Religious (Amos #15)

Text: Amos 5:21-27

Maybe you thought you’d never hear a loving God say those two words, I hate.  Maybe you thought God is love and there is no hate in him.  Then it’s important to remind you that you can’t love without hate.  You can’t love your children without hating those things that hurt them.

Now this is the end of one of Amos’ sermons.  The LORD has said through Amos that he despises the people’s religion.  That even their acts of devotion are acts of disobedience; that all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags.  That the weightier matters of judgment and righteousness have dried up by vain tradition and ritual.  People perform their “Sunday” assemblies then go right back into their lying, cursing, gossiping, hating, fearing, unbelieving, and service to their idols.

If there is one thing God hates it is religious hypocrisy.  The word religion shows up 5 times in the Bible and 4 times it’s bad.  Religion gives people a false sense of security. It gives people a false understanding of God.  Let’s begin in verse 21.

Religion God hates (vss 21-23)

  • Amos is a prophet and he’s rough.  But he speaks for God. These are God’s words.  If in the course of hearing these words you’re put off by them, I want to ask you a serious question.  If you claim to be at peace with God which most folks do; they say, “I’m good.” How is it that you’re at peace with God, but you don’t like what he says?  What kind of peace is that which says I’m good with God so long as I don’t have to listen to him talk? What kind of peace is that which says I love God so long as He shuts up?
  • Festivals took the place of faith
    • I hate, I despise your feast days…
    • You say what’s so wrong with wanting to have a holiday?  The answer is that it’s wrong to create a holiday for the purpose of drawing people AWAY from God.  That’s exactly what’s going on here.
    • The LORD gave Israel several feast days to observe in order to point to the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s feast of tabernacles in Leviticus 23:34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
    • A king named Jeroboam came along and created an imitation feast of tabernacles in order to keep the people from going to Jerusalem and worshipping at their appointed time.  1 Kings 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
    • This works because it is more convenient for the people NOT to worship God at the appointed time and place.  It’s easier for them to stay home and convince themselves that they’re still worshipping God. Convenience is the marketing plan.
    • Convenience replaces truth.  Pleasure turns to tradition. Tradition turns to law and doctrine. The lie is taught as truth passed on generation to generation.
    • Mark 7:7-8,13 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. … 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition…
    • When Amos preaches, these festivities have been going on for almost 200 years.  This isn’t just a lie that has to be dismantled, it is an entire culture that believes itself godly while denying the very scriptures they claim make them godly.
  • Rituals took the place of righteousness
    • …I will not smell in your solemn assemblies…
    • These are sacred events.  Are the people sincere? They are sincere enough to kill Amos for preaching against them.
  • Offerings took the place of obedience
    • …Though ye offer me… I will not accept them…
    • …neither will I regard the peace offerings…
    • Because something was offered to God does not mean it was accepted by God.
  • Passion took the place of spiritual power
    • Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs…
    • This is music put into a religious setting that people used in their worship and God says, “Turn that noise off!”  It’s not worship music. It’s an effort to attach God Almighty to a disobedient heart. It’s another element of religious hypocrisy that says I’m going to worship God in a way that makes me happy.
    • A form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
  • If you believe in heaven and in hell, and you truly believe in the devil and evil then it follows that you believe that there is a battle for men’s souls.  People don’t seem to have too much trouble believing in heaven and God, but have a hard time believing in the devil and a literal place called hell.

Religious house cleaning (vs 24)

  • …let judgment run down as waters…
  • The spiritual elements God is looking for have dried up.  Just like Jesus Christ told the Pharisees, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith…
  • The free flowing and clean waters of righteousness and good judgment were dammed up by lies and unbelief.
  • Problems caused by lack of water, and lack of God’s Spirit
    • Existence without water is dead – Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  Dead in trespasses and sins described in Ephesians 2:2-3
    • Dehydration.  Spiritual dehydration I think as only occurring in a Christian’s life.  Since someone without the Spirit of God is dead, dehydration is not an issue.  But to someone who has had water and now lacks water, dehydration is the problem.
    • Extreme thirst – You’ll begin to drink whatever is available, filthy or not.  Your standards for what is clean and drinkable disappear.
    • Less frequent urination – can’t get rid of impurities anymore.  Water, like the Spirit of God cleans outside and inside so a lack of water means the vessel gets dirty.
    • Fatigue – You begin to shut down.  What was functioning before stops functioning.
    • Dizziness – Disoriented, you lose your grounding, become unstable in all your ways.
    • Confusion – Very poor decision making.  Lack of emotional control.
    • Can’t keep down fluids.  Like a dehydrated Christian that can’t stand preaching anymore.  Body begins to reject what it needs.
  • Some ways water is like the Spirit of God
    • John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)  An obedient believer in Jesus Christ becomes a source of water for thirsty souls.
    • Water quenches thirst – John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
    • Water adapts to every temperature – It is the only chemical compound that occurs naturally on Earth’s surface in all three physical states: solid, liquid, and gas.  Other compounds may turn to liquid, solid, or gas and then be destroyed, but water moves through every phase and retains its own nature and composition. The Holy Spirit has the ability to take a cold heart laden with sin and warm it with fervency.  The Holy Spirit also has the ability to take a heart that is burning in its lust and cool it off.
    • Water is life – John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  Fruit is grown as a result of water.
    • Water softens the earth; makes the clay moldable.
    • The meaning here is this, water cleans dirty things
      • Let judgment run down as waters and clean this mess up
      • I’ll be honest, when I read this one of the thoughts that came to mind was a religion God wanted to flush.
      • Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…

Religious insanity (vss 25-26)

  • Not willing to bear the yoke of the Lord, but you’re willing to be burdened by the idols you’ve created.
  • Joshua 24:15-19 As for me and my house…Choose you this day…We will serve the Lord…You can’t serve the Lord
  • Star of your god (Acts 7:43).
    • David doesn’t have a star.  This star is something Israel picked up in Egypt that originated in Babylon.  The 6 sided hexagram is a symbol in all kinds of religions.
    • That star is the banner carried by God’s nation while they are under God’s judgment.
  • The point is not the star, but that Israel was unwilling to sacrifice to the Living God and preferred to sacrifice to vain, blind, deaf, and dumb idols.  Sacrifice isn’t the issue.
  • Your complaint against God may be He requires too much of me.
    • I don’t have time to serve the Lord, I’ve got bills to pay.  I’ve got kids to raise. I’ve got a job to keep up with. I’ve got car payments and credit card bills.
    • Sacrifice isn’t the problem because the idol you’re serving requires blood and sweat but doesn’t come with any promises.

Religious all the way into captivity (vs 27)

  • Israel was religious all the way into captivity.  The Assyrians would come in and capture these northern tribes of Israel and they’d never return to their land after this, not to this day anyway.  But they were religious??!!
  • Religious but God was far from them.  In fact, their religion was their excuse not to serve God.
  • This was written for our learning so let’s learn something.  If you’re a religious baptist, you’ll be religious all the way into captivity.  You’ll practice your baptist religion all the way to a permanent captivity called hell.
  • Application-
    • You’re either religious Christian before God or you’re righteous Christian before God.
    • You’re religious if:
      • Festivals over faith
      • Rituals over righteousness
      • Offerings over obedience
      • Passion over spiritual power
    • If you’re religious “Christian”, it’s time for a spiritual house cleaning in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the truth of the word of God!
    • Begin with faith in Jesus Christ because you’re under condemnation of God in your religious festivities.
    • Trust in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ and quit trusting in your good luck rituals.
    • Obey God in trusting Jesus Christ and his words and quit trying to buy God off with offerings.
    • Look around you, you need spiritual power, not passion.  You don’t need to be more sincere in your belief, you need the power of God in your life.