Friday, September 9, 2016

Look at me! What can you see? Do you see?

The Minor Prophets: the Book of Zephaniah:
As I opened up Zephaniah, a small book in the Old Testament. I was reading the Introduction and it reads like this. "Standing on a busy corner, the prophet lifts a rough sign inscribed with the short message: "Repent, the for end is near!" People rush by. They don't notice or don't want to notice the message. God has become someone they can ignore. Zephaniah's moment in history was an ancient version of that scene. He repeatedly warned people. "The Day of the Lord is at hand!" using the expression more than any other prophet did. His work set the stage for a last minute revival under Josiah. It was short lived. Only a few years. Judah had been defeated and sent to exile. People who ignored God discovered they could not ignore. 

This book was written by Zephaniah during his ministry, about 635 - 625 B.C. Along his journey of telling you what the Lord says, he states his lineage.  He is the only prophet descended from royalty.  He was a contemporary of Jeremiah who was also a prophet.  It is one Awesome book about a life changing time.  Zephie, himself, dates his message during the reign of Josiah (640 -609 B.C.) This book as most likely written before the reform took place and even then, the revival took place only a few years.  It had a short lived effect on people.  Zephie, prophesied during a time of almost universal upheaval.  Kind of like now and during the time of the 1930's when WWII was taking place.  The rise of the Babylonians and the fall of the Assyrians left much of the world between conquerors.

As we meander through this book, we need to pause at times and look at what was happening, why the warnings and just like now, the world seemed out of control.  The country of Judah experienced relative freedom for a time, the first time in 50 years.  The King, Josiah was now able to implement certain reforms that ultimately led to a spiritual revival in his country of Judah.  In the warnings that were voiced by Zephie, of impending judgment most likely found it's way to deaf ears from the people. The ill effects of 50 years of evil leadership left a nation saturated in sin, and the King's reforms resulted in little more than surface changes.  Even moreso was the discovery of the Law of God in the Temple rubble that happened after Zephie. while it energized the Kings efforts, it did not have a long term outcome on the people's attitudes.

This map gives the geographical relationships between the countries Zephaniah mentions.:

Tribes of Israel:

Sometimes, many times we need to see the family lineage to understand what is what.  So, the first line is about that.  Where did he come from?

You can follow along here or if you have your bible you can open it up to Zephaniah. 

Zephaniah 1New King James Version (NKJV)
The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

The Great Day of the Lord

“I will utterly consume everything
From the face of the land,”
Says the Lord;
“I will consume man and beast;
I will consume the birds of the heavens,
The fish of the sea,
And the stumbling blocks[a] along with the wicked.
I will cut off man from the face of the land,”
Says the Lord.
“I will stretch out My hand against Judah,
And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, (Baal was the Canaanites god for fertility)
 (remember the 10 commandment, no other God before me)The names of the idolatrous priests[b] with the pagan priests—
Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops;
Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord,
But who also swear by Milcom;[c]
Those who have turned back from following the Lord,
And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him.”
Be silent in the presence of the Lord God;
For the day of the Lord is at hand,
For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
He has invited[d] His guests.
(the people had no defense against God's judgments, they were left shocked and mute)
“And it shall be,
In the day of the Lord’s sacrifice,
That I will punish the princes and the king’s children,
And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.
In the same day I will punish
All those who leap over the threshold,[e]
Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.
10 “And there shall be on that day,” says the Lord,
“The sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate,
A wailing from the Second Quarter,
And a loud crashing from the hills.
11 Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh![f]
For all the merchant people are cut down;
All those who handle money are cut off.
12 “And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
And punish the men
Who are settled in complacency,[g]
Who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good,
Nor will He do evil.’
13 Therefore their goods shall become booty,
And their houses a desolation;
They shall build houses, but not inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”
14 The great day of the Lord is near;
It is near and hastens quickly.
The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter;
There the mighty men shall cry out.
15 That day is a day of wrath,
A day of trouble and distress,
A day of devastation and desolation,
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of trumpet and alarm
Against the fortified cities
And against the high towers.
17 “I will bring distress upon men,
And they shall walk like blind men,
Because they have sinned against the Lord;
Their blood shall be poured out like dust,
And their flesh like refuse.”
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
Shall be able to deliver them
In the day of the Lord’s wrath;
But the whole land shall be devoured
By the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make speedy riddance
Of all those who dwell in the land.
We do have just God, he does not like sin.  He does not like having others before Him and he does not like it when we mess up.  Just like a parent does not like it when their children do wrong.  We love them but we don't like what they are doing and we will discipline them as needed, as does God. Why wouldn't he?  Why would he allow us to sit in our own sin and not rescue us or at least correct our ways?  As a parent, would you continue to watch your child spiral out of control and not try to help or discipline?  Why would God do that?  "But God is Love" yes he is but love is in the discipline.  Spare the rod, spoil the child.  Do we really need a bunch of spoiled children around?  No, they are unmanageable and rude.
So, we run into the 2nd chapter and find more where that came from and let's listen to the words of this one but of the last one.  Really listen to what you are reading, because it does mean life or death in so many ways. 
Zephaniah 2New King James Version (NKJV)

A Call to Repentance

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together,
O undesirable[a] nation,
Before the decree is issued,
Or the day passes like chaff,
Before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you,
Before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you!
Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth,
Who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden
In the day of the Lord’s anger.

Judgment on Nations

For Gaza shall be forsaken,
And Ashkelon desolate;
They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday,
And Ekron shall be uprooted.
Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast,
The nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines:
“I will destroy you;
So there shall be no inhabitant.”
The seacoast shall be pastures,
With shelters[b] for shepherds and folds for flocks.
The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah;
They shall feed their flocks there;
In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening.
For the Lord their God will intervene for them,
And return their captives.
“I have heard the reproach of Moab,
And the insults of the people of Ammon,
With which they have reproached My people,
And made arrogant threats against their borders.
Therefore, as I live,”
Says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,
“Surely Moab shall be like Sodom,
And the people of Ammon like Gomorrah—
Overrun with weeds and saltpits,
And a perpetual desolation.
The residue of My people shall plunder them,
And the remnant of My people shall possess them.”
10 This they shall have for their pride,
Because they have reproached and made arrogant threats
Against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be awesome to them,
For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth;
People shall worship Him,
Each one from his place,
Indeed all the shores of the nations.
12 “You Ethiopians also,
You shall be slain by My sword.”
13 And He will stretch out His hand against the north,
Destroy Assyria,
And make Nineveh a desolation,
As dry as the wilderness.
14 The herds shall lie down in her midst,
Every beast of the nation.
Both the pelican and the bittern
Shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars;
Their voice shall sing in the windows;
Desolation shall be at the threshold;
For He will lay bare the cedar work.
15 This is the rejoicing city
That dwelt securely,
That said in her heart,
“I am it, and there is none besides me.”
How has she become a desolation,
A place for beasts to lie down!
Everyone who passes by her
Shall hiss and shake his fist.
(God used the heathen nations to punish His people, but He did not leave those nations unpunished.  Look at the nations, but use US and other countries in this too, because that is us.)
Now let's look at some better ways here.  Let's see what we can do to change our own ways. 
A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4 / BIBLE IN MY LANGUAGE:
Zephaniah 3New King James Version (NKJV)

The Wickedness of Jerusalem

Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted,
To the oppressing city!
She has not obeyed His voice,
She has not received correction;
She has not trusted in the Lord,
She has not drawn near to her God.
Her princes in her midst are roaring lions;
Her judges are evening wolves
That leave not a bone till morning.
Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people;
Her priests have polluted the sanctuary,
They have done violence to the law.
The Lord is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails,
But the unjust knows no shame.
“I have cut off nations,
Their fortresses are devastated;
I have made their streets desolate,
With none passing by.
Their cities are destroyed;
There is no one, no inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me,
You will receive instruction’—
So that her dwelling would not be cut off,
Despite everything for which I punished her.
But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.

A Faithful Remnant

“Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord,
“Until the day I rise up for plunder;[a]
My determination is to gather the nations
To My assembly of kingdoms,
To pour on them My indignation,
All My fierce anger;
All the earth shall be devoured
With the fire of My jealousy.
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,
That they all may call on the name of the Lord,
To serve Him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
My worshipers,
The daughter of My dispersed ones,
Shall bring My offering.
11 In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds
In which you transgress against Me;
For then I will take away from your midst
Those who rejoice in your pride,
And you shall no longer be haughty
In My holy mountain.
12 I will leave in your midst
A meek and humble people,
And they shall trust in the name of the Lord.
13 The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness
And speak no lies,
Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth;
For they shall feed their flocks and lie down,
And no one shall make them afraid.”

Joy in God’s Faithfulness

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your judgments,
He has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You shall see[b] disaster no more.
16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
18 “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly,
Who are among you,
To whom its reproach is a burden.
19 Behold, at that time
I will deal with all who afflict you;
I will save the lame,
And gather those who were driven out;
I will appoint them for praise and fame
In every land where they were put to shame.
20 At that time I will bring you back,
Even at the time I gather you;
For I will give you fame and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I return your captives before your eyes,”
Says the Lord.
So, as we have read, there is a promise in our obedience and our faithfulness.  But how do we know that we have this promise? 
How many of you really live for yourself?  How many of you live for your church?  How many of you live for Jesus?  How many of you sin?  That's a tricky one, we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God, it's in our repentance and forgiveness that we are forgiven.
Now, you can go to and put this in but put it in the Amplified Bible and you will see it in a different light.  Sometimes, it's tough to read the Word of God and really understand it's meaning and context.  But pray about it first.  Ask the Lord to show you what it means for you, what your sin is and repent of it. Let it go. 

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Zephaniah 3:9....9/9/13. Our brothers and sisters serve Jehovah together:

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