Israel had strayed far from God, and they found themselves conquered and exiled by their enemies. To appease what they thought was an angry God, they brought offerings and sacrifices, they stepped up their rituals and worship, and pleaded with God to deliver them.
But God didn’t want empty rituals and meaningless worship. What God wanted was for them to live lives of justice and peace. It was not enough to speak and act as if they were just – God wanted justice to reign.
I have often wondered what it is that God wants from me. When I look at all the things that are wrong with this world, it seems an impossible job to work for justice. There are so many things for us to worry about – climate change, poverty, human trafficking, youth homelessness, cancer and other diseases, and the impending zombie apocalypse. It can be easy to let the weight of the problems of this world bury me. But then I look at how vastly different people are from one another. (Not hard to see in this climate of political turmoil.) I realize that there will always be causes I cannot or am not willing to pursue. But there are causes that are near and dear to me. Personally, I am passionate about raising awareness for mental health (especially depression). I am also interested in protecting our planet, so I recycle and upcycle where I can. I am interested in finding a cure for cancer and diabetes, so I participate in walks to raise money for research. I am interested in ending youth homelessness, so we have open doors so that any of our teens’ friends can eat with us and stay at our house any time they need. I do what I can. I trust that God will empower and equip others to do what they are passionate about. With all of us working toward the goals we are passionate about, justice will indeed prevail.
Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.