December 19

Zephaniah 1:1–3:20

Zephaniah was the great-grandson of Hezekiah and is the last of what we would call the “pre-exilic prophets.” He prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah, during the days of Josiah. Some say he may have been instrumental in bringing about the revival at that time, but tragically it was a revival that was short-lived.

Judah would be consumed, God would cut off the Israelites from the face of the land. His people needed to be purified from the Baals and other idols such as Milcom who was an Ammonite god. The people were deceived into thinking they could serve the LORD AND other gods – they were wrong. The people had turned away from following the LORD, from seeking or inquiring of Him. It didn’t matter if they were princes or money-handlers – judgment was looming. 

Zephaniah 1:12 (NKJV) “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.’”

Beware of complacency. Beware of thinking that God is indifferent, that God won’t get involved, that God doesn’t reward or judge – indeed, He does both. The Day of the Lord, the day God would judge was near.

In Zephaniah 2:3 the prophet invites the people to seek the LORD…perhaps God would show mercy, relent, or at least delay.

But it wasn’t just Judah who was in trouble. We see in Zephaniah 2 that God was also warning the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Ethiopians, and Assyrians. These nations felt secure in their sin…when they shouldn’t have.

Zephaniah 2:15 (NLT) “This is the boisterous city, once so secure. ‘I am the greatest!’ it boasted. ‘No other city can compare with me!’ But now, look how it has become an utter ruin, a haven for wild animals. Everyone passing by will laugh in derision and shake a defiant fist.”

It’s so sad to see the opening indictments against Jerusalem in Zephaniah 3, especially the fact that, “She has not drawn near to her God.” The leaders in prominent places were like roaring lions and wolves. The same was true for priests and prophets who did violence to the law (they didn’t heed it or teach it accurately).

God would judge Jerusalem…but as we’ve seen time and time again, God would show mercy.

There’s always a remnant of Israel, now and in the future. Today God has restored the Hebrew language, something that had been previously lost (Zephaniah 3:9). Eventually the day will come when Israel will be completely restored – in the Millennial Kingdom, King Jesus will rule from Jerusalem. Notice how beautifully it’s expressed:

Zephaniah 3:14–15 (NKJV) “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more.”

Can you imagine the day that God SINGS over His people?

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

All this is ultimately fulfilled in the Kingdom age.

Zephaniah 3:20 (NLT) “On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Revelation 10:1-11

You may have noticed a pattern by now. 7 seals and then an interlude; 7 trumpets and then this interlude. We’ll see it again later, after the 7 bowls of judgment, an interlude.

In the Greek language the words “mighty angel” are literally “strong messenger.” I believe that this messenger is none other than Jesus Christ. Now, we must remember that Jesus is not an angel in our classic sense of the word, He is God the Son, second Person of the Trinity; but Jesus is a messenger, He’s the Divine Angel of the Lord.

Notice His clothing – He’s clothed with a cloud. Clouds are often connected with the glory of God. We read in:

Exodus 16:10, (NKJV) “Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.” 

It’s interesting, when Lucifer fell in his foolish pride, we read his words in:

Isaiah 14:14, (NKJV) “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

Not only does He have the clothes of God, He has the crown of God, that of the rainbow, taking us back to John’s first vision of God and His throne in Revelation 4:3. His face like the sun, is similar to the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:16, and his feet take us back to Revelation 1:15. Most commentators believe the book He has in His hand is most likely the title deed to the earth, for this is a picture of Jesus’ literal, actual return to claim His property (He redeemed the world) which was purchased on Calvary.

Imagine the day when there’s no more delay.

The book is also somehow connected to the Scriptures, to prophecy, and even the book of Revelation itself, for John is commanded to take and eat the book. The voice from heaven tells him that the book will be bitter-sweet. So John took the book, ate it, and sure enough, it was bitter-sweet.

As John prophesied, he needed to take in the Word before he could distribute it; in many ways the message is bitter-sweet.

Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “…to share God’s message, we must take the Word, receive it inwardly like food, and let it become part of us (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 3:1–11; 1 Thess. 2:13). The Word is sweet when you read it (Ps. 119:103) but bitter when it goes deeper and you digest it.”

On this side of time it’s hard to digest. We long for Jesus to come and claim His rightful throne, to reign from Jerusalem, to eradicate and end all evil. But many souls will suffer and perish forever and ever. On the other side of time we will have a better grasp of it all, and even now we know that God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked. We read in:

Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJV) “Say to them: ‘AsI live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”

It’s bitter-sweet, there’s no way around it, but all of God’s messengers are required to eat and share God’s Word.

Psalm 138:1-8

This brief Psalm of David is packed with powerful truths to contemplate.

Do I praise God with my WHOLE HEART? (Psalm 138:1)

Do I praise Him for His love and truth?

Speaking of truth – do I realize that God has magnified His Word above His name? That speaks volumes! The Jews venerated the name of the LORD so much, that we don’t really know how to pronounce it because they were afraid to speak it, or even write it, and violate the third commandment which forbids us to take His name in vain. But here we read that God’s Word has been elevated above His name! Do I praise God for the Bible?

David shares how God answers prayer (Psalm 138:3) and David knows that one day every knee will bow, even the kings of the earth…to the King of kings.

Psalm 138:6 (NKJV) “Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.”

Let’s humble ourselves. Let’s encourage ourselves in that God regards us, loves us, thinks of us, and is working out a wonderful plan for all of our lives. That’s what we read in v. 8

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.”

The Lord will finish what He’s started in all our lives. In His mercy He will not forsake us, the work of His hands…we know that and it’s just good to pray that…pray Bible.

Proverbs 30:11-14

Proverbs 30:11 (NKJV) “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.”

It is important to honor our parents. This is the 5th commandment of the 10, and it’s the first with promise.

Exodus 20:12 (NKJV) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Ephesians 6:1–3 (NKJV) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

This is so important to God that it carried the death penalty in Israel’s civil law!

Exodus 21:17 (NKJV) “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

Proverbs 30:12 (NKJV) “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.”

Often we’re blinded to our own sins because we’re looking at ourselves through the lenses of this “lower” land. This “generation” might be moral, stable citizens, educated, sophisticated, and dedicated to their cause, but if they have refused God and His provision for pardon, they are NOT washed from their filthiness. Everyone needs Jesus (Revelation 1:5)

Proverbs 30:13 (NKJV) “There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.”

In Proverbs 6:16-17 we have a list of 7 things God hates, things that are an abomination to Him – the first on the list is a “Proud look.” That’s what lofty eyes are.

Isaiah 2:11–12 (NKJV) “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low.”

David prayed on this:

Psalm 131:1 (NKJV) “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.”

Proverbs 30:14 (NKJV) “There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.”

According to the Scriptures, “cannibalism” is common, there is a generation that’ll eat you alive, that devours the poor.

We see it frequently in society, how the poor are swallowed up, treated like a piece of property , they’re denied justice, defrauded, undermined, and overtaxed.

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