THEY COME TO THEIR RIPENESS THEY MUST BE DESTROYED. We may see in this basket of summer fruit a picture of them. It was necessary to eat that ripe fruit at once. And there is need when a nation has become ripe in sin that it should be given up to destruction. There are such things as national sins, and there are consequently such things as national punishments.

III. HERE IS THE PICTURE OF WHAT SOME OF US ARE, AND ALL OF US MUST BE.

1. With the righteous man there is a time of ripening. The Christian when converted is, as it were, but a bud upon the tree. There is need that he grow unto perfection, and that fruit should become ripe fruit. Believers are ripened by every providence which passes over them. We are daily ripening in knowledge. In spirituality. As he ripens in spirituality, he ripens in savour.

2. There is a ripeness with which the sinful and ungodly are ripening. You are being ripened from within; the depravity of your own heart is developing itself every hour. And Satan is daily busy with you, to try and make you grow in vice. Sinners ripen in knowledge of sin, in love to sin, and in that hardness of heart which enables them to commit sin with impunity. With some sin has attained such a ripeness that they dare to blaspheme God. They have grown so rotten ripe that they will even dare to say there is no God, or think that He is blind, or ignorant, and will not see and punish sin in the sinner. It is an awful sign of nearness to hell when a man begins to think that he can doubt the existence of God.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Fruit was the last sign of harvest in Palestine. When the fruit was gathered the harvest was over. What then is the meaning of this vision of a basket of summer fruit? The meaning is that Amos saw the end. Summer fruit had a mournful suggestion about it in Palestinian times and lands. "What seest thou?" The end; the gathered harvest, the upmaking of all things, the year in its results: good or bad, there it is. Can this fruit be changed now? No. Will not the sun work some miracle of ripening upon it? Never more. What it is, that it is. There is an end of ministry, of service, of stewardship, of life. Oh that men were wise, that they understood these things, that they would consider their latter end — the basket of summer fruit, the ingathering of the fields and the vintages. How stands it with us this audit day?

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

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