Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December 19: Zephaniah 1 – 3; Psalm 138; Proverbs 30:11-14; Revelation 10


            Zephaniah: The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah.
            The Lord says he is going to wipe everything off the face of the earth, men, beasts, birds, fish, you name it. He will wipe out Judah, Jerusalem, and all who worship idols, stars, and anything else.
            Be silent before the Lord because he will punish the officials and the king’s sons. He will punish those who dress as foreigners and those who hold to the superstitions of Dagon. He will search out those in Jerusalem who are complacent thinking the Lord will not punish or prosper people. All their belongings will be plundered.
            The day of the Lord is coming fast. It will be a disastrous day. Because of their sins, people will walk like the blind. They will be killed and left in the open. Their wealth will not save them. All the earth will be consumed in the Lord’s wrath.
            All the nations should seek the Lord, righteousness, and humility before all this happens and the day of the Lord comes upon them. Perhaps they will be spared. Gaza, will be deserted along with the seacoast. He will destroy Philistia until no one is left. The seacoast will be possessed by the remnant of Judah because the Lord will restore their fortune.
            The Lord has heard Moab and Ammon taunt his people. Moab and Ammon will become like Sodom and Gomorrah. The remnant of his people will possess these countries. Because of these nations’ pride, he will remove all their gods and they will bow before the Lord.
            He will wipe out Cush and Assyria making Nineveh so desolate that herds will pasture there along with wild animals. The city thought they were above it all but will become a home for wild animals.
            Jerusalem is rebellious and won’t list to or trust the Lord. Her rulers are devouring animals that leave nothing. The prophets and priest do violence to the Law. The Lord is righteous and just, but the unjust are not even ashamed. The Lord wiped out nations hoping that Jerusalem would notice and accept correction, but they just get worse in their corruption.
            In the future, the Lord will gather nations and pour out his wrath on them. All the earth will be consumed.
            He will also cleanse the speech of the nations so they will call on the Lord. His worshipers will come from beyond Cush. They will bring offerings. Jerusalem will no longer be put to shame because of their sins. The Lord will remove the sins of the prideful ones on his holy mountain. They will seek the Lord and be just and truthful.
            People of Zion are to sing, shout, and rejoice because the Lord has taken his judgment away from them. He will be in their midst. He will rejoice over them with singing as he quiets them with his love. He will take care of their oppressors, save the lame and outcast. Their shame will be changed to praise. They will be famous and praised when the Lord gathers them and restores their fortunes.
            Psalm: David gives thanks to the Lord with all that he has even among the gods. He thanks the Lord for his love, faithfulness, his exalted name, and word. He predicts that all the kings of the earth will also thank God when they hear God’s words. They will sign praises because of his glory and because he regards the lowly but not the proud. David declares that even in trouble, the Lord takes care of him. The Lord will fulfil his purpose for him because of his steadfast love that endures forever.
            Proverbs: There are people who curse their parents and do not bless them. Some think they are righteous but are really unrighteous. Some are so full of themselves they roll their eyes at everyone else. Some oppress poor people so viciously it is as if they are cutting them up and eating them.
            Revelation: Another mighty angel came from heaven. He had a little open scroll. He put one foot on the sea and the other on the land. He shouted loud as a lion and the seven thunders clapped. John was about to write what the thunders said but he was told not to write it down. Then the angel raised his hand to heaven and swore by the eternal God, the Creator, that there wouldn’t be any more delays. When the 7th trumpet was blown, then the mystery of God announced by the prophets would be fulfilled.
            The voice from heaven told John to take the scroll. The angel told John to eat the scroll. It would be sweet tasting but make his stomach sour. John was told that he must prophesy about many peoples, nations, languages, and king.

What Stood Out

            Zephaniah: “I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the Lord” (Zeph 1:2).
            Psalm: “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise” (Ps 138:1).
            Proverbs: “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Prov 30:12).
            Revelation: “But that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets” (Rev 10:7).


            Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord can be very confusing when we read prophecies. Zephaniah starts by saying that the Lord will completely destroy all living creatures from the earth. The first chapter is devoted to explaining why and who will be destroyed. However, in chapter 2, the Lord starts talking about people and nations being able to escape and that there will be a remnant of Judah. Chapter 3 gives hope for us all when he describes nations being changed to be righteous. He promises hope for a restored Israel.
            Perhaps part of the confusion comes from the translations we use. Many translations use the word earth, but others use the word land. Corresponding verses in the Old Testament use the word land and are referring not to the whole earth but the country of Judah and surrounding nations. This makes it clearer that the Lord is not necessarily speaking of the very final end of the earth when everything will be destroyed and there will be a new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:10-12; Rev 21:1).
            Yet, even in this view, the Lord says he will remove all creatures, which would imply a complete renewal. We can’t rule out that the lord is giving us a dual or even triple prophecy. The first fulfillment of the prophecy occurs when Babylon takes Judah and Jerusalem captive. The second fulfilment will be when Israel is completely restored. This didn’t happen after the return of exiles from Babylon. It will occur when Jesus comes back and reigns on earth during the millennium. Yet, there is still the final fulfillment when the earth will be completely renewed as mentioned before.
            Since this is really a mystery, we can concentrate more on the reasons that the Lord will bring this punishment on the land. There is nothing new in Zephaniah regarding the sinfulness of mankind. We’ve seen the indictments against Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem that correspond to the same evils we see in our world today. The solution or way of escape from the horrors of punishment is the same. Turn to the Lord and repent. Seek him and he will save you. We have a Savior and his name is Jesus. All these prophets are part of the redemptive story that culminates in Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Our only way of escape from eternal punishment for our sins is trusting Jesus as our Savior when we admit our sins and repent.
            Psalm: When we are grateful to the Lord we are able to praise him even in the midst of all the evil that surrounds us. The gods of this world will do what they can to keep us from being thankful, but they will fail when we remember that God is in charge. We can be assured, along with David, that the Lord will fulfill his purpose in us. Note that it isn’t our purpose for us but his purpose for us. When we realize that, we can have peace in the midst of turmoil.
            Proverbs: The biggest obstacle to salvation is not the seriousness of a person’s sins. People may curse their parent. They may think they are better than other people. They may oppress others and even commit murder, steal, and do all sorts of evil things. The seriousness of their sins isn’t the biggest obstacle to their salvation. The fact that they don’t think they are sinners is the biggest obstacle. If a person can’t see the need for a Savior, then he won’t turn to Jesus for salvation.
            Revelation: Looking back at the prophecies of Zephaniah, one of the mysteries of God is how all these prophecies take place. We saw predictions of what could be a total destruction of all animal life on earth, just in the Middle East, or some other partial fulfilment. Now, this angel with his head in the clouds and stands on both land and sea, proclaims there will be no more delay. They mystery that the prophets announced will happen during the last trumpet.
            The prophets announced several mysteries that were not understood until Jesus came. They told of Jesus suffering for our sins, dying, and being resurrected on the third day. No one understood this until Jesus actually did it. It was a mystery. Then the mystery of including the Gentiles into one body, the church, along with Jews who believe in Jesus was a mystery until the first Gentiles were saved and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-48; 11:18). Paul spoke of this mystery in Ephesians 3:6.
            Then there is the mystery of the relationship between Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride (Eph 5:32). I’m not sure we will really understand this until we are in heaven and the wedding supper of the Lamb takes place.
            These two mysteries, how the last times will occur and the wedding supper of the Lamb will be revealed in this last trumpet. I pray we will all escape the destruction and we will all partake in the wedding supper of the Lamb.


            I want to warn people about the mystery of the end times. I want to be ready no matter how it turns out, but I also want to have as many people as the Lord give me to join in the Church, the body of Christ.

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