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Amos 5 – Rite or Right?

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Amos 5 – Rite or Right?  hear the talk

On Numerous occasions, Amos took aim at the liturgical life of Israel, but no outburst was more scathing than the first-person diatribe against their vain worship in Amos 5:21-24. The intensity and passion of this passage is breathtaking! God scorns the empty worship of the people and demands that they give a ceaseless exhibition of justice. All three elements of Israel’s liturgical worship come under review here, and all three are soundly rejected.
Israel gloried in her joyous festivals and exuberant assemblies. But God’s rejection of these festive events is stated in the strongest language possible: “I hate, I despise… I take no delight.” The religious rituals of the sacrifices and offerings are likewise rejected. The burnt offering represented a total giving of the person to God. The grain offering represented the giving of resources to God. The peace offering represented devotion to God and communion with each other. But God will not accept them; will not even look upon them. Finally, God declares his displeasure with the community’s songs of worship.
Each major area of Israel’s liturgical worship – festivals, sacrifices, music – has been evaluated and soundly condemned. But why? Why would God so utterly repudiate these great festive events in his honour, so completely reject these offerings made in his name and turn a deaf ear to the worship music of his people?
One reason, and one reason alone, accounted for God’s forthright rejection of their religious devotion: all the festivals, sacrifices and music of worship failed because they were not accompanied by acts of justice and righteousness.
God you see, demands something more revolutionary than festivals, sacrifices and worship songs. And that “something more” is social righteousness: impartiality in judicial decisions, equity in business dealings, justice for the poor and oppressed. Because social righteousness is a divine mandate, liturgical live can never be divorced from it.
(Adapted from Streams of Living Water, by Richard Foster, pages 129-131)

Amos 5:4-7, 10-15, 21-24
4 Thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek me and live; 5 do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beer-sheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
6 Seek the Lord and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.  7 You that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground!

10 You hate the one who reproves in the gate, and despise the one who speaks the truth. 11 Therefore, because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12 For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,and push aside the needy in the gate. 13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time.
14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. 15 Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

21 I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fatted animals I will not look upon. 23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.