Zephaniah 3:6-8 (click here for passage)
In an episode of ‘Christianity Explored’, Rico Tice tells a story about being on a beach in Australia. He removed his shirt and was about to dive into the water, when someone came running up to him and frantically proceeded to point out warning signs that clearly said, ‘No swimming’. There were sharks in the water. When Rico demurred, the man walked away saying, ‘It’s up to you mate. You’ve seen the signs. You’re big enough and old enough to look after yourself. You decide what to do!’
God’s judgment on the nations (2:4-15) should have been a warning sign to Judah. And here’s the question for us: ‘Will we learn from God’s many judgments in history?’ (6) He has erected numerous warning notices for our protection. This sixth verse tells us that the (apparently) strong things people put their trust in will not support them ultimately. All we put pride and confidence in, apart from God, will prove unreliable. If we don’t build on the rock that is Christ’s Word we are actually trying to construct something on sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
Like Rico’s friend, the Lord pointed to the warning sign and underlined the message. But ‘’the city’’ still opted to swim in ‘shark infested waters’. The inhabitants of Jerusalem preferred the ‘pleasures of sin for a season’ to repentance and holiness (7b). You would imagine that no-one would choose to go and swim with the sharks!
Did Jerusalem learn?
No! They were guiltier than the Gentile nations because they were the recipients of a greater revelation and more blessing. As someone said, they were sinning against ‘’a flood of light’’. They forgot that covenant privileges also brought covenant responsibilities.
Will the world learn?
There is a clear line of teaching in the Bible that there is going to be a judgment poured out on the whole earth. If (8) refers to God using the Babylonian Empire to judge His people, it also looks beyond it to the greater judgment yet to come. We may not grasp the full picture; we may not possess all the details, but it is going to happen. Will we learn from what God has done previously? We have watched cities and nations ignore the warning signs and get eaten by sharks. Do we think we can dive into the ocean and come out unscathed?
‘’Well, if that’s what you want, stick around.’’ GOD’s Decree. ‘’Your day in court is coming, but remember I’ll be there to bring evidence. I’ll bring all the nations to the courtroom, round up all the kingdoms, And let them feel the brunt of my anger, my raging wrath. My zeal is a fire that will purge and purify the earth.’’ The Message.
There must be a purging with fire before a brand new sin-free universe can be born (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Prayer: Lord God, please help me to see and hear all your warnings and never ignore them. Thank you that you warn us out of love to save us from terrible danger.