The problem in the days of Amos was not a lack of religiosity; but rather a lack of true worship. The people had a semblance of worship - they had their feast days, they had solemn assemblies, and they offered sacrifices and songs to the Lord; but it didn't come from the heart. In Amos 5:21-25, the Lord said, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?" The same affliction strikes many churches today - and can reach us, if we are not diligent. The Lord may say to many churches: "I despise your meetings, I will not accept your worship services, neither will I regard your prayer meetings." Will He say, "Take away from me the noise of thy songs"? Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 that the children of Israel in that day worshipped with their lips, but their heart was far from God.
The apostle Paul condemned those who had a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof. 2 Timothy 3:5. That is a condemnation of the appearance of worship without its life-changing effects. Ezekiel 33:30-33 tells us that people can listen as if they are God's people; yet still come under His judgment. In verse 31, the Lord tells His prophet, "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Let us return to the warning of the prophet Amos. He said in Amos 6:1, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion." Are we at ease in our worship services? Do we fail to touch God? Can we really believe that we do not need His divine favor and strengthening power? Are our church services truly "feasts of charity?" The Lord said that our feasts can turn into mourning - and a famine for the Word of God is coming. "And I will turn your feasts in to mourning, and all your songs into lamentation...Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." Amos 8:10-11.
Can we heed the warning? Are we satisfied with just going through the motions? During the time of Amos, Israel had religion, but they did not have God. They were the only people on the face of the earth whose religious institutions were ordained of God. They had a high priest, they had a temple, they had teaching Levites, they had beautiful choirs, but they did not have a revelation of what God was doing in their own time. Part of the problem was that Israel had become so accustomed to their feasts and praise services that they forgot Who they were praising.
They focused their attention on the activities, rather than the Subject of those activities. The same thing can happen to us. We have a church, we have been given so much truth, we believe we are in the Body of Christ; but do we know what God is doing in our own time? Are we wrapped up in the form of worship, such that we have forgotten the One we worship? Jesus warned of those who could discern the seasons or weather, but not the signs of the times. Matthew 16:3. Can we do any better? We should. When cataloging King David's mighty men, the Bible tells us that the representatives of one tribe had a unique and valuable skill: the men of Issachar had an understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do. 1 Corinthians 12:32. We must understand our times; what God is doing today; and what He is asking of us. This is no time to take our ease. We cannot relax our vigilance.
We cannot compromise with the devil. Proverbs 6:10 warns us that a little folding of the hands to sleep will bring destruction. Jesus said the man who spent all his time and effort in building bigger barns was a fool. Luke 12:19-20. He amassed much for his retirement. When he had acquired what he though he needed, he said "Soul, take thine ease." But his wealth did not avail him anything - he failed to lay up treasure in heaven. The devil seeks to bargain with us - as he did with Jesus on the Mount of Temptation. "I'll give you this if you give me that." He offers us contentment, if we take care of ourselves instead of working for the Lord. The requirement is that we serve the Lord with our whole heart, soul, and might. Deuteronomy 6:4. We are not to please ourselves. Our God is a jealous God. Exodus 20:5. He wants all of our heart. He will not share our heart with the devil, nor the world, nor our own way.