“Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them…”Amos 5:22
Anytime you see the word “woe” in the Scripture, it is never a good thing. The word means “great sorry or distress.” It is that which causes trouble, difficulty, misery, and suffering. The word calamity comes to mind. Though the word is not used in Amos Chapter 5, the idea is still there. God would bring calamity on His people because they were living in rebellion.
All of us understand to some degree what it means to suffer from calamity. For those of you who are old enough to remember when the Twin Towers came crashing down, you remember where you were and what you were feeling at the time. Perhaps some of us remember what it felt like to break a bone, the setting of it, the cast, and the doctor telling us it would be about six weeks before the cast would come off. You might have said, “Well, there goes my summer vacation!”
As I read through the twelve books of the Minor Prophets, they all seem to be books of calamity. From one book to the next all I see is God’s people living in disobedience, the prophets warning His people to turn from their wicked ways, and yet they continued to rebel more. But using the word rebellion is a loose and general term to describe the overall condition of Israel. The question should be asked, what exactly was Israel doing that provoked God to bring calamity on His children? They, I believe, presumed on God’s salvation and deliverance.
DELIVERANCE THROUGH THE DAY OF THE LORD?
A quick reading of chapter five verses 16 and 17 gives the reader the impression that Amos is warning the people to prepare to meet God. This is not meeting God in a good way but meeting God in judgment rather than blessing. Trent Butler puts it this way, when he writes, “Amos had invited Israel to prepare to meet their God. Now he described what that meeting would be like. It would bring tears and sorrow as nothing had done before. Israel had seen examples of God’s discipline. Now they would experience something worse—His final judgment.” The problem with Israel was that they didn’t understand just how bad off they were. They thought the “day of the LORD” would bring blessings and deliverance to them, but instead they received judgment. Why? Because they refused to admit their sin and repent.
NO HAPPY DAYS FOR ISRAEL
So it is, Amos invites Israel to prepare to meet their God and describes to them what that meeting will be like. You know the old saying, “How can it get any worse?” Well, guess what… it can! Here in lies a principle for all of God’s people: When God’s “woe’s” fall on His people, they need to sit straight up, open up both ears, and follow His instruction as He guides them back to Him.
By the time we read Amos 5:18 we get the distinct impression that God is not going to change His mind in disciplining His people. He tells them in no uncertain terms that the day of the LORD would be one of darkness and not light. The fact that they think they will escape his judgment is seen in the man who flees from a lion only to run straight into a bear. If that isn’t bad enough, Israel thinks that they are in the home stretch after getting through the calamity of encountering lion and bear, only to find that when they get behind the safety of their walls, there is a serpent ready to strike.
WHY? WHY? WHY?
Ok, we get it. God’s judgment, not blessing, but it seems like they were trying to do life right, right? Not exactly. In 5:21-23 we get a clear picture of why God is so upset with His children. So, what went wrong? Didn’t they go to worship? Didn’t they make the appropriate sacrifices? God says, “I hate, I despise your religious feasts. I cannot stand your assemblies.” Why? What’s wrong—The simple answer is God takes no delight in rituals that are void and empty of a true heart bent in reverence and adoration toward Him. The answer is not in the value of our offering (say tithes and offerings). The answer does not lie in the quality of our music program and performance, or in our advanced technology. God cannot be bought off for blessings while we serve lift up shrines to men and the idols of our culture and society.
REPENTANCE OPPOSED TO MANAGEMENT
Let me say up front, we all are managers in one form or another. Management defined is, “the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.” If you are in workplace management, you understand what that means. The workplaces depend on the strength of a good management team. When you have the right people in the right job, it makes for good production. Good workforce management will bring about a healthy work environment and production output. When things go wrong, a good manager will be able to minimize the damage, by doing damage control, and that is always a good thing.
The problem is when it comes to living our life in Christ, management is never enough if the heart is not bent toward repentance. Let me use myself as an example. I can get up on Sunday morning and preach the best sermon of my life and God could very well hate every word that comes out of my mouth because my heart is far removed from Him and I am just going through the motions to look and sound good. That’s exactly what is going on in verse 23, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” God is saying to me, “Your preaching hurts my ears, so stop talking!”
It is not my desire to cause you any anxiousness but to help you stay sensitive, to have a heart that is always bent on returning to God. A heart that is always eager to seek forgiveness and to repent, that is, turn around and go in the opposite direction from sin to God. This is not an issue of true conversion. This is an issue of growing closer to God through keeping a soft, formable heart that is always wanting to do His will. The truth is, we can all manage our day without a changed heart, let it not be so with us!
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy In Jesus!