Do you like going to church? What do you do at church?
For God’s people in the Old Testament, going to church meant going to the Temple in Jerusalem. At the temple the people would worship God with songs, and feasts, and sacrifices on a big bronze altar.
Going to the temple was not optional for the Israelites. They were commanded to go by God. They were commanded to celebrate the feasts that would remind them of what God had done for them in the past. None of the feasts and sacrifices at the temple were optional. Just like we are told by God to go to church, the Israelites were told by God to go to the temple and do all these things.
Which is why when the prophet Amos came along and told the people that God didn’t like their feasting, their singing, and their sacrificing it must have been very confusing to the people. Listen to what God said to the people through the prophet Amos:
21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
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 fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
God is saying “I hate your feasts.”
“I hate your songs.”
“I hate your sacrifices.”
This would be like God saying to you and your family, “I hate it when you go to church.”
Why would God say this to his people? Why would he hate them worshiping him at the Temple? Wasn’t that what they were supposed to do?
Yes. But they also forgot the more important thing that they were supposed to do – justice and righteousness.
God wants us to be kind to others. To help others. To watch out for others and protect them. To make sure everything is fair. To make sure everyone is treated with respect. Especially the people who are weaker, or poorer, or different. God wants us to love everyone first, before we sing to him or worship him.
But the truth is we aren’t always going to do justice and righteousness like God wants. And that is why God sent Jesus to us to do justice and righteousness for us. Jesus was always fair. Jesus was always kind. But most importantly Jesus died for our sins so that we could have his justice and righteousness when we trust in him.
Now we can go out and do justice and righteousness just like Jesus. And then we can sing to God and worship God at church too. Not to make God love us, but because we know that God loves us no matter what because of Jesus’ righteousness on the cross.
Because of Jesus we arecounted as just and righteous by God.
With Jesus we can do justiceand love and help others.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Who do you know that needs help, kindness, or fairness? Or, is there an organization that is doing justice that you can make a donation to? (World Vision/Compassion International/Samaritan’s Purse/International Justice Mission).
You always did good and helped others, especially when you died on the cross. Help me to do good and help others too.
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