Posted on: 2023.01.02
Written by: THOMAS KILIAN, Chaplain
With the church, we cannot assume we are pleasing God by singing a few songs and praying wordy prayers while gathering in His name. In Amos chapter five, God takes time to address Israelites who did just that, assuming they were pleasing God. The LORD holds them accountable for the true heart of their worship:
I hate, I despise your feasts!
I cannot stand the stench of your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer Me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
for your peace offerings of fattened cattle,
I will have no regard.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
-- Amos 5:21-24
That is an intense message.
The LORD calls Isreal's temple gatherings a “stitch.” Even when many bring offerings, God has no regard for them. Those words, “Away with the noise of your songs.... I will not listen to the music of your harps…” strike us!
God did not want that worship because He did not sense justice and righteousness among them. Things that He cares about.
Our Father in heaven determines whether we live the next 30 minutes. Our Lord is the Creator and Judge of Creation. He deserves the best. And offering Him songs, sacrifices, prayers, and bringing worship in any way does not by itself “satisfy” God.
That is why when we gather as a church, we must pray, “Lord, we never want to bring you something you do not want. The goal is to praise You. The goal is not to walk away self-pleased, with the thought of I liked the songs today, I liked the sermon today….”
Our goal is for God to look down, see what we offer, and proclaim. “YES, that is a memorial before me. This is good.” When we gather under a tree or come in a room with other saints, we approach God’s throne room uniquely. We are to come to BRING WORSHIP, not ATTEND WORSHIP, because God is not thrilled only because we showed up.
He is a great God and says He deserves our very best.
Visit Malachi chapter one.
We go here in this passage because people within it still attend these gatherings and bring offerings, but it becomes routine, not worship. For centuries they were saying, “The Messiah is coming…” 400 years before Christ came, people knew well that the Messiah was coming. That is what their parents and great-great-grandparents said. But then came this time in Israel, where they kept the services going, but it was just custom, and their hearts were not there with God.
The spiritual state of every nation today is similar to Israel's. Many have been hearing for years that Christ is returning. They remember when they first heard about Christ’s return and how they thought, What if He returns right now? They lived ready for Him. But when they listened to the fifteenth sermon about how Christ is returning, they became causal and sank into the idea that they gave an hour to church but left Christ behind later. This kind of Spiritual blindness is the very thing that was going on in the book of Malachi. Israelites were still gathering and offering, but it was not their best.
Malachi 1:6-9 reads:
“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name? “By offering defiled food on my altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.
Priests were bringing sacrifices, but they had better sheep. They saw three-legged sheep and thought, Let’s give him that one; that is enough for God. Let us keep the best for ourselves. Their following action would be going to the temple, proclaiming, “Look to me, everyone. I am going to sacrifice to the Lord.”
The LORD knows what we spend on ourselves, time, resources, and attention. I know what you have kept for yourself. We must not take the “meat” of the “bone” of our lives, only to give God the bone. But God continues in verse ten:
“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. There are no other people in the world offering and gathering in a temple in the name of God other than the Israelites. But God is so displeased that he says, “I just wish someone would shut the doors.”
Do we realize what this means?
God says, “I rather you do not show up at all than you show up and give me your half best. Please just have someone lock the doors. If you give me leftovers, please, do not bother.”
Next verse, verse eleven:
"My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place, incense and pure offerings will be brought to me because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.
He says, “I am a great God, and my name will be great.” He says, “If you do not want to worship me the way I deserve to be worshipped, don’t think I will starve… there will be places around this earth where people worship me with all their heart.”
GUIDE TO REFLECTION: