Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Zephaniah

Let’s look at the book of Zephaniah.  It was written by the prophet Zephaniah, whose name means “God has secreted” or “Jehovah hides”. He was of royal lineage as is revealed in the first verse below.
Though he prophesied in a time of revival, the coming captivity was imminent and Zephaniah points out that the revival is superficial. He foretells the coming invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, judgment on certain peoples, the moral state of Israel and the judgment of the nations followed by kingdom blessing under Messiah.

Read Zephaniah 1:1-13:
1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:
 2 "I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the LORD.
 3 "I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth," declares the LORD.
 4 "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests-
 5 those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molech,
 6 those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him.
 7 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited.
 8 On the day of the LORD's sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes.
 9 On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit.
 10 "On that day," declares the LORD, "a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.
 11 Wail, you who live in the market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined.
 12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, 'The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.'
 13 Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine.
Did you notice how angry God is in verses 2 and 3? In Genesis we read the creation account and learned that God created the fish then the birds then the animals and then man. Now here we have God sweeping everything from the face of the earth and in the reverse order: men, then animals then birds then fish. Despite the awfulness of these verses I can’t help but be amazed at God’s order. For those who like to say that the God of the Old Testament seems vengeful, angry and bloodthirsty and that their God is kind and loving, I’d like to point out that God is both loving and just. Of course He is going to get angry. When will man honor, worship, love and obey only Him?
There were 7 types of people that God will “cut off” according to the above verses. They are pagans (vs.4), astrologers (vs.5), worshipers of other gods (vs.5), those who reject God (vs.6), those who side with the heathen (vs. 8), idol worshipers (vs. 9) and those who presume that God is indifferent to them (vs.12). What do these 7 groups of people have in common? They are all breaking the first commandment.

I’d like to offer a little insight into a couple of verses that may seem confusing. In verse 8 God says he will punish those “clad in foreign clothes”. Strange, huh? It means that when you act and dress like those of another belief then you are siding with them and rejecting your own. We do judge by appearances, don’t we? Think of teens who like to dress as “Goths”, get piercing, tattoos, etc., and distance themselves from their parents’ beliefs and values. Nothing new under the sun. 
(taken in part from Crossing the Scriptures)