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The Old Testament prophets were spokesmen for for their generation more than the future.

They were the proclaimers of timeless truths about God, humankind, and the critical issues of life.

“The Modern Message of the Minor prophets” is the theme for Sunday mornings for the coming months.

Today we are talking about God Deals with Sin.

Text

Zephaniah 1:14-15 (AMP)

14 The great [judgment] day of the Lord is near,

Near and coming very quickly.

Listen! The [voice of the] day of the Lord!

The warrior cries out bitterly [unable to fight or to flee].

15 That day is a day of [the outpouring of the] wrath [of God],

A day of trouble and distress,

A day of destruction and devastation,

A day of darkness and gloom,

A day of clouds and thick darkness,

Scripture Reading

Zephaniah 1:2-18 (AMP)

2 “I will completely consume and sweep away all things

From the face of the earth [in judgment],” says the Lord.

3 “I will consume and sweep away man and beast;

I will consume and sweep away the birds of the air

And the fish of the sea,

And the [a]stumbling blocks (idols) along with the wicked;

And I will cut off and destroy man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.

4 “I will also stretch out My hand [in judgment] against Judah

And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

And I will cut off and destroy the remnant of [b]Baal from this place,

And the names and remembrance of the idolatrous priests along with the [false] priests,

5 And those who bow down and worship the host of heaven [the sun, the moon, and the stars] [c]on their housetops

And those who bow down and swear [oaths] to [and pretend to worship] the Lord and [yet also] swear by [the pagan god called] Milcom [god of the Ammonites],

6 And those who have turned back from following the Lord,

And those who have not sought the Lord [as their most important need] or inquired of Him.”

7 [Hush!] Be silent before the Lord God [there is no acceptable excuse to offer]!

For the day [of the vengeance] of the Lord is near,

For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice (Judah),

He has set apart [for His use] those who have accepted His invitation [the Chaldeans who rule Babylon].

8 “Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice

That I will punish the princes and the king’s sons

And all who are clothed in [lavish] foreign apparel [reflecting their paganism].

9 “On that day I will also punish all those who [d]leap over the temple threshold,

Who fill their [pagan] lord’s temple with violence and deceit.

10 “On that day,” declares the Lord,

“There will be the sound of crying from the Fish (Damascus) Gate [in the northern wall of Jerusalem where invaders enter]

And wailing from the [e]Second Quarter [of the city],

And a loud crash from the hills.

11 “Wail [in anguish], you inhabitants of the [f]Mortar (Valley of Siloam),

For all the merchants of Canaan will be silenced and destroyed;

All who weigh out silver will be cut off.

12 “It will come about at that time

That I will search Jerusalem with lamps

And I will punish the men

Who [like old wine] are stagnant in spirit,

Who say in their hearts,

‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’

13 “Furthermore, their wealth will become plunder

And their houses a desolation.

Yes, they will build houses but not live in them,

And plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”

14 The great [judgment] day of the Lord is near,

Near and coming very quickly.

Listen! The [voice of the] day of the Lord!

The warrior cries out bitterly [unable to fight or to flee].

15 That day is a day of [the outpouring of the] wrath [of God],

A day of trouble and distress,

A day of destruction and devastation,

A day of darkness and gloom,

A day of clouds and thick darkness,

16 A day of trumpet and the battle cry [of invaders]

Against the fortified cities

And against the high corner towers (battlements).

17 I will bring distress on men

So that they will walk like the blind [unable to find a way of escape],

Because they have sinned against the Lord;

Their blood will be poured out like dust [and trampled underfoot],

And their flesh like dung.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold

Will be able to rescue them

On the day of the Lord’s indignation and wrath.

And the whole earth will be consumed

In the fire of His jealous [g]wrath,

For He shall make a full and complete end,

Indeed a terrifying one,

Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Prayer

Father, we are grateful that you have given us victory over sin.

We rejoice that you have sent Jesus Christ to remove the fear of death.

We bring our gifts to you today and pray that they Will be used to take the message that in Jesus Christ is both the message of life and power.

Let this message bring assurance to the doubting and comfort to the weak.

We thank you that enduring faith may replace doubt in the lives of those people who are able to hear the gospel because of our gifts.

In Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Introduction

The name Zephaniah means “Jehovah hides.”

Some people believe that his parents gave him this name because he was born during Manasseh’s reign in Judah, a time of immorality and sin.

Persecution against God’s people was so great that perhaps children of righteous parents actually had to be hidden to prevent them from being killed.

There are two significant things about Zephaniah.

First, his family tree is traced back four generations to Hezekiah, who was probably the greatest king of Judah.

second, he prophesied during the reign of Josiah, a good king who reigned between 639 BC and 608 BC who discovered an ancient law book in the temple in the eighteenth year of his reign (621) and immediately started a program of moral and spiritual reform.

Since Zephaniah condemned the sinful practices that were abolished by Josiah’s order, it is agreed that he preached before 621 BC.

This would make him an early colleague or lead up to Jeremiah, who preached in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (626 BC).

 

  1. God’s presence cannot tolerate sin.

Although we find a few hopeful passages in Zephaniah’s book, its main theme is God’s judgement of sin.

Zephaniah hit the ground running as he began his preaching.

In Zephaniah 1:2 (AMP) he declared

2 “I will completely consume and sweep away all things

From the face of the earth [in judgment],” says the Lord. 

  1. Humans, animals, birds, and fish will be cut off.

Those engaged in idolatrous worship, those who had backslide, and those who never sought the Lord in the first place, must all give an account to the God of holiness.

B. Another group was singled out for condemnation.

These were complacent people who did not really believe God would do anything.

Zephaniah characterised them as people who thought in Zephaniah 1:12 (AMP) ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’

C. Zephaniah teaches us one great lesson.

All people, no matter who they are, who are rebelling against God’s will must suffer the consequences of their sin.

God has ordained a moral law that says seiners will suffer.

This law will never be repealed , because it is part of God’s holy character.

The wages of sin are death and always will be!

2. God urges people to repent.

  1. Zephaniah realised and told the people that God is always available.

Though we may be alienated from God and distant from each other, we can be brought close by true repentance.

Certainly repentance, either on a national level or an individual level, is the only safeguard against destruction.

B. Repentance requires self examination.

We must know ourselves thoroughly.

We must be honest with ourselves as we determine where we stand in God’s sight.

Everything worthless in both our hearts and conduct must be destroyed.

If we do not judge ourselves by repenting, we will be judged by God.

Any search of our lives will reveal sin.

We must be willing to forsake that sin and follow the Lord.

The phrase “gather together” in Zephaniah 2:1 (AMP)

2 Gather yourselves together [in repentance], yes, gather [in submission],

O nation without shame,  

Indicates a religious assembly and therefore implies that confession of sin should be public.

This is in harmony with New Testament teaching, for Jesus said we should confess Him publicly.

3. Why seek the Lord?

Four purposes for seeking the Lord were relevant in Zephaniah’s day and are equally important today for us.

  1. We seek God to know Him.

Jesus said in John 17:3 (AMP)

3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true [supreme and sovereign] God, and [in the same manner know] Jesus [as the] Christ whom You have sent.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, emphasis is placed on having a heart that knows God.

B. We seek God to enjoy Him.

First, of course, we must be reconciled.

We cannot rejoice in the Lord until we have accepted Christ’s atonement for our sins.

Only then can we draw near to God, finding great joy, and our souls satisfied by His blessings.

Living in His favour, His lovingkindness is meaningful for us.

C. We seek God to serve Him.

Our constant prayer should be the words that Paul spoke on the Damascus Road, “Lord, what will you have me do?”

We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to receive our reward for service.

Keeping God’s commandments and giving ourselves in devotion to Him brings us joy.

D. We seek God to be more like Him.

And old truism says, “We become like that which we constantly admire.”

As we love God and worship Him faithfully, we will find ourselves becoming more like Him.

We cannot reproduce in our lives some of God’s attributes, like omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, but we can progressively come to resemble His moral attributes.

As we grow in the Christian life, we can become renewed after the image of Him who creates us in righteousness and true holiness.

To seek the Lord means to become more like Him. 

4. Purity follows repentance.

  1. Zephaniah closed his recorded preaching with a word of hope.

He saw the people returning to the Lord.

Judgement had scattered the nation, but He saw Israel restored.

He also looked beyond and saw the Gentiles being converted.

God would gather for himself a people of “pure language” so that they might call on the name of the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. 

Zephaniah 3:9 (AMP) 9 “Then I will give to the peoples [clear and pure speech from] purified lips [which reflect their purified hearts],

That all of them may call on the name of the Lord,

To serve Him shoulder to shoulder (united).

B. Purity means a refined character and conversation.

Pure language implies a pure life, for the mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart.

At the Tower of Babel the people’s tongues were confused because of pride.

At Pentecost, however, the people were united as they spoke in “other tongues.”

The only hope for a fragmented world to be unified is through a genuine turning to God. 

Conclusion.

God’s day will be a time when He has the final word.

To sinners it will be a day of reckoning.

No escape is possible from the penalty that accompanies sin.

The day of the Lord will bring the impossible to stop certainty of the moral law that we all know from Galatians 6:7 (AMP)

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap 

On the other hand, those who turn in repentance, the horrible threat of punishment becomes lost in the awesome message of God’s love.

God will break the power of sin.

The darkness of the day of the Lord, a day of judgement and terror, will give way to the radiant life of His grace.

As Zephaniah anticipated God’s great forgiveness, he shouted in, Zephaniah 3:14 (AMP)

14 Shout for joy, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout in triumph, O Israel!

Rejoice, be in high spirits and glory with all your heart,

O Daughter of Jerusalem [in that day]!

Until next time

Stay in the Blessings

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I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.

When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.

Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!

You’re important to God, and you’re important to us at www.refinerylife.org

When it comes to prayer, we believe that God wants to meet your needs and reveal His promises to you.

So whatever you’re concerned about and need prayer for we want to be here for you! Or even if you just want to say Hi, you can contact us

2020 IS A YEAR OF CLARITY

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