Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Wrong Worship

does not get you partial credit.

Amos 4:4–5 (ESV)

            “Come to Bethel, and transgress;
                        to Gilgal, and multiply transgression;
            bring your sacrifices every morning,
                        your tithes every three days;
            offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened,
                        and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;
                        for so you love to do, O people of Israel!”

                                                            declares the Lord GOD.

At first, this passage doesn’t make sense. What is God saying here?

Let’s tease that out. The passage begins by telling the people to come to Bethel and Gilgal and transgress (sin). Okay, that must be sarcasm. Let’s see what that’s about.

Next, He says, “bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days.” Those are the transgressions, but they seem anything but sinful. How can this make sense?

Next, we get, “offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them.” Bingo! Leaven has no business being in a sacrifice. They’re doing it wrong. Plus, the words “proclaim,” and “publish” indicate that they brag about their “creative” (i.e., freewill) offerings.

The LORD has specified how He is to be worshipped. Doing it some other way doesn’t get you partial credit; it gets you condemnation. Israel should know this because of what happened to Nadab and Abihu.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. — Leviticus 10:1–2

The people are worshipping God in ways that they should know are offensive to Him.

This applies to us. Worship should be in accordance with how God wants to be worshipped. There are many things that feel worshipful to us. They may be fun and entertaining and even make us feel closer to God, but that does not guarantee that they’re appropriate for worship.

Christian worship should follow the Creation, Rebellion, Redemption, Restoration pattern of the gospel:

Creation—God calls us to assemble and worship Him; He acts and we worship, just as we did at first.
Rebellion—Early in the service, we consider how we have fallen and not lived up to His standards.
Redemption—After we admit wrong, God offers grace and forgiveness.
Restoration—In preaching, God teaches us how to experience and bring about restoration in our lives, relationships, and communities. Especially in Communion, we have a foretaste of living with God again, seeing Him face-to-face, even eating with Him. This is a foretaste of the restoration of all things.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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