Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today is Zephaniah Day!

My New Years Resolution was to read the Bible through in a year. I realized, mid-year, that in order to accomplish this, I was going to have to get busy. Sometimes I need a little accountability and that's why I'm writing on this blog about what I read. If you want to keep up with what I'm doing feel free to join me, here are previous blog entries:

Read the Bible in a Year Plan
 
Old Testament Daily Readings
 
Before reading my notes on Zephaniah, please remember that I am HUMAN and that humans make mistakes. I am reading this book for the first time and these notes are my initial observations only. Do not take what I say as absolute truth (that's what the Bible is for!). Reading one book a day does not allow that kind of study. I read. I make observations. I share them with you. Through this process, I am growing in my relationship with God by learning about him through His word, while trying to accomplish a very important goal. Join me!

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Today is Zephaniah Day!

I got as far as 1:1 and knew I had to reread the story of Josiah, king of Judah, in 2 Kings before reading Zephaniah. I highly recommend you do the same. In 2 Kings 22 & 23, the story of Josiah reigning as king is told. He was one of the rare kings that walked in the way of the Lord, repaired the temple, finds, reads and makes a covenant with God from the Book of the Law, restores the Passover, and then is killed in battle so that what the Lord promised him was fulfilled: "... because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place." 2 Kings 22:19-20

Josiah, after reading the Book of the Law, knew that disaster was coming their way because they had not chosen to follow God. Zephaniah, who was a prophet, confirmed Josiah's fears by the word of the Lord. God used Zephaniah to unload his plan of destruction.

1:2 "I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, declares the Lord." I truly believe (based on verses you'll see later on) that this isn't only prophesying the destruction of the chosen city, but also of the 2nd coming of Christ - the ultimate judgement day.

It's pretty obvious why God is destroying everything from the face of the earth in 1:2-6, nations across the world are guilty of idolatry...
  • 1:4 "... I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal..." the idol of the Babylonians known as the chief male diety
  • 1:5 "... those who bow down to the roofs to the host of the heavens..." refers to the celestial gods (sun, moon, venus, etc.)
  • 1:5 the mention of Milcom, also known as Molech, the fire-god. The Canaanites, Ammonites, Syrians, and Arabs were known for worshiping this idol and sacrificing children to it!
1:7 "Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests." This verse is one of the reasons why I believe this isn't only prophesying the destruction of Judah. "... the Lord has prepared a sacrifice..." Who is the ultimate sacrifice? Jesus Christ!

1:14 is also another verse making me believe that Zephaniah was also prophesying the coming of Christ, "The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements." The great day? The return of Jesus Christ!

2:3 "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord." God even tells them to "gather together" and seek him "before the decree takes effect" so that they may be saved from His wrath!

In chapter 2:4-9 many nations are listed that will experience the wrath of God: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod's people, Ekron, inhabitants of the seacoast, Cherethites, Canaan, Philistines, Moab, Ammonites. "Moab shall become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt its, and a wast forever." (2:9)

I love verse 2:11 "The Lord will be awesome against them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth, and to him shall bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations." There is only ONE God, and He is awesome. Every. Single. Knee. Will. Bow. to Him and Him ALONE.

2:13 "And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry wast like the desert." Hm... remember this? From Nahum? Where the prophet Nahum had a vision of the destruction of Nineveh? If not read my notes on Nahum Day! This isn't the only city, or nation, listed in this prophesy. My e-sword notes suggested that 1:10 "... a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate..." for example, represents Nebuchadnezzer and his soldiers entering the city to destroy it.

3:2 "She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God." Her/She refers to "the city" of Jerusalem and also refers to the nations. Is there a nation on earth that accepts correction, that trusts in the Lord? I honestly can't think of one, therefore, the world is doomed.

3:5 "The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame." For me, this just reinforces that concept that I can fully put my trust in God. He is unchanging, He is perfect, every, single, day!

3:8 "Therefore wait for me, declares the Lord, for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed." Each nation will be judged. God is a jealous God. The first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image of any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God..." Exodus 20:3-4. We have failed God in this first commandment over and over again. How many times in my own life did the things of this earth come before Him? Even my family or my husband... I may not have bowed down to worship those things, but they came first in my heart more times than I can count. Therefore, I am guilty of idolatry. It doesn't say here that individuals will be judged according to this, but nations! The United States was originally set up as a nation that trusted in God, and that is becoming no more. We are doing everything we possibly can to wipe Him out of school, the constitution, the work place, every where, and we will be judged as a nation for these actions! We will be a nation that God will "... pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed." The United States is not such a "mighty nation" to survive God and His wrath.

Thankfully there's a reason to rejoice. In chapter 3, verses 14-20 the nation of Israel will "never again fear evil." (3:15) because "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." I don't think that Zephaniah is referring to "the nation of Israel" alone. Jesus (the mighty one) came to this earth to die for the sins of the world, Israel was the chosen people, Abraham's offspring. When Jesus died, he showed no partiality, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:28) Those who believe in Christ and confess with their mouth that He is God, will be saved (Romans 10:9). Those who accept Christ as their savior are "adopted" into the kingdom, we are "heirs according to the promise," just as it says in Galatians. Hallelujah, we have a reason to rejoice!

Join me tomorrow as I read Haggai.

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