Scripture Reading: Amos 8:1-9:15 / Romans 5:12-21 / Proverbs 17:15-24
God gave Amos some strong and condemning words for the people of Israel. “What do you see, Amos? God asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel, I will spare them no longer.” (Amos 8:1,2) We look forward to ripened fruit knowing its sweetness is ready to be enjoyed. The fruit (works/faith) Israel sowed was not sweet but bitter. It was time for harvest; their fruit was ripened unto bitterness.
The message God called Amos to deliver was very warranted because the severity of God’s judgment was proportional to the depth of Israel’s rebellion and idolatry. Israel operated under a materialistic and selfish spirit, defying the ways and nature of God. Their sin had reached a ripened state of judgment and they would soon reap the wrath of God.
They were guilty of pride and arrogance. The rich defrauded the poor by raising prices, reducing portions and cheated them even more by using dishonest scales. Israel was not interested in the riches of God but the riches of man. They tolerated the Sabbath and holy days, simply going through religious motions… their hearts longed for prosperity, resorting to evil and deceptive business practices in order to attain riches and domination. (Amos 8:1-6)
Ironically, this could describe our society today. Businesses have been exposed for price gouging, deceptive marketing tools and false advertising. At times businesses and owners are labeled as rich and oppressive, taking advantage of the less fortunate. Before we paint everyone with the same brush...we also recognize there are many fair and service orientated businesses/owners (you may be one!). It is important for us to differentiate between the dishonest and honest…it may not be clear to us but it is certainly clear to the omniscient God!
This warning of dishonest scales isn’t only applicable to the “business” world, but to the rest of the world too… meaning us! Selfishness and greed are temptations for people in every financial category, even the poor. We must guard our own hearts and practice honesty and fairness towards all men. God keeps accurate records… He even knows the intent of our hearts. We are called to be vessels of His goodness, love, forgiveness, mercy and grace. May our lives be filled with the ripened fruit of blessing, not the ripened fruit of judgment!