Summary: Israel was worshiping. They were even boasting about their worship. Yet it displeased God. What can we learn from them?
GOOD WORSHIP? Israel had lots of religious activity, but it was not pleasing to God.
- Amos 4:4-5.
- Religious activity is not always pleasing to God.
- How can worship be bad?
- It’s helpful to understand how evil works. Evil doesn’t usually come up with something altogether new. Instead, it twists good just enough to provide the pleasure without the pain. It twists good just enough to keep the illusion of something positive happening while it’s really off-track enough that the primary purpose has been lost. Something like that is going on here: they kept some of the activity without holding onto the point.
SOME OF THE INADEQUATE MEASURES:
a. Worship gatherings.
- Amos 4:4a.
- Bethel hosted the chief religious sanctuary of the northern kingdom.
- Gilgal was another Israelite sanctuary in Amos’ time.
b. Worship rituals.
- Amos 4:4b-5a.
- It seems likely from what we read here that Israel had incorporated elements of the Canaanite religion, making what they were doing cultic.
c. Worship satisfaction.
- Amos 4:5b.
- It’s worth asking a question at this point. Which is worse: standing in open rebellion or putting on a compromised show?
- Obviously standing in opposition to God is never a good thing, but I’m reminded of the church at Laodicea. Their lukewarm nature was what offended Christ the most.
- Why is that? Perhaps because the person doing bad usually acknowledges at some level that what they are doing isn’t right; on the other hand, the compromised person often still believes that he is doing great work.
A BETTER FOCUS: Loving God through obedience.
- We need to do more than just have empty worship. We need to love God, showing it by obeying His teaching.
AVOIDING GETTING OFF-TRACK:
a. Am I eager to get my toes stepped on?
- How often do I repent?
- Am I glad to be challenged because it means that God is still working on me?
b. Do I respect God or love Him?
- Over time it’s easy to begin to serve God out of sense of duty instead of love.
c. Do I fit right in to my culture?
- It’s likely that a significant part of Israel’s problem was that they had gotten comfortable with the Canaanites around them. Israel’s religion started to get syncretized – combining parts of both.
- Do we do that? How do we do that? Maybe think about materialism? Self-esteem?