Thursday, March 10, 2016

God’s Judgment Will Affect Everyone

Zephaniah 1:1-18

"The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.” (Zephaniah 1: 1)

Josiah was Judah’s last good king.  He reigned just before 600 BC.  His father was a wicked king and his sons would emulate their grandfather, leading to the defeat of Judah, first by Egypt, then eight years later, by Babylon.  Like the other prophets, Zephaniah is warning what is about to happen.   I have not specified exact dates, because records discovered in  Babylon indicate the traditional historical dates are inaccurate, perhaps by as much as forty years. 

“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.  I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.” (Zephaniah 1:2-3)  

When God wipes out the land, he said he will leave it desolate, with even the fish and birds wiped out.  The population will be completely removed, along with all the various idols that they have followed.  Four times in the next twenty years, huge invading armies would descend on the land, devouring all the food and killing the game before Nebuchadnezzar finally razed Jerusalem and the surrounding cities to end the constant rebellion, moving the people to Babylon, and Telabib, in present day Syria. 

“I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.” (Zephaniah 1: 4-6)

Even in Josiah’s day there were those who worshipped Baal, the different stars and planets, and the Zidonian god, Milcom, even while participating in the Jewish religion.   Others had just rejected all religion, or just become indifferent.  God would destroy all of them. 

“Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.  And it shall come to pass 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 strange apparel.  In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. ” (Zephaniah 1:7-9)  

When God’s judgment fell, Zephaniah and the people who served God were not interfere or try to prevent it.  It was God who would be punishing the leaders for adopting the religions and cultures of the other nations.  At the same time, he would punish the common people who were involved in crime and murder. 

“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.  Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off. ” (Zephaniah 1: 10-11)

God’s judgment will affect everyone in the area, from the fishermen on the sea, to the shepherds and cattlemen ibn the hills, to the merchants downtown, to the bankers and stock traders.  The entire economy will be affected, and the survivalist hiding in the hills will not escape. 

“And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.  Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. ” (Zephaniah 1:12-13)

There will be a thorough search of the city using candles or flashlights to find all the hiding places where people and valuables might be concealed.  They will find all the people that have believed God is powerless or doesn’t care.   The property will be taken by the searchers, and the homes left in ruins.  All their efforts to make things better will be wasted. 

“The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.  That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,  A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. ” (Zephaniah 1:14-16)

The day of God’s judgment was very close.  When it came, those who were considered strongest would cry in desperation because everything they had built and enjoyed was taken away, and their seemed to be no hope as both the small towns and major cities were destroyed. 

“And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.  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 shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. ” (Zephaniah 1:17-18)

People will be so upset they are unable to decide what to do, because of the results of their sin.  They will be killed indiscriminately, and their bodies treated like just a piece of garbage.  No amount of wealth will protect them, but the entire nation will be destroyed because of God’s anger. 

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