The People that the prophet Amos is addressing never thought for one moment that the way they were worshiping God was not acceptable. Commentators believe that Amos must have received some push back from the crowd and so this next dialogue with them seems to be a response to verbal or nonverbal push back from them as Amos holds nothing back with the accusations against them from God. Maybe they did not see that God was mad at them or had lost His patience with them because of their faulty thinking so Amos continues His prophecy to try and get them to understand that their relationship with God is not what they think it is. Amos tries to get the attention of his audience and show them how their worship is not glorifying to God.
Amos 4:1-3 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’2 The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks even the last of you with fishhooks.3 And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon, declares the Lord.
1) Acceptable Worship Involves Others
I have been in some pretty heated church meetings in my experience as a pastor but I do not remember anyone looking at the women and calling them fat cows. The cows of Bashan were cows that were known in the region as being bigger than most because they had plenty of land to graze on. Amos holds nothing back saying that these women are fat cows who only care about their own needs being met. If the women did not get their needs met they would nag their husbands to have every desire of their met. They were selfish, demanding and spoiled and the prophet Amos starts off by calling them out as a cause for God sending judgment upon the nation.
Many churches get filled with people who are there to have their needs met with no concern for those around them. Many churches have made reaching people a consumer market instead of teaching people that following Christ is about dying to self and putting the needs of others first. Some people enter into a church asking “what does the church have to offer me and my family” rather than what they have to offer the church. If we truly want to worship God then we have to worship with not only God but others in mind.
“Behold the days are coming upon you”
Amos let these women know that they were going to suffer a fate far worse than the condition they put others in by their selfish indulgent ways. They became rich by oppressing others and what they have been doing to others did not go unnoticed by God. God wants us to be right with our brothers and sisters in Christ as part of our worship to Him. Jesus even said it would be better to leave the worship service and go and make it right with someone that you have wronged instead of singing songs to God.
Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
When people say that they can worship God alone or without being a part of a church family they are missing out on what God wants for His Children. We are called to be in fellowship with God and with each other.
John 17:20-21 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
“The church of Jesus Christ is not a collection of isolationist. The New Testament describes the church with metaphors like “flock” (Acts 20:28) “body” (1 Corinthians 12:12) “structure” (Ephesians 2:21) and “household” (Ephesians 2:19), each of which implies a relationship between the individual units and a larger whole. “(Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, PG 110)
If we are going to have acceptable worship to God then we have to worship with other brothers and sisters in Christ and we also must make an effort to be right with those we have offended.
Matthew 18:15-18 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Sometimes it is not always up to you to make things right especially when someone does not see the error of their ways. The women Amos was slamming only cared for themselves and if their needs were being met. They were so consumed about their own needs they did not care for others in the church or in their community. How they treated others was not a concern of theirs as long as they were having their needs met they were happy.
Amos 4:4-5 Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; 5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” Declares the Lord God.
2) Acceptable Worship Happens Daily
Amos gives a sarcastic call to worship by telling them to enter the temple and sin. Amos was saying things that would have shocked the listeners because everything he was telling them to do was the total opposite of what God would require. Amos was doing this to show them that their worship would be just as pleasing to God if they would go in and sin in the temple.
Psalm 95:1-6 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
When a Priest would give a call to worship it would involve getting your hearts right before God and cleansing yourself of your sin. Although the people would have believed they were worshiping correctly Amos was pointing out that they were not because of the lives they lived when they left the temple. Many people are “Sunday Christians” who think that if their worship is good on Sunday and they confess all their sins then how they live the rest of the week has no bearing on their relationship with God.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship
How you live your life every day is worship to God. Every time you say no to a sin, or you forgive someone who has wronged you or even just discipline your life to point people to Him you are worshiping God. Worship of God has always been about the lives we live and not just showing up to church once a week. God wants a relationship with you not just a weekly visit. He wants us to walk and talk with Him through our daily lives, the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows. God wants you to worship Him every day.
“Think of it: The Lord Jesus Christ stands ready to meet with you privately for as long as you want; willing-even eager-to meet with you every day!” (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Pg 113)
3) Acceptable Worship is God Focused
“Proclaim your freewill offerings; publish them for so you love to do.”
It sounds funny saying that worship should be God focused but many people are not focused on God when they come to worship. Some people are more concerned if the service is going to go long rather than what God is speaking to them about. Some people have to have their phones in hand in case they get a text, email or even a game or fantasy team update. We can focus on many other things when we come to worship instead of focusing on God. You could go to church week after week and never worship God.
It was a normal practice for a family to bring on offering once a year not every day. (1 Samuel 1:3, 7, 21) so again Amos was being sarcastic in his demands to bring tithe every day because he is trying to show them that what they are doing is not worship to God but worship of themselves. They were not bringing their tithes and their offerings to bring Glory to God but to bring glory to themselves as they made sure people saw the tithes and offerings they were bringing. The people thought that their religious activity is what made them acceptable to God and Amos was showing them that sinning in the temple would have just as much worship as what they were doing.
Remember: Our acceptance with God is not based on the rituals we perform or even the lifestyle we live but on Jesus Christ who made us right with God. (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:5) It is when we are “In Christ” that God can accept us, our worship to Him, and the things we do for His glory.
Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers,[c] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The people thought their religious activity made their worship acceptable to God and so they focused on themselves instead of the grace that God gave them. Your confidence to stand before God is not for anything you did or will do but in what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. The love of religious activity is not the same thing as a love for God. Why are you giving money to the church? To honor God or so you FEEL better? Why are you serving? Out of gratitude of what God has done or for you to have someone appreciate you or maybe to feel needed? Just like the people in the day of Amos our worship can become about us and not about God. Let us not become focused on ourselves but on God and what He has done through Jesus Christ. Our Sunday Worship will be determined by the Worship we gave God throughout the week.