I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Upon first reading, these verses may strike you as odd. In these verses, God was saying through the prophet Amos that He did not delight in the religious services offered by His people. You may remember many instances throughout the history of Israel where God called for assemblies, offerings, and music like those described here. Yet the point of these verses is not that God was displeased with the offerings themselves, but with the heart behind the offerings.

God was displeased because the people were offering religious rituals void of real devotion to God. We should take care to learn from what God was saying to His people in these verses. He was calling for the people to desire true justice before Him and not just a show of devotion that was actually empty. The same applies to us today. God calls us to true worship of Him, manifested in concern and love for others, not just a religious show for the sake of appearances.

• Where are you challenged by this passage from Amos?

• Have you ever had a “church” experience that was all show and lacking depth? Why must a church care about justice?

• Pray and ask God to reveal areas of hypocrisy in your relationship with Him. Ask Him to give you a heart that desires justice and true love for others for His sake.