“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept [them], nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” -Amos 5:21-23
Here’s a question: If you were living during the time that Amos made the above statement, how would you feel about Amos and his statement? And, if you believed that Amos really was a true prophet of God, what would you think of God?
After all, isn’t worship what it’s really all about? Let’s see now, we’re offering burnt offerings, peace offerings (fat peace offerings, even!), we’re even playing and singing in some kind of a worship band.
What could be wrong? After all, doesn’t all this ceremony make me feel like I have a relationship with God? The answer is in the next verse:
I recently received a newsletter from a man who has a ministry to political leaders—governors, staffers, state level elected officials, etc. He relates some reports that appear to be encouraging: Talk of expanding a prayer group in the New Jersey State Capitol; in Delaware, “God [has] arranged that [House and Senate Members] of both parties are gathering around the Person of Jesus”; and finally, in Pennsylvania, “Jesus in not only walking in the hallways of the state capitol, but there are men and women who have ears to hear and are doers of His word.”
The newsletter goes on to talk of upcoming conferences, student outreaches, prayer breakfasts’, etc.
Wow! Kind of makes me think that we may soon be able to
“…lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (I Timothy 2: 2)
But…somehow I’m not holding my breath. Why not be encouraged at all the “good” things that are happening?
Because, as Amos demonstrates above, the ultimate test of true worship is not about our ceremonies. It is about our obedience.
That obedience has public and private dimensions. Earlier, in verse 15, Amos said, “Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate.” That reference to “the gate” is clearly a reference to public obedience to the Law of God.
Does the modern church have any clue what that could possibly mean? When our (hopefully) Christian legislators and staffers gather together at their prayer meetings and sharing sessions, do they even think about how they are to go about establishing “justice in the gate”?
So far, I see no evidence of such. What I do see is increasing attacks on property owners, legitimate businesses, the church, and the family through hostile legislation that includes increased taxes and stifling regulation.
Please, don’t even try to tell me that this is consistent with the Law of God as outlined in the scriptures. The Bible has plenty to say about public justice, but increased taxes and regulations are certainly not endorsed therein.
I’m sure that staff members and legislators that attend these prayer sessions are often quite sincere. But according to Amos, worship that pleases God is far more about righteousness than about “relationship”; far more about justice than about phony protocol and peace between “members of both parties”.
How can we think we can possibly lead a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” if we don’t work diligently to promote justice “in the gates”?
When Amos talks about justice running down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream, he is talking about a very public demonstration of God’s Law in action.
I’d like to be encouraged that certain (anonymous) government officials are getting together in non-public prayer meetings.
But our Sovereign King and Lord is looking for public justice and righteousness. Until then, it’s all just an elaborate private ceremony.
~ Joel Saint