A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
“I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.” – Amos 5:21 NLT
The book of Amos is NOT politically correct. Anytime you start out a chapter addressing the wealthy women of the community as “fat cows” you have pretty much made a decision to offend any and all. These two chapters are intense. They contain a scathing indictment from the lips of God concerning the people of Israel – the northern kingdom. These people had turned from Him a long time ago, choosing instead to worship false gods. They still considered themselves Yahweh worshipers, but had simply added a few other gods to their religious menu. They were highly religious and because they seemed to enjoy a certain degree of affluence and material success, they thought they were being blessed by God Himself or one of the many other gods they worshiped. So God has to make it clear that it is not He who is blessing them. In fact, He is about to bring judgment on them unless they repent and return. God had already brought a number of punishments on them over the years, from drought and famine to crop failure, plague and wars. But they had refused to return to Him. They had grown fat and happy. They enjoyed their wealth and loved practicing their religious rituals.
But all the while they were failing to do what was right. Their greed and insatiable desire for more drove their behaviors. As a result, they oppressed the poor by charging them exhorbitant rent. They twisted justice and hated those who told the truth. They trampled the poor by taxing them relentlessly and mercilessly. All the while building fancy houses for themselves. So God warns them to “do what is good and run from evil” so that they might live (Amos 5:14). He told them to “hate evil and love what is good, turn your courts in to true halls of justice” (Amos 5:15). If they did, God would spare a remnant of them. He would show mercy. Otherwise, “the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope (Amos 5:20).
Come back to me and live!
God has no desire to destroy them. He wants them to return. He wants to bless them. But their stubbornness will not allow them to admit their sins and return to Him. They saw themselves as religious and right. Their own affluence was a testament to their righteousness. They were religious, keeping a long list of religious observances. But in God’s eyes it was all show and pretense. Their offerings and sacrifices meant nothing to Him. Their hymns of praise were nothing but noise in His ears. Their worship was more about them than Him. It was all a matter of pride and pretense. It was all a show for others to see and admire. But what God wanted was something completely different. He tells them, “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living” (Amos 5:24 NLT). God wanted to see true righteousness lived out in right behavior and the just treatment of the poor and needy. He wanted to see religion that resulted in right behavior and a godly lifestyle. He wanted to see compassion, mercy, justice, kindness, and a true appreciation for who He was and all that He had done for them. He wanted His people to understand and appreciate His compassion, mercy, justice, and kindness and share it with those around them – an endless river of righteous living. And He still wants to see the same thing today.
Father, may my life be an endless river of righteous living. I want live in such a way that I am a conduit of Your compassion, mercy, justice, and kindness to those around me. I want to extend to others what You have given to me. Give me eyes to see others as You do. Give me a love for the poor, needy, lost and helpless. May your church and the presence of Your people on this earth be like a mighty flood of justice washing over those in need. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men