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?

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?