One of the reasons God sent Amos to the northern kingdom of Israel was to rebuke them for their disregard for genuine worship of God.
We can’t fool God. He knows the difference between a fact and a fake. Genuine and pretentious.
It is easy to skim over the biblical passages citing God’s abhorrence of fake, ritualistic worship. But we should heed them with great fear. In Amos 5:21, God thunders,
I hate, I despise all your pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
One scholar offered commentary on why God used both “hate” and “despise” to describe his disgust for pretentious worship. He states:
Two Hebrew words here combine to express the attitude more forcefully than either could by itself. The result can be translated, “I reject with utter hatred.”
May our worship of the Almighty be always humble and sincere. nw
Following a devastating locust invasion – unprecedented in its scope of damage – God instructed Joel to use the locusts as a living illustration of the judgment to come on Judah if they did not repent of their luke-warm, indifferent approach to God.
In Joel 2:25, God says to Judah,
“I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.”
This is an extraordinary statement because God doesn’t say he’ll restore “stuff”, but “years”.
Can God actually restore joy to our lives that pain and heartache have stolen from us over time? What about the broken-hearted spouse who’s just ended a 20 year marriage? Or, the guilt-ridden addict who, after spending most of their adult life in chemical bondage, has finally decided to get clean? Or, the grieving family whose son took his own life after losing his battle with depression?
Can God “restore” the “life” we’ve lost.
God says, emphatically, “I not only can – I will.”
From the moment we put our trust and faith in Christ, the “restoration” is put into motion.
Some of us see tangible evidence of “restoration” here on planet earth. (Job’s livestock and wealth were restored to him twofold on earth.) Others of us won’t see restoration until we leave this planet. (Job’s children who were lost in 1:18-19 were restored to him in heaven.) But the promise of restoration remains – and is in effect.
Because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, our redemption and restoration is now possible. The risen Jesus Christ – restored to glory after being broken for us on the cross – was our preview of the restoration to come.
Hosea beautifully – and frighteningly – describes God’s loyal/covenant love for a stubborn, rebellious people.
Like any parent who loves their child more than anything, God uses Hosea to warn Israel of punishment to come so as to protect them from horrible pain.
They refused to listen.
Below is a beautiful quote from the 5th century theologian, Theodoret of Cyrrhus.
Always keep in mind: even God’s judgment is driven by his love to get us to snap out of our prideful behavior and return to his love and protection.
In her powerful retelling of Hosea, Francine Rivers, in her book, Redeeming Love, beautifully illustrates the loyal, patient love of God for us. Michael (who represents Hosea) tells Sarah (who represents rebellious Israel),
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick