I’m willing to bet that Amos' words would have confused a great many faithful worshipers – the most religious most of all. What is meant in saying “I hate your festivals… but let righteousness roll like an ever-flowing stream”? Is it not righteous to make burnt offerings and sacrifices? Is this not what the law commands?
One senses the growing impatience of our Lord here. Despite centuries of careful instruction, the seed is still not falling on good soil; rather it seems to be landing in the shallow dirt of external religiosity and getting tangled up in the thorns of wealth and privilege.
Let there be no doubt, to offer sincere worship is a righteous act; to offer sincere corporate worship is most pleasing to our Lord – a fragrant offering that will not be turned away. But to confuse religious activity and theological box-checking with righteousness is to make a serious error. And as to such error, our Lord warns:
Alas, those who desire the day of Yahweh, why is this for you the day of Yahweh? It will be darkness and not light!
Righteousness does not come about by great demonstrations of religiosity, nor by the stroke of a politician’s pen. Justice and righteousness are rivers that flow from redeemed hearts, hearts that have been turned over to our Lord Yeshua for safe-keeping. If we put our trust in Him, righteousness will follow. If we don't, then whatever it is we're doing, even if theologically correct, is wrong.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.