“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
Amos was a prophet from Tekoa, a town south of Jerusalem, who wrote his prophecy around 760-750 BC.
Prophet Amos was speaking at a time when God's people were divided into North and South Kingdom. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights.
Yet it was also a time of idolatry, extravagant indulgence in living, immorality, corruption, social injustice. The rich was oppressing the poor, and the powerful were oppressing the weak.
God's people were politically secure but spiritually smug. Prosperity increased Israel's religious and moral corruption.
Although God had specifically chosen His people, He would not tolerate anything less than holy. God is always a holy God. He would uproot His chosen people, even by the hands of an enemy nation.
God has a glorious future of His people, but He also would not allow corruption and injustice to defile His people and purpose. As the story of Prophet David has shown us, God looks straight at His people's heart.
God wants His people to know that He does not want religious rituals or any 'thing' that looks religious. He wants our love for each other, and our desire for justice for the oppressed.
He said, "Let justice flow like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (5:24)
Social justice is the ultimate expression of our true love for God. This is not about supporting or not supporting a particular political party, but about our personal actions and relationship with other people around us as an individual.
Pray and listen to God
What kind of 'religious festivals' do I often engage in (anything that makes me look spiritual)?
What does God think about this? If He looks through my heart, what will He see?
If God is speaking through Prophet Amos to you today, what action will you respond with?