Summary: The same fruits evident in Amos’ basket are still around in our churches today. Are we keeping them fresh by obeying God’s pattern for them? Or are we allowing them to become overripe and rotten by our disobedience?
1. Introduction (8:1-2)
2. The first fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of worship. (movement from songs to howling to silence)—Amos 8:3
3. The second fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of stewardship. (movement from commerce to consumerism to condemnation)—Amos 8:4-8
4. The third fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of the Word. (movement from feast to famine to falling)—Amos 8:9-14
If you look on the calendar, today is the first day of fall. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather. The changing leaves. I enjoy just about everything that comes with fall. Just about everything, but not quite. You see, fall means that the time for all of those fresh fruits and vegetables is just about over. We didn’t have a garden this year. But even though we didn’t have a garden, many of you kept us well-stocked with tomatoes. There’s nothing better than a fresh garden tomato, is there? But they don’t have a very long shelf life, do they? The other day, I was looking for one. We had gone through all of the tomatoes we had, but I just happened to find one in the bottom of a vegetable bowl in the kitchen. Somehow it had gotten hidden in there. You would have thought I had struck gold. It was that good deep red color. It was beautiful. I couldn’t wait to throw that thing between a couple of slices of bread. But I didn’t notice the little bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. I didn’t notice it till I grabbed hold of that tomato. As soon as I touched it, I knew. It was squishy. The skin just about fell off when I tried to pick it up. You see, even though that tomato looked red and ripe and beautiful, it was really completely rotten. It had sat there festering in its own juices for so long that it wasn’t any good any more. The only thing it was good for was to throw away. It had become disgusting. Fit only for destruction. That is the picture that God gave Amos here in this vision. He showed Amos that Israel had become like a basket of summer fruit to Him. That sounds appealing. Just like that tomato looked appealing to me. But it wasn’t. They had taken the wonderfully good fruits of God and allowed them to over ripen and turn into sin. For Israel, God’s good fruits of worship, stewardship and the Word of God had gone from fresh and ripe to overripe. And they would soon be rotten. Because Israel hadn’t kept God’s fruits fresh, He would allow each of them to completely rot in affliction. Just like He did for Israel, God still gives good fruits today. As a matter of fact, He gives the same fruits today. The same fruits that were evident in Amos’ basket are still around in our church today. Are we keeping them fresh by obeying God’s pattern for them? Or are we allowing them to become overripe and rotten by our disobedience? Tonight, I want our church to keep the fruit God has given us fresh. I want us to keep it fresh by obeying Him in all we do. In order to do that, we’re going to look at three fruits in God’s basket of obedience. The first fruit is the fruit of worship. Look with me at verse 3.
The first fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of worship. Notice how this verse starts. It starts with the songs of the temple. Well, what were those songs? What did God’s good fruit of worship look like? Well, we obviously don’t have any recordings of what services were like in Israel. But we know they were filled with music and singing. Of course, they had dancing too, but we’re Baptists, so we don’t talk about that. But how do we know that’s what their worship looked like? Because we have a copy of their main hymn book. We call it the book of Psalms. As a matter of fact, the original word for Psalms carries the meaning of plucking or twanging on strings. It’s obvious that they were meant to be accompanied by musical instruments. We think of the Psalms as passages to read. But not the Israelites. They would no more read the Psalms than we would read out of the Baptist Hymnal. The very last Psalm puts a capstone on the purpose of all the Psalms. Psalm 150 says, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” That describes perfectly what the songs of the temple were supposed to be. They were supposed to be joyous expressions of worship. Emotional expressions of love and devotion to the Almighty creator of the universe. To the savior and sustainer of His people. What beautiful, fresh and ripe fruit true worship had been. I say had been, because it had become something completely different. Something unrecognizable to God. Our English text uses the word “howlings”. The original is more chilling than that. It carries the meaning of an inarticulate screech. In other words, Israel’s worship had become like fingernails on a chalkboard to God. It was screeching and howling in His ears. It’s like in other places where He said that the smoke from their sacrifices had become a stench in His nostrils. Well, how in the world could the God-exalting words of the Psalms become so offensive to God? How could words like Psalm 16:5, “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.” Or like Psalm 36:5-7: “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” How could words like those be offensive to God? The same way that words like “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” can be. Or words like “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.” Or words like, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” The same way that words like those can be offensive to God. As offensive as fingernails on a chalkboard. So many times, we sing words that have become all too familiar to us. We sing them out of habit without even thinking about what we’re singing. We get so caught up in our preferred style of music that we don’t even pay attention to who we’re singing to or what we’re singing about. We sing, “We are one in the bond of love” when we have people in the church we won’t even talk to. We sing, “I surrender all” and still hold on to our sin and pride and selfishness. That’s what Israel was doing. They were singing the Psalms with their lips, but their heart was rotten. The summer fruit of worship looked ripe and good on the outside, but was overripe and rotten on the inside. And God was going to get rid of it. He promised that the destruction of Israel was going to be so severe that even their howlings would be silenced. Their grief and mourning would be so severe that they wouldn’t even be able to weep, much less sing. The first fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of worship. Israel had allowed the fruit of worship to become overripe and rot. And now God was going to get rid of it. The second fruit in God’s basket of obedience is the fruit of stewardship. Look with me at verses 4-8: