God paints a beautiful picture of what Israel would be after the captivity. I think He speaks also to us regarding the qualities of the church. Notice these beautiful thoughts from Zephaniah 3
Zephaniah 3:12–13 (NASB95)
“But I will leave among you A humble and lowly people, And they will take refuge in the name of the LORD. 13 “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong And tell no lies, Nor will a deceitful tongue Be found in their mouths; For they will feed and lie down With no one to make them tremble.”
What a change from their rebelliousness before captivity. Let’s zero in on one of the great qualities that God admires and is looking for in His people. Ze 3:9 speaks of people with purified lips, 13 says there will be no lying or deceitful tongue. Recall that heaven is a place with no liars (Re 21:8). Paul reminds us not to lie to one another (Co 3:9). Truth is a value that we all ought to strive for and lying is something we should work to destroy from our lives.
“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another” Ephesians 4:25 (NASB95).
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” Ephesians 4:22 (NASB95)
Telling the truth was important to God. He demanded it from His people in the 10 Commandments of Exodus 20. Lying and deceit come from the devil for he is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). It was lying that started man down the road of separation from God (Ge 3:4). It was deceit and false witness that paved the way for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Yes, heaven and the church are beautiful places because the inhabitants speak the truth in all things.
Zephaniah brings us a look and warning about the fierce Day of the Lord. He tells us there is no avoiding the judgment that will happen (1:7, 8). He warns that those who worship any god but Jehovah will suffer punishment from the pauper in the street to the king in his strong tower. No one can avoid the judgment of God.
That day is a terror-filled day of decimation and death (1:14-17). All the things many have worked for will fail them on that day (1:18). Notice the descriptive words God uses to describe that fear-filled day.
It will be a day of wrath, trouble and distress, destruction and desolation, darkness and gloom, clouds and darkness, trumpet and battle cry, against fortified cities and high corner towers. There will be no escape from the fearful wrath of God for those who do not obey Him.
These same descriptions foretell the last day when all the earth shall melt with fervent heat and every person shall stand before the judgment seat of God. I praise God that He gives warning about the wrath that is to come. He tells us if we will seek Him there will be grace and mercy and restoration (2:3).
“O do not let the word depart, Or close thine eyes against the light, O Sinner harden not your heart.” Elizabeth Reed
Today is the day of salvation don’t put off what you must do to avoid the Fierce Day of the Lord and embrace the Wonderful day of our Lord’s Return.
The world does not really change much over time. People think and act like they always have since Creation. There are periods of great apostasy, dark times where the only intention of man’s heart is to evil continually. Then there are times of renewal when a man’s heart is drawn to God and service to Him.
The Colossian church had many of the same problems we have in the religious world today. They were religious but not adherent to God’s teachings. When Paul wrote to them, they were not only looking to Jesus for salvation, but also Moses, the practices of pagan religions and many other religious ideas. They combined all the teachings together in a false-teaching stew of which they ate heartily.
In our day denominations glean teaching from both the Old and New Testaments. They combine teachings of Moses and Christ and man made doctrines as well. Sadly, this breaks the heart of the one true God and Christ. The church at Colossae was encouraged to leave all the teachings except those of Christ and practice only them.
The one thing that Colossae had going for them was a young, on fire love for the Lord. They loved Epaphras’ teachings enough to leave paganism, hedonism, and man-made philosophy. They were confused by all of the “religious” teaching, but they still loved the Lord and Paul could help them correct their error.
If we today truly love the Lord, we will imitate Paul as he did Christ. We will keep the religions of Christ pure and free from mixing in foreign doctrine and practice. We will do what we can to abandon worldly doctrines of man and trade them for Bible teaching only.
Colossians is a great place to study to see how Paul led these Christians to perfection in practice and doctrine.
I know there is a great controversy over the open border to our country. The main issue is coming into this country illegally, coming in without following the established rules. These rules are there to protect our nation from anyone who would harm its citizens.
However, the draw of living in this country lures many hungry, poor and needy people who need refuge and help. Some are escaping despotic leaders, drug cartels, and other horrible things. They want to live here and enjoy the freedoms offered here.
Isn’t this similar to Heaven? Many want to go there. Some will do everything required to enter that city. They will follow the entrance requirements so they are assured entrance when they arrive at the border. However, there are some who want to enter without following the rules set by the King.
The King wants everyone to become citizens of Heaven. He even died to pay the cost of entrance and to purchase a home for each person who truly wants to be a subject. However, some do not want to obey the requirements for entrance and they cannot have a home in this heavenly kingdom. Notice that the entrance requirements ban certain individuals from coming and the rules are there to keep them out.
The devil tops that list, his helpers and angels will not be able to enter. Those who do not follow the lamb cannot enter heaven. Paul lists a group of people who must change in order to go to heaven in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. God has put up a boarder to protect the city letting in only those who meet the entrance requirements. Those who will not meet these standards cannot enter in and will not hurt those who do.
If you want to make Heaven your home, I’d love to share with you what God requires for entrance and to claim the home Jesus wants to build for you.
“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7 (ESV)
Is almost an echo of the thoughts of Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
If we would be faithful to the Lord, there is a safe place where we won’t fear his judgment or what the wicked one tries to do to us. In Nahum, the Assyrians were not trusting in God. They worshiped other gods and did many sins contrary to God’s way. Therefore, there was no hope for their safety when God’s wrath was poured out. Yet, Israel was preserved and even returned to their native lands.
In the judgment the wicked will not be able to stand, but every faithful child of God will be protected and rewarded because God knows them (Lk 12:7). Running to the Refuge of God’s holy place is the privilege of any who seek him (Mt 7:7). We can even be called his children (1Jn 3:1).
Couched in a book about God’s fierce anger toward a sinful nation are some encouraging words we should take to heart.
“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).
God does not fly off the handle. He has patience with us.
Most people don’t learn easily or quickly. Old habits and engrained desires take time to dissipate. I am glad that God is merciful and kind to us in that when we are trying to do right, he will forgive all sins we confess (1Jn 1:7-9). Where would we be without the goodness, kindness, mercy and long-suffering from the Heavenly Father?
Nahum is telling us about a nation who had gone past God’s dividing line of love and justice. They were high handed, idolatrous and cruel. So God would soon destroy their prideful society and nation. Remember, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31). God is angry for only when provoked by evildoers.
“God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11 NKJV).
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” Romans 11:22 (ESV)
There is no greater example of this than the great city of Nineveh. God sent Jonah to preach to them about their coming destruction. They repented and God spared them. However, that repentance didn’t last forever. We find God sending another prophet about 100 years later. They had gotten worse than they were before. God calls them the “bloody city, full of lies and plunder, no end to the prey” (3:1). He condemns them as unfaithful betraying Him with her whorings (3:4).
Some of the scariest words follow in verse 5… Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts… Nothing could be done to save Nineveh her fate was set (3:7). It was time to “meet their God” (Amos 4:12). They were like ripe figs shaken into the mouth of the eater. No matter what they did, they were going to face the wrath of God, because of their wickedness.
In this little book of Nahum, we are reminded that God is patient, loving and kind if we are willing to turn to Him (1:12-13). God would send Israel back home. They had repented and were ready to put away their idolatry.
Yes be ready to face either the good or the severity of God. The choice is yours do right and God rewards do wickedly and you will face God’s righteous justice.
I don’t know how many people I’ve preached to who have died. They heard their last sermon. I pray that they were obedient to the will of God before they passed. What we must realize is that eventually we all will listen to our last sermon, have our last opportunity to obey God, change our ways. Death will end all opportunities.
“What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah” (Psalm 89:48 ESV).
Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept for the people who would miss the opportunity to do right and miss imminent destruction in just a short 40 years (Luke 19:41-44). He knew they would reject the Savior and the way of salvation. Due to this rejection terrible destruction would fall upon them. The destruction of Jerusalem is one of the most horrific wars to ever have happened. The people were locked in the city. Starvation and disease claimed so many lives that there was no place in the city to bury all the bodies, thus they threw them over the wall. The misery could have been avoided if only they had listened to the message of the Lord.
The opportunity to do good and right will end for all of us one day. Today is the opportunity to obey and do good. Please claim the day and the occasion. You may not have another.
It is heart breaking to see Jesus weeping over the people in Jerusalem. Even knowing in a little while they would crucify Him. He laments the fact that they knew what to do to have peace with God but would not follow that route. He foretold the destruction of that city that would come in 40 years.
Jesus told them their enemies would overwhelm them, they would barricade them hemming them in from every side. He prophesied that the city would be razed.
Why, would these horrible things happen to them? Because they rejected the one who came to bring true life and peace. Our Lord is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Lord of Peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16), the God of Peace (Romans 16:20). To embrace Jesus and His teachings is to accept God’s terms of peace (Philippians 4:9). Sadly, the crowd’s cheers of “Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord” turned to “Give us Barabbas and crucify Jesus.” They rejected the Lord and the peace and abundant life he came to offer (John 10:10).
Lest we become smug about the foolish evil people of Jesus’ day let us answer the question, “Am I rejecting the path for peace?” Have I come to Jesus seeking salvation through His precious blood that made peace (Colossians 1:20)? Have I repented of my sins? Have I confessed His name before others? Have I been immersed in water where I contact the blood that washes away sin (Romans 6:1-4)? Am I now living to glorify Him and avoiding wickedness? If not then you have rejected the only way to have peace. Today is the day to make peace with God and His precious Son (2 Corinthians 6:2). Is Jesus weeping over you and the fact that you are lost? Come to Him today!