On 8 July 1741, American revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards preached his most famous sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The tone was unusual for Edwards, whose preaching was generally more pastoral. His fellow preacher, George Whitefield, was more prone to fire-and-brimstone preaching, but on that occasion Edwards urgently called people to prepare to meet their God, and God blessed the sermon greatly.

Centuries before, Amos called his readers to prepare to meet God (v. 12). Amos was hardly alone in this. Paul warned that everyone will stand before God’s judgement seat (Romans 14:10, 12), as Solomon had done centuries before (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:14). Jesus similarly warned of final judgement to come (Matthew 25:31–46). Since we all have an appointment to keep with Almighty God, we should prepare to meet him.

We give the greatest preparation to the most important things. Nothing could be more important than our standing before God on the final day of judgement. That moment will determine whether we inherit eternal life or eternal destruction. We should carefully prepare for that day.

It is no doubt significant that Amos’s challenge for the people to prepare to meet their God comes in the context of worship. Chapter 4 is essentially about distorted worship, and it is because the people’s worship was so distorted that they needed the warning to prepare to meet God. Preparing to meet God, then, is done in the context of worship. The text shows four ways we can guard our worship that will help us to be properly prepared to meet God.

First, prepare to meet God with sincere worship. Israel believed that they were honouring God simply by increasing the quantity of their offerings. Though they brought sacrifices every morning and tithes every three days, they were only multiplying their transgression because their heart was not in it (v. 4). As he loves a cheerful giver, God loves a cheerful worshipper. That is part of what it means to worship him in spirit (John 4:24). If our worship is technically correct and materially generous but devoid of heart, we are not preparing to meet God.

Second, prepare to meet God with devout (that is, God-directed) worship. Israel proclaimed and published their generous acts of worship because they loved to draw attention to themselves (v. 5). They wanted everyone to know how generous and giving they were in their worship. Jesus once said that, when we give, we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is giving (Matthew 6:3). Israel’s worshippers were known to publicly broadcast their acts of worship. They were self-focused, rather than God-focused in their worship, and in so doing were failing to prepare to meet God.

Third, prepare to meet God with repentant worship. In vv. 6–11, God delivers a series of rebukes against his people for ignoring his chastening hand. He had sent chastening to show them their sin and bring them to repentance but the people stubbornly refused to turn back to him. They were failing to prepare to meet God by stubbornly refusing to acknowledge, confess, and repent of their sins. Refusal to deal with sin is no way to prepare to meet God. At the day of judgement, sin will be dealt with decisively, and our only hope of escape is to properly deal with sin while we have opportunity in this life.

Fourth, prepare to meet God with thoughtful worship. They would not be ready to meet their God apart from thoughtful preparation (vv. 12–13). They needed to know who God is and respond to him properly if they would be prepared to meet him. Hypocritical, thoughtless worship was doing nothing to prepare them because God roundly rejected such worship. When we gather for worship, we must do so having put a great deal of thought into what we are doing. We are approaching the eternal God of the universe and we dare not do so thoughtlessly or flippantly. To do so is to fail to prepare to meet God.

As you meditate on Amos 4 this morning, examine your own worship. Does your worship prepare you to meet your God? Is it sincere? Is it devout? Is it repentant? Is it thoughtful? Prepare to meet your God!