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Relationship, Not Pretense - Warnings From Amos

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Relationship, Not Pretense Warnings From Amos


Amos 5: 21-24 "I hate all your show and pretense--the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.


It can sometimes be human nature to be lazy through complacency. We can achieve a certain level and settle in. We can become used to the surroundings and start to lose the passion we once had. We see it happen in marriages all the time. People get used to each other and then start to take each other for granted. The comfort level we attain begins to erode the fervor we once had that helped us attain that level. We see it happen in our employment. When first hired we can set out to prove ourselves. We might work extra hard, longer hours, or anything that can set us apart from everyone else. We strive harder to make a lasting impression. Then, once we have arrived at a certain level, we can begin to slack off. We can take for granted that which we used to work so hard for. We can cut corners here or there; where we know we won't get caught.


And so it can go in our Christian walks as well. We can start out on fire for God. We were going to serve in every ministry, read the Bible in a year, seek God constantly, and perpetually work on our spiritual growth. And God answers. He prospers us and takes us to a new level in Christ. And if we are not careful, we can become complacent and settle in. We can stop striving for the next level God has for us. We can become spiritually lazy. We can make excuses for not attending prayer service, not tithing correctly, or not keeping up with our Bible reading. Our prayer life can begin to wither. The power of God lessens in our life. We raise our hands on Sunday but spend the week in desperate need of the presence of God in our lives.


So it was in the days of the Prophet Amos. A simple farmer and herder, Amos found himself called by God to preach to the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel and King Uzziah of Judah. Forty years earlier, at the end of his ministry, the Prophet Elisha prophesied a great resurgence of Israel's power and might and after him the Prophet Jonah had echoed these sentiments. These prophecies had now come to pass in the days of Amos. One study Bible refers to Israel at this time as "politically secure and spiritually smug." Both kingdoms were enjoying a period of great prosperity. With it unfortunately also came a period of increased idolatry, lavish living, immorality, corruption to justice and the oppression of the poor. Justice and oppression have always been paramount issues to God:


This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3


There are over 300 verses in the Bible dealing with the poor and social justice. After salvation, it is the dominant theme. Israel would not repent however and God would soon visit judgment upon them and have them carried off into captivity by the Assyrian Empire. The 10 tribes would be forever scattered. The remaining two tribes in the land of Judah would eventually see their own judgment as well; when Babylon takes them into captivity. But here, in this glimmer of time, we see God sending a prophet to Israel to address their spiritual state. The words transcend the pages to address us as well today.


Have we become Israel in the days of Amos? Has western Christianity spent more time on the show and pretense then on the widows and orphans? Here is how God feels about widows and orphans:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. Isaiah 10: 1-2

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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