Summary: A sermon examining God's rejection of half-hearted worship.
What Is Your Worship Worth?
We often sing a song that proclaims that the Lord is worthy of worship, praise, honor, glory, offerings, reverence, fear, love, and devotion. Without a doubt, each of these statements are true. But when offering these things to the Lord we must ensure that they are "genuine". Week after week people attend churches all over the world. They walk in the door with smiles on their faces. They fellowship with the brethren. They sing songs and hymns. They lift their hands, bow their heads and bend their knees. When the time comes they listen to the sermon, some even take notes. During the invitation they kneel in an altar. They pray prayers, read scriptures, give testimonies, and present offerings and it makes God sick!!!
Why? Because as they go through the motions on the outside, deep within they are filled with wickedness, iniquity and idolatry. Jesus speaks about this in His warning to the Church at Laodicea in - Revelation 3:15 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
God is more concerned with the inward condition of our heart than He is with our outward signs of religion. In Leviticus 26:27 (The Lord said)...if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, 28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
Scripture makes it clear that God desires devotion, obedience, holiness and righteousness. Amos records a time when the people of Israel observed feasts, ordinances and ceremonies. They presented burnt offerings, meat offerings, peace offerings and other sacrifices. But there was a problem....their worship had become nothing more than meaningless rituals. They were "performing" acts of worship instead of pursuing the Lord with their hearts. Simply put ....they were hypocrites. As we arrive at Amos chapter 5, God boldly confronts the sin of His people. He declares that He despised their actions...He hated their religious festivals and observances. He refused to accept their offerings and sacrifices. The sound of their praise made Him angry and He was fed up with their idolatry.
The Bible says that the Lord "changes not". This means that He still hates, despises and rejects certain things in the lives of His people. I would like to look at these verses and ask the question "What Is Your Worship Worth?"
Many churches in America are embattled in "worship wars". They fight amongst themselves over whether to have a traditional, contemporary or blended worship services. Sometimes we have a tendency to major on the minor. The fact is, God is more concerned with your heart than He is the beat of the music. God desires that His people worship Him in Spirit and in truth. More than traditional or contemporary, God wants TRUE WORSHIP. In fact, He will not accept anything less!
Verse 21 contains one of the boldest rebukes recorded in the Word of God. God was completely fed up with Israel. He used the words "hate" and "despise" to describe His mindset. To "despise" means to feel contempt or intense disgust. In an attempt to learn from Israel's mistakes, I want to examine this passage and identify some things that God despises in the church and in His people. Notice if you will that:
I. God Despises Meaningless Ceremonies - v21a "I hate, I despise your feast days and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies."
God had ordained certain feasts and sacrifices. These observances had a purpose and a place. But at this point they had lost their true meaning. These events had become mere traditions and rituals. Though the people continued to go through the motions, God was not pleased with their actions. In fact, their "form of worship" made Him sick and angry! Furthermore, God makes it clear that He would not accept their meaningless formalities. He says "I will not smell in your solemn assemblies"
Certain sacrifices and offerings were as a "sweet smelling savor to God". This means that they were pleasing and acceptable to Him. Now, God says "I will take no delight in the sacrifices that you offer me." Israel's worship of God had become a mere formality. Rather than doing things out of reverence and love for the Lord they did things out of habit and obligation.
For many people, attending church has become a "meaningless ceremony". Some of you are here simply because it is a habit. Some of you are here because you hold a job and because you possess a certain level of integrity, you want to honor your word. Some are here because you like the people and you look forward to seeing your friends. Some of you are here because you don't want to disappoint a spouse, relative or friend. Many people are here for different reasons, but ultimately we should be here to worship and praise the Lord. Is that really why you are here?