Minor Prophets-

Zephaniah

KLMX Radio

April 2011

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

Welcome once again to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines and Iím here today to talk about another of the so-called "Minor Prophets". Today weíre going to look at the writings of Zephaniah. Now, I have a confession to make and that is that I actually didnít know anything about Zephaniah before starting todayís message. Thatís partly why Iím doing this series, though- to make myself look at portions of the Bible that I wouldnít normally look at. I also confess that I considered skipping Zephaniah and going on to another prophet. After all, there are 12 Minor Prophets and I have 10 days in which to talk about them. Someoneís gotta get skipped and just about the time I thought that maybe Zephaniah didnít have much to say, I remembered that heís in the Bible (and Iím not) and maybe heís there for a good reason. So, I got out an excellent commentary on the Minor Prophets by James Montgomery Boice and got schooled on Zephaniah. Boice was a huge help on all the Minor Prophets, but especially so on Zephaniah. So, thank you James Montgomery Boice for the help. More correctly, thank you God for speaking thru Dr. Boice! And now may God bless this message and allow me to accurately communicate some of the truth in His wonderful word to your listening ears, amen.

First of all, Zephaniah is not Zechariah. Donít confuse them. Zechariah gets a lot more pages and comes a little later in the Bible. Zephaniahís time of writing is interesting. At first glance, he seems to be reusing some of the imagery and phrasing of other prophets. As such, you might consider him to be summarizing the others. He seems to be writing just before the judgment of Nineveh and also seems to be unaware of the great revival that occurred in the time of Josiah. This would date his writings to about 629-639 BC according to Boice. If this is correct, itís possible that Zephaniah played a part in the revival of Josiah.

Letís read a little bit of Zephaniah:

The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. "I will utterly consume everything From the face of the land," Says the LORD; "I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," Says the LORD. "I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, But who also swear by Milcom; Those who have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him." Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. "And it shall be, In the day of the LORD's sacrifice, That I will punish the princes and the king's children, And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. In the same day I will punish All those who leap over the threshold, Who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. "And there shall be on that day," says the LORD, "The sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, A wailing from the Second Quarter, And a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; All those who handle money are cut off. "And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.' Therefore their goods shall become booty, And their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine." The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. "I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse." Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land. (Zephaniah 1:1-18 NKJV)

Zephaniah follows a 4 part pattern common to most of the Minor Prophets:

An opening prophecy concerning the coming Day of the Lord.

A series of judgments against Gentile nations,

Anticipation of a new day for Godís blessings.

A call to repentance.

What I just read is Chapter 1 in which we see the opening prophecy and warning. After this is an urging:

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD's fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD's anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD's anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3 NKJV)

Whatís interesting about this is that even after all the woe and destruction of Chapter 1, there is still hope. God says "seek the Lord!" and those who seek Him will be saved from the destruction just mentioned. This was a truth in Biblical times and itís a truth today. No one who seeks mercy by the hand of God is ever turned away, and all who do so are saved. Only those who refuse are doomed. Now to me, it just seems to make sense that, being warned of oncoming wrath and offered a life-preserver, that youíd take the life-preserver, but to do that, you would first have to admit that youíre worthy of wrath. And thatís where the stumbling block lies. People donít want to admit that they are sinners, objects of Godís wrath. Theyíll have all kinds of excuses- "God is a loving God!" "Iím not that bad- I mean Iím not perfect or anything- but Iím not as bad as so and so."

But the truth is right here in front of us. God is punishing these people because they "have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him". Heís going to "punish the men who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil." And Heís punishing those "who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit." All of these are quotes from Chapter 1 of Zephaniah. We might consider those to be "little" sins, but God evidently does not. In fact, most of these deal with the 1st Commandment- "thou shall have no other Gods before me." That is hardly a "little" sin. Again, though, this is a God who has provided relief from the punishment-

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD's fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD's anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD's anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3 NKJV)

Seek humility! All one has to do is admit their shortcomings and ask for mercy. Itís such a simple thing.

God cannot, of course, just forgive our sins. He canít just overlook our shortcomings and spiritual failures. And so while He can provide mercy, someone still has to pay the price for our sins and for our transgressions in honoring other Gods. Once again, though, God has it covered in that He provided Jesus Christ as one both willing and capable of making that payment. As Paul tells us:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (Romans 3:21-25 NKJV)

And John writes:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NKJV)

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NKJV)

Now, what is it that Jesus saves us from? Back to Paul in Romans:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:8-9 NKJV)

It is, in fact, the wrath of God from which Christ saves us. The same wrath of God that was about to fall upon the recipients of Zephaniahís message. Some of them repented, asked for mercy, and were saved. We, who have both Zephaniahís message and the message of the entire New Testament, are in the same boat. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All have available the saving power of Jesus Christ. What will you do? Will you hold to your sin and perish? Or will you be saved thru faith in the atoning works of Jesus Christ? Itís such a simple choice.

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