Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
"Go ahead and worship all you wish; however, I hate your charade!" In essence, this is the very message God gave Amos. The people of Israel continued on in worship as if nothing was wrong. They saw no reason to walk in humility nor strive for holiness nor uphold justice to the impoverished in their relationship with the LORD. They continued on in sin while praising a holy God. Such a dichotomy! They felt that they could go to the "church", jump, shout, sing, and worship, thereby doing God a favor for even being in "worship", while they continued to live self-centered, fleshly, sinful lives. Surely God was not smart enough to see past the religious fantasy world they had created. He surely could not see the wickedness and contempt for Him that they held in their unregenerate heart? They were only placating a LION! Consequently, The LION was ashamed to look on their sin.
The many sins of Israel were clear. The worst was forgetfulness. They had forgotten that they were chosen to be better than the world, to be a witness to those without hope. As the chosen and redeemed, they were set free from Egypt to be a light in the world. However, those redeemed are responsible to live according to the purposes the LORD outlined to them in His covenant with them. They had gotten so far from His word that they were trying to sin and worship at the same time. Let's look at one example found in Amos 2:8. "And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar..." Exodus 22:26 required that an outer garment taken from a fellow Israelite had to be returned at night so the poor owner would not be cold nor oppressed. However, the elite were taking the coats and actually laying beside the altar on them in the hopes that sleeping there would allow them to have a vision from God. This was a normal practice in that day. God was more concerned about injustice than giving a cruel, unforgiving person a fresh revelation! The offender should have read Exodus 22:27! "For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious."
Thank the LORD that today's church is not like those stubborn, hard-headed Israelites who were trying to placate the LORD with false worship! Or are we? We surely would not sin so presumptuously! Or would we? God's word to them was actually a judgment on their sins of presumption. The temptation would be to explain away their behavior by pointing to their empty and vain "service". It would be hard for them to deal with their sin in meekness and humility. Is God allowing this today? Are we like the Laodicean Church? Are we sinning and worshiping simultaneously while thinking all is OK? Is the LION even at the door attempting to get our attention?
Do you not understand that we too are a chosen people called to strive for holiness (see 1 Peter 2:9-10)? Can you not see that God is more concerned about brokenness and humility than He is with empty worship? Think about it! We practice and practice for the performance of worship, but do we struggle in prayer for the presence of God in worship? Performances are nice. They can make you weep, and smile, and elicit a wide range of emotional responses, but like the false worship of ancient Israel--it can be deceptive. Emotinal responses and false worship can even be claimed to be "in the Spirit"! Which spirit is it? Is it God's HOLY SPIRIT? If you are not breaking through in prayer and seeking the face of God wholeheartedly, your worship may not be acceptable to this God with whom we have to deal! "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." Amos 4:12
Do you not realize that Christ can see through all pretense? You see God is God! As God He is utterly all knowing! That is why we call Him the Omniscient One. Rend your hearts and not your garments. Turn to Jesus as He is an glorious advocate and mighty to save! DO it now--He is Soon2Come!!
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.