I doubt James intended to imply that patient forbearance will restore fortunes. Instead, the end of his letter points back to the beginning. Patient forbearance is the rich soil in which the implanted seed can bear fruit, producing an abundant harvest of godliness.
The people bone weary of Amos’ invectives and angry judgement, yet held in the grip of the powerful voice that seemed to emanate from his entire body.
The first layer of meaning is straightforward. Ripe fruit, when it is plucked from the tree, is cut off. For the harvester, the ripened fruit is a lovely blessing, but for the fruit itself, to be harvested means its time on the tree will come to an end.
God is true to character, God is just and righteous, and calls God’s people to be the same. The Lord is also merciful. Only eternity will reveal how much and how often the Lord has spared God’s people because of the often hidden prayers offered up as intercession.
What happens when God’s people lose touch with God’s values and God’s character? They do not stop being God’s people. But. They do experience a profound disconnection from God. Instead of experiencing and living out the exuberant joy of shalom, they create and participate in systems that harm.
They were to allow God’s core values of justice and righteousness to become their core values, which would be reflected in their compassion and care for the economically, politically, and socially disadvantaged
Like one of those disaster sagas, I wonder if the people were numb at this point, hollowed of all feeling, the shock of these words landing like mallets on the taut head of a kettle drum.
By chapter 3, the book of Amos begins the recording of three sermons preached to Israel (Chapters 3-5), calling all of God's people to repentance. Each of the sermons begins with the words “Hear this word...” Woven throughout Amos’ words were the theologies of the ancient Hebrew faith.
This was not just about God’s eternal wrath over evil, this was about God’s temporal judgment over wrongs done to the earth and to each other.
Amos condemned all those who made themselves powerful or rich at the expense of others, by cheating, by perverting justice, and by taking advantage of those with no money and no power. It's a timely message, isn't it.