The Humble WILL be Rewarded – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 3e [13]

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –  Philippines 3:14

 

9))  “Then I will purify the speech of all people,
so that everyone can worship the Lord together.
10))  My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
will come to present their offerings.
11))  On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed,
for you will no longer be rebels against me.
I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you.
There will be no pride on my holy mountain.
12))  Those who are left will be the lowly and humble,
for it is they who trust in the name of the Lord.
13)) The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
they will never tell lies or deceive one another.
They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid.”

 

Comparing Genesis 11:1-9, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-2W, and Zephaniah 3:9-13 we see that people were/will be coming together for a single purpose, yet their motivations are quite different. In Genesis 11:1-9, the people are coming together to make themselves famous, Genesis 11:4. Whereas, in Zephaniah 3:9-13, they will be coming together to humbly worship God.

Verses 11-13 tell us that we can look forward to the day when the humble will be rewarded. Rewarded because they lived their earthly lives trusting God, listening and following Him.  They not only listened to God’s word, but they did what it said,  James 1:22.

This is the same day, the day of hope, we pray and look forward to, when we pray, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,  Matthew 6:10.

The day of hope is a “real” day.  A day when those who have humbled themselves, yielding themselves to God vs. self-reliance and pride, will enjoy fellowship with God and God-followers.

What if I Mess Up? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 3c – [11]

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. – Revelation 20:12

 

We learned in verses 1-8, that although we may choose a path contrary to God’s, God does not immediately wash His hands of us. He’s always providing opportunities for us to repent and restore our relationship with Him. Remember that in verses 1-8, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-1X and http://wp.me/p5nZpi-21, we saw that God allows all people, to exercise free will.  And it’s free will that often gets us into trouble, forcing us to make choices between our way/culture’s influence vs God’s way.

Be reminded from these verses that those who choose their own way will one day be punished, while those who seek to follow God’s ways will be blessed.

Before looking at Zephaniah 3:9-13, let’s take a moment to read about The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9.  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+11%3A1-9&version=NLT.

As you read this passage see if you can determine:

  • what the people came together to build
  • the reason they wanted to build ______, and
  • God’s reaction/response to their plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What Do I Need to do to Get Through to My People?”, asks God – ZEPHANIAH – 3b – [10]

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

 

Continuing with verses 5-8, God-followers are reassured of His presence, while God’s frustration remains for those who choose their own way.  (My thoughts in bold.)

 

5)) But the LORD is still there in the city,           

We’re reminded again, God doesn’t leave us.  He is the rock, never moving.  We move farther and farther away from Him with the choices we make.
                                                                             
Day by day he hands down justice,                 
and he does not fail.                            

God is reprimanding and redirecting people. He is available to the remnant that calls on His name.

But the wicked know no shame.    

“It works for me”, “I’m happy” – Ohhh, really ????  How many times have we thought to ourselves, “Don’t they have any self-respect?”  “How could they react so laze-faire about _____, a moral wrong?                                                                                                                          

6)) “I have wiped out many nations, devastating their fortress walls and towers. Their streets are now deserted; their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors— none at all.

It seems like God is wondering, “What does it take to get through to these people? Their lives are a mess, relationships, families, bodies, and culture.”

7)) I thought, ‘Surely they will have                   
reverence for me now!                               
Surely they will listen to my                            
warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
destroying their homes.’

“I’m sure they can make the connection that the choices they’re making, following Satan’s ways vs. my ways, have devastating results.”

But no, they get up early                                    
to continue their evil deeds. 
                                                                                 
“People just don’t seem to get “it”.  They could experience abundant life through me (God), but instead they follow Satan who comes to steal and destroy.” – John 10:10

8)) Therefore, be patient,” says the LORD.            
“Soon I will stand and accuse                          
these evil nations.                                                   
For I have decided to gather the                        
kingdoms of the earth and pour out                      
my fiercest anger and fury on them.

There will come a time when God says, “that’s enough chances.  You’ve had plenty of time to choose Me. I’ve explained to you the   consequences of your choices.” – http://nlt.to/Deuteronomy+30

All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy.                                                 

“In the last days I will judge all according to what they have done.”  – Revelation 20:12     Evil doers will be punished, and the obedient will be blessed.

Can We Continue Avoiding God’s Ways Without Consequences? – ZEPHANIAH – 3a – [9]

… as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15b

 

Chapter 3 begins with frustration and head shaking.  (My thoughts in bold.)

 

1))  What sorrow awaits rebellious,           
polluted Jerusalem,                                 
the city of violence and crime!  

Jerusalem may think that they can continue down a polluted, immoral, selfish path without consequences. God is clear, however, that they will not escape justice.

2))  No one can tell it anything; 
it refuses all correction. 
It does not trust in the LORD
or draw near to its God.  

Sounds like what you may hear in school, in the workplace, propagated on TV shows. Those who are wise in their own eyes – Isaiah 5:21.  They don’t know God, let alone have a relationship with Him.

3))  Its leaders are like roaring lions
hunting for their victims.                          
Its judges are like ravenous wolves
at evening time, who by dawn have
left no trace of their prey.                        
4))  Its prophets are arrogant liars
seeking their own gain. Its priests
defile the Temple by disobeying
God’s instructions.   

Verses 3-4 describes the misguided leadership of the day. Leaders are supposed to guide, direct, help navigate people to safety and growth. Yet the leaders of the day did anything but that.  Who are the leaders of our day?  Music and movie/TV personalities, the   “popular” kids at school? Who do we look up to?  Who are we looking to when as we seek to know Truth?  Are we complacent, satisfied with relative truth or do we seek and apply the absolute truth of God’s Word?

What’s a Remnant? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2e – [8]

“Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”
1 Kings 19:18

Continuing in Zephaniah, Chapter 2:4-6, we’re told of God’s judgement and destruction of various cities. However, Zephaniah points out that there will be a remnant of people,
The few survivors of the tribe of Judah, a remnant, will pasture there. In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The LORD their God will care for them; he will restore their prosperity, fortunes again. – Zephaniah 2:7

God goes on to say in verses 8-11, that Moab and Ammon will be judged and destroyed because they are mocking God-followers.  They will receive the wages of their pride, laughing at the people of God. – Zeph. 2:10

God said He would also judge and destroy Ethiopia and Assyria, along with it’s great capital, Nineveh. Again because of their pride. A side note — For Zephaniah to predict the destruction of Nineveh 10 years before it happened would be equivalent to predicting the destruction of Tokyo, Moscow, or New York.  Nineveh, like the our current epicenters, were the center for culture, technology, and beauty. Yet the entire city was destroyed so completely that the very existence was questioned until it was discovered, with great difficulty, by 19th-centry archaeologists. – (NLT study Bible notes)

No place, or person, is safe from the wrath of God.  But a common tread throughout the Bible is the remnant.   222024-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-Silhouetted-People-Dancing-Against-A-Gray-Starry-Background   A small number, by comparison, of God-followers, who remain faithful to God through the whirlwind tornado-mdof life, and in turn, God promises to remain faithful to them.

Don’t get discouraged if you look around you, and you feel like everyone is “doing there own, selfish, thing”.  Instead, trust that God will fulfill His promises. Ask Him to show you other people who desire to follow His ways. He will !!  There is always a remnant of God-followers 🙂

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.

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?

Choices, Choices, Choices??? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1d – 1:10-19 (b) [7]

You can hold on to the hope that I, The Lord, will not change what I have promised.
Hebrews 6:17-18

 

So what does Solomon want us to take away from the confusing verses of Proverbs 1:10-19? http://wp.me/p5nZpi-2I
First, Solomon wants to remind and warn us, that sin can be very attractive.  The danger in following unwise choices, vs. the truth, is that they will then become our compass, what directs us in our everyday interactions.
th                     th

Secondly, acting on sinful choices will not enable us to reach the goals we hope to achieve.  What may look “good” at the onset, may end up trapping us in an unhealthy lifestyle. Solomon warns us not to comprise our values and ignore God’s guidance, following what “man” deems as success.

                                                         th

Often times the enticement of promised friendships, the allure of being “part of the group”, moving up in our job, etc. overtakes our better judgment.
th-2                      th-1

Solomon warns not to get caught up in the temptations around us, DON’T follow them. STAY AWAY, verse 15.
Solomon uses an analogy of a bird in verse 17. A bird, which certainly does not have the intelligence of a person, yet instinctively recognizes a trap and STAYS AWAY.  Sadly, when we choose to venture out into the world “on our own”, without God and His principles, we set an ambush for ourselves; – v.18, which will end tragically.

Lastly, THE KEY is to think beyond the here and now. To consider the future consequences of our present choices.  Short-term choices vs. Long-term effects.  We have free will to make choices, but not the freedom to choose our consequences.
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Come Join Us …. Ummm, Should I? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1c – 1:10-19 (a) – [6]

“Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”  Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”  –  1 Corinthians 15:32-33

10))  My child, IF sinners entice you, THEN
         turn your back on them!
11))  They may say, “Come and join us.
         Let’s hide and kill someone!
         Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12))  Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave;
         let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13))  Think of the great things we’ll get!
         We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14))  Come, throw in your lot with us;
         we’ll all share the loot.”
15))  My child, DON’T go along with them!
         Stay far away from their paths.
16))  They rush to commit evil deeds.
         They hurry to commit murder.
17))  IF a bird sees a trap being set,
        it knows to stay away.
18))  BUT these people set an ambush for themselves;
         they are trying to get themselves killed.
19))  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
         it robs them of life.

Verses 10-19 may seem a bit confusing, even scary.  Since we learned in the introduction of Proverbs that we are to discern and apply the principles of the proverbs to our lives, what then, does Solomon want us to take away from these perplexing verses?