(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)
Zephaniah was one of the “minor prophets”; a term I really cannot fathom because it would seem to me that anyone who prophesied in the name of the Lord should be considered a “major” person in the kingdom of God; but I digress. Zephaniah prophesied some 2600 years ago, about 600+ years before the birth of Christ. He prophesied to the sinful and fallen people of the kingdom of Judah at a time when the king, Josiah, was trying to bring the kingdom back from its sinful ways and from rampant worship of Baal and Molech(Baal and Molechbeing two of the many pagan gods that they were worshipping at that time.)
During Josiah’s reign the Book of the Law, which had originally been written by Moses and secured in the Ark of the Covenant for many years, was discovered during the repair of the Temple of the Lord. Josiah, being only sixteen, read from the Book and began a great revival in Judah. It is believed that Zephaniah and one of his contemporaries Jeremiah, were two major forces in this revival. This revival only lasted a short time and after King Josiah’s death Babylon invaded and overtook Jerusalem.
The first chapter of Zephaniah speaks of the judgment of Jerusalem in no uncertain terms. He warns that the Lord “will stretch out [His] hand against Judah (v.4)” and “will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold [of the Temple of the Lord].” He uses terms like “wiped out”, “ruined”, “plundered”, and “demolished.” Zephaniah also describes a stark and dismal scene of battle and destruction that “brings distress on the people” making them “walk like blind men” before their blood is “poured out like dust” and their entrails (guts) are poured out like “filth.” As if those words are not enough he wraps up chapter one with one final condemnation that leaves no uncertainty to the intent of God, “In the fire of His jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for He will make a sudden end of all who live in the Earth (v.18).”
Many who read Zephaniah say that his warnings were fulfilled when Babylon conquered Jerusalem shortly after King Josiah’s death. Still others hold that Zephaniah’s warnings are about the end times and the destruction that will precede Christ’s second coming. The way you interpret the time schedule of this chapter does not matter because there are deeper warnings here that apply to each and every one of us no matter hold old or young we may be: Do not worship idols and heed the Word of God. The Book of the Law had been rediscovered and now the sinful Israelites had no excuse for not listening to and obeying God.
In terms of how this applies to us; we have had the complete Word of God for well over a thousand years. The people of Judah were in revival for mere decades after the rediscovery of the Book of the Law but we have had MANY more years to become a society that worships God in the way He wishes to be worshipped. Have we done any better than our ancient counterparts? That remains to be seen. The better question should be “have I done better than my ancient counterparts?”
Focus your thoughts today on that question, “have I done better than the ancient people of Judah?” Before you simply say “yes” and move on, ask yourself the following:
- “Do I have any idols in my life that distract me from my work for the Lord?”
- “Do I faithfully study and try to live out the instructions provided for me in the Word of God?”
Yes, we all fail regularly. Yes, if we have given our lives to Jesus in faith then we can be 100% assured of our salvation but are we living the way that God wants us to live and do our lives reflect our devotion to Him and His presence in our lives? I pray daily to do better and I pray the same for you today.