May 19

Zephaniah 1-3, Psalm 134

There is a tendency to place too much emphasis on the messenger and not enough on the actual message. As we continue through the many major and minor prophets the variation in their approach to God's message of judgment is vast, but each one issues the warning in an uncompromising fashion. While Jeremiah, who was a contemporary of Zephaniah was called the weeping/lamenting prophet, Zephaniah wielded a sledgehammer, holding nothing back and not sparing their feelings. The transition between near and far judgment flows throughout this book. Many of the judgments mentioned refer more to our time now. So, why are we, His current ambassadors and messengers so silent. Though no one knows the actual date and hour of Christ's imminent return, as events continue to culminate and unfold and prophecy is literally occurring right before our eyes, why do we remain silent? Do we not really believe it is going to happen? Do we not really care enough about those who will be judged? Like it or not, if we choose to remain silent at a time like this you must fall into one of those two camps. When it comes to judgment there are only two sides: saved and unsaved with no shades of gray in between. We may like to create a hierarchy in our own minds, like members of ISIS are somehow less deserving of Christ's offer than our pleasant agnostic family member, but this distinction is in our minds only. Both, if not in Christ will suffer the same fate of unbelief, and both are in the same need for the same message.

We read in Zephaniah 1:4-6, "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 and swear oaths by the Lord, But also swear by Milcom; Those who have turned back from following the Lord, And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him." For those in Judah who thought they were in His camp but compromised their faith by being complacent, uncommitted, or divided, they would be judged. For those who like to call themselves Christian but like to add a little of this from the horoscope or from Buddha, or would rather live for the world and not really be "fanatical" about Christ, just like for the people of Judah, titles mean nothing, you are either for Him or against Him. Zephaniah 2 goes on to describe the judgment on all those nations who openly defied God in that day. Likewise, all of those nations now which worship anything or anyone else but the One True God will fall into the wrath of his judgment. Notice in Zephaniah 1:8, it said, "And it shall be, In that 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." Jesus teaches a parable in Matthew 22:1-14, called the Parable of the Wedding Feast. We read in 22:2-3, "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come." The Parable continues as we read after the many failed attempts to reach those guests who were originally invited in 22:10, "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both good and bad. And the wedding hall was filled with guests." Notice the strong words of Jesus as this parable concludes in 22:11-14, "But when the king came to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "For many are called, but few are chosen." We who make up the bride of Christ are clothed in the right apparel. All others who like those in Zephaniah 1:8 are clothed in foreign apparel will suffer the consequences of the uninvited guest in Jesus' Parable.

So, knowing this, the same question remains as mentioned in the first paragraph. Do we remain silent because we doubt God's Word or because we don't really care? Even if you disagree with the convergence of seemingly end time prophetical events occurring in these days, we never know when those individuals who surround us at home, in our families, at work, in our neighborhood will breath their last and face judgment. Many state they are uncomfortable sharing their faith and the only hope that exists in the Name and Power of Jesus Christ. Others want a 10-step plan on the proper methods of sharing. We mistakenly place too much emphasis on our delivery and not enough emphasis on the message. His message is never changing. The gospel message is the gospel message and represents the only way to experience salvation. We can choose to weep like Jeremiah or be a hammer like Zephaniah. The same person can take different approaches at different times to different people. Like anything else in our lives we enter into real relationships with real people. Pray to God and allow the Holy Spirit to direct your approach and your words. He only needs a willing vessel, for the correct approach will always be His, not ours. Jesus commissioned all of us almost 2000 years ago in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to make disciples of all nations. We are not to pick winners or losers. Our heart's desire must be to reach out with God's message of salvation to anyone and everyone who might listen.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster