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Today’s reading was very interesting in the timing for me personally. First, my husband and I just arrived at the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Viewing the ocean, the stars, the sand, feeling the breeze, and smelling the air ALL make me stand in awe of God’s work. It always does….no matter how many times I am blessed to be here. Second, the news today has been filled with the story about Syria…..will the USA take a military stand against them or not for the atrocities against their own people using chemical weaponry? Third, last year on the day I read this it “happened” to be the same day surrounding the Chick-fil-a controversy. Fourth, that brings me to the point that the words of Zephaniah from 2500+ years ago could be preached from ANY pulpit today and be applicable!!! God’s Word is ALWAYS applicable!!! Things like this remind me over an over that the Word of God is LIVING. God NEVER changes and HE fulfills HIS promises.
Zephaniah certainly did not mince words. He is quite blunt because he KNEW he was proclaiming the WORD of the Lord. This book begins with “The word of the Lord” and ends with “says the Lord.” So Zephaniah’s focus is TOTALLY on God!! Zephaniah witnessed his people worshiping so many gods and he knew that what these people were worshipping NOR the power, strength, and money of the Assyrian empire and army could save them. God is gracious and compassionate, but when all His warnings are ignored, judgment is to be expected. God’s day of judgment is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. The prophets called it the “Day of the Lord.”
The Day of the Lord is mentioned over and over. The Prophets referred to the “Day of The Lord” and gave what I call word pictures (such as the fall of Jerusalem) as manifestations of God’s Day….which all pointed toward the ULTIMATE Day of The Lord. It refers to the time period we are reading about now concerning the fall of Judah and all the nations surrounding them. It will be a day of terror and is about to come to Judah. This is a reference to the Babylonian invasion on Judah that will take them into captivity which follows 20 years after Zephaniah is prophesying it. It is also a reference to the second coming of Jesus Christ!!
CHAPTER 1 — This is a double prophecy….for the time that Zephaniah lived in and for the 2nd coming of Christ. God is saying that ALL sinners will be judged, even the complacent (verse 12)…..or what I call “fence riders”. And the ONLY reason I can say this is because I spent a lot of time “riding the fence.” I believed in God but had one foot in all my belief in HIM but the other foot was still trying to fit in with the world. I believed but I was afraid to take a stand for God. After awhile….I realized I was not being true to who God made me. Ouch!! After Judah is judged and punished for their idolatry and sins, then the Lord will handle the surrounding nations, Philistines (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Elkron, Kerethite people), and the Egyptians (Cush). He will punish them for their pride and scorn towards the Lord’s people. Then there will come a day when everyone in their own land will worship the Lord.
CHAPTER 2 — This chapter begins with encouragement for the people to take a stand for God. Zephaniah with God’s Words is telling the people….. WAIT….IT IS STILL NOT TOO LATE….GOD LOVES YOU AND IF YOU WILL JUST REPENT AND SEEK HIM…AND HUMBLE YOURSELF…then HE will save you. Unfortunately…..very few were listening.
As you were reading did any of the names stand out to you? Philistines?? Remember Goliath?? Goliath was a Philistine…..age old enemies!! In verse 5 it mentions that “Canaan, land of Philistines”…..ummmm…remember Noah’s son, Ham…Ham was the father of the Canaanites and Philistines….Noah cursed Ham for mocking him???? What about Moab and Ammon? Remember Lot and the incest he had with each of his daughters….these were the sons from that incest. The Scripture compares what will happen to their descendants to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were the cities Lot and his family lived the closest too!! Even when the angles came to save them as S&G were going up in smoke, Lot’s wife did not want to leave and looked back…turned into a pillar of salt!!
This chapter ends with a beautiful Word of hope in verse 11: “The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land. The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land. ”
CHAPTER 3 — Begins with a review of all the things the Jewish people have done against God (and they KNEW better…they BLATANTLY REFUSED to OBEY HIM or even LISTEN to HIM.) Words mentioned are words such as rebellious, accepts no correction, does not trust God, does not draw near to God, arrogant, treacherous men, priests profane the sanctuary, do violence to the law……
And then the end of the chapter focuses on the ULTIMATE day of the Lord….The FINAL Judgement Day….yet to come. And, it lines up with Revelation. There WILL BE A DAY when ALL people will KNOW HE IS LORD.
In God’s mercy and love when that final day of judgement comes and Jesus comes for HIS bride (the church)….those who have made Jesus Christ The Lord of their life will be loved into The New Jerusalem because God will see us as HE see Christ….Christ’s blood has been poured upon us to cleanse us white as snow. HOWEVER…..for others it will be too late and all who do not know Jesus Christ will face the final judgement. God will not take joy in what is happening…….the Word actually tells us that each person who did not CHOOSE Jesus and must face the final judgement will deeply grieve God.
So where do you stand with HIM? Are you sold out to God, read HIS Word, obey HIM, love HIM with all your heart, soul, and mind, and strength….and SHARE what HE has done for you with others in a loving way? Or are you still riding the fence and are afraid to share HIM and what He has done in your life with others around you? Remember our life is truly for an audience of ONE and that ONE is our God…the ONE and ONLY TRUE God, so if you know your life is dedicated to HIM…..then are you sharing HIM with others before it is too late? Selah (think about it) In Christ there is NO condemnation and my Words are not words to condemn….merely to get you to thinking about what Zephaniah said because he believed completely in God and HE KNEW judgement was coming. He wanted everyone to be part of that REMNANT.
Did you happen to count the number of times the Word REMNANT was mentioned? Go back and check it out!! THAT’s US!!! Remember as you read about the final judgement day to not allow the enemy to fill you with fear. The Word TELLS us WHOSE we ARE!! KNOW it…CLAIM it….LIVE accordingly. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy…..but Jesus came that we may have life to the full till it over flows!! KNOW WHOSE you are. KNOW what the Word says about WHO and WHOSE we are. Pray and ASK God to show you what HE wants you to know from today’s reading. EXPECT an answer in HIS timing!!
Sharing HIS love,
Tomorrow we will add the Book of Zephaniah to our reading.
The purpose of the Book of Zephaniah was to shake the people of JUDAH out of their complacency and URGE them to return to God.
The author was Zephaniah and this was probably written near the end of his ministry (640-621 B.C.) when King Josiah’s great reforms began to take place. King Josiah was a good King in Judah. He was the great great grandson of Hezekiah (the greatest King of Judah) possibly born during Manasseh’s reign (a very bad King of Judah) to Manasseh’s son Amon (another bad King of Judah) and to him was born Josiah.
It is hard sometimes to see the overall theme in the Prophecy books. So HOW do we see what is really important? First, pray and ASK The Lord to reveal to you what HE would have you know and absorb personally. Second, it is important to search for God’s character in EVERYthing we read and not focus so much on the people (except Jesus of course.) Amos, Obadiah and Nahum were all about God’s JUDGEMENT; Isaiah was about God’s SALVATION, Jonah about God’s LOVE, and now Zephaniah is about God’s RESTORATION. “The great day of the Lord is near” v 1:14 .
So the little we do know about Zephaniah was that he was royalty, a prince most likely, in the line of Judah. Fifty years has elapsed since the prophecy of Nahum, and three descendants have taken the throne since Hezekiah, two of whom were wicked and idol worshipping. Social injustice was at an all time high, the rich are wealthy and the poor are starving. Idol worship was practiced by most….including sacrificing their children to their gods as a form of worship as well as sex with others at their alters to their gods as another form of worship.
Zephaniah will speak of a Loving God, yet a Strong God. He will also speak of the doom to come to Nineveh that Nahum prophesied. And as you will also see that Zephaniah will not mince words …. speak very directly and clearly of denouncing idolatry. Remember back when Josiah became king and smashed down the alters and idols, I am sure it was from the council of Zephaniah.
This book will end very different than the way it will begin. It begins in sorrow but ends in Glory. Zephaniah will tell:
That the faithful REMNANT will be delivered from captivity
That the GENTILE nation will be converted (HALLELUJAH!!!)
That one day EVERYONE will worship the Lord, not just in Jerusalem!!
In this small 3 chapter book you will see that God is SEARCHING out His people….JUST as HE does this TODAY. Does He find you in that search?
Sharing HIS love