"I hate your feast days…Take away from me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream."
Do you hear the heart of God in the Scripture above? Do you hear His pain? His anguish? Do you see how His heart hurts at false religious activity? God hates it when we choose to "be good", acting religious by going to church or serving at a soup kitchen or passing out tracts, all while keeping the darkness of sin hidden in our hearts.
Amos was speaking to the Israelis of the breakaway northern kingdom. They thought they had a good deal! They could celebrate the feast days commanded by Moses – thus fulfilling their "religious obligations" – without having to travel all the way to Jerusalem. Of course, when they were done with that, they could then visit the temple prostitutes in Samaria, enjoying a little recreation time. They could have it all and still be called good, religious fellows. Then, when their religious obligations were fulfilled, they could go back to accumulating wealth on the back of the poor, living greedy and corrupt lives. That didn’t matter because they could feel good about themselves knowing they had done their “religious duty".
"… Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a running stream."
God hates empty religious activity that does not carry His heart! What He loves is justice! What He loves is a life lived righteously, built on faith in and relationship with Him. Are you a businessman? Is the light of Christ so strong in you that the welfare of your employees and the quality of your product is more important to you than the balance of your bank account? Maybe so, but are you caring for your employees for the sake of "being good" – empty religion – or is your benevolence the best way you could find to express the spirit of Christ that is strong in your heart? The latter is true faith and true religion. The former is "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).
God's heart cries out for His people who are called by His name to be truly righteous, to stand for justice, and to practice true religion. Are you doing that?
“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…”