A Timely Message From Zephaniah!
Zephaniah was a prophet under the reign of Josiah from 640-609 B.C. Assyria had asserted a heavy influence on Israel in the early years of Josiah’s reign. As a result, many in Israel had fallen into foreign practices and the worship of false gods. Zephaniah, under the influence of the Spirit, rose up and began preaching against these practices and warning of the Day of Judgment that would come. This would be a particularly dark time of suffering and death for humans and animals alike. That day of judgment would come to Israel a mere 22 years after Zephaniah’s death, when Jerusalem fell in 587 B.C. Though they heard, they did not listen.
We are always in need of prophets it seems. We live in a time when all kinds of “foreign” practices seem to be present. Many claim to no longer believe in God, but make gods out of such finite and fragile and foolish things as money, power, sex, drugs, the list goes on. Many in our time worship a false sense of freedom. They believe that they are gods themselves. They have forgotten that freedom has nothing to do with the pleasure principles of the material world, but everything to do with the responsibility principles of our undeniable duties of love toward God and toward others. The result is a world full of darkness, and danger, and death.
Our day needs to hear prophets like Zephaniah telling us that our choices have consequences. We need to hear the call back to our truest selves as children of a loving and just God. God’s love is infinitely forgiving. He has made us free. We are free to choose him or to deny him. Both have their natural consequences.
There is a Day of Judgment that awaits us all. Those who come to know God and who willingly and humbly obey God’s law of love, will find God’s abundant forgiveness, and the infinite joy of salvation. Those who disobey out of prideful arrogance, and choose to remain unrepentant, even in as they look into the loving face of God, will find that God will allow the terrible weight of their own prideful sins to be the horror of their own judgment upon themselves. The prophecy is before us. Will we listen? As Zephaniah tells us here, the Lord God is always in our midst. As Christians, we know him to be the Mighty One who saves, who rejoices gladly over those who remain faithful to him. It is he, alone, who quiets our souls with his love.
Lord, help us to be diligent in humble and prayerful self-reflection. Help us to hear your voice speaking to us in the privacy of our consciences, revealing our faults and calling us back to you. Give us the courage and the strength to heed your voice and to turn back to you with all our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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