Have You Sent Out Your Invitation? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2d – [7]

The LORD is my light and my salvation — so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger — so why should I tremble? For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. – Psalm 27:1,5

Zephaniah’s plea to the people of Judah, and us, was/is to follow God. To allow Him to be the ultimate authority in our lives, Lord of our lives.

For this to happen we need to invite God into every area of our lives. Invite because God will not force you to love Him.  He will not force you to follow His ways. But at the same time, He will never stop pursuing you.

The problem we often run into, is that we may trust God’s leading in one area of our lives, but not in other areas. God is trustworthy to take care of _____ situation, but not _____.  I rely on God’s guidance when it comes to choosing a college, but not when it comes to who I date/marry.  Or, I’m a God-follower when it comes to observing religious holidays, but not when I’m in the workplace or at school.

Here’s the real kicker — God has given everyone freewill (the choice to decide what we want to do or not do). Although we are free to choose our own way, apart from God or with God, we are not free to choose the consequences of our choices.

Keep in mind — Laws, rules, whatever we want to call them, are for our own good, for our protection.  It’s Satan who gives us the idea that God’s laws are burdensome, unreasonable, and unfair. It’s Satan who says, if you obey God, your life will be miserable and boring.

Satan uses/has used the same tactics over and over and over since the beginning of time.  Why doesn’t he mix things up?  Why should he?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

DON’T FALL INTO SELFISH THINKING, PUSHING GOD ASIDE, which is exactly what Satan wants us to do. Instead, trust God, make Him Lord of every area of your life. Allow the creator to guide the creation.

NO ONE CAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO, Do They? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2c – [6]

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. – Romans 13:1

Is following the Deceiver’s Motto – Have it your way  Burger-King-Have-It-Your-Way, no one has the “right” to tell me what I can and can’t do , whatever-i-can-do-what-i-want  an attitude that benefits me?

I think not.  Sure at first glance, exercising the Deceiver’s Motto seems to make sense. I can make my own decisions, I have legit “rights” after all.  Seems like an empowering statement. But knowing the sneakiness of Satan, this way of thinking should raise a red flag. raise-red-flag A red flag because it’s a lie, although a subtle one, because we do have rights, but they’re within boundaries. We’ll always find that we’re under someone’s authority.  That could be parents, employers, teachers, government, and ultimately God. And exercising our “rights” unrestrained, is often a decision of rebellion that result in negative consequences.

Zephaniah’s purpose was/is to help people recognize their need to repent and turn back to God.  To show people how their choices have resulted in their current predicament.  To help people  realize that it’s better to follow God, as Lord of our lives, our ultimate authority, than to do life apart from God, or without God.

My Way? or God’s Way? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2b – [5]

I have cared for you since you were born, says the Lord. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. – Isaiah 46:3-4

Chapter 2 begins, Gather together and pray, you shameless nation. Gather while there is still time, before judgment begins and your opportunity is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the LORD falls and the terrible day of the LORD’s anger begins. Beg the LORD to save you — all you who are humble, all you who uphold justice. Walk humbly and do what is right. Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you from his anger on that day of destruction. – Zephaniah 2:1-3

God sends prophets with messages of destruction and pain like we saw in Chapter 1 because people (some more rebellious than others) just don’t seem to get message of repentance, above paragraph.  They seem to think the sole purpose of living on earth is to pleasure themselves – YOLOing around.

Satan’s MO (mode of operation) from his first appearance in the Garden of Eden until now has been to pull, prod, and encourage people to think and act with the “me, me, me” attitudes, such as,  “Do you own thing”, “You got ‘rights’, no one gonna tell you what to do”.

It’s the Deceiver’s Motto — Have it your way, no one has the “right” to tell you what you can and can’t do.

Does that attitude work for us, for others?

Turn from Your Sinful Choices!! – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2a – [4]

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7b

Because God knows the heart of every person, Acts 15:8a, that which looks all-put-together, outwardly to people, does not fool God.

Recall that God is a God of judgement and a God of mercy.  To those who choose their own way apart from God, they WILL be punished.  But to those who followed Him faithfully, He will show mercy.

It’s so easy to think that God should punish so-and-so, or “they” got away with this-or-that. Or to express how life is just so unfair. Or thinking, what is the point of following God when “bad stuff” happens to me, people I care about, and all around me?

It’s during these times that this verse might help – The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:9

Zephaniah, chapter 1, ends with, He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth. YIKES!!

But thankfully that is not the end of the story.

Can it Appear that I’m Following God? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 1b – [3]

If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison, — your father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, — yes even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

God had sent in reinforcements to assist King Josiah, the prophet Zephaniah.  We see in 2 Chronicles 34:3a, Josiah began to seek God when he was 16 years old.  At 20 years old he began purifying Judah and Jerusalem, destroying ALL the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. – 34 Chronicles 34:3b. And it wasn’t until he was 26 years old, that the Book of the Law was found.

The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll.  And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors. – 2 Chronicles 34:31-32

If everything seems to be flowing along just fine, why does God send Zephaniah to the people of Judah (http://www.biblehub.com/nlt/zephaniah/1.htm) slamming down his fist,  preaching fire and brimstone, and the imminent wrath of God?

It is because of what we read above in 2 Chronicles 34:31-32. Josiah sought God, Josiah repentant inwardly. And perhaps even more importantly those inward convictions resulted in outward/visible signs of repentance, and his trust and hope in God.  The people of Judah and Jerusalem, however, did not share King Josiah’s conviction.  Sure they obeyed the King’s orders, renewing their covenant with God. But they only did that because He (KING Josiah) required everyone to pledge the faith in God. – 2 Chronicles 34:32

The people of Judah and Jerusalem only paid the king, and God, lip-service. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. – Isaiah 29:13

Can an 8 Year Old Impact a Nation? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 1a – [2]

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. – Acts 3:19

Before getting into the warnings of Zephaniah to the people of Judah, let’s look at the back story of King Josiah.  His story begins in 2 Kings 22.

Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years.
He followed God’s ways and was not afraid to do what was right.

When Josiah was 26 years old he assigned workers to begin restoration of the temple.
In the process of restoring the temple, the high priest, Hilkiah found the Book of the Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy).  It had been disregarded for so many years during the reign of evil kings that no one knew where it was, let alone reference it.

Once the Book of the Law was brought to Josiah’s attention, he tore his clothes in despair. – 2 Kings 22:11  He then sent the high priest, the court secretary, and his personal advisor to the temple to speak to the Lord for him, the people, and all of Judah.
Although Josiah’s understanding of the scroll was limited, he did believe that the Lords’s anger is burning against us (people of Judah) because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in the scroll, and not doing the things the scroll says to do. – 2 Kings 22:13b

Sure enough, Josiah was correct about God’s anger with the people.  After consulting the prophetess Huldah, Josiah received this message from God –  You, Josiah, were sorry and humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I said against this city and its people, that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. So I have indeed heard you, says the LORD. I will not send the promised disaster against this city until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this place. – 2 Chronicles 34:27

And so would begin the repentance and restoration of Judah and Jerusalem.

Choose God!! – ZEPHANIAH – Introduction – [1]

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:15

The Book of Zephaniah is an Old Testament book written by Zephaniah to the nation of Judah, and all nations, between 640-621 B.C.

You can find the Book of Zephaniah near the end of the Old Testament, in between two other small books, Habakkuk and Haggai.

Zephaniah’s purpose for writing this book was to light a fire under the complacent people of Judah, and all people in the future, urging them to return back to God.

The king of Judah at the time of Zephaniah’s writing was King Josiah.  King Josiah was considered a good king compared to the two previous kings of Judah, Manasseh and Amon, who were evil.

Prophets, like Zephaniah, were sent by God to give people a message.  God’s way, God’s truth. They also warned people of God’s impending wrath should they choose to continue going their own way.

The Book of Zephaniah is a rather short book, containing only 3 chapters.

Chapter 1 is Zephaniah’s prophecy of terror.
Chapter 2 offers hope to those who will humble themselves before the Lord.
Chapter 3 speaks of God’s salvation and deliverance for those who have been faithful to Him.

As we read through the Book of Zephaniah, note the references to God’s judgement for those who choose their own way. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight – Isaiah 5:21.

God DOES NOT take sin lightly.  Sin WILL BE punished.  Always remember, God is in charge, and He will rescue and protect His adopted children.

As the people in Zephaniah’s time had to make a choice, we too have a choice to make.

Will I choose God’s ways or culture’s/man’s ways.

My parents can’t choose for me.  My friends can’t choose for me.  My family’s traditions can’t choose for me. I must make my choice to follow, or not follow God for myself.

Will I choose be a member of God’s family or the World’s family?