Summary: God is concerned and involved in your life. Seek Him with all your heart. Our future is in His hands.
[Read Zephaniah 1:1-18]
The key to this book is the phrase "the Day of the Lord."
• It’s a common phrase used in the prophetic books but Zephaniah used it more than any other prophet.
• It is the Lord’s D-day for men - the day He executes judgment, both to His people as well as the surrounding nations.
• God has been patient. God has been giving them warnings. But there will come a day when sentencing is due. God will act.
The book does not reveal exactly when that day will come, but it paints a shocking picture of what is involved.
• God will visit earth with His wrath. No one can escape. The warnings are specific to Judah (Jerusalem), but cover the surrounding nations too.
• Those who are determined to stay on the wrong path and in their defiant of God will have to “face the music”.
Sadly, despite all these warnings, the Israelites remained complacent and indifferent.
• They were deceived by THREE LIES that I picked up from this book:
1:12 “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.’”
(1) First Lie: “The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.”
“Don’t worry. God is not bothered. Look, we have been living this way for so long, and nothing bad has happened.”
Complacency looks harmless but it is deadly. Empires of the past fall because of complacency, battles and games are lost because of complacency.
• The vast majority of the people disregard or ignore God. This is understandable if God has not revealed Himself in any way, but He did.
Through creation - Rom 1:18-20 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Through Jesus Christ - 1 Peter 1:20-21 “He [Jesus] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
THE TRUTH IS: GOD IS CONCERNED AND VERY INVOLVED IN YOUR LIFE.
He has your good in mind.
• The Israelites have drifted TOO FAR from God, and for TOO LONG.
• God has to step in. Man will self-destruct eventually, if nothing is done to arrest this digression (or regression). It is for their good that God steps in.
Ask any loving parents and they will tell you discipline is necessary, to keep a child on the right and good path.
• This is the INTENT of judgement – to restore and bless.
• When God commands, don’t see it as the need to obey rules. See it as His desire to direct us to the BEST life has to offer.
When a boy throws his food on the floor and I say, “Pick it up and clean up the floor”, the boy can see it as a command to be obeyed.
But in the end, I do not want him to see it only as a command, and stop throwing food on the floor just because I say so. I want him to recognise it as something messy, that it’s a waste of food, and not the right way to dispose food.
A command is given to guide behaviour but it is not an end in itself. God wants us to live the way He has intended, so that we can enjoy life to its fullest – one that is good, abundant, righteous and free from sin.
That’s the real end to keeping God’s commands.
The second lie they fell for is in 3:2 “She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God.”
(2) Second Lie: “All You Need is Self-Confidence”
In other words, they thought they know best. They were arrogant and confident.
• So were the nations around them. To Moab and Ammon, the Lord says they will become like Sodom and Gomorrah, a wasteland forever (2:9). 2:10 “This is what they will get in return for their pride…”
• God will destroy the Assyrians too, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate (2:13). Why? 2:15 “This is the carefree city that lived in safety. She said to herself, "I am, and there is none besides me." What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists.”