AMOS 5:21-24: “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” NLT
OBSERVATION: I remember the Golden Age of Television. When I was a small boy growing up in the 60s, television was in its heyday. Families gathered around the TV to watch shows during what was called “prime time.” This was usually 7PM – 10PM, although I was never allowed up past 9PM! Unlike today, each show was sponsored by one or two companies. When there was a commercial break the announcer would say,
“And now, a word from our Sponsor!”
It is very rare today that you will hear a sermon from one of the minor prophets. These are the smaller books at the end of the Old Testament that feature the writings of godly prophets who spoke to both the nation of Israel and Judah. They called them back to repentance from their sinful backsliding. They spoke of the nature of God and revealed both His mercy and justice. As I read in the book of Amos today, it was as if I was a small child again, sitting intently at the television, and then I heard,
“And now, a word from our Prophet!”
As I look upon the condition of this world, as I approach a major election in just 3 days, I wonder – am I really engaged in what is going on or am I simply offering up sacrifices and singing songs. The uncomfortable reality that is revealed in the minor prophets is that I can be involved in all the trappings of religion and be completely blind to my true spiritual condition.
This was the reality for both Israel and Judah. They had embraced idols, they participated in injustice, they ignored the poor, they practiced all forms of immorality, and yet they contined offering sacrifices, celebrating feasts, and holding worship services. They ingnored the prophet’s call to repentance.
What did they have to repent for? God loved them. They were God’s chosen people. Certainly these prophets, minor ones to boot, had it all wrong!
How many churches will stand from their pulpits this coming Sunday to call their congregations to repentance, to righteousness, and to vote for principles and candidates that support life, liberty, and justice? How many will look past their worship set, videos, and announcements and take time to cry out to God for His mercy and deliverance. My prayer is that all will do this. Yet, I know this is not the case.
So, as the services start, as people gather to worship, as the morning is planned, perhaps we all need to stop and hear these words,
“And now, a word from our Prophet!”
- “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Lord, when I hear these words, I do not point a finger. I hear them speaking to my heart. I hear them challenging me to break up my fallow ground and plant seeds of righteousness. I hear them calling me to stand up for the poor, uphold that which is good, and by Your great grace – to be swept away in a mighty flood of justice and and endless river of righteouss living. Lord, transform my heart so that my worship will be acceptable in Your sight. Help me to –
“Hear the word of Your Prophet!”
In Jesus’ Name!