This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And 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 pass by them. 3 The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” declares the Lord GOD. “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” “Silence!” 4 Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5 saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6 that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” 7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” 9 “And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.
Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. 5 But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but l trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” 8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. 9 I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up l what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
In Proverbs, we are told about how God views honesty in our business dealings. Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.” Proverbs 16:11, “A just balance and scales are the LORD's; all the weights in the bag are his work.” Proverbs 20:10, “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 20:23, “Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.” As the Proverbs are about wisdom, we may say that it is wise to deal honestly with those you do business with. If someone pays for a certain amount, we should insure that they receive that amount, and not try to short-change them in any way.
It is interesting, then, that what is strongly condemned in Amos 8 is such dishonesty. “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6 that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” The ephah was a unit of measurement. People were paying for an ephah of grain from these sellers, but the sellers were purposefully using false weights to measure the grain, and so were short-changing the buyers. Thus they were making the ephah small by using a false weight, and also making their own profits, gained by their deceit, larger by using these false balances.
Does God ignore such slight misdealings? No! “7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” God is greatly displeased, and will judge them for this, and likely other, sins.
And what will the judgment be? Consider what these greedy robbers said. “When will the new moon and the Sabbath be over?” These sacred days, where they were meant to put their minds on things above and not of this earth, are hardships to them, because what they love most, the cut and thrust of the marketplace where they are able to use their false weights and balances to trick people into paying for what they are not really getting, is what they really love. Their god is their coin purse, their church is their market stall, their prayer is their cry to the buyers, their praise is for their goods, and their joy is in their ability to trick the dupes who buy from them.
Psalm 52 also describes them, “Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” Those prophesied to in Amos 8 are the same. When they speak, it is to the detriment of those who listen to them. They flatter with their tongues, but their words are like sharp metal. They love the evil of their dishonest business practices more than the good of knowing God's honest ways and doing business by them. They love their lies more than doing right.
And what is the judgment? How will those who think the sacred is merely a burden to be endured until they can return to their beloved deceits? “9 “And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” God will, in essence, give them their desire. They have determined that they do not want or need the words of the Lord, so God will give them of famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
A strange curse, we may well think. But is that not how God often judges? Consider this, from Romans 1.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Consider how God judges here. He gave them up, He let them have their way, He let them do what they wanted to do. He let them become worse and worse in their sins, He let them wallow in them, He let them sink further and further. Do not think they did not know what is right, they knew God but did not honor Him as God and were ungrateful.
There is one theory about the end times, which says that the church will be raptured from the world, and the world will be left in the hands of a great ungodly leader. One can only imagine how perverse and sinful the entire world would become if that is what will happen. I do not mention this theory to say whether that is what will happen or not, in truth my own mind is not settled on that matter, but I can see how that would be in keeping with God's revealed character, that to those who do not honor Him as God and are not grateful to Him but continue in their futile thoughts and the foolishness of their hearts, God will let them alone and let them have what they so desire, and that would even apply to the entire world, all of mankind.
But that is only speculation, not a doctrine I wish to defend. For now, let us consider if what Amos spoke to the people of his day might be a warning for us as well. For I think it may well be.
If we consider the notion of just weights and measures, we may well consider that along both literal and allegorical lines. I acknowledge that allegory can be easily misused, so consider well what I'm going to write here. Do not just accept it without criticism.
The literal way of seeing the call for just weights and measures is easy enough to see, and I have already mentioned it a little. It has to do with honesty in business matters, making sure that we are giving what we are being paid for. This may have to do with numbers and volume, it may have to do with the quality of work, it may have to do with working hard and well at our jobs. Basically, it means giving what you're being paid for. Not all of us are paid for amounts, by that I mean we are not told that if we do a certain amount of work at our jobs, then we will be have earned a certain amount of money. We may be paid a certain amount for the time we work, so then we should do our best work in that time when we work.
There is also an allegorical way of seeing it. Again, be wise in considering this.
To start this allegorical view, consider this from Colossians 1, “6 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
What did we do? Nothing. We couldn't do anything. We were hopeless. None of us could be made righteous by keeping the Law. If it were up to us to be reconciled to God by our own efforts, we would be hopelessly damned. But Christ has reconciled us, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, where we tell people to be reconciled to God. The only thing Colossians 1 mentions for us to do is to not stray into heresy.
In another place, the Bible tells us that Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us. If we look at the Law as a standard, we have all badly failed to live up to that standard. God will not cheat, God will not use unjust weights and balances, God will not accept anything less than the perfect keeping of the Law. If we have violated one part of the Law, we have violated all of the Law. All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.
If we want to demand of God what we have earned, then understand that what we have earned is death, the eternal death. There has been only one who has lived up to God's standard, who lived a sinless life. And Christ has reconciled us.
The one thread all false religions have in common is that their notions of salvation, whatever they may mean by that, are dependent on our own works and efforts. We may be rightfully angry with those who wear explosives and blow themselves up in crowded areas, but we should be even more angry and grieved that they did so believing that by doing so they have earned their way into their religion's version of paradise. And that is only one of the more dramatic and immediate ways this view of making ourselves worthy is known to us today. If we look at the other, quieter and less destructive ways people do it, by isolating themselves and trying to live by high ethical standards, by denying themselves things like marriage and sex, by fasting for days on end, by meditation, by lying on beds of nails, then we can see how many people believe that they can make themselves worthy.
How can they think that? Only by changing the standard, only by making themselves and their own notions of right and wrong the standard by which they live, and then either ignoring their own failures at living up to that standard, or setting up some way of atoning by their own efforts for those failures. Because the truth is that even with those watered-down standards, they do not perfectly live by them.
And it isn't always the obvious false religions that do this. Even those who put the name of Christian on themselves do it. They may try to tell us that if we want to have a miracle from God, that we must do something to prove ourselves worthy of that miracle. They may not say it like that, but that is their message. They tell us that if we want God to do something miraculous, we must take risks, we must 'make room for God to move', and usually we must give a lot of money. When we do that, God sees that we have earned His favor and opened the way for Him to move, and God will finally give us the things we want.
The truth is very different. Just as we cannot make ourselves righteous by our works, so we cannot make ourselves worthy of any miracle by our efforts. Shall we try to pretend that we can earn miracles, that we can purchase them? Can anyone show us where the Bible tells us what the price of a miracle is? Does a healing cost more than a financial miracle, or less?
Know this—if anyone tells you that if you give enough or take a large enough risk that God will bless you, they are preaching their own law to you, trying to say that you can make yourself righteous and worthy by your own actions. They are teaching blasphemy to you.
They are creating their own false weights and measures. They are teaching for dishonest gain. Their interest is only in their own church-empires, or ministry-empires, their own power and influence. Jesus is not preached, He is used merely as a prop they use to fool people that what they are doing is Christian. We rightly condemn the suicide bomber, but what these greedy prosperity gospel charlatans do is a far greater blasphemy than any suicide bomber, and even causes far greater damage.
And what is the judgment? How often do these people claim that they have the word of the Lord? And people come from far away, even other countries and across the oceans, to these places, to hear these charlatans preach, to experience the manifestations they are famous for? Shall I list the names of Toronto and Pensacola? Why did people go to those places? Why do people flock to obvious frauds like Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland, and the false apostles and prophets at the International House of Prayer? Why do people attend Benny Hinn meetings? Why attend conferences put on by false teachers like Bill Johnson and T.D. Jakes? Why go to churches that are little more than entertainment centers, sitting through sermons that are more like badly-done stand-up comedy sets then a reverent look at the Word of God?
It's obvious that at some point those in the church have scorned the sacred. Probably it happened gradually. False preachers like William Branham were accepted because miracles happened around them, and that was what legitimized them. Faith healers were accepted, and even when their healings were shown to be fake, they were not told to stop. Charismatic gifts were given such free rein that church services became scenes of chaos. False prophets were accepted because some of their prophecies came true. It became so bad that when people at a church in Toronto started acting like animals, it was called a move of the Spirit. Now, a preacher may speak for an hour and read only a part of a verse from the Bible in that time. Where before the preacher was expected to preach against sin, today's preachers are expected to give us life tips, tell us how to have a full and complete life, encourage us to pursue our goals and dreams. Once we tried to save the lost, now we try to become history-makers and world-changer, and through all that try to take dominion in the world.
An unbiblical standard was accepted. False teachers were accepted. False prophets were tolerated. False apostles were allowed to have authority in churches. Heresy was accepted, and became the new orthodoxy. Instead of sound biblical teaching being the standard by which a preacher was judged, they accepted the manifestation as being a sign of God's approval. And today, the size of the church is the standard. If you have a large church, with numbers in the thousands, then that in itself is all the credentials you need for whatever you want to say.
And I have not made mention of the liberals, who have gleefully cast aside the Bible for their own speculations and desire, essentially taking everything that the Bible calls sin and claim that those things are virtues.
Yet keep in mind what was written in Colossians, “21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” We can rightly criticize these seeker-sensitive compromisers and word faith charlatans, but we must ourselves be wary of ourselves. We can stray, we can believe things that are not biblical. We can be among those who watch Benny Hinn on TV, and be tempted to send him money in the hope that his claims that it will open the way for a miracle is actually true. We can be among those who think that we can do anything to earn God's favor. We must be careful of that.