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.

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 🙂

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?

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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I Can Have Wisdom, Knowledge, and Discernment!! – PROVERBS – Chapter 1a – 1:1-7 – [4]

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… – 1 Chronicles 29:11

From the first verse in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon is very clear with the reader.  He states in verse 1 that he is the author, he is King of Israel, and why he wrote the Proverbs.

1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.

<Solomon goes on to say what type of people can benefit from the proverbs.>

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

<Solomon then writes that the foundation, the starting point, what holds everything stable and in place, is the fear of the Lord.  By contrast, fools (a person who is deficient in the intellectual, practical, or moral sense)…>

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    BUT fools despise wisdom and discipline.

<As we look through the Book of Proverbs let us seek to become wiser, gaining insight and understanding, of God’s ways.  To allow, God’s Word, the ultimate compass, to direct us along life’s path.>

How Does a Principle Differ From a Fact? – PROVERBS – Introduction 3 – [3]

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. – Isaiah 16:3

We may think that Proverbs are quick, clever, one-liners, and some of them are.  Designed to help us remember important ideas, they have a cause and effect feel. Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom – Proverbs 11:1 or If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble. – Proverbs 21:23

We will read these short sentences throughout much of the Book of Proverbs, except the first nine chapters which are in paragraph form. You will also notice that the proverbs don’t build to any particular thought.  Sometimes you will see from one verse to the next different ideas, and other times you’ll see them relating loosely to the previous or post verse.

The idea behind Proverbs is to understand principles, vs a fact …God is love – 1 John 4:8.  A principle is defined by Merriam Webster as, a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions, a law or fact of nature that explains how something works or why something happens.

The poor plead for mercy; the rich answer with insults. – Proverbs 18:23
Poor can mean financially poor, or people who are confused, seeking, etc. People in these circumstances are often more likely to humble themselves because they don’t see themselves as self-sufficient. The rich, in wealth, education, freedoms, etc. see themselves as self-sufficient.  They don’t “need” from others. Therefore, see no need to humble themselves.

Proverbs are not to be taken as literal translations.  For example, Proverbs 14:1, A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.  This does not mean that a woman is going to literally use her bare hands to pull the shingles off the roof and pull apart the framing of a house.

We will begin reading through the Book of Proverbs, seeking to understand the principles God has given, to help us effectively navigate through life.

Knowledge or Wisdom? – PROVERBS – Introduction 2 – [2]

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. – Proverbs 1:7

Humans have something unique that no other creatures possess – the way our minds work.  thinking-person-24255334   Humans have an ability to reason, to analyze, conceptualize, theorize, discuss and debate.  Humans have a built-in desire to learn. This learning and understanding is fostered through schools, universities, and in the home/family.  It is in these environments that people learn about themselves and the world around them.

In the paragraph above, we see human’s desire for knowledge. pile-clipart-book6-233x300

But knowledge is different from wisdom.  Knowledge is having the facts, where wisdom is the ability to apply the facts (knowledge) to our daily life. The word proverb comes from the Hebrew meaning, “to rule or govern”. Proverbs provide advice for directing and ordering our lives.

Solomon has left us with 3 books of wisdom, found in the Bible.  Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, and Song of Songs.

In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon’s advice is given in the form of proverbs, hence the name.  A proverb is a short, concise sentence that conveys moral truth (principles of right and wrong behavior).

Solomon has put together a collection of proverbs, giving the reader practical examples of how to live their lives according to godly wisdom. Their intention is to improve people’s relationship between each other and God.

As we look through the Book of Proverbs – Remember: Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. – James 1:22