Today’s Reading: Zephaniah; 2 Kings 22 -23; 2 Chronicles 34-35; Psalm 1
Zephaniah was a prophet during the days of King Josiah’s reign. Josiah’s father, King Amon, had been assassinated for his plans to rise against the oppression of the Assyrian nation. The leaders of Judah then killed those who had conspired against and assassinated King Amon, making his eight year old son Josiah the next king.
Can you imagine being king over the nation of Judah at only eight years of age? Although his father did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Josiah pleased God and followed the example of his ancestor David. He led the nation to make repairs to the Temple. When he read the Book of the Law and heard how God planned to punish His people for their idolatry and unfaithfulness, Josiah grieved the future of his nation. Josiah summoned all the elders and had the Book of the Covenant read aloud, calling the people of Judah to renew their covenant in the presence of God. He also brought back the celebration of Passover.
It was during this time that the prophet Zephaniah was also trying to move God’s people to renew their covenant relationship with God. He told of the coming judgment – of the day of the Lord. He spoke of how our jealous God would punish the wicked but how God’s faithful people would enjoy the home He has prepared for them.
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” says the Lord…
“I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship.
I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear.
For they go up to their roofs and bow down to the sun, moon and stars.
They claim to follow the Lord, but then they worship Molech, too.
And I will destroy those who used to worship me but no longer do.
They no longer ask for the Lord’s guidance or seek my blessings.”
Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign Lord,
for the awesome day of the Lord’s judgment is near. – Zephaniah 1:2,4-7
This Scripture gets my attention when I think of the way our nation is pulling away from the foundations of faith on which it was built. “In God we Trust” is our motto but now prayer is vanishing from our places of government. There is a pride and self-reliance that has taken the place of yesterday’s humility and calling upon the Lord for strength. There is a call upon our nation to renew our covenant with the Lord.
“I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the Lord will do nothing to them, either good or bad.” – Zephaniah 1:12
What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem, the city of violence and crime!
No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction.
It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God. – Zephaniah 3:1-2
What can we do? What would be God’s call to His people today? Perhaps similar to what He called His people to do in the days of the prophet Zephaniah:
GATHER TOGETHER – yes, gather together, you shameless nation.
Gather before judgment begins, before your time to repent is blown away like chaff.
ACT NOW, before the fierce fury of the Lord falls and the terrible day of the Lord’s anger begins.
SEEK THE LORD, all who are humble, and follow his commands.
Seek to do what is right and to live humbly.
Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you – protect you from his anger on the day of destruction. – Zephaniah 2:1-3
We can come together and unite our voices in petition and repentance for our nation. We can ask the Lord to remain with us and help us to turn the hearts of our nation back to Him. I find these verses encouraging:
But the Lord is still there in the city…
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:5a,16-17
“On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again.” – Zephaniah 3:20a
God’s message through the prophet Zephaniah is clear and leaves us with a choice. There is judgment for those who claim to follow the Lord but no longer worship Him – for those who no longer ask for the Lord’s guidance or seek His blessings. But when we humble ourselves and trust in the name of the Lord, he delights in us! We are surrounded by His love and our fears are calmed. Not only are we blessed with His presence, He rejoices over us with singing! What an incredible realization! The Lord is with us and He takes delight in us, expressing His joy in song when we trust in Him and humble ourselves in His presence.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. – Psalm 1:1-3
Lord, we humbly seek you this morning. We seek to do what is right and to live humbly before you, as individuals and as a nation. Lord, forgive us for our pride and self-reliance. Forgive us for saying “In God We Trust” and then failing to trust in you or draw near to you. May your people gather together and unite to give you praise. May your presence in our lives, individually and as the body of Christ, make a difference in our nation. Lord, we pray for revival for our country. Mighty Savior, may you take delight today in your people and sing over us with joy. Amen.