Wednesday, August 24, 2022

           Zephaniah was another one of the Old Testament’s minor prophets.  Like many other prophets, he had a message of judgment that he received from the Lord God.  In his three chapters, he prophesied primarily to Judah and some surrounding nations.  Apparently, according to verse one, Zephaniah was a descendant of King Hezekiah of Judah.  Some who read this Old Testament prophet see chapter one with some end-time, final judgment imagery.  We read, “‘I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,’ declares the Lord” (1:2).  The earth as a whole has not yet met the full or final judgment of God.  That time is looming at some moment in the future.  But the prophet does promise that God will set right anything that is wrong.  He will not allow unrighteousness and wickedness to prevail. 
            If we carefully read Zephaniah 1:7 we find that he emphasized a spiritual discipline that has value for us to this day.  We read, “Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near.”  Keeping still and silent before the Lord is one way to worship Him and one way that we grow in our faith.  Silence, solitude and solemnity are ways of turning down the volume of the world and turning up our awareness of God’s presence with us.  Entering into and maintaining silence can be difficult.  But when we embrace silence before the Lord, we find just how fulfilling it is to step away from the noise and clutter of the world around us.  The demands of life can easily encroach upon us to the point that we lose time with the Lord and even sight of the Lord.  Silence brings us back to the first and best things—knowing and walking with the Lord God.
            While Zephaniah proclaimed judgment from God upon Judah, he also held out the prospect of renewal and restoration.  This judgment would not endure or last forever.  God would give Judah a new day and a new life.  Zephaniah made this promise on God’s behalf, “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Zephaniah 3:9).  Lips that once cried out to idols and offered worship to the same would be made right and righteous once again.  The lips of Judah would sing of God’s greatness and offer worship in His Name.  The lips that once called on empty gods and equally empty promises would turn to call on the Lord and profess allegiance to His promises. 
            Zephaniah challenges us today to think how and what we profess.  Do we chase after and hold on to the empty promises of this world or do we trust God?  Do we offer worship to the tangible things that we own (or that own us) or do we bring our worship to the Lord who has made us and saved us?  Do we give away our loyalty and allegiance without much thought to who receives it from us?  Prophets often challenge us with unpopular and inconvenient truths that we cannot dismiss lightly or easily.  But God can set right any heart that is divided or broken.  God can redeem worship that has been offered in the wrong ways and the wrong sources.  God can make us well again and heal us just as He healed Judah and restored the people.  If we ever want to consider what has first place in our lives, we need only to look at our calendar and our money.  Where do we spend our time and our blessings?   Today, as you consider Zephaniah, read his brief prophecy for yourself.  See what He might say to you about your worship and the ways you live before the Lord.  Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember you can worship any time and share our worship with others anywhere at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.

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