Come to Bethel, and transgress;
to Gilgal, and multiply transgression;
bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three days” (Amos 4.4)
“But how did they transgress at Bethel? Even by worshipping God. We here see how little the pretence of good intention avails God, which hypocrites ever bring forward. They imagine that, provided their purpose is to worship God, what they do cannot be disapproved: thus they wanton in their own inventions, and think that God obtains his due, so that he cannot complain. But the Prophet declares all their worship to be nothing else than abomination and execrable wickedness, though the Israelites, trusting in it, thought themselves safe. ‘Add, then, to transgress in Gilgal; and offer your sacrifices in the morning; be thus diligent, that nothing may be objected to you, as to the outward form'” (Calvin’s Commentary; Vol XIV, 231).
What a damning word by Calvin on the pomp and deliverance of us who seek to worship in Spirit and Truth. I have been working through Amos in my time in the Word and I have been re-evaluating my own life in light of Israel’s exhorbitancy, yet their exterior being clean. Obedience doesn’t come that hard when you live in community. However, true obedience – which demands affections towards God – can be elusive at times. May God grant humility and honesty about our struggles to understand in our hearts, not merely the recital of catechism from our heads.