Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 16 December 21:
Note: Here is a short video summary of Zephaniah: https://youtu.be/oFZknKPNvz8
Zephaniah 1:12 — “I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’”
Zephaniah 3:12, 13 — “But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
In high-risk professions, there is a saying often repeated: “Complacency kills.” In our readings today, Zephaniah reveals how complacency in obedience to God led to the destruction of Israel (Zephaniah 1:12). Merriam-Webster defines complacency as “self-satisfaction… accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” In their comfort, security, wealth, and pridefulness the nation had forgotten God’s Word, despite God’s many warnings: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8).” They became guilty of the sin of syncretism (the blending of faithful religion with idolatry and pagan practices), and casual sin became the norm (Zephaniah 1:4, 5, 12). Zephaniah pleads to the “shameful nation” to repent but laments that “She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord (In God we Trust?), she does not draw near to her God (Zephaniah 3:2).” He is careful to point out that both the government officials and the religious leaders were complicit in the downfall of the nation (Zephaniah 3:3, 4).
As the nation falls apart, Zephaniah encourages God’s true followers to continue to pursue righteousness, apart from the pattern of the world around them. These are God’s faithful who are humble, lowly, and unafraid through persecution and the effects of God’s judgment on the nation. As society moves further and further away from God, are you remaining faithful, humble, lowly, and unafraid?
- Zephaniah 2:3 — Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger….
- Matthew 6:33 — “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
- Hebrews 10:23-31 — “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 December 21: Don’t be complacent. Be faithful, humble and lowly but also bold, joyful and unafraid?
- Acts 4:13 — Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.