Thus hath the Lord GOD shown unto me; and, behold, a basket of summer fruit. (Amos 8:1)
A basket of summer fruit represents a harvest. It tells us that the tree is no longer producing. So although a basket of summer fruit is delightful and delicious, it also speaks of the end of the harvest. It also tells us of rapid spoilage and quick deterioration. There is a message in a basket of summer fruit, and God gives us a dramatic and a figurative illustration.
And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me: The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. (Amos 8:2)
In the previous visitations of God's judgments, Amos prayed for the survival of Israel and God changed His mind and withheld His hand. But now the basket of summer fruit indicates that the harvest is past. The jig is up. The northern kingdom of Israel has come to the end of the line. Judgment will come, and harvest is symbolic of that.
Since harvest speaks of a time of judgment and falls at the end of an age, I think that some things our Lord said are misunderstood if one does not understand what is meant by the harvest. Jesus said to His disciples, "...The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37,38). Our Lord was speaking at the end of an age when the dispensation of the law was coming to an end. Christ was going to go to the cross. He said that He needed harvesters to go out into Israel.
After His death on the cross, it is a different picture. For this age of grace He gives His parable of the sower who went forth to sow seed. "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel..." (Mark 16:15) is the message for our age. This is the time for sowing the Word of God. My business and your business is just sowing the seed. It is the Lord's business to do the converting. We believe that the Spirit of God will take the Word of God and make a son of God. We are just seed-sowers. We are not harvesters. Harvest speaks of judgment, and it speaks of the end of an age. Our business today is to be out sowing the seed. I wish so much that I could get this message across to people. I wish I could motivate all believers to do what God has called us to do. Our business is to sow the seed of the Word of God.
—From J. Vernon McGee's Edited Messages on Amos ©1994