The book of Zephaniah is a record of the messages of the prophet Zephaniah. As with most prophets, Zephaniah’s message focuses on current events for the people of Israel, but also has a secondary meaning, anticipating the life of Jesus.
Zephaniah focuses the attention of his critical remarks on the political and religious leaders of the nation. Zephaniah, more so than any other prophet, strongly and powerfully communicates that God will decisively deal with evil people (judgment) and that the righteous people will be rewarded (salvation).
Zephaniah is sometimes called a minor prophet. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t important, but merely that the book named after him is shorter. (Compare this to the major prophets, whose books are much longer.)
For the past several months, most of the A Bible A Day posts have been about the minor prophets. Recall that they are called “minor” not because their prophecy is insignificant, but because their books are short!
A quick read of the beginning of the book of Zephaniah sounds a lot like Noah and the flood:
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“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.
Aside from the minor issue that fish won’t likely be destroyed by a flood, the main problem is that this passage foretells a future event, but Noah and flood happened centuries before.
The flood was God’s judgment over rampant evil in the world. The righteous were saved, the wicked were not.
According to Zephaniah there will be another time of judgment. Jesus talks about this, too. Although God promises he will never again destroy the world with a flood, he doesn’t preclude using other means.
We don’t know when this will occur, but there is no need to worry for those who follow Jesus.
The short Old Testament book of Zephaniah opens with an apocalyptic prophecy. Amidst the forth telling of doom and gloom is the reminder that “neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them.”
The Message Bible, puts in more directly: “Don’t plan on buying your way out. Your money is worthless for this.”
What do we really depend on to save us from disaster? For most people, there is the real answer and the right answer — and they’re not always the same answer.
When things go bad, really bad, the end-of-time-bad, money’s not the answer, neither are things, nor power, nor influence, not even family and friends. We inherently know that ultimately only a higher power can save us, only God is the answer for life’s final question.
We know that, but do we actually believe it? Do we actually live it?
Don’t depend on the wrong things — there are eternal consequences on stake.
The word complacent means to be “pleased or satisfied” or especially, to be “extremely self-satisfied.”
This seems to describe many people that I know. They are complacent, perhaps not materially, but certainly spiritually. They are content to sit back, with no concern for their non-material well-being and little remorse for a lifestyle that is less then optimum; they are complacent.
God doesn’t like complacency. Through the prophet Zephaniah, he says he will search out the complacent people and punish them. They are even complacent about his response to their complacency, for God specifically says that they assume he will do nothing to them, neither good nor bad. They are truly complacent and God is ticked off.
Another group of people who suffer from complacency is the church in the city of Laodicea. To them God simply says he will spit them out. What an apt image of disgust — and for one who wants to be close to God, what a frightening picture of separation and aloneness.
I hope that God never finds me complacent — the consequences are too great.
A common practice in the United States (and perhaps globally) is to take parts from different religions and philosophies, mashing them together to form a personal belief system. Doing so is extremely consumer-centric: keep the parts you like and ditch the rest; keep what is comfortable and jettison everything that make you squirm.
Making up a belief system in that manner is really little more than deciding to believe in yourself; of making God in your image, to be who you want and need him to be for your own satisfaction and comfort.
It may seem like a good approach, but it’s not. The God who is revealed in the Bible doesn’t like it when people mix religious thoughts and practices. In fact, he has some harsh criticism for them, which he shared with the prophet Zephaniah.
Speaking through the prophet, God declares his judgment against those who mix the worship of him, with the worship of stars and the worship of others gods. Mixing and matching doesn’t work in God’s book.
He is not content to have our partial attention. He is jealous of our affections and wants it completely. We must give ourselves fully to him.