Empty Offerings

Key Verse: “Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”
—Amos 5:24

Selected Scripture:
Amos 5:2-5; 5:20-24

IN THE PREVIOUS LESSON on the consequences of disobedience, the kingdom of Judah, and many neighboring nations such as Syria, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab were used as examples of God’s judgments. They were to become lessons for the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, to whom the prophecy of Amos is particularly directed. In the third, fourth, and fifth chapters of his prophecy, he lists the many transgressions of that nation which culminated in their punishment, captivity by the Assyrians.

God told Israel, not just the ten-tribe kingdom, but all (including Judah and Benjamin), “the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt” (Amos 3:1), “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (vs. 2) This exclusive favor was theirs and to them were given “the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:2) They were blessed by the giving of the Law, and when they obeyed God’s commandments they were superior to other nations of the world. Amos, a prophet mainly to Judah, was sent to the ten-tribe kingdom to point out their shortcomings in the hope of stimulating reformation. Severe judgment was predicted because of their oppression of the poor, and their crushing of the needy.—Amos 4:1,2

Furthermore, their practice of religious rites was hypocritical. Their religious observances were a sham and their offerings were empty—insincere. All of God’s judgments designed to reform them were for naught. Rain was withheld; pestilence came upon them; their young men perished in war, and other calamities came upon them—all to no avail. If they had returned to the Lord they would have been spared their captivity. God said to them, “Seek the Lord, and ye shall live.” (Amos 5:6) God further tells them of his mighty power and works and that they should seek him.—vs. 8

This lesson is for those portrayed by the nation of Israel. The Messiah of Israel—Jesus—“brought life and immortality to light” in his message of good news for all mankind. (II Tim. 1:10) When Israel rejected Jesus (Matt. 23:37-39) the Gospel message went to the Gentiles. Of these, the Western world embraced Christianity, and as a religion it grew and flourished.

As in the case of Israel and her hypocrisy, Christendom likewise has not sought after the Lord according to Biblical precepts. Therefore, the lack of reform by Christian nations will bring upon them the same judgments that came upon Israel. As Israel failed to heed the advice of Amos when he said, “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: … Hate the evil, and love the good,” (Amos 5:14,15) so also present Christian nations do not listen. Amos further told Israel, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord!” This is an expression used to denote the end of the present evil world, and is described by Amos as, “the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” (vs. 18) It is a time, like our theme text describes, when, ‘judgment shall run as a river, and righteousness shall come as a mighty stream.’ The day of the Lord brings an end to all false religious worship, worship that is hypocritical and like empty offerings, insincere. With the end of false religious worship, the worship of God in spirit and in truth will take place.—John 4:23

Dawn Bible Students Association
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