The Lord said, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
This passage in Amos is one of the most striking passages regarding worship in the entire Bible. Amos is speaking the words that the Lord had given him regarding the state of the Jewish people’s worship of God. They desperately wanted to obey God. So they continued to show up at the Temple to worship Him at the appropriate times. Despite their desire for obediece, their worship was worthless. It was worthless because their hearts were not in it. Often our worship of God, whether privately or at church, can get to this same place. God said that He hated their religious feasts and He could not stand their religious assemblies. We shudder to think that our religious practices can actually be hated by God! We can be at the right place at the right time, bringing the right offering singing the right songs…and God hate it! The reason is that God looks at the heart, and their hearts had grown cold towards God. They were not worshiping God with their hearts. They were simply going through the motions. This angered God. We can fall into the same routine; praying and reading our Bibles every day so that we can check them off of our “spiritual to-do list.” Maybe we come to church only because it is expected, or because we have some commitment to fulfill. When we get to this place, we are doing the same thing that God’s people were doing when Amos penned these words. God feels the same way about it now as He did then. He hates it!
In verse 22 God says that even though they were bringing offerings to Him, He did not want them. God does not need our money. God does not need anything that we can bring to Him. They thought that they were pleasing God and helping God by bringing these things to Him. God is not interested in what we can give Him. God is interested in us having a heart that is full-on in love with Him. He wants us to bring an offering to Him the same way a husband brings roses home for his wife, not out of an obligation, but out of love. When we give God an offering, He is interested in what it represents. Do your offerings to Him represent a heart that is in love with Him? The final thing that God says to His people in this passage about their worship is that they must take away their music. He calls it noise. When we sing a song to God, we want it to please Him. If we are singing for any reason other than our love for Him, it is noise to Him. He told His people to take away their noise. This same principle is true for us today. Whether we sing a 200 year-old hymn or a new song, it can become noise to God if it is not sung out of a pure heart. God is not interested in the age, tempo, style, or volume of our songs. He is interested in the hearts of those who sing to Him. God is not interested in us coming to church at the right times, He is interested in us having a heart that loves Him.
- Has your worship gotten to be routine? Do you spend time in prayer and Bible reading every day because you feel obligated to do so? Do you come to church so that God will not be disappointed in you?
- Do you bring Him offerings out of an obligation?
- Do you sing the songs at church simply because you know the words?
Today, think about the condition of your heart when it comes to worshiping God. Be sure that your worship is not a routine, but that it comes from a heart in love with God. Don’t let your worship be worthless.