Zephaniah, like most of the prophets, is used of the LORD to warn His chosen people, Israel, of what they face for their sin and rebellious attitude. He loved them so greatly – and He still does – but they went their own way thinking that they knew better than God Himself. As a collective body, their heart was not for Him. The details of the book of Zephaniah apply to Israel and the nations the LORD chooses to use to effect His judgment on them. In one sense, it had already started, as Nebuchadnezzar’s army overran Jerusalem four years after the king of Zephaniah’s day died. Fulfillment of these judgments will occur during the seven years or so after Christians (who are so by faith, not just by name) are taken to be with Christ. This opportunity to be saved from the wrath to come (1 Th. 1:10) may end at any moment!
So, if the book is related to Israel, what meaning does it have for us? The Concise Bible Dictionary points out that despite the outward reformation under a godly king who trembled at God’s law, “the Spirit of God could read the hearts of the people, and could see what moral corruption was associated with the outward worship of God.” We may be deceived into thinking that if people behave better the Lord’s coming and judgment for the world will be delayed. That is not the case!
God knows the heart of man. He is not deceived by those who claim to be Christians and have a show under the name of Jesus Christ, but with no real truth or heart for Him. Just as individuals are warned, so are Christian fellowships who follow a person rather than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Individuals who believe in Him will be saved, as the Lord rejoices over those who love and obey Him. So we ask: Are you reading His Word daily, growing in His grace? Does the church group where you fellowship gather in the name of the Lord alone (Mt. 17:8, 18:20), practicing what is written in the letters of Paul to the Church? We are warned; how will you respond?
By Paul Alberts
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org