Work and Worship (Micah 6:6-8; Amos 5:21-24; Hosea 4:1-10)
Justice is not merely a secular issue, as the prophets see it. Micah’s call for justice in 6:8 follows from an observation that justice is better than extravagant religious sacrifices (Mic. 6:6-7). Hosea and Amos expand this point. Amos objects to the disconnect between the religious observance and ethical action.
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 ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:21–24)
Hosea takes us deeper into the connection between being spiritually grounded doing good work. Good work arises directly from faithfulness to God’s covenant, and conversely, evil work takes us away from the presence of God.
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing…. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:1-3, 6)
This is a reminder that the world of work does not exist in a vacuum, separated from the rest of life. If we do not ground our values and priorities in God’s covenant, then our lives and work will be ethically and spiritually incoherent. If we do not please God in our work, we cannot please him in our worship.