Amos 8:1-6 (ESV)

This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. [2] And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me,

“The end has come upon my people Israel;

I will never again pass by them.

[3] The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”

declares the Lord God.

“So many dead bodies!”

“They are thrown everywhere!”

” Silence!”

[4] Hear this, you who trample on the needy

and bring the poor of the land to an end,

[5] saying, “When will the new moon be over,

that we may sell grain?

And the Sabbath,

that we may offer wheat for sale,

that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great

and deal deceitfully with false balances,

[6] that we may buy the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals

and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

The people of Israel had gotten to the point where the times set aside by God for the people to worship God had become a burden to them because it meant one less day to make money. The worship of God got in the way of their profits and they could barely endure the time that they were in the temple or their homes celebrating the goodness of God. This is too close to home to be very comfortable with.

We live in a culture that is consumed with money. The whole western world is idolatrous with its money and the non-western world is chasing hard after it in wanting to be as successful and as prosperous as the west is. The worship of God is considered fine as long as it does not interfere with commerce. Employers do not want, and are not obliged to give, time off for people to worship.

But, lest we forget, the primary application of this text is not to our culture, but to the church of Christ. There is no place where the godly can say, “here is where the law of God is established”, except in the church.

How many Christians would consider looking for a new job because their current one demands that they work during times of corporate worship? But how many will excuse themselves from the worship of God for the opportunity to make a little extra, or get a deal on a purchase? It takes very little to get the average Christian to find reason to not be with the people of God in the worship of God. And God is not pleased with it any more than He was willing to excuse the people of Amos’ day.

But we will explain how our situation is different, how necessity is upon us, how we are scraping by … . But the result is the same. The question is – “What do we love more than God?” That is what it boils down to. We will forgo what is expendable. A day’s pay is not. The worship of God is.

And this is not just about money. Will you read your Bible or watch the game? Pray or blog? Go to church or sleep? None of us are exempt from this. It afflicts pastors, elders, deacons, the heavily involved, the nominal and the committed. We will not come to a knowledge of God that transforms us if we do not use what God has supplied for us in order for us to grow to know Him better. No matter what the reasons, our souls are in danger of drying up and we do not see it. But we keep right on valuing other things higher. O Lord, please help us to wake up and value the right things in the right way. Help us to get our priorities straight.

Where is our hope in all this? If it is sin to ever put anything ahead of God in our lives then who is not guilty? No one. It is not enough to read Amos and see that people haven’t changed much in 2800 years. We need to see that such sin condemns and God has done all that can be done to deal with it.

The people of Amos’ day needed a Saviour who could stand between them and God and mediate for them. They needed one who could appease the just anger of God so they would not have to bear it themselves. They needed forgiveness. And Jesus Christ is the One they needed. He is what we need too. There is not a day that passes when we are not in need of the sacrifice of Christ and all its benefits. There is not a day when we are not in need of His intercessory work at the right hand of the Father. And for those who turn to Him in repentance and faith those needs and much more are abundantly met.