Zephaniah 1:4-13 (click here for todays passage)

The book of ‘Zephaniah’ opens with God speaking. He says that He is going to ‘’sweep’’ the whole world clean (2, 3). However, He was going to start with His own people (see 1 Peter 4:17, 18). He was going to start pushing His broom around Judah and Jerusalem.

Here are some extracts from The Message: ‘’I’ll start with Judah and everybody who lives in Jerusalem. I’ll sweep the place clean of every trace of the sex-and-religion Baal shrines and their priests. I’ll get rid of the people who sneak up to their rooftops at night to worship the star gods and goddesses; Also those who continue to worship GOD but cover their bases by worshipping other king-gods as well; Not to mention those who’ve dumped GOD altogether, no longer giving him a thought or offering a prayer…I will punish those who dress up like foreign priests and priestesses, Who introduce pagan prayers and practices; And I’ll punish all who import pagan superstitions that turn holy places into hellholes…Wail, you shopkeepers on Market Street! Moneymaking has had its day. The god Money is dead. On Judgment Day, I’ll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem. I’ll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy, amusing themselves and taking it easy, Who think, ‘God doesn’t do anything, good or bad. He isn’t involved, so neither are we.’ But just wait. They’ll lose everything they have, money and house and land. ‘’

So here are some things God is going to ‘’sweep away’’:

  • Idolatry (4, 5a, 8, 9; see Leviticus 18:2; Judges 2:11-13): God hates false religion. It breaks His commandments and steals from His glory;
  • Syncretism (5b): This is the mixing of the worship of the Lord with strange ‘ingredients’ from other religions. It results in a bitter tasting ‘cake’ that God hates. It does not please Him. People may have been ‘hedging their bets’ in worshipping several gods. If so, this exposed their lack of faith in and loyalty towards the true God;
  • Backsliding/apostasy (6);
  • Complacency (12, 13): In spite of repeated prophetic warnings, and ‘signs of the times’, there were many people who refused to listen or see. Their view was that things would just carry on as normal and God wouldn’t do anything. They saw Him as inactive; as being indifferent to sin (see 2 Peter 3:3-7; Deuteronomy 28:30-33). So they kept their heads down and enjoyed their comfortable lifestyles. But they would be in for a rude awakening. God said that He had ‘’prepared a sacrifice’’ (the people of Judah). He had ‘’invited’’ the Babylonians to be the ‘’consecrated’’ priests at this sacrifice (7). This judgment came upon Judah about thirty years after Zephaniah spoke these words (see 2 Kings 25:1-11). We may not like to read words about judgment, but if you ignore them you will be avoiding much of the Bible. It is because God loves people so much that He hates evil so much. Whenever judgment is spoken about, the thing to always remember is that forgiveness is available to all who repent and trust in Christ. He died in our place. That is good news! But first we need to receive the bad news of how ‘sick’ we are before we will put ourselves in the hands of the ‘Doctor’.

Prayer: Help me to permit no idols to cross the threshold of my heart. I pray that you will reign supreme in me.