Thoughts in Worship
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, March 31, 2016
“And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,” (Zephaniah 1:12-15)
We often see events depicted in the Scriptures with different outcomes for people, depending on their attitude toward the Lord. For instance, in the parable of Matthew 22, the king invited guests to the wedding feast of his son. There were those who refused to attend. There were those who chose to attend and have a wonderful time in honoring the son. Eventually, the king is depicted as visiting with the invited guests. Much to his dismay, he discovered a man that chose not to have on the garment that was appropriate for the event. The king asked him how he got in not having on the appropriate attire. The man was speechless, and the king commanded that he be tied up, taken out, and punished.
Two groups are represented as being at the feast. The ones that had on the garment representing the righteousness of Christ, and those who chose to present their own insufficient righteousness. The king saw both, but between the two, there were different outcomes.
Such is the case in the first chapter of Zephaniah. The Lord is depicted as being on the verge of unleashing His wrath upon all idolaters. He is especially concerned with those who claimed to be His people, yet chose to worship Baal, Molech, and Dagon instead. The Lord said, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel” (Zephaniah 1:7).
Although Matthew and Zephaniah are not speaking of the same event, the imagery is clear. Those who choose to trust in anything other than the Lord, will always lose. God is a jealous God.
The contrast is made between those who love the Lord and others who do not. “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.” (Zephaniah 1:12-13).
“And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Isaiah 65:21-22).
When the Lord unleashes His wrath against wickedness, there are two groups present. To one group it is promised that they will have built on this earth in vain, and in the end, be utterly destroyed. The other group will build on the new earth and benefit fully from the fruit of their labor. The distinguishing mark between the two is their relationship with God. If we choose to honor the Lord for all He has done for us and by His grace remain faithful to Him, we soon will enter into eternity without sin unto salvation. But if, God forbid, we choose to despise the blessed gift of salvation and put anything above God, we will be bitterly disappointed and reap the bitter reward of wickedness, which is eternal ruin. Of which group are you choosing to be a part? “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).