Amos 5:21, 23-24: “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Wow. Who is this Amos?
I had to go grab my hard-copy Bible, because after reading all of Amos 5—so full of such strong admonition coming from God Himself to the Israelites…to us—I needed to learn more.
As it turns out, Amos wasn’t a priest or other professional tasked by nature of his job to tell others about God. He was just a humble shepherd and fig grower from Judah when God gave him a vision of what was about to happen to the prosperous and cocky nation of Israel. (How can I help but draw parallels to the prosperity and cockiness of the United States of America just one year ago?!)
Though I did two complete read-throughs of the Bible nearly a decade ago, it’s as if I was in a fog because I sure don’t remember any of Amos’ writings. Well, to be fair, I guess I’ve learned a lot since those first “fishing expeditions” when I was striving so hard to understand who God is and what He wants from me. I read the Bible differently now, though I can’t explain that difference precisely.
Anyway, God gave this guy Amos a preview of Israel’s not-so-bright future, and told him to spread the word. Amos obeyed.
As I skimmed through the first few chapters of his book, I could feel Amos’ awe at what he’d heard and was now writing down, because line after line, warning after warning begins with these words:
This is what the Lord says.
I swear I can feel the exclamation in Amos’ voice as he tells of all the Lord showed him.
All of Chapter 5 condemns how we live in such blissful ignorance of our own faults–or worse yet, being aware of them and simply not caring–when it comes to loving God and loving His people. If there’s any way to summarize it all, I suppose it boils down to that last line of the Scripture I am focusing on today:
That God has had it with our pretense and pride…that none of the hype matters…that what He wants from us is “a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
So. God doesn’t want all the hoopla. He just wants us to act fairly and to do what is right.
I suppose that simple summary is up for interpretation—or so the outliers would say. But I don’t think that’s true…not for people who roll around in God’s instruction book. He’s told us in the Bible exactly what it means to live righteously and justly. And He’s given us Jesus as the role model to follow.
My goodness, Father. I was so excited to wake up early for a change, thinking that I’d have all the time in the world to get a few things done before daybreak. Not so! Yet gee, am I forever grateful for the insight You give me when I set aside all the distractions of the coming day and just ooze into Your Word.
I have to admit, though, that as I process all of this today, I think of those “outliers” as those who came out of the woodwork (at least for me) on January 6th—all of those who, in my mind, simply have no understanding of, or even care for, Your definition of justice and righteousness. I know that it’s not my role to judge them—that You are well aware and will meet out Your own justice on those who harm others—but it’s sure easy for me to set aside my own sin and point fingers at them.
So Father, I thank You for giving me insight as it relates to myself—what I can and should be doing differently to eliminate my own hypocrisy–my own “show and pretense,” and instead live in obedience to You. Help me stop pointing fingers at others and instead live my life with a mighty flood of justice and an endless river of righteous living. Amen.