Reading through the Bible together
The vision of the basket of summer fruit in this chapter shows the hastening of the threatened ruin of Israel. Oppressors are called to an account for abusing the poor; their destruction is foretold, which will be to them a great time of mourning (vv. 4-10). A famine of the Word of God is made the punishment of a people that go after other gods (vv. 11-14).
The purpose of the vision of the basket of summer fruit was to show that the people were ripe for judgment. The divine long-suffering of God had resulted only in the continuance of sin. Israel was ready to be brought into captivity as a bird is caught in a bird-catcher’s cage or basket. Nothing more could be done for the fruit crop because it was harvest (v.2). The crop will be dealt with according to the kind of fruit produced.
Given into the hands of the enemy, there will be dead bodies all over the land of Israel and the songs that gave the wicked pleasure will be changed to wailing (v.3). The riches of those who oppressed others will not help them and they will realize that their sinful life brought divine judgments on them (v.4). They were eager for the New Moon or Sabbath to pass showing their formal observance of these sacred days without the true spirit of devotion. They were eager to acquire wealth by falsehood and deception (v.5). Buying the poor for a piece of silver and the needy for a pair of new shoes, showed that even for the smallest benefit to themselves they would deny justice to the poor (v.6). For this, the Lord promised to send Israel into captivity (v.7). Then the land will tremble like the troubled sea and all will mourn (v.8). The sun will go down at noon, their entire land will be dark in broad daylight (v.9). Their feasts will turn into mourning and joyous songs into lamentation. Every person will have sackcloth around their waist and baldness from having shaved their heads—as a sign of mourning; their sorrow will be severe and bitter (v.10).
Furthermore, because of their continued disobedience, there will be a famine of the word of God. People will wander in every direction seeking for His word but it would be too late; they will not be able to avoid the judgments (v.11). Even the energetic youth will become helpless when the Lord shall bring His judgments on the land. The situation is not that God’s love is withdrawn from the sinner, but that the sinner has become so hardened in his iniquities that he wishes to escape from the consequences rather than forsake his evil ways. It is important to note that this experience of Israel will be repeated just before the second advent of Jesus Christ.
Deepati Vara Prasad, Ph.D.
Watchman Publishing House, India