Amos 4.4-5 – The heart of worship

Today God speaks through Amos and brings judgement against the worship and sacrifices being offered by Israel.

4 “Come to Bethel, and transgress;

to Gilgal, and multiply transgression;

bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days;

5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;

for so you love to do, O people of Israel!”

declares the Lord GOD.

It seems that Israel was going to places to worship that were simply not meant to be places of worship. David Guzik writes,

“Because the kings of Israel did not want their people to go to the southern kingdom of Judah and sacrifice at Jerusalem, they set up rival centers of worship in cities like Bethel and Gilgal. They offered sacrifices at these places – supposedly to the LORD – but because the offering wasn’t made in obedience to God, it was only a transgression.”

So even though people are – supposedly – worshiping God, it is not in the place God has decreed and therefore it is a transgression. God through Amos goes on to say that the people love to do this, so this worship that God has not declared may be a transgression in His eyes, but the people love it.

Now, we are of course past the time where God’s presence is intensely localised to the temple in Jerusalem, the temple is no longer the focal point of Christian worship after the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus (2 Corinthians 6.14-18, Ephesians 2.11-22), but is it possible to still offer what we see as pleasing and satisfying worship to God that is actually a transgression in His eyes? Is it possible to offer worship that we love, but that God does not?

The crux of the matter is the heart, for us.

Do we worship with mouth but not heart?

Do we worship when we feel like it, or because God deserves it?

Do we go through the motions when we offer collective and sung worship to God?

Is worship something we do once a week when gathered together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, or is worship a lifestyle choice that we have made?

We often pray at Saar Fellowship that all we do brings glory to God; a life of worship that comes from a heart of worship. We are made to give it, He deserves to receive it.

The heart of worship, then, is obedience; giving God what He is due, in the manner that He has told and shown us. The heart of worship is thanksgiving to God, praising God, glorifying God.

The heart of worship begins with obedience, if we get that right, all else will follow.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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