Introduction: Sometimes my dreams go bad. I’ll be dreaming of being
in some pleasant place when all of a sudden things turn dark and
someone starts chasing me – or something like that. Has that happened
to you? Things in your dreams or in your life do not turn out as you
had originally expected? Amos’ vision that we are studying today
sounds like that on the surface. What seems good turns out bad. Let’s
jump in and see what we can learn.

  1. Fruit Basket Upset

    1. Read Amos 8:1-3. First, I want you to fix in your mind the
      candy that you like the best. Now, imagine that someone
      gave you a basket of it. What would be your reaction?
      (Those of you who understand proper nutrition can stick to
      imagining what Amos got – a bowl of ripe fruit!
      Obviously, we would like a basket of candy or fruit.)

      1. Why would God use ripe fruit (something good) as an
        illustration of the bad things He was going to do to
        His people? Why not say “Here, Amos, is a basket of

      2. Have you ever bitten into a fruit that looked good,
        but was too ripe to the point of being rotten? (I
        think that is part of God’s point. God says these
        people “look good” but they are really rotten.)

      3. Do you notice the way the word “ripe” is used to
        describe the fruit and to describe the time of
        judgment? Is this a coincidence? Or, is there some
        meaning in this? (Motyer’s book on Amos reveals that
        there is a play on words in the Hebrew that is
        reflected in the NIV translation. The “ripe” fruit
        is “ripe” for judgment!)

    2. Let’s list the contrasts we find in Amos 8:3,8-10. (Songs
      turn to wailing, solid ground begins to tremble, the land
      acts like water, the sun sets at noon and the day becomes
      like night, religious feasts become like funerals, singing
      turns to crying.)

      1. Why is God listing all of these opposites? These
        contrasts? (God is saying that He is going to turn
        things upside down. The people claim they are
        religious, they claim to be ripe fruit, but what they
        really are is ripe for judgment. Thus, God is going
        to change the existing order of things. This will be
        like the children’s game “fruit basket upset.”)

  2. The Sabbath

    1. Read Amos 8:4-6. Do you think these people kept the
      Sabbath? Or, did they just ignore it?(They must have been
      keeping it is some fashion because they wanted to know
      when it ended.)

      1. What do you think about the way they kept the
        Sabbath? (They had the wrong attitude. First, they
        wanted the Sabbath to be over. Why? Because they were
        anxious to get back to cheating people in their
        business dealings! They were making a mockery of the
        Sabbath by scheming to do evil on the very day they
        should have been scheming to do God’s will.)

      2. Do we have the right attitude about Sabbath-keeping

        1. Are you personally anxious for Sabbath to end?

        2. Do you have trouble not thinking about your work
          on Sabbath?

    2. Of all the sins that God might have mentioned, why do you
      think He brought up the Sabbath? (This is another “ripe
      fruit” example. The people had an appearance of being
      righteous because they observed the Sabbath. But inside
      (that is their minds) they were rotten because they were
      plotting and scheming how they would cheat others just as
      soon as Sabbath ended.)

    3. What do these verses suggest to those who believe keeping
      the Sabbath holy is more important than other obligations
      to God? (This shows that “Sabbath-keeping” is not just a
      matter of keeping a set period of time holy. It shows that
      honoring the God of the Sabbath includes a life reflecting
      His holiness. Keeping Sabbath was no advantage to people
      who were lying, cheating and stealing the rest of the

  1. Not Forget

    1. Read Amos 8:7. Does this sound right to you? How can God
      say He will not forget your sins?

    2. Let’s read some texts that seem to say just the opposite.
      Read Psalms 103:10-12; Hebrews 10:16-17; Isaiah 43:25.

      1. How do you reconcile these texts? How can God say on
        one hand He forgets our sins and on the other hand
        say He will not forget?

      2. What is our obligation to others? Can we, too,
        properly say “I will not forget?”

    3. Read Matthew 18:21. What does Peter want to know? (The
      answer to the question I just asked!)

      1. Read Jesus’ answer: Matthew 18:22. What do you think
        this means? Can you say “I will not forget?” Would
        you need an adding machine before you could properly
        say “I will not forget?”

    4. Let’s read on because Jesus explains His point with a
      story. Read Matthew 18:23-27. What is Jesus really talking
      about in this story? (Salvation. Verse 23 starts out “the
      kingdom of heaven.” This is an illustration of the path to

    5. Read Matthew 18:28-35. Let me ask you again: Can you
      properly say to those around you “I will not forget your

      1. Now can you now explain how God can say “I won’t
        remember” at one point and at another “I won’t
        forget?” (God forgives and forgets for all of those
        who repent and treat others as God has treated them.
        However, if we do not forgive others “from the heart”
        then God re-institutes our debt. That is apparently
        what was happening in Amos 8. Like the debtor in
        Matthew 18, we have no choice but to forgive others
        who “owe” us much less than we owe our God.)

  2. The Famine

    1. Read Amos 8:11-12. If I said that a day is coming when
      you won’t be able to buy soap, what would you do (assuming
      you believed me)? (The natural reaction is to start
      hoarding soap.)

      1. Do these people care for the Word of God now? (No.
        Remember last week the High Priest told Amos (Amos
        7:12)to go away and quit bothering them with God’s

      2. Will the people care about finding the Word of God in
        the future? (Yes. Amos 8:12 says they will “stagger”
        looking for it.)

        1. Why? If the people do not care about hearing the
          Word of God now, but will be desperately looking
          for it later, what will make the difference?
          Hearing that there will be a shortage? (We would
          hoard soap because we know we need it. These
          people did not know they needed the Word of God
          so they were not going to hoard it. What changes
          is that tragedy strikes, the people realize that
          they ignored God’s Word, and now they
          desperately want to turn to Him to get them out
          of their trouble.)

      3. Is this also true for us? Should we be drinking in
        the Word of God now to prepare us for troubling times
        in the future?

        1. Why would we need God’s Word for the future?
          ( Amos 3:7 tells us that God will not do anything
          without first revealing His plans to His
          servants the prophets. This means that God gives
          us advance warning of what will take place. In
          the middle of trouble we want to know how things
          will turn out. That is why the people here were
          so desperate to find the Word of the Lord they
          had previously scorned.)

    2. Friend, the dream has not yet turned bad. We still have
      the opportunity now to soak in God’s Word. By studying
      Amos with me we are taking in God’s Word. Will you commit
      to continuing to drink in God’s Word to prepare for
      difficult times ahead? Will you study God’s will so that
      you will not be fruit that looks ripe, but is only ripe
      for judgment?

  3. Next Week: Vision Five – No Escape for the Lost.