“Even if you offer me whole burnt offerings and gift offerings,
I will find no pleasure in them; […]
Let justice flow down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
~Amos 5:22, 24
We should not let our sacred service to God fall into a mechanical routine, as if we are doing him a favor through the sacrifices we offer him.
What God really looks for in us is heartfelt obedience. (Ps. 50:14)
False religion allows believers to continue on paths of cruelty and corruption, “absolving” sins through rites and rituals without ever addressing the root of problems. (Amos 2:6,7; 5:12)
Acceptable service to God is motivated by love of what is good.
We should try to reflect his sense of justice. (Amos 5:14,15)
“Also, what do you have against me, […]
Are you repaying me for something?
If you are repaying me,
I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”
It would be a mistake to try to judge God by our own imperfect standards when he is the ultimate judge of what is and is not righteous. (Is. 55:9)
Even when we do not understand why God lets us tolerate a painful situation, the wise course is to demonstrate patience and faith that God still does care for us and will eventually make all right. (1 Pet. 5:7; Rev. 21:5)
It would be shortsighted of us to draw away from God to follow a selfish course of sin, perhaps without ever repenting and eventually incurring his wrath.
On the other hand, if we remember he is not responsible for our suffering, we can rely on his strength to help us endure. (Job 34:10; Ps. 55:22)
“[He] will send down his roots like the trees of Lebanon.
[…] I will be like a thriving juniper tree.
From me your fruit will be found.”
Sometimes God’s Word likens humans to trees. (Ps. 1:1-3)
Someone who starts studying the Bible can experience rapid spiritual growth.
Over time, the spiritual vitality of the person will depend on how deep his or her roots have dug into accurate Bible knowledge. (2 Pet. 3:18)
The rate at which someone learns may eventually slow down, but the depth of the knowledge becomes greater.
In the aforementioned verse, God also compares himself to a tree.
Juniper berries have been used all over the world for their many healing properties, including antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Juniper oil also has a positive effect on one’s mood, alleviating anxiety.
God’s Word draws another comparison between what we choose to say and fruit. (Heb. 13:15)
When he says, “From me your fruit will be found,” one way to interpret it is that he teaches us what to say at the right time.
If we dig deeper into God’s wisdom and imitate his use of words, we can also bring a sort of healing to others.
“Their dealings do not permit them to return to their God […].
The pride of Israel has testified against him […].”
It would be a misstep to think we can temporarily stray from God to practice sin and then just repent and return to him whenever we feel like it.
The Bible account teaches us that a person may become so proud, he or she never repents.
That way of thinking is a dangerous course to embark on and not worth the risk of losing God’s grace.
“[…} Many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt. […]
But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”
What a beautiful hope God has given us in the promise of a resurrection for those who have died.
Centuries after Daniel lived, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in spirit form, a new type of resurrection hope was eventually introduced to humanity. (Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; John 10:14-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Still, the resurrection most of us look forward to is the original one promised to take place here on a paradise earth. (Job 14:14,15; Ps. 37:29; Is. 26:19; John 11:24; Acts 24:15; Rev. 21:3-5)
Five years ago on this date, we unexpectedly lost a very kind-hearted friend who always gave everyone of his time.
Many of us looked up to him and asked him for advice, and he always followed up on it.
I knew him as a young girl, but in adulthood he became my husband’s friend.
Although I have lost friends and family to death, the date of his parting sticks with me because it was my first day at a new job.
I drove by his place of death later that morning, noticing an accident, unaware of what had happened.
Then I drove by the same spot everyday for the next four years, and every single morning I wished I could go back in time and warn him to take things easier and not overwork himself.
But he gave his all to God, and even if I could warn him, he would still work as diligently as he did to help others.
What is more, if it is impossible for us imperfect humans to forget our loved ones whom we’ve lost, how could God in his perfect love ever forget them? (Heb. 6:10)
Like Daniel, many faithful servants of God await in rest until God calls their name and blesses them with everlasting life.
Who do you want to see again?
“[…] Cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that is desolate, for your own sake, O Jehovah. […] Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God, for your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, the model he established put the sanctification/vindication of God’s name first and foremost. (Matt. 6:9)
Today, people still defame God’s name when they blame him for human suffering or when they mock God, his moral ways or his loyal servants.
Even the righteous prophet Daniel recognized that our personal salvation is secondary to Jehovah God’s glory and is only possible because of God’s divine mercy. (Dan. 9:18)
It is because of God’s name that the salvation of his loyal servants is guaranteed, for God cannot lie. (Tit. 1:2)
Taking a spiritual point of view on the relevance of God’s name and all it implies helps us maintain a patient, waiting attitude during trying times.
“[…] As soon as Daniel knew that the decree had been signed, he went to his house, which had the windows of his roof chamber open toward Jerusalem. And three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed […].”
Daniel had not seen Jerusalem since his childhood, and would probably not see it again in his lifetime.
Still, the values his parents instilled in him at a young age guided him until he was elderly. (Prov. 22:6)
He never lost view of what the most important thing in life is: one’s personal praise toward God. (Ps. 145:2)
Jerusalem was supposed to be the hub for pure worship of Jehovah, and Daniel regularly reminded himself that was where he came from. (2 Chron. 6:20,21)
He realized God’s purpose endures forever and it had not been lost with the exile of the Jewish people. (Jos. 23:14; Isa. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:25)
Daniel set an excellent example of being spiritually constant despite difficult, changing circumstances, conscientious of the most important things. (Phil. 1:10)