Worship Life (Preached Sept 19, 2010)
Turn with me to Amos chapter 5 beginning with verse 18. I will be reading out of the TNIV (Read Amos 5:18- 20).
This is the first of three parts in chapter 5 we are going to look at today. All three of them are talking about worship. Not necessarily music, but worship none the less. Worship in the most basic of meaning is to attribute worth to someone. It was a common theme among the minor prophets like Amos. For example Hosea married a prostitute to illustrate to Israel that their worship of false gods was equivalent to Israel being a prostitute. Or over in Malachi, he condemns the people of Israel for not bringing in their tithe, with holding their worship from God. But here in Amos even though we have the characteristic condemning language of a prophet he is asking them “how do you worship?”.
Worship is now thats what Amos wants his listeners to know, and that is your first point. We can tell from this first section of scripture that Israel worships God in the future. I don’t mean this as they will get to worshiping God later, but I mean this in they are worshiping God for something he has yet to do. They are waiting anxiously for the day of the lord. The scripture says they longed for it. Because they longed for it they weren’t doing anything. God wanted them to live their lives for Him, instead they were siting on their butts waiting for him to end the world. Israel was working with this idea that because God was going to smote the world and that they were God’s chosen that they could just sit and do nothing.
Now I would love to read this section of scripture and laugh. To think that a few thousand years ago a bunch of people stopped living their lives because they thought God was going to end the world. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. In the 2005 documentary “The God who wasn’t there”, a large number of evangelical christians. In there interviews they were surprised to find that an overwhelming number of christians believe that Christ will return in their lifetime. Now there is nothing wrong with this initial thought, scripture even backs it up in Matthew 24:43 when it says that Jesus will return like a thief in the night. We don’t know when Jesus will return so it could very well be tomorrow. The problem is with how this affected their world view. These people interviewed believed that multiple issues which are on Christ’s heart no longer need apply to them. Issues such as the environment, slavery, poverty, AIDS. Whatever we do to the least of these we do to Christ. So if we wait on the day of the Lord instead of living it, are we worshiping Christ or offending Him.
There is another point Amos raises about the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord isn’t something you want to wait for or worship. Which Israel at the time was doing both. See we like to think of the day of the Lord, Christ’s return as a great thing. Usually this is because we gloss over to the end of the story. There is a new heaven and a new earth, and we all live happy ever after with Christ in the new Jerusalem. We like to forget about the locusts like scorpions, the planet engulfing war, the dragon and other beasts, and a bunch of other stuff happening that will not in the remotest sense be fun. Amos describes it like this that the day of the Lord is like running away lion only to find a bear, then when you reach the safety of your home you are bitten by a snake. The day of the Lord is not for us. Today is for us. It is like the children’s song “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day, this is the day.”
When we worship it is to be now. Worship is NOW. We are not to wait to worship. We are to rejoice in what God has given us and worship today. Let Jesus worry about tomorrow.
Now lets jump down to verse 25. We are going to take this a little out of order, but Amos gave this as three statements on worship, so we are going to get the whole picture either way. (Read Amos 25-27)
Here we see that worship is now. Which is your second point. In the historical books of the bible we are given to distinct ages of Israel’s history. When they were in the wilderness and when they are a kingdom. Now us as outsiders get to view both sections some what objectively and get to see that Israel in both ages were not the most consistently faithful people. They had their moments but really the never seem to get it. To the people of Israel in the kingdom age though, they thought they were amazing back in the wilderness age, at worship. God even seems to think this a little when he speaks through Amos in verse 25, saying that you did bring me sacrifices back then.
Now this isn’t a nostalgia trip. God and Amos are not saying remember the good old days. We used to really worship well back then. What they are doing is getting Israel to look at the difference between the two ages. In the wilderness the suffered, were miserable, had enemies always at their doorstep, and did not know if they would live another day. But they trusted and worshiped God. On the other hand in the kingdom, they had a king, an army, money, houses resources, and were respected by their enemies. They were by most means an affluent society. Yet they let themselves be corrupted by foreign nations and gods. They worshiped impotent things made of wood, and metal. They worshiped their king, and the stars. The septuagint and probably even some of your translations says they worshiped Molek, a “god” who demanded human sacrifices, which we learn from other scripture usually came in the form of children.
To boil it down for us you have two situations in life. You are either down on your luck, or you are doing great. Now which one are you going to praise Jesus in. Is Jesus Emmanuel, God with us, the God that gets down and walks with us in our suffering. Or is Jesus to you Jehovah-jireh the God who provides all your needs. Here’s the thing this isn’t an either or. Jesus is not the supermarket pantheon of gods seen in other cultures. Jesus is eternal and in all things. He sits now and glory, urging his father who is the best father to give, his children, us, the best gifts. He is also the God who limited himself to come to earth and be like us. Who suffered like we suffered in every way, then on top of that took both death and sin upon himself in the humiliation of the cross, so that we could have a life. We serve a King both good, and merciful, because he has done it all with us.
See this is what Amos is getting at worship isn’t an either or thing. It is not you can worship Christ in your suffering, or in your affluence. Worship is in the suffering, and it is in the blessings. Worship is Now. We need to worship God where ever we are in our life. Whether we are well off, or if we hurt. And honestly sometimes it really does hurt.
Now we are going to look at our third point, starting at the middle starting verse 21. (Read Amos 21-24) . Here we see that worship is Now.
From the book of leviticus, and deuteronomy… and exodus, we know there were a lot of laws and sacrifices. Sacrifices we an imperfect system to help us draw closer to God. It was basically an imitation for what Christ would one day do for them and what he has done for us. There were also sacrifices meant for the healing of relationships of community. As we see in this scripture the Israelis were giving great sacrifices. On the outside. There hearts though were the issue.
Sacrifices were essentially a form of repentance. Just like how if you repent today and don’t turn away from the sin, back then if you offered a sacrifice yet didn’t change how you lived than it was worthless. God here is saying that the people shouldn’t even bother to make sacrifices to Him anymore, He knows what there hearts are, and as far as He is concerned the people of Israel are just having a bunch of barbecues. This even works as a warning to others that the fellowship offerings are no good either. Everything is just for show.
They go on to say that it isn’t just the sacrifices that are for show. The meetings they hold are for show. When they sing their songs and play their music that is just noise. There was nothing in their worship that was for God. It was devoid of an holy relationship. In fact if you look at the section we read before you see that the worship was to the unholy.
See these people that Amos was talking to no longer knew or matched up God’s heart. Do you match up to Christ’s heart? Is your heart burdened by the things that burden his heart. See worship isn’t music. Music can be used for worship, but is not in itself worship. This is what God wants as worship, justice and mercy. This is echoed by James the brother of Jesus when he says that “true and holy religion is ministering to widows and orphans”. These are big orders. How do we do this practically in our lives?
I just finished reading a book a couple weeks ago called Zealous Love. The book is made up of a series of articles dealing with the issues of where people are seeking out the heart of Christ and trying to bring justice and mercy to our hurt and broken world. Now consciously I know every where is not like North America. But its real hard to accept stories of a young 13 year old girl that was kidnapped in Nashville, moved two states over so no one could find her, than repeatedly raped and beat till she had so little hope that she willingly prostituted herself to her captors. She was rescued at the age of 17, four years later. Thankfully it was a Christian organization. But during those 4 years where was the body of Christ? Slavery is now at a record high around the world, higher than if you added all the slaves together from the entirety of the african slave trade. And most of them are children and women. Where is the body of Christ in this? AIDS in this last year has taken more victims now than leprosy every did. Christ himself acted against leprosy, where are we his body in this? Lets draw it back to local in our province of New Brunswick and right at our front door, homelessness, unemployment, divorce, abortion, alcoholism, spousal abuse, child abuse, and teen pregnancy are all on the rise, where is this church, where is this body of Christ in these issue?
I can’t give you the answers to all these questions. You need to work together and find them yourself. Here are somethings I can tell you and scripture supports this. You can’t fix everything. All of the things and even more are burdens on Christ’s heart and he weeps for them. But honestly you specifically can truly only make an impact in a few of them. It’s part of the reason why the church as a whole is so big, altogether we can solve (in Christ) all of these problems. But specifically we can do our part. This is your worship. Your worship is Now. We can not wait to be Christ in this world, in this country, in this province, and in this town. This isn’t something you get to wait on, or deliberate over. You can’t just smile, nod, and say that it is something to pray about. You need to do something bring justice and mercy into this world. Christ will guide you to what he wants you to do as you do it. But do something.
Christ deserves all the worship we can give him. So let us give him our best, and most pure worship. Let our lives be a worship unto him. And let it be now.