Amos 4: 4 Come to Bethel—and transgress; to Gilgal—and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; 5 bring a thank offering of leavened bread, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel! says the Lord God.
There is a bit of snark in these verses from the prophet Amos. As you know, an Old Testament prophet’s job was to receive a message from God and communicate that message to the people. V.4 points out what God is upset about. Israel has been guilty of “transgression” or behavior that is against the will and ways of God. Away from the temple they neglect the poor and worship idols. Yet at the temple of God they continue to bring sacrifices, offer tithes, and so on.
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, the acts of piety (sacrifices and offerings) are not the point. They are practices intended to transform the hearts and minds of God’s people to reflect the values of God – generosity, mercy, grace, and so on. Instead people appeared religious while rejecting the ways of God.
Of course this was not only a problem centuries ago, right? It’s a problem now. In fact, it’s a problem with me more often than I’d care to admit. It’s easy to appear to be something I’m not, as I would guess is true of you as well. This book of Amos was written as both a warning and opportunity. It’s a warning of hardship and destruction for those who continued to rebel against God, but an opportunity for those who turned from their wickedness.
Lord give us hearts of contrition to recognize our many sins and, by your mercies in Jesus Christ, be restored to you in full. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.