Even through various “Acts of God” like: famine, drought, plagues, death, and destruction- – it seems that nothing can force the people to their knees. Thus, the nation, like a basket of rotting fruit, stands ripe and ready for God’s judgment because of its hypocrisy and spiritual indifference.
“Thus the Lord GOD showed me,” wrote Amos, “and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit’ [i.e., a basket of ripe, and therefore, soon-to-perish—summer fruit]. Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer” (Amos 8:1-2).
Forty years later that’s exactly what happened when the Assyrians overran the capital city of Samaria and carried away captive the leading citizens of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
As a nation America needs to be careful because I’m afraid that our own “hypocrisy and spiritual indifference” makes us ripe and ready for God’s judgment as well.
Something interesting about Amos was the fact that he wasn’t a “professional” prophet: “Then Amos replied to Amaziah, ‘I am not a prophet [i.e., by profession], nor am I the son of a prophet – [I’m no scholar either]; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. [So why’s he preaching?] But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel’ (Amos 7:14–15).”
In our terminology, Amos would be considered a “layman,” i.e., a non-ordained member of the church without “professional credentials” or “specialized ministerial” training.
In fact, his regular full-time job was tending a special breed of sheep that produced wool of the highest quality. And as a “grower of sycamore figs” – or “a nipper” – his job was to go around puncturing the figs before they ripened to allow the bugs inside to escape.
Reminds us of Jesus’ disciples, doesn’t it? “Now as they [the rulers and elders – the ‘professionally’ trained religious clergy] observed the confidence of Peter and John [two common fishermen] and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men [‘in the schools’], they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
The greatest education and training you can ever receive comes from “being with Jesus” in prayer and the Word (see Mark 3:13-15).
(Jessie J. Charpentier Sr. is pastor of Jenkins Memorial Baptist Church in St. Martinville.)