Do you need to return to the Lord?

I was preaching from Amos chapter four recently, and was particularly struck by these verses (Amos 4:4-11):

“Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.
Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign Lord.

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
but did not get enough to drink,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
I struck them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

“I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

“I overthrew some of you
as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Because the Israelites had forgotten what the Scriptures said, and forgotten how to worship and serve God, the Lord wants them back. He gives them five different warnings, each one more intense than the one before, but each time the warning – and therefore Yahweh himself – is ignored. The same phrase is repeated five times in these six verses: ““Yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.”

Tragically, these Israelites in Amos’ day did not heed the warnings. They continued ignoring God. But what about us? It’s not always easy to apply Old Testament passages such as this to ourselves. But are we in danger of ignoring God, too? Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some suggestions as to how we might apply these verses to ourselves.