November 22, 2021
“Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressive city! She has not obeyed; she has not accepted discipline. She has not trusted in the Lord...”
“Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressive city! She has not obeyed; she has not accepted discipline. She has not trusted in the Lord; she has not drawn near to her God. The princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are wolves of the night, which leave nothing for the morning. Her prophets are reckless – treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary; they do violence to instruction. The righteous Lord is in her; He does no wrong. He applies His justice morning by morning; He does not fail at dawn, yet the one who does wrong knows no shame.” Zephaniah 3:1-5
Today’s passage delivers a picture of a religious culture that has utterly rejected the truth. At the same time, within that religious culture stands a remnant that, even in weakness, has held fast to the Word and the Name of God. Princes are lions, Judges are wolves, prophets are reckless, and priests profaners. But God dwells among His faithful followers within the community. It was an accurate picture of Jerusalem in Zephaniah’s day, and it pretty much describes the Messianic community (the Church-at-large) of our generation.
Jerusalem, the most highly privileged of all cities, is described in verse one as “rebellious, oppressive and defiled.” Here, we find a four-fold indictment in verse two: She has not obeyed; she has not accepted discipline. She has not trusted in the Lord; she has not drawn near to her God. These are intensely solemn statements, to say the least. But in them, we are forced to search ourselves to detect (in our lives) any departure, which may lead us to a state similar to what Jerusalem is charged with.
Ask yourself, “Have I obeyed the voice of the Lord?” What does that mean? It means, “Have you read God’s Word and allowed it to affect you to the point that you would be willing to apply it?”
Ask yourself, “Have I accepted discipline from God’s Word?” Based on what God has revealed through His Word, have you taken active steps to change your way of living and thinking to align yourself with His will?
Ask yourself, “Do I truly trust in the Lord?” Even though He may not work on the timetable of your personal expectations, are you willing to walk by faith?
Ask yourself, “Do I really draw near in the Lord?” Do you confide in Him, bringing your requests and confessions, knowing He cares and is faithful and just to forgive us if we confess our sins?
You see, God is showing us a consistent pattern of discipleship. If we seek God’s Word, with the intent to know and live according to it, He will reveal its truth to us. I return, we discipline ourselves to obey His revealed will. When we faithfully follow Him, we experience His faithfulness extended to those committed to following Him. When He proves Himself faithful, it builds our trust, so we reciprocate by drawing nearer to Him, making confessions and petitions, experiencing Him more personally. If we refuse to seek His Word, the whole equation unravels, exactly in the reverse process.