God warned the people of Judah time and again to repent. Today, watchmen issue the same warnings to modern Christians. But, people, even Christians, love their sins more than they love God and His word. This is why so many believers prefer their individualistic, personal ‘interpretations’ of scripture. At the time of writing, Britain has been spared remaining in the EU. Now, we must build quickly on that blessing with truth and repentance, or God will stop the blessing and give us what we deserve. This is what Zephaniah is now telling the people of Judah, and his words apply to us today.
It is not primarily about politics, but about our relationship to Almighty God... politics is merely how we go about putting God’s word into practice in everyday social life. If we do not do this, our ‘politics’ is bad and ill-conceived. That is when errors and deliberate sins become normal for a country, just as they were in Judah. Apply these warnings to your own life and to national life in the West. Now, in the Middle East, the wickedness of Satan is dominant, and Islam is a dead corpse being made to move by human puppeteers, to be struck down in due time by God’s wrath.
Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you.
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
Come together, you people who are shamed by your sins! The Lord is giving due notice for you to repent and change your ways. If you do not, His wrath will come upon you swiftly. Twice, the prophet calls on them to be ‘meek’. To be ‘meek’, ‘anav, does not mean to slump the shoulders and act like defeated souls. The people of Judah, before Josiah and afterwards, were proud in their wicked sins and paganism, so they were ripe for wrath. They did not realise that though they desired to be sinful their sins made them defeated and needy, weak spirited, ready to be overcome by enemies... as happens today. To be meek is to acknowledge sin and get rid of it, to make oneself acceptable to the Lord Who owns us.
The people also had to “seek righteousness”, tsedeq, it is not just to accept that righteousness is required, but to actively go after it. Modern Christians are very good at accepting God’s word, but very poor at showing it in their everyday lives. Righteousness includes the instituting of justice – something we see little of today, as leaders give precedence to those in power or who have influence. It also includes doing what is right and normal: we see the destruction of this principle in the freeing of wicked homosexuals and Islamists to do whatever they wish with governmental blessing, though they harm everyone else.
‘Normal’ means anything designed and commanded by God. Tsedeq also applies to government, judges, kings, who have no right at all to do whatever they wish. As we see plentifully in 2 Kings, for example, God repeatedly condemns kings and rulers who lead the people along a wicked path away from Himself. They MUST do what is right – right as defined by the Lord, not themselves. Those who are righteous are those who are saved and obey God. (The word is also applied to king Cyrus, but not in this text). Righteousness has a much greater impact and meaning. People who are righteous will be protected at a time when God pours out His wrath on the unrighteous.
For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.
Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.
And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.
And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.
It is interesting that Gaza is here mentioned as being ‘forsaken’ by God, much as it is today. (Gaza, ‘the strong’, an area close to the Mediterranean. At this time inhabited by Philistines). In the same area was Ashkelon, another Philistine city condemned by God when it was run by Jews. Ashdod (‘powerful’), now Esdud, stood condemned, too. It was also on the Mediterranean coast, along with another former Philistine city in the plains of Judah, Ekron (‘emigration’ or ‘torn up by the roots’), given to the tribe of Dan. All these would be destroyed by God through the hands of a pagan king (Nebuchadnezzar).
These ex-Philistine cities were not alone. Added to these soon-to-be-ruined places was “the nation of the Cherithites”. These are mentioned in other records of king David, mercenary soldiers chosen to be state executioners and royal bodyguard, but linked to Philistines. Indeed, the whole of the land once owned by the pagan Philistines (here referred to as “O Canaan”) was judged ready for destruction. All would die. Note that this is telling us that God demands obedience even from pagans and those not part of His chosen people. The same applies today.
The fine cities, rich with merchants, would be ruined by the enemies of Judah, so that they would no longer thrive, but would be ruined poor dwellings of shepherds. Those who escaped the ferocious attacks of the enemy (“the remnant of the house of Judah”) would also live along the coast, having been driven there by soldiers, away from Jerusalem. They would sleep and live in the ruined houses of the Philistines, by reason of God’s mercy, though they could stop His wrath upon them even if they turned away from their sin.
Today, amidst political intrigue and ruin, believers must look for this mercy, rather than for economic stability, which will not come until we repent and change our ways. In any age, obeying God is the most important action to take, above any consideration to do with security, economics, and even migration; none of these things matter if God is not the prime reason to live. God can, and will, “turn away (our) captivity” if we obey.
I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border.
Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.
This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts.
The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.
Enemies of both body and soul like to scorn and speak against us, just as they did in Judah’s time. Moab and Ammon were once subject to the rule of Judah, but repeated sins by bad kings caused them to disdain Judah and, by association, God. The sins of Judah weakened the king and country, to the extent that Ammon and Moab gathered on the borders of Judah ready for war.
Though Judah deserved this scorn, God did not wish for the enemy to overtake Judah IF they repented and obeyed. God angrily said that the two enemy nations would be treated like Sodom and Gomorrah. Their lands would be handed over to weeds and saltpits in which nothing could grow. And, though Judah would be brought low, those who remained true to God would wage battle against Ammon and Moab, winning the fight. And this is what happened.
God despised the two enemy nations because they were proud of their own achievements and war capability. They made out they were better than Judah. In this they only saw the social and moral breakdown, and not the fact that Judah was part of God’s chosen people. Therefore, He would only permit to happen what was in His holy plan.
The Lord “would be terrible” against them, destroying the false gods they loved, as well as those who love them. (This is also what will happen to those who reject God and hold to profane beliefs today). This cull of the enemy nations would turn everyone back to Himself. I suggest that this was spoken just before the reign of Josiah, who made God’s will prominent in the nation. In such days, Josiah would have demanded that even vassal kings should worship the one true God, cast out false gods, and become moral. We can also see a similar demand throughout history.
Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.
And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.
And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work.
This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.
The same warnings were also given to the Ethiopians (also known as the Cushi (Kuwshiy, because of their black skin; descendants of Noah’s grandson Cush, through Ham), though Zephaniah’s own father was of Ethiopian stock. In 2 Chronicles 14 we find Asa engaging a battle against the Ethiopian army, a million men strong. Asa won the day, but the Ethiopians were a formidable foe and Isaiah prophesied their fall by God (Isaiah 18). Hence, “Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.” (That is, via Judah).
God would not stop there, but would also vanquish Assyria and super-rich Ninevah. To emphasise their total destruction God speaks of animals roaming in the city streets, from wild to domestic, turning these places into a wilderness. God would destroy the people for their arrogance. They thought no-one else was comparable, so lived as if they were themselves gods. Is this not like charismatics and secular society? And, today, like the wicked EU? But, all who think themselves above God will fall, to become a past tense to all who view them.
All this is our modern warning from God. If God removed the people He chose, do you think He would think twice about removing those who are elect? We will enter Heaven, because the saved are saved forever, but we should be very sure we do not enter the presence of God on judgment day carrying a load of shame on our shoulders. Today, we are weighed down by the results of our own sins. As I have repeatedly said, western Christians are so lax. God HAS to shake us up!
This laxity is brought about by our superficial holiness, covering a lifetime of disbelief and sin. We smile outwardly while we reject God inwardly. Is this not similar to the Islamic saying, ‘to smile with the face and hate with the heart’? It is exactly the same, for rejection of God’s word and refusal to act upon it is equal to hatred for Him. Do not pretend otherwise.
We are now overwhelmed by the demands of wicked people, from Islamists to homosexuals and atheists. We are in days similar to those at the time of Josiah, Zephaniah and Jeremiah, prior to the total destruction of the Temple and Judah, and the exile in Babylon. If we do not wish to be taken captive by our many enemies, we must heed the warnings and repent. We MUST change our ways and stand against prevailing evils.
Who will heed this warning?
© July 2016
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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