PRAYER: Teach me Lord to rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (Psalm 119:14)
SCRIPTURE READING: Amos 8:1-14
INSIGHT: This vision, like the third one in the previous chapter, begins by describing what Amos sees; a dialogue between God and Amos follows, then a statement of judgment is issued during the dialogue.
God asks Amos what he sees, and he replies, “A basket of summer fruit (qayits).” In response, the Lord says, “The end (qets) has come!” The root of these two words “qayits” and “qets” are not related at all, but they sound somewhat similar. However, their symbolism goes far beyond their pronunciation: Just as the fruit marks the end of summer, so the summer for the Israelites is about to pass, the time has come to harvest the ripened fruit of judgement.
這個到來的結局，可分成四個部分，每一部分藉用自然界的現象，重點說明這個結局: （一）地震（4-8節）; （二）日蝕（9-10節）;（三）饑荒（11-12節）; （四）乾旱（13-14節）。
The end that is about to come can be divided into four parts, each of which uses a phenomenon of nature to emphasize this ending: (1) earthquake (v. 4-8); (2) solar eclipse (v. 9-10); (3) famine (v. 11-12); (4) drought (vs. 13-14).
這些審判的行動，相當明顯是與以色列人道德的失敗聯結在一起的。而這裏的焦點, 是觸犯屬靈原則的商業行為, 正好對現代經濟掛帥的生活提出警惕:
These judgments were quite clearly linked to the moral failure of the Israelites. The focal point here is about business practices that violate spiritual principles; something to be wary about regarding the life style of our modern economic society:
(1) 貪婪 — 商人問月朔幾時過去，安息日幾時過去（5節），這樣他們好販賣糧食，恢復他們的生意。對於他們來說，安息日和月朔不是敬拜神的日子, 而是浪費一天，失去一次剝削窮人和積蓄財產的機會。他們這種心態犯了十誡中的兩條誡: 第四誡, 「當記念安息日，守為聖日」和第十誡, 「不可貪戀」。
(1) Covetousness —The merchants asked when will the New Moon and the Sabbath pass (v. 5), so that they can sell their grain and resume their business. For them, the Sabbath and the New Moon were not days to worship God, but days wasted and opportunities lost to exploit the poor and accumulate possessions. Their mentality violated two of the Ten Commandments: The fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” and the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet.”
(2) 欺詐 — 「賣出用小升斗，收銀用大戥子，用詭詐的天平欺哄人」(5)採取欺騙的手段謀暴利, 觸犯了第八誡, 「不可偷盜」。
(2) Fraud – “Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit.” (v. 5) Using deceptive means to make huge profits; thus, they violated the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal.”
(3) 草菅人命 — 當貧窮的人付不起買糧的價錢時，商人則販賣人口；為了謀利，窮人被商人賣作奴隸: 「用銀子買貧寒人，用一雙鞋換窮乏人」(6)。這是違反了第六誡, 「不可殺人」。
(3) Disregard for human life — When the poor couldn’t afford to buy food, they would be sold as a thing to make a profit; the merchants would sell the poor as slaves: “That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” (v. 6). This is a violation of the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder.”
這個情況的出現, 「乃因不聽耶和華的話」(11)。所以培養每天讀經、聆聽神說話, 是基督徒一個不可或缺的靈性修煉。
In human society, covetousness (strong craving for possessions) is the most common and dangerous sin. Desperate to get more money and power, unscrupulously; the natural instinct to steal and to reach to the top for personal gain at the expense of others. Deceitfulness is accepted as a normal phenomenon of doing business, all aimed at satisfying oneself, sacrificing the weak for personal purposes. Evoking people to profit at the expense of others is a belief that goes against God. This situation arises due to “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” (v. 11) Therefore, nurturing daily Bible reading and listening carefully to God’s word is an indispensable spiritual exercise for every Christian.
by 洪同勉牧師 Rev. Tommy Hung